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Source: (consider it) Thread: "Great" books we hate
Nenya
Shipmate
# 16427

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quote:
Originally posted by Sipech:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Making someone read something for GCSE is a great way to spoil it for them for life.

This is why I nominate Pride and Prejudice. Have been put off anything by Jane Austen for life.
Indeed. Anything by Jane Austen has my vote. I have tried and tried to read her novels and have invariably ground to a halt after a chapter or two.

I read somewhere, years ago, that Thomas Hardy considered himself a poet and I found that helped me to understand his novels. His descriptions are beautiful; characters and story lines perhaps not so great.

I've enjoyed Dickens, but only reread one, at around this time of year... [Biased]

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Porridge
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# 15405

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Ethan Frome.

That is all.

[ 26. November 2014, 20:38: Message edited by: Porridge ]

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Spiggott: Everything I've ever told you is a lie, including that.
Moon: Including what?
Spiggott: That everything I've ever told you is a lie.
Moon: That's not true!

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QLib

Bad Example
# 43

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quote:
Originally posted by Firenze:
quote:
Originally posted by Tubbs:
Emma by Jane Austen.

By the time I'd finished it, I wanted to reach into the Kindle and punch her in the face. OTH, Austen did say she was going to write a book with a heroine that no one would like!

I think that was Fanny Price - who is, as Molesworth would say, uterly wet.
Austen definitely said that about Emma - but it's true that poor little Fanny who is truly the least popular.

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Tradition is the handing down of the flame, not the worship of the ashes Gustav Mahler.

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Scots lass
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# 2699

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quote:
Originally posted by Galloping Granny:
Does it help if you're a fast reader? I romped through a lot of Dickens and Austen as a teenager, without being forced to. The only 'set' book I remember having to read was Adam Bede, of which I remember zilch, but I read it in a day and then we discussed a chapter a week on Thursdays – that would kill any book.

I'm not sure it does - I read fast (the "How fast could you read Game of Thrones thing said I would do it in 77 hours) and yet it took me over a week to get through the wretched Tale of Two Cities. Possibly because I would do almost anything other than read it.
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Gwalchmai
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# 17802

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quote:
Originally posted by Jane R:
My father-in-law always referred to D H Lawrence as 'The man who made sex boring'. I got as far as the second paragraph of Women in Love once before deciding that life was too short to bother reading the rest.

Lady Chatterley's Lover would qualify for a Bad Sex award if were to be first published today.
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Garasu
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# 17152

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Re: Austen

I suspect half the problem is that she is touted as "Great Literature".

If you think of her as Regency Chick Lit she's much more palatable...

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"Could I believe in the doctrine without believing in the deity?". - Modesitt, L. E., Jr., 1943- Imager.

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Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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I can't bear Mark Twain, or rather specifically Huckleberry Fin - basically anything where accent is written phonetically for long passages. I am a fast reader and it makes me have to stop and sound out, like suddenly putting concrete boots on - it is incredibly frustrating - I just can't tolerate it beyond a certain point . (I missed all the puns in Harry Potter because I don't sound as I read, most people who read beyond a certain speed don't.)

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Yorick

Infinite Jester
# 12169

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quote:
Originally posted by M.:
Crime and Punishment. The crime was the author's, the punishment the reader's. That is all.

I must protest. This is quite possibly the best novel ever written. If you persist in you foul defamation I shall axe you in the head.

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این نیز بگذرد

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Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
# 273

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quote:
Originally posted by Scots lass:
I read fast (the "How fast could you read Game of Thrones thing said I would do it in 77 hours) and yet it took me over a week to get through the wretched Tale of Two Cities. Possibly because I would do almost anything other than read it.

Here is a case where doing it in class changed the perspective of at least some of us the other way. My forms O'level novel for English Language was Tale of Two Cities. Mrs Wadden, our teacher said we would do as though it was a hard text yet it was the best of the texts for that year. She was good, very good and passed on her enthusiasm for the book. I think over half the class would have said it was their favourite book by the end of the year. The rest just had it as a good enjoyable book.

When I say that, you must realise we were the one group of teenage girls who also by the end of the year thought Robert Browning was an enjoyable poet to read despite it being another exam text.

I cannot say she did the same for the play. It was Twelfth Night and I am afraid we had had another good teacher before that who'd taken us through it. So we already liked it.

Jengie

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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Blithering Heights - another one I could never get through. Get over yourselves, already. And don't talk to me about the 18th century - Pamela would not be the only one to lapse into unconsciousness in the course of her trials. And if I never have to read one more hilarious scene in which people are tipped out of carriages landing stark naked in mud and turning Methodist before spending a night in an inn in bed with the wrong person, I will die content.
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Vulpior

Foxier than Thou
# 12744

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As someone who read Lord of the Rings while at primary school, and who enjoys a good multi-book sci-fi/fantasy saga, I thought I'd get on with Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books. How wrong I was! I struggled with the first and abandoned any idea of continuing.

I don't know what it was, but I was in a way disappointed not to like them.

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Moo

Ship's tough old bird
# 107

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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
Every time I've tried (and always failed) to read Hardy I've come away with the impression that everyone and everything in the 19th century was the colour of mud.

{tangent alert}

I never managed to read any of Hardy's novels, but I do like this poem very much.

{/tangent alert}

Moo

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Albertus
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# 13356

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quote:
Originally posted by Garasu:
Re: Austen

I suspect half the problem is that she is touted as "Great Literature".

If you think of her as Regency Chick Lit she's much more palatable...

Sorry, don't want to get all hellish, but that's bollocks: she's not chick lit, however modern publishers may package her. Look at Pride and Prejudice: it's basically about a group of women (Mrs B and her daughters) scrabbling to secure a future for themselves in the face of a system which denies them property rights and of an utter abdication of his responsibilities by the man (MrB) who is supposed to support them. Mrs B is not trying to get her daughters married off because she's a soppy woman who likes weddings: she knows perfectly well that unless she can get her daughters married into homes (where she will then be able to stay with them) they will be homeless when Mr B dies.
Now, you may still not like it, but chick lit it ain't.

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Nenya:
I read somewhere, years ago, that Thomas Hardy considered himself a poet

As a poet, Hardy is one of the greats. During Wind and Rain and some of the Poems 1912-13 are incredible. They aren't any cheerier than his novels, but while a novel should cover a variety of moods and emotions, it's ok for a poem to be a concentrated version of just the one.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Evangeline
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# 7002

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quote:
Originally posted by Garasu:
Re: Austen

I suspect half the problem is that she is touted as "Great Literature".

If you think of her as Regency Chick Lit she's much more palatable...

So typical of the gender bias that women in any field have to contend with. Jane Austen's works are insightful satire on society, just because the sphere is "domestic" doesn't make it any less worthy.

As for chic lit what a hideously sexist and dismissive term. Why does one never hear Hemingway's work described as cock lit?

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Albertus
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# 13356

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I for one will always think of Hemingway's work as cock lit from now on. Thank you.

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bib
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# 13074

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Ulysses by James Joyce. I have made many attempts at reading it, but can never find my way to the end as I give up in despair. Another novel by a French author, The Little Prince, is bizarre and I can't fathom what it is all about. Not worth bothering with even if it is said to be significant.

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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quote:
Originally posted by QLib:
quote:
Originally posted by Firenze:
quote:
Originally posted by Tubbs:
Emma by Jane Austen.

By the time I'd finished it, I wanted to reach into the Kindle and punch her in the face. OTH, Austen did say she was going to write a book with a heroine that no one would like!

I think that was Fanny Price - who is, as Molesworth would say, uterly wet.
Austen definitely said that about Emma - but it's true that poor little Fanny who is truly the least popular.
You're right. It's interesting that Emma, who's an agent - however mistaken her premises - plays rather better than the virtuously suffering Fanny or Elinor. The sitting like Patience on a monument smiling at grief is obviously a less valued female behaviour.

[ 26. November 2014, 21:41: Message edited by: Firenze ]

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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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It is less valued -in fiction-, because it makes for dull books. But in real life it was preferred, and the second-class status of women was thoroughly entrenched in law.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Lothlorien
Ship's Grandma
# 4927

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I have read pretty well all of Patrick White's novels, but Voss eludes me.

Over the years I have made many attempts to read this, but have never got right through. It has been so long since I tried, I don't even remember where i reached last time.

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Sandemaniac
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# 12829

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I don't think even Dickens was quite that verbose (quote from the background, said with feeling "Proust was more verbose than Sir Walter Scott"). There's some great stories in there. It's just the acres of verbiage you have to wade through to find them. If ever a man needed a good copy editor...

AG

(has anyone mentioned Dr Zhivago yet?)

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Enoch
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# 14322

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No hesitation. My nomination is The Children of Violence series by Doris Lessing. True, not many Shipmates have probably heard of it, but she did get a Nobel Prize for Literature. It has also ensured that I have never read anything else she ever wrote.

It's the best example I know of a classic mistake that nobody who aspires to be a storyteller should ever make. In the course of five volumes, though I didn't manage to complete all of them, you meet some quite interesting other characters. They keep you going for a time. But by volume 3, if not earlier, you're heartily sick of Martha Quest, the person whose story the book is telling. She's uninteresting and not somebody anyone is likely to be able to identify or sympathise with. You just don't care what happens to her.

Lesson for other aspiring writers - don't do that. Have a central character who is interesting, good company and that the reader can relate to.

Oh, and I agree with M about Crime and Punishment. I only managed about 25 pages before I got fed up with Raskolnikov. That's nearly 50 years ago and I've never felt remotely tempted to pick it up again.

Not sure they count as "Great" books, but I've never been able to get into the Gormenghast series.

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Trudy Scrumptious

BBE Shieldmaiden
# 5647

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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
I for one will always think of Hemingway's work as cock lit from now on. Thank you.

Yes, that works quite well for me to describe Hemingway as well.

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Books and things.

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Pigwidgeon

Ship's Owl
# 10192

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quote:
Originally posted by Scots lass:
...it took me over a week to get through the wretched Tale of Two Cities. Possibly because I would do almost anything other than read it.

We read TOTC in tenth grade (around age 16). Our teacher insisted we only read the chapters as she assigned them so that our feelings wouldn't be influenced by what goes on in the plot too far in advance. That was all it took for me to devour the book in one weekend.

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~Tortuf

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Pigwidgeon

Ship's Owl
# 10192

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quote:
Originally posted by Trudy Scrumptious:
quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
I for one will always think of Hemingway's work as cock lit from now on. Thank you.

Yes, that works quite well for me to describe Hemingway as well.
Love this!

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"...that is generally a matter for Pigwidgeon, several other consenting adults, a bottle of cheap Gin and the odd giraffe."
~Tortuf

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Amanda B. Reckondwythe

Dressed for Church
# 5521

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Indeed. Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Let's go in this cafe and get drunk. Then we'll go in some other cafe and get drunk some more.

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LeRoc

Famous Dutch pirate
# 3216

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quote:
Amanda B. Reckondwythe: Indeed. Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Let's go in this cafe and get drunk. Then we'll go in some other cafe and get drunk some more.
That describes my life to a T [Smile]

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Amanda B. Reckondwythe

Dressed for Church
# 5521

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Good thing Hemingway isn't around to chronicle it.

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"I take prayer too seriously to use it as an excuse for avoiding work and responsibility." -- The Revd Martin Luther King Jr.

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Pre-cambrian
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# 2055

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quote:
Originally posted by Badger Lady:
quote:
Originally posted by Scots lass:

Wuthering Heights I loved when I was 16. I tried re-reading it in my mid-20s and couldn't get more than a third of the way through, awful. I liked Jane Eyre much more, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is good.

I had a very similar experience with Anna Karenina. I loved it when I read it in my late teens and thought it all terribly romantic. I re-read it a few years ago and got very frustrated with Anna's selfishness and failure to consider the devastating impact of her actions on her son.
Yes, Anna Karenina. The blurb on the back of my copy says: "Acclaimed by many as the world's greatest novel." Most overrated, more like. She really needed a slap. And the banquet scene just brought to mind Dennis Wheatley; not the greatest claim to great literature!

Oh, and to anyone who claims that Thomas Hardy is depressing, just try reading Zola.

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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"Foucault's Pendulum", by Umberto Eco. It's the bleakest fiction I ever read. Keep far, far away from it.
[Paranoid]

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Oscar the Grouch

Adopted Cascadian
# 1916

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I so wanted to like The Brothers Karamazov, by Dostoevsky, that I read it twice. It still left me un-wowed, much to my intense disappointment.

Ditto for Gulag Archipelago.

(What is it about Russian writers? Tolstoy was annoying as well, but I never had much expectations from him anyway.)

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Faradiu, dundeibáwa weyu lárigi weyu

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Dafyd
Shipmate
# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Pre-cambrian:
Oh, and to anyone who claims that Thomas Hardy is depressing, just try reading Zola.

Zola has a repressed gothic novelist inside him that is trying to get out. Zola's bleak like torrential rain lashing down. Hardy is like a long slow heavy drizzle.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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ExclamationMark
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# 14715

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Satre. Enough said.
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Ariel
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# 58

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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink.:
I can't bear Mark Twain, or rather specifically Huckleberry Fin - basically anything where accent is written phonetically for long passages. I am a fast reader and it makes me have to stop and sound out, like suddenly putting concrete boots on - it is incredibly frustrating - I just can't tolerate it beyond a certain point.

Oh yes. It totally grates and it takes longer to decipher. Robbie Burns' poems have always been a total turn-off for that reason.
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Heavenly Anarchist
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# 13313

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quote:
Originally posted by HCH:
Why has no one mentioned Dickens?

A couple of us have mentioned Hard Times, which I consider one of the most depressing and tedious books I ever failed to read.

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anoesis
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# 14189

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quote:
Originally posted by Gwalchmai:
quote:
Originally posted by Jane R:
My father-in-law always referred to D H Lawrence as 'The man who made sex boring'. I got as far as the second paragraph of Women in Love once before deciding that life was too short to bother reading the rest.

Lady Chatterley's Lover would qualify for a Bad Sex award if were to be first published today.
I suspect that this will lower my credit in the minds of people who are Supposed To Know About Such Things, but I'll just put my hand up and say, I actually like this book. Also, I want to bang my head against a wall every time someone talks about the sex in it. So, it was controversial at the time. Big deal. Anyone who can read this book and think it is in any way about sex is right up there with the folk who watched the Southpark movie and complained about the bad language. (Now, there's some grating of genres for you).

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The history of humanity give one little hope that strength left to its own devices won't be abused. Indeed, it gives one little ground to think that strength would continue to exist if it were not abused. -- Dafyd --

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anoesis
Shipmate
# 14189

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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
1984 and Brave New World. Both remind me of those dreadful nightmares which are the more terrifying because of their pure boredom.

Have a look at this. I recommend the book.

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The history of humanity give one little hope that strength left to its own devices won't be abused. Indeed, it gives one little ground to think that strength would continue to exist if it were not abused. -- Dafyd --

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anoesis
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quote:
Originally posted by Figbash:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Sipech:
[qb] To continue, I think the book I hate most in the whole wide world (yes, even more than moron-fodder like Twilight, 50 Shades and The Hunger Games) is Tess of the d'Urbevilles. I kept myself going through the second half of that by composing hymns of hate to Angel Clare and, in the latter stages, developing a scenario for a Dadaist take on the whole thing, which involved a lot of scenes of him being attacked by Lancaster Bombers. I hate him, I hate him, I hate him, I hate him, I hate him.

Oh. My. God. Yes. Though the one book I have actually thrown across the room upon finishing was The Mill on the Floss. I still get enraged, thinking about it now, over a decade later. The ending MAKES NO SENSE! It is a piece of stupid, overblown, ridiculous pathos which jars horribly with most of what's come before it. It's as though George Eliot just looked out the window one day and thought, 'It's lovely and sunny out there - what am I doing inside? Fuck it, I'll write one more paragraph and then I'm done.'

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The history of humanity give one little hope that strength left to its own devices won't be abused. Indeed, it gives one little ground to think that strength would continue to exist if it were not abused. -- Dafyd --

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Dafyd
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I admit I do not get on with George Eliot much either. People have gone looking for her sense of fun armed with magnifying glasses and microscopes. There are occasional faint rumours of a sighting, but nothing has ever been confirmed.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Sipech
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[slight tangent]

The only book I've actually thrown across the room in disgust was Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life, though in fairness it's only a very specific demographic that think it's great.

[/slight tangent]

Am rather distraught at how many Hardy-haters we have on the ship.

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I try to be self-deprecating; I'm just not very good at it.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheAlethiophile

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la vie en rouge
Parisienne
# 10688

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Proust. I’d blanked him out of my memory or something.

One of my favourite quotes :

quote:
Life is short and Monsieur Proust is very long.

-Anatole France



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Rent my holiday home in the South of France

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Heavenly Anarchist
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quote:
Originally posted by Moo:
quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
Every time I've tried (and always failed) to read Hardy I've come away with the impression that everyone and everything in the 19th century was the colour of mud.

{tangent alert}

I never managed to read any of Hardy's novels, but I do like this poem very much.

{/tangent alert}

Moo

I studied Hardy's poetry at college and it was often beautiful but very sad, with lots of guilt and remorse over his failed first marriage and the death of his wife.

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'I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.' Douglas Adams
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Jemima the 9th
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Wuthering Heights. It's like one of the later rubbish episodes of Buffy.
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Penny S
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Somewhere in my house is an exam paper from when I was 12 or 13 and had been studying Tale of Two Cities. According to that, Lucie Manette does have a character, which I clearly described, in words and phrases which now seem so utterly alien (and adult) that I cannot believe it was my teenaged mind which composed them. But it was written under exam conditions, and in my handwriting. And it got good marks.
I will not bother you with it - the search process would be too difficult. But it was quite definite about her having a character. Can't remember what it was, though. (Which probably confirms the position taken upthread.)

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Adeodatus
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My instinct is to weigh in in defence of Crime and Punishment and the Gormenghast books, which I think are among the greatest I've ever read. However, in the spirit of the thread, I'll join in dissing Dickens.

The only Dickenses I've ever successfully finished are A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities - though I agree with the criticism that Lucie Manette might as well be a painting on the wall for all the character she has. Even with the allegedly great Oliver Twist, I've never got past the bit with the undertaker. As for Hard Times, I'm not sure I've ever got past the first paragraph.

Dickens taught me to be wary of people who write novels in instalments, and are paid per instalment.

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"What is broken, repair with gold."

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Snags
Utterly socially unrealistic
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I know I'm going to get shouted down as a philistine, but the biggest load of old bollox I was ever compelled to (mostly) read was Ulysses (James Joyce).

It's weird, it's exactly the kind of self-indulgent literary game-playing experimental wank that I ought to love. But ... no.

I was actually glad when the cat pissed on it and I had to throw it away.

Recently given a run for its money when I decided to read One Thousand Years of Solitude "because I ought to". That was a mistake.

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Vain witterings :-: Vain pretentions :-: The Dog's Blog(locks)

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
Even with the allegedly great Oliver Twist, I've never got past the bit with the undertaker.

Actually Dickens fans are a bit down on Oliver Twist.
Bleak House is great, in all senses.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Snags:
I know I'm going to get shouted down as a philistine, but the biggest load of old bollox I was ever compelled to (mostly) read was Ulysses (James Joyce).

It's weird, it's exactly the kind of self-indulgent literary game-playing experimental wank that I ought to love. But ... no.

I was actually glad when the cat pissed on it and I had to throw it away.

Recently given a run for its money when I decided to read One Thousand Years of Solitude "because I ought to". That was a mistake.

I don't think you're a philistine at all; you don't like Ulysses.

Let's face it, it's not an easy book. Many people read bits of it, which is OK. Sometimes I remember 'perfume of embraces all him assailed' and I feel strangely exultant. But that's just me.

I think it's the oughts and the compulsion which do the damage in literary study. I taught Lit Crit for a few years, and I can't face reading any novel now, except possibly Wolf Hall.

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I can't talk to you today; I talked to two people yesterday.

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Sioni Sais
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quote:
Originally posted by Snags:
I know I'm going to get shouted down as a philistine, but the biggest load of old bollox I was ever compelled to (mostly) read was Ulysses (James Joyce).

It's weird, it's exactly the kind of self-indulgent literary game-playing experimental wank that I ought to love. But ... no.

I was actually glad when the cat pissed on it and I had to throw it away.


Quotes file.

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"He isn't Doctor Who, he's The Doctor"

(Paul Sinha, BBC)

Posts: 24276 | From: Newport, Wales | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Sipech
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# 16870

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quote:
Originally posted by Snags:
Recently given a run for its money when I decided to read One Thousand Years of Solitude "because I ought to". That was a mistake.

Not sure if it was a typo or hyperbole, but it's actually One Hundred Years of Solitude. While I found it rather frustrating for it's nonlinear timeline and the fact that all the characters have almost the same name, I will defend it on the grounds that Gabriel Garcia Marquez's turn of phrase is achingly beautiful. He conjurs up some wonderful imagery, even if it is at the expense of a plot. Love in the Time of Cholera is much better.

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I try to be self-deprecating; I'm just not very good at it.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheAlethiophile

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