I have resisted writing a post like this for a long time now, but I am giving into the temptation. Not too long ago, I read a funny post by Dead White Guys called "I hate your favorite book" in which she ranted about a couple of beloved classics. Although I do really love one of the books she mentioned, I still found the blog amusing and entertaining. I'm hoping that my entry will likewise entertain you and not aggravate you. Although I'm not exactly trying to copy what she did, I have had a burning desire to get this off my chest for a while now, so I'm taking her playful entry as a green light.
I have very consciously limited all of my reviews to books that I believe deserve to be designated as "Classic Literature." This has somewhat limited the amount of writing I can do because there are a considerable number of books that I regularly read which I do not think should be included in this list. I've noticed that a lot of bloggers follow the formula of summarizing and then giving their opinions, whether good or bad. There's nothing wrong with that, as it can be quite helpful, but I guess I've been trying to offer something a little different by picking up on one or two interesting issues within books that I love. But believe me, I do not love every book I read.
Ok, ok, enough procrastinating. Here goes... I really do not like Jane Austen. Whew. There it is. I have to admit that I have not read all of her novels, and I recognize that there is a possibility that I could change my mind if I did. But for now, I just have my feelings from reading two of them, and I am not a fan. The problem is that my favorite thing about novels is the psychological character development. I am fascinated by a multi-layered character who goes through struggles and accomplishments while moving toward the end of the novel. I love getting inside a character's head, and I want a plot that emphasizes that. Austen's characters are somewhat one-dimensional, and I can predict the ending by chapter two. I understand that her skill is in the use of language and wit, but it feels too frivolous to be a truly great novel for me. I'm sorry, Austen fans.
There have been a couple of novellas I read recently that disappointed me. For example, I felt let down by The Stranger by Albert Camus. I struggled to enjoy it in its complete lack of redemption and spirit. I also thought The Old Man and the Sea didn't have a lot to offer, which is unusual for Hemingway in my experience. Plus, I've seen it on a couple of "Best Books of All Time" lists, which surprises me. Oh, and this is old news, but I absolutely hated Melville's Billy Budd when I read it a while ago. That was brutal! (To be fair to Melville, I've read about two-thirds of Moby Dick and definitely find it to be a great improvement, though way too long-winded at times.) Now that I'm getting carried away, I may as well add that I really didn't like Jane Eyre the first time I read it either, but I was so young that I know I should probably try it again... I just don't particularly feel like it. I could also list a handful of contemporary novels I've read that disappointed me, but I'd rather not. And don't get me started on poetry...
Finally, there's an extremely important literary figure whom I do not particularly care for. This has always been my cardinal sin as a literature lover, and I am reluctant to talk about it quite as openly. But I will give you a significant hint and say he's the big "S." If you know who I am talking about and are infuriated, please know that I do not discount his contribution to literature and yet I have my reasons for my dislike.
That was actually more fun than I thought. I do apologize if you've taken any of this personally and can't believe my bad taste, but at the same time I don't feel too badly because I'm talking about some dead authors' writing, not about your mother. But after this, I promise I'll be better about biting my tongue again and keeping my negative opinions to myself... at least for a little while.