Thursday, January 20, 2011

Literary Blog Hop

Literary Blog HopLiterary Blog Hop: Jan 20-23

Discuss a work of literary merit that you hated when you were made to read it in school or university. Why did you dislike it?

First of all, hate is a very strong word and I do not think I have ever read "a work of literary merit" that I truly hated (I reserve that for books without literary merit).  However, I have had the experience of disliking some worthy literary tomes that were assigned as reading in school.  Those that I remember the best are the ones that I subsequently reread with much more appreciation for the aspects of the book that I did not appreciate originally.  One of the most notable examples in my experience was my first encounter with the writing of George Eliot, namely her novel Silas Marner.  I remember finding it both difficult and dull.  The nuances of Eliot's prose were lost on me and even in a short novel, as this is, I found the reading difficult.  As a young high school student I had little interest in this miser and the orphan girl that he takes in and raises as his own. 

 Only in recent years as an adult who has read and reread Eliot's other novels, especially Middlemarch, with great appreciation did I return to this small novel from her early years as a writer.  I found Silas Marner to be a much different book than the one I remembered disliking in High School, or rather I was a much different person who, in my current persona, discovered the real literary merit that had been hidden from me when I was a mere teen.  The ability of Eliot to portray the power of love to heal the unjustly damaged person that Silas had become made this a masterly work of authorial genius.  This realization took more reading experience than I had at the time I was originally "required" to read the novel.  It seems I have spent as many words describing how I overcame my original dislike of this novel, while the original question was simply why I disliked it.  I guess I find the discovery and correction of my error more interesting and also find the experience explains why I am less likely to judge a book, especially one that appears to be of literary merit, harshly upon first reading.


Rachel said...

Speaking as a high school teacher I would never set Silas Marner as a text. Not even for my senior classes. Speaking as a reader, I read it during my last year of university and loved it, but I think it was the right time for me to read it too.

I agree with you, sometimes a book we disliked when young is so much better when we are older and can appreciate it more. Although, the likeliness of me wanting to pick up a book I remember as being 'bad' isn't high.

James said...

Thanks for your comment. This is probably an experience that is common to many readers.

LifetimeReader said...

You are so right that the moment we read a book determines so much about how we enjoy it. As an adult watching my son begin to read his first "classics," I'm getting a bit of a double perspective and finding it fascinating.

I'm very pleased to find your blog!

James said...

Thanks for your observation about reading. I hope you and your son enjoy many more books.

Adam said...

Have you read The Mill on the Floss? That one - though not her most popular- was, by far, my favorite of her works.

parrish lantern said...

as ones perspective changes, so can ones tastes, it's amazing how just by gaining experience i.e growing up can make things faced with dread, now seem palatable. Although my issue wasn't the book, but the teacher.

James said...


I have read and enjoyed The Mill on the Floss. I have found that I like all of Eliot that I have read (I've only missed Romola).

gautami tripathy said...

Some books are so difficult to get into. And those put us off that author too, for always.

And my teacher spoiled A Passage to India for me. But I did go back and loved it!

Here is my Literary Blog Hop: Disliked Book post!

Melody said...

A lot of these classics take a patience to absorb that not many teens possess.

I like that you persisted in overcoming your original opinion; I'm sure that experience has made a difference in your subsequent reading experiences.

James said...


You are so right about the need for patience. I now find I am more willing to try again with a novel that I dislike, especially when given the chance to reread it (Atonement was a recent novel which I liked only upon a third (!) reading. I often reread books, but seldom have had this experience.

Elizabeth said...

My read was STONEHENGE DECODED...uggh. Did anyone else have to suffer through it?

Stop by my blog if you like to see my full answer...I also have a giveaway that isn't very literary, but check it out.