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  #21  
Old May 7th, 2010, 12:49 pm
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

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Originally Posted by lilyrose View Post
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I've heard Joyce's short story collection Dubliners is better than Ulysses, but I haven't really wanted to try reading it
I enjoyed it very much and also enjoyed A Portrait Of the Artist As a Young Man. Have attempted Ulysses several times but never finished it and I don't think I've ever got past the title page of Finnegan's Wake. Still, I suppose I ought to try again soon.


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Old May 7th, 2010, 3:31 pm
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

This is a book I gave up on, so perhaps I shouldn't judge, not having read all of it, but...Candide.

I got what seems to be the point of Candide pretty quickly (wasn't too subtle), and after that, it was just one catastrophe after another, with the same point hammered in again and again. The plot and actions of the characters only varied in a minor sense, so it quickly became repetitive.

As for Joyce...I wouldn't say all Joyce is overrated. I don't like his works, but I think some of his books/short stories have merit.


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Old May 7th, 2010, 6:31 pm
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

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As for Joyce...I wouldn't say all Joyce is overrated. I don't like his works, but I think some of his books/shirt stories have merit.
I've always thought the fact that I haven't managed to finish Ulysses is an indication of my stupidity/shallowness rather than of a lack of literary merit in the book.

For me, the most overrated writer in the history of the universe is Dickens.


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Old May 8th, 2010, 12:23 am
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

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For me, the most overrated writer in the history of the universe is Dickens.
Really? But he's so funny! Sure, his books are way overlong, but he still makes everything hilarious. Plus, unlike most classical literature of length, you can sort of dip in and out of his books without getting too confused.


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Old May 8th, 2010, 12:35 am
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

1. What are the classics you've read that you think are overrated? Why do you think so?
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I had such great expectations for this book. Part of it is because of Dickens's wordiness. It could be so much better if he wasn't paid by the word.
The Great Gatsby as well.

2. Are you glad you read the classic, even if you didn't like it?
No. I don't care that I read it. It doesn't make me a better person. It's just a story. I learned nothing from it.
With the Great Gatsby, I can say I read it. It seems to be a very talked about book. I never saw what I'm supposed to see. I struggled to keep up with what was going on. I'm not a bad reader so it's not like I have trouble reading, I just had trouble reading this book.

3. Have you observed any common themes in overrated classics? Like war, tragic love stories etc
Poor child syndrome. Rags to riches stories. Big words, complex sentences.

I do agree Dickens is very overrated. I do wonder if I lived during his time and got his stories in the doses they did if I would like him more. It's like how we recieved one HP book and then speculated for miles until the next came out. They got a chapter of a book and then waited until the next chapter came out. Would I have enjoyed him more if that was the case? I did enjoy A Christmas Carol, but it was an abridged version which is much different than the unabridged version of Great Expectations that I read.


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Old May 8th, 2010, 8:08 am
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

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I think the value to The Great Gatsby is its deconstruction of the American Dream - the self-made man. It makes incisions in the society and values of its day with a surgeon's precision and they still ring true today, and in fact they speak to non-Americans, too, because the book deals with the universal theme of dreams, possibilities and what you can - and can't - achieve on your own, and where that ultimately gets you. Just my opinion though, and I should say it's based on not exactly the sharpest memory of the book, as it's been 8 or 9 years since I read it.
That's exactly what the book is about.

I am not the biggest fan of Dickens. I only read two of his novels, but I hated them. Maybe it was his writing style I didn't like or was too immature at the time to fully appreciate. I do think the stories themselves are great, just can't get over how he writes. I'll probably try to give the books another chance sometime, though.


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Old May 8th, 2010, 4:07 pm
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

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Really? But he's so funny! Sure, his books are way overlong, but he still makes everything hilarious. Plus, unlike most classical literature of length, you can sort of dip in and out of his books without getting too confused.
I don't know - as with all these authors, it is just a personal taste thing. He's just got this smug narrative voice that makes me want to slap him. He can be quite funny, but as one of my friends (who does actually quite like him) pointed out, he can't just make a joke - he makes a joke, and then he points out, in case you were too thick to miss it, that he's made a joke, and then a few lines later, just in case he was too elliptical the first time, he states even more clearly that he just made a joke...

I do accept, though, that there must be something I'm missing - millions of readers can't be wrong.


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Old May 8th, 2010, 6:19 pm
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

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This is a book I gave up on, so perhaps I shouldn't judge, not having read all of it, but...Candide.

I got what seems to be the point of Candide pretty quickly (wasn't too subtle), and after that, it was just one catastrophe after another, with the same point hammered in again and again. The plot and actions of the characters only varied in a minor sense, so it quickly became repetitive.


Wow, I never knew anyone who didn't like that book! Until now, I suppose...
But then again, I'm a history major and am fascinated by everything about the Enlightenment, so I'm probably a little biased. To each her own, I guess!


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  #29  
Old May 9th, 2010, 3:41 am
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

Yeah, Candide has a lot of historical significance, no argument there.

As for Dickens...
Dickens' wordiness never really bothered me much, because it often helped give me a very accurate picture of the world he was writing about.
My theory is that it takes him a while to get the plot going most of the time because he likes to reiterate the qualities of his characters and their society through the use of extra scenes. While this probably was in part a deliberate move to make him more money, it also helps solidify in the readers' minds (or, at least, in mine ) just who we're dealing with.


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  #30  
Old May 9th, 2010, 3:48 am
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

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Originally Posted by Melaszka View Post
I don't know - as with all these authors, it is just a personal taste thing. He's just got this smug narrative voice that makes me want to slap him. He can be quite funny, but as one of my friends (who does actually quite like him) pointed out, he can't just make a joke - he makes a joke, and then he points out, in case you were too thick to miss it, that he's made a joke, and then a few lines later, just in case he was too elliptical the first time, he states even more clearly that he just made a joke...

I do accept, though, that there must be something I'm missing - millions of readers can't be wrong.
I definitely see where you're coming from with his narrative voice (I feel the same way about Oscar Wilde, ergh), it was just a bit surprising. I don't think you're necessarily 'missing' anything - literature is such a subjective form, and I'm sure you'd be able to find many high-profile dislikers of Dickens.


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  #31  
Old May 9th, 2010, 7:35 am
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

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I don't know - as with all these authors, it is just a personal taste thing. He's just got this smug narrative voice that makes me want to slap him.
This I absolutely agree with! I've always felt that his narrative voice is always snobbish.

I especially hated A Tale of Two Cities. Though admittedly, I read it for school a long time ago and the teacher was probably the worst English teacher I've ever had

Does anyone think it is worth rereading?


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  #32  
Old May 9th, 2010, 9:34 am
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

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Originally Posted by lilyrose
I especially hated A Tale of Two Cities. Though admittedly, I read it for school a long time ago and the teacher was probably the worst English teacher I've ever had

Does anyone think it is worth rereading?
I'm rather surprised that many posters here think his works are overrated. I always had something for Dickens' writing style. The first classic I ever read was David Copperfield and I liked it. So that's probably a reason why I like and find Dicken's works great.

As for the Tale of Two Cities. I haven't read it, yet. Though, its on my to-read-list. I can't judge it myself but my brother, however, has said it was very interesting.. that he actually lent me his copy. .


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  #33  
Old May 10th, 2010, 2:34 am
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

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Does anyone think it is worth rereading?
Yes.

I think it's much less "wordy" than his other works. If I were to suggest a Dickens to begin with, it would be that one because it's pretty easy to get sucked into, and the descriptions don't tend toward tediousness the way they do in some of his other books.

Can't say much about the snobbishness of the voice...Oliver Twist was the only book of his where I saw traces of that, and that was probably because he was doing more than his usual share of moralizing in that one.


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  #34  
Old May 10th, 2010, 7:08 am
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

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Originally Posted by Melaszka View Post
For me, the most overrated writer in the history of the universe is Dickens.
I thought it was just me. Although I did enjoy Great Expectations, as much as I could given that I read it in the original English when I'd only studied it seriously for a year and a half. I bet I didn't really understand even half of it.


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Old May 10th, 2010, 6:11 pm
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

I have two candidates.

Dracula. Oh dear, I love vampires and this is the all-defining genre book. Yet it's so boring and preachy. What put me off the most was the one-dimensional outdated evil Dracula represents. Some things just aren't timeless.

Advertisements for Myself. I think Mailer is one of the most overrated authors. He hit his peak early and then spent the rest of his years being pretentious in his writings without delivering quality. Worst book ever.


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Old May 10th, 2010, 8:04 pm
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

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Is that "The P-whatever of Dorian Grey"?


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  #37  
Old May 11th, 2010, 7:53 am
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

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Is that "The P-whatever of Dorian Grey"?
Yes, The Picture of Dorian Gray. I mentioned the full title earlier on in my post and couldn't be bothered typing it out again, sorry for the confusion. :/


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  #38  
Old May 14th, 2010, 10:58 am
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

1. What are the classics you've read that you think are overrated? Why do you think so?

Well, don't mind me very much, since I just tried Dubliners and had to give it up, but IMO averything related to Joyce is generally overrated. There's some kind of snobism in the way if you don't admire Joyce you know nothing about Literature.

Wuthering Heights. I think many people's opinion about the book is based on trying to find qualities on Heathcliff that he lacks (tormented hero, etc; I just think he's mean). The structure doesn't convince me; when I read it I felt the book lacked internal logic.

Dr Jekill and Mr Hyde. Is that supposed to be a horror story? Even for Victorian times, I think it's dull.

Frankenstein: another horror story that's lost much with time. Perhaps it's that nowadays readers are hardened...


Orlando. Maybe I'm an ignorant, but I didn't understand what this book was exactly about.
2. Are you glad you read the classic, even if you didn't like it?


O don't repent it. It's always good to know what you're talking about.

3. Have you observed any common themes in overrated classics? Like war, tragic love stories etc

Many overrated classics have a social content of some sort (Great Gatsby, Dorian Gray...). They're mostly dramas, and some are overrated for extra-literary reasons (honestly, would Dorian Gray be so 'indispensable' had not Wilde have such a complicated life? How much of the fascination about Virginia Woolf comes from the fact that she suicided?).

Posted by Moriath:

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Dracula. Oh dear, I love vampires and this is the all-defining genre book. Yet it's so boring and preachy. What put me off the most was the one-dimensional outdated evil Dracula represents. Some things just aren't timeless.
Well, I'm a fan of Dracula (not of vampires in general), so I'm afraid that we'll disagree... I think the reason why Dracula is so one-didmensional is because it's the only character in the novel whose point of view we don't have. We see Dracula as the others see him; for them, he's at the first some unknown horror (all the time Seward is trying to save Lucy, for instance, he doesn't know what he's fighting), and later they see him as the cause of all their evils.

About Dickens: I think that sometimes it's too obvious that he was paid per word, but I think it's undeniable he knows how to write a story. He has that ability to make the effect he wants. It's true that I've read him mainly in translations, so part of his wordiness may have been softened.


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  #39  
Old May 14th, 2010, 1:11 pm
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

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Well, don't mind me very much, since I just tried Dubliners and had to give it up, but IMO averything related to Joyce is generally overrated. There's some kind of snobism in the way if you don't admire Joyce you know nothing about Literature.
That's kind of one-sided. There are people who genuinely enjoy his works. I personally love Dumbliners, I'm finding the stories very interesting and layered, so that thinking about them, I find more and more aspects and angles. Well, that's what I generally like about the short story genre: it's incredibly dense with meaning. So that makes his short stories very good, to me.

Quote:
Orlando. Maybe I'm an ignorant, but I didn't understand what this book was exactly about.
I wouldn't call Orlando a classic, personally. It's about gender, mostly, I think it explores its boundaries, and pushes them, too. Cutting boldly across centuries may be a method of emphasizing that.

3. Have you observed any common themes in overrated classics? Like war, tragic love stories etc

Hm, I don't think saw this question earlier... Anyway, I think all classics mark a pivotal point in their time and culture. They pin it down and put it forward and thus simultaneously keep a record of the flow of human thought/history and push them forward.

Quote:
They're mostly dramas, and some are overrated for extra-literary reasons (honestly, would Dorian Gray be so 'indispensable' had not Wilde have such a complicated life?
Actually he became famous for his plays, and they're undoubtedly the works of a genius.

And anyway, while scandals become mildly amusing biographical facts, the power of good works remains unchanged. That's the test of time.

Quote:
How much of the fascination about Virginia Woolf comes from the fact that she suicided?).
None, in my opinion. She's a genius. She's one of the greatest minds of the 20th century and I say that not as someone who's heard it in literary class but as someone who read her, compared her, and came out utterly fascinated, and changed. She had a profound impact on me, and not just with her essays on feminism. Her work sets the beginning of a new era in literature which has influenced everything written since, to this day, directly or through the wheel of time. Her suicide (or mental illness, or supposed homosexuality) has nothing to do with that whatsoever.


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Old May 14th, 2010, 3:27 pm
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Re: Biweekly Book Thread #1

1. What are the classics you've read that you think are overrated? Why do you think so?
The first 'classic' I read was To Kill A Mockingbird when I was 13 and it's still one of my favourites. Pretty much every 'classic' I've read since I've immensely disliked, especially Jane Austen *hides from angry mob*. I really can't stand her stories at all. The worst one my school made me read was Brave New World which IMO is dull and poorly written.
I don't know about why these stories are overrated. To me, they're just unappealing, unoriginal and boring. I can't see anything in them which should make them stand out or have the title of 'classic'. I tried explaining to my year 12 English teacher that "classic doesn't automatically equal quality". She wasn't impressed

2. Are you glad you read the classic, even if you didn't like it?
Like with Twilight, I'm glad I read them so now I can explain why I dislike them.

I'm sure there are some other great classics out there that I haven't read (but mean to), I've just had a pretty bad strike record so far.


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