Worst/Overrated books.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby gmalivuk » Fri May 04, 2012 2:00 am UTC

sdkelso wrote:Not all theories agree that we should consult sources outside the text. But you're right, there are things that are necessary to consult. The debate is messy, though, so I'll leave it at that. If you wish to read more on the matter, try this.

Nevertheless, it is contested. I've often heard people proclaim the subjectivity and relativity of literary studies (as was done in this thread).
Since all these different theories disagree, how are we to pick which one is the "right" one when it comes to judging whether a work is overrated?
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby sdkelso » Fri May 04, 2012 2:20 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
sdkelso wrote:Not all theories agree that we should consult sources outside the text. But you're right, there are things that are necessary to consult. The debate is messy, though, so I'll leave it at that. If you wish to read more on the matter, try this.

Nevertheless, it is contested. I've often heard people proclaim the subjectivity and relativity of literary studies (as was done in this thread).
Since all these different theories disagree, how are we to pick which one is the "right" one when it comes to judging whether a work is overrated?


First of all, your question is in error--there is no "right" theory. The questions you ask generate the meanings you make. Works can be appreciated in different ways and different information can be gained from different types of reading. For instance, a Marxist might be interested in showing how literature illustrates class struggle (Marxists, excuse the reduction), whereas a feminist might be concerned about how the book represents women (feminists, excuse the reduction). You can't really say that one of these schools is more "right" than the other--both are objective analyses. They just focus on different evidence.

You may wish to argue that the techniques that these schools of criticism employ cannot be valued any higher than those used by a common reader (this is where your question about overrated-ness comes in). Notice that the ends of two examples I gave are political knowledge. This is quite different than the "reading for pleasure" undertaken by most readers, so I would say that they're incomparable. It would make much more sense to compare this "reading for pleasure" to a more similar school of criticism, that of formalism. Formalists appreciate the text as an end in itself (or an end in pleasure). I think that it's a higher form of the common "reading for pleasure." What justification do I have for that? The respect in which they differ is that formalism goes much deeper into the text for its appreciation. Consequently, formalists understand the text more than a common reader. And appreciation and evaluation is certainly more valuable the more one understand the object of appreciation and evaluation. Therefore, I'd say that formalism is the theory you're looking for. But, as Angua pointed out, we have been equivocating in our use of the word "overrated." The fuzzy concept of overrated that the lay-person has is quite different than my analytical definition. Nonetheless, he or she is right in pointing out that it is the former definition that this thread is centered around.

Edit: I feel it's necessary to restate my point. All I meant to say is that one should understand a book at a level comparable to those who first rated it before one can begin evaluating that rating. I'm not pretending that everybody who understands the book on that level will agree. Some critics will have different ideas about what makes a work valuable, and others might say that all value judgments are impossible. However, these are questions of aesthetics and are quite unrelated to this issue at hand which has only to do with understanding. And again, let me say that I accept Angua's analysis of the situation and have conceded that the person who originally made that statement was not in error.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri May 04, 2012 5:10 am UTC

sdkelso wrote:(2) Objective means 'with attention on the object as opposed to the subject'
This is just true.

OK, so "objective" means something different in lit crit from what it means in analytic philosophy. But I'm fairly certain that Ixtellor was using the objective/subjective distinction our way, viz. that the non-trivial parts of literary criticism are not about mind-independent facts. You can be focused on an object and still be making claims that have no truth-value outside of the mind's eye.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby sdkelso » Fri May 04, 2012 5:23 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
sdkelso wrote:(2) Objective means 'with attention on the object as opposed to the subject'
This is just true.

OK, so "objective" means something different in lit crit from what it means in analytic philosophy. But I'm fairly certain that Ixtellor was using the objective/subjective distinction our way, viz. that the non-trivial parts of literary criticism are not about mind-independent facts. You can be focused on an object and still be making claims that have no truth-value outside of the mind's eye.


I can assure you that almost no one uses the terms objective and subjective with their philosophical definitions in mind. The distinction is usually made between "based on facts and evidence" and "based on opinion," which are really just bastardized versions of the definitions I gave. When people say that something is objective they mean that it can be argued about, and when they say subjective they mean that it cannot be argued about (as opinions will differ from person to person). In fact, when I say that literary criticism is objective I mean that critics try to see a literary work through a universal "mind's eye" so that their work is not informed by their opinions.

Being a student of epistemology, you would know that scientific observations are just as philosophically subjective as literary ones, which would make this argument pointless.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri May 04, 2012 5:36 am UTC

I'm not sure where you're from, but around here epistemology classes usually do not teach ludicrous unsubstantiated judgments as fact.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby sdkelso » Fri May 04, 2012 5:45 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:I'm not sure where you're from, but around here epistemology classes usually do not teach ludicrous unsubstantiated judgments as fact.


Excuse me, how are we to differentiate between the two types of observations? The perception of a water molecule being made out of two hydrogens and one oxygen (a scientific observation) is no more objective than the fact that, for instance, there is assonance in this sentence (a literary observation).

Notice that I'm not talking about a priori mathematical truths or principles of reasoning, but that's not what I said, is it? I said "scientific observations." There can be no observation without a subject.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri May 04, 2012 5:48 am UTC

sdkelso wrote:The perception of a water molecule being made out of two hydrogens and one oxygen (a scientific observation) is no more objective than the fact that, for instance, there is assonance in this sentence (a literary observation).

No, and if all literary criticism did were to catalog assonance then what you said would be right.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby sdkelso » Fri May 04, 2012 5:59 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
sdkelso wrote:The perception of a water molecule being made out of two hydrogens and one oxygen (a scientific observation) is no more objective than the fact that, for instance, there is assonance in this sentence (a literary observation).

No, and if all literary criticism did were to catalog assonance then what you said would be right.


Literary criticism takes a body of observations (structure, diction, tone, etc.) and uses them to draw conclusions, much like science. These conclusions and the methods by which they are drawn are not based upon the subject's opinion, they are based upon whatever paradigm currently underlies the discipline, much like science (don't let the plurality of paradigms fool you, they are analogous to the different types of science [biology, chemistry, etc.]).

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Ixtellor » Fri May 04, 2012 1:23 pm UTC

sdkelso wrote:Literary criticism takes a body of observations (structure, diction, tone, etc.) and uses them to draw conclusions, much like science. These conclusions and the methods by which they are drawn are not based upon the subject's opinion, they are based upon whatever paradigm currently underlies the discipline, much like science (don't let the plurality of paradigms fool you, they are analogous to the different types of science [biology, chemistry, etc.]).


The underlined portion is the subjective part of your discipline.

Arbitrary rules are created based on a group of people whose only function in society is to make up rules about literature.

I find the same problem in my discipline (political science) as well. People accumulate PhD's, get teaching/reasearch jobs then have to 'justifiy' their discipline with the constant pressure to create something new. Then "BLAMO" (like a super hero) someone creates a paradigm for a new type of criticism. Then all the lit majors get to reevaluate the great works and look for "evidence". Its no different in my realm where someone (Rorty) says "I discovered postmodern bourgeois liberalism" and then people study their(his) work in their continual pursuit of 'education'.

I am not attacking criticism as I think its very interesting and allows the reader to digest texts in a new an interesting way.

(My wife is the QUEEN of dissecting Mad Men and identifying how all the characters, scenes, and settings, in a particular episode contribute to an overarching theme)

But you must realize that its all subjective. The rules established to apply criticism, are completely made up. They may seem very logical and the rules seem to work... its not scientific. The scientific method is not applicable to criticism, because the rules are subjective and arbitrary. Spring = rebirth is a made up human concept and not testable, measureable, or falsifiable.

Language is a manmade concept that means whatever we want it to mean and more importantly has different meanings to different observers. Maybe in the authors subconsious a tree = freedom. And since you can never know what influenced the authors choices, its completely subjective to claim you do.

Read books, have fun, don't claim you know some universal truth about them that others don't.

(I actually do agree with your premise that great works are more enjoyable if your are educated in literature. Shakespear is basically inaccessable to the modern teenager(xkcd geniuses withstanding) without a guide)
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby gmalivuk » Fri May 04, 2012 1:47 pm UTC

sdkelso wrote:Literary criticism takes a body of observations (structure, diction, tone, etc.) and uses them to draw conclusions, much like science.
Except "tone" is not objective, nor are conclusions based on it. Just look at every single discussion that's been derailed by tone arguments.

These conclusions and the methods by which they are drawn are not based upon the subject's opinion, they are based upon whatever paradigm currently underlies the discipline, much like science (don't let the plurality of paradigms fool you, they are analogous to the different types of science [biology, chemistry, etc.]).
Biology and chemistry are not different underlying paradigms, though. They are simply different levels of abstraction, more appropriate for looking at different facets of reality.

If you insist on making analogies with science, pretty much the only one that will work is to compare different critical theories to different interpretations of quantum mechanics: Different ones can be "correct" based on their own paradigms, despite drawing apparently contradictory conclusions about what's going on.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby UniqueScreenname » Fri May 04, 2012 5:44 pm UTC

I happen to really hate Huckleberry Finn. Barely made it through six chapters.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Ixtellor » Fri May 04, 2012 6:25 pm UTC

UniqueScreenname wrote:I happen to really hate Huckleberry Finn. Barely made it through six chapters.


Then clearly you need to get a degree in Mark Twain with a minor in the antebellum south, then you will enjoy it.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby sdkelso » Sat May 05, 2012 12:11 am UTC

Ixtellor wrote:
UniqueScreenname wrote:I happen to really hate Huckleberry Finn. Barely made it through six chapters.


Then clearly you need to get a degree in Mark Twain with a minor in the antebellum south, then you will enjoy it.


Oh for fucks sake. I'm done here.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby SecondTalon » Sat May 05, 2012 3:14 am UTC

Well, you did ask me to ban you. I guess you have poor impulse control or a lack of will. I can help!
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby CorruptUser » Mon May 07, 2012 2:20 am UTC

ahammel wrote:
piwakawaka42 wrote:I have real issues with anything from beofre the 1920s or so. THe pacing is just far too slow. And as for Lovecraft's verbosity AND lack of pacing...
(puts on firefighter's suit to prepare for flames from English majors/Lovecraft fans)

O_o

Isn't that a little like saying "everything written by a male author with a 'J' in his name is too slow"? Pace wasn't invented during the First World War, you know.

On the other hand, I actually quite like Lovecraft, but that is an entirely reasonable complaint.


Well, a lot of 19th century books were written in blurbs that were published in journals, each week being the next chapter. But you sometimes had to remind the reader what happened last time, so they repeated themselves. For example, there's Great Expectations, and the abridged version with the same exact stuff but 3/5 the size.

Also, some were paid by the word, so figuring out how to turn a 150 page book into a 350 page book paid well.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby The Moomin » Thu May 10, 2012 11:51 pm UTC

I think Mark Danielewski is highly over-rated.

I don't think anyone will ever convince me that his shenanigans with randomly coloured letters, words and dicking about with the layouts of the pages serves any other purpose than to distract from the fact he can't write for toffee.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Jorpho » Fri May 11, 2012 4:11 am UTC

Maybe so, but I've never seen anything else quite like it. And I did find his portrayal of Truant to be pretty convincing, at least. Or is there some other author who does a much better job at portraying a similar character?

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby LaserGuy » Fri May 11, 2012 5:17 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Well, a lot of 19th century books were written in blurbs that were published in journals, each week being the next chapter. But you sometimes had to remind the reader what happened last time, so they repeated themselves. For example, there's Great Expectations, and the abridged version with the same exact stuff but 3/5 the size.

Also, some were paid by the word, so figuring out how to turn a 150 page book into a 350 page book paid well.


While I agree that this was a problem, particularly with sort of the 18-19th century era books, I don't think it is unreasonable to say that, on the whole, the average book written in 2012 is probably better than the average book that we have from 1812, simply because writers today have access to all of the books written between 1812 and 2012 that the 1812 writers didn't, and can use those books as a resource to figure out how to make their writing better or their stories more interesting. There are a lot of classic books that are hugely influential on modern literature, but that nobody really likes to read except because then they'll be able to feel more cultured for having read this important (but dull) book.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby The Moomin » Fri May 11, 2012 10:40 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:Maybe so, but I've never seen anything else quite like it. And I did find his portrayal of Truant to be pretty convincing, at least. Or is there some other author who does a much better job at portraying a similar character?


"Not seeing anything else quite like it" is not a positive. Maybe there's a reason no-one else does books like that?

I admit I can't remember the character of Truant, as I read 'House of Leaves' a few years back. Currently attempting 'Only Revolutions' as I was given a copy for free. Not only has coherent sentence construction been abandoned, so have actual words in places. The side entries of the timeline are informative though.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby emceng » Fri May 11, 2012 1:37 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Well, a lot of 19th century books were written in blurbs that were published in journals, each week being the next chapter. But you sometimes had to remind the reader what happened last time, so they repeated themselves. For example, there's Great Expectations, and the abridged version with the same exact stuff but 3/5 the size.

Also, some were paid by the word, so figuring out how to turn a 150 page book into a 350 page book paid well.


While I agree that this was a problem, particularly with sort of the 18-19th century era books, I don't think it is unreasonable to say that, on the whole, the average book written in 2012 is probably better than the average book that we have from 1812, simply because writers today have access to all of the books written between 1812 and 2012 that the 1812 writers didn't, and can use those books as a resource to figure out how to make their writing better or their stories more interesting. There are a lot of classic books that are hugely influential on modern literature, but that nobody really likes to read except because then they'll be able to feel more cultured for having read this important (but dull) book.



I have to disagree here for a few reasons. How many books were published each year in 1800 versus now? I'd guess it's at least a 1000 times as many, if not more. With that many books published, how many are truly well written? Look at the number of vanity publishers out there. Look at some of the most popular books recently - Twilight, Da Vinci Code, etc. There's lots of dreck and crap that is published and read.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby ahammel » Fri May 11, 2012 8:57 pm UTC

emceng wrote:I have to disagree here for a few reasons. How many books were published each year in 1800 versus now? I'd guess it's at least a 1000 times as many, if not more. With that many books published, how many are truly well written? Look at the number of vanity publishers out there. Look at some of the most popular books recently - Twilight, Da Vinci Code, etc. There's lots of dreck and crap that is published and read.

I'd imagine that most of the books published in 1800 were dreck as well, it's just that history has raked them out for you.

It's probably the case that there are more good authors working now than in 1800, simply because there are more authors period working now.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Jorpho » Sat May 12, 2012 2:41 am UTC

emceng wrote: With that many books published, how many are truly well written? Look at the number of vanity publishers out there. Look at some of the most popular books recently - Twilight, Da Vinci Code, etc. There's lots of dreck and crap that is published and read.
People read stuff from vanity publishers?

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby LaserGuy » Sat May 12, 2012 3:46 am UTC

emceng wrote:I have to disagree here for a few reasons. How many books were published each year in 1800 versus now? I'd guess it's at least a 1000 times as many, if not more. With that many books published, how many are truly well written? Look at the number of vanity publishers out there. Look at some of the most popular books recently - Twilight, Da Vinci Code, etc. There's lots of dreck and crap that is published and read.


Well, purely on a statistical basis, if you have 1000 times as events to sample, you are going to have more outliers. Even if quality was constant (which I don't think it is), based on the 1000:1 figures, there would be as many books that are 3 standard deviations above the mean printed now as there would be books printed in 1800 of all levels of quality.

Quality and popularity aren't necessarily related quantities anyway.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby emceng » Sat May 12, 2012 7:27 pm UTC

Ok, a few things:

1) we're talking average, not # of books. So yes, there are probably more good books written today. The debate is whether the average quality has improved.

2) do we address volume sold? If so the flood of poor but popular books(like Twilight) would sway the numbers, but the vanity press books would also affect it.

My thought is this - with an increase in literacy, a broader selection of books are being written and read. In the 1800s the average people that were reading were typically better educated, and higher class. They expected well written material. Today, everyone reads. Average quality doesn't have to be the same, and isn't.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Jorpho » Sat May 12, 2012 9:40 pm UTC

emceng wrote:My thought is this - with an increase in literacy, a broader selection of books are being written and read. In the 1800s the average people that were reading were typically better educated, and higher class. They expected well written material. Today, everyone reads. Average quality doesn't have to be the same, and isn't.
Interesting. It would probably also be true the other way: in the 1800's the only people who could afford to devote much time to writing were probably well off, and wealth may correlate to some extent with education level; nowadays, it's a lot more feasible for more people to take a swing at it.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby LaserGuy » Sun May 13, 2012 4:34 am UTC

emceng wrote:Ok, a few things:

1) we're talking average, not # of books. So yes, there are probably more good books written today. The debate is whether the average quality has improved.

2) do we address volume sold? If so the flood of poor but popular books(like Twilight) would sway the numbers, but the vanity press books would also affect it.


I'm talking about number of volumes written, not sold. Twilight is one book (four, I guess, if you include all volumes in the series). And as I said, popularity has nothing to do with quality. Anyway, AFAIK, we don't have good records of what books were bestsellers in the 19th Century, so it's hard to make any sort of accurate comparison.

emceng wrote:My thought is this - with an increase in literacy, a broader selection of books are being written and read. In the 1800s the average people that were reading were typically better educated, and higher class. They expected well written material. Today, everyone reads. Average quality doesn't have to be the same, and isn't.


Well, the people who were reading in the 1800s may have been better educated compared to their contemporaries. They certainly aren't better educated than an average person today. Both quality and quantity (per pupil as well as number of pupils) of education have improved dramatically since then. Since the average quality of education has improved, one would naturally expect that both the average reader and the average writer would improve as well. Moreover, as I alluded to earlier, a writer today has access to many of the best writings written in the 19th Century and onward, and can use those writings as a framework to produce better literature. It's basically the same reason why we expect that science in the 19th Century is going to be inferior to science in the 21st Century.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby maybeagnostic » Mon May 14, 2012 2:00 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Moreover, as I alluded to earlier, a writer today has access to many of the best writings written in the 19th Century and onward, and can use those writings as a framework to produce better literature. It's basically the same reason why we expect that science in the 19th Century is going to be inferior to science in the 21st Century.

Except literature doesn't build on itself in nearly as straightforward a way as science. Even if it did, good writing depends on mastery of language and language has changed quite a bit since the 19th century. Some modern books ( Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel for example) do rely on the writing style of a historical period but that just shows how little most other modern books do the same. Even something as recent as classical sci-fi (~'50s-'60s) sounds very distinct from today's works in the same genre. To top that most really good authors have styles distinct enough to make an impression in just a few pages.

P.S. On topic: I tried reading The Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce recently. It had great reviews and I usually like simple fantasy or YA novels a lot but I thought this series was terrible. Horrible writing, unlikable characters, and a kind of incoherent story.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Laserdan » Mon May 14, 2012 2:46 pm UTC

American Sniper

Not sure if it's actually overrated (though there were lots of glowing reviews of supposed patriots), but it was a horrible book. In writing and in content. The guy is a complete basket case.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby von todwin » Tue May 29, 2012 2:12 am UTC

I regret the fact that just as the conversation was becoming civil and productive, someone had to goad that poster into being banned. I know it was because of the language, but it still seems pretty classless. As another literature student, I feel the need to comment on a few loose ends of that conversation—feel free to reject or counter the claims as you see fit; I don’t wish to derail the conversation too much. It’s clear that his/her use of “objective” was unacceptable to the scientific crowd, but I think it was fairly clear: objective is the use of direct evidence adhering to a system of knowledge. Objective evidence has to follow “rules” of a discourse. The scientific method is simply one more type of discourse; it has the claim to being the most empirical, but it’s founded on the same principle of evidence needing to adhere to the system. If you want, we can call literary theory locally objective, or objective to its discourse. Hence the comparisons between the two. The reason it’s somewhat presumptuous to say a “classic” is overrated without being an expert in the field is that most classics have been the object of rigorous study for years, even centuries. Also, insisting that it's entirely subjective is a bit of a slap in the face, since we spend much of our time when writing articles or books attempting to go beyond our personal responses to a work. As an extremely simple example, if I say a book is overrated because a critical scene comes out of nowhere, I may have missed the hundred pages of foreshadowing, symbolism, and foundation work that leads to the scene. An untrained reader is more likely to be the one that misses these elements, which is why it grates someone who’s dedicated his/her life to the study to hear that work called “overrated.” By the system of that literary discourse, such pieces of evidence--foreshadowing, symbolism, character development--are objective (rather than a conclusion like “I thought this character was boring”); they rely on specific evidence from the text, not on what you can pull out of thin air. Yes, this can include ideas like tone, which can be treated a lot more objective than you might think, though you may notice that tone is not often the primary element of professional literary study, simply because it is difficult to do so.

Anyway, so that this entire post isn’t limited to personal indignation, my own votes for overrated would go toward Harry Potter and much of Hemingway. Harry Potter didn’t affect me on much more than a one-time-readthrough level; there’s nothing wrong with it necessarily, but I think a lot of what I consider the overratedness comes from people getting wrapped up in the HP culture more than the books themselves (if that makes any sense). Hemingway is personal inclination; it’s an immediate reaction to compare him to Faulkner, since they were contemporaries. I find that Faulkner offers as much in the way of subtlety, while still throwing exquisitely beautiful sentences and fragments at you. Hemingway (for me) only offers the subtlety.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:31 pm UTC

I'd say the great Gatsby was good, but overrated. I think it would have made a better novella and a lot of parts could have been cut out, like where it goes on for <n> pages describing the varied, quirky, and interesting guests coming to Gatsby's parties. Yes, the first guest was interesting, and the second; okay I get it there's a lot of them and they're all interesting; alright, now I'm bored with interesting people.

I remember there being a list titled "greatest 100 novels in the English language." or something with Gatsby at the top and no mention of a literary criticism framework. I think many people would think that implies something like "The 100 books we most recommend for an English speaker to read." It might be prefect according to a host of literary analyses I don't understand, but I wouldn't put it at the top of a recommendation list. That's essentially how I'd define an "overrated classic".

Tale of two cities. I hate Dickens' use of coincidence. If problem X is solved by Y and Y occurs by chance, the author might as well say "Problem X just magically went away" as far as I'm concerned. On the whole I found A Christmas Carol more believable.

Theater as literature as a whole. One does not "read" a play anymore than one eats or spends it. Highschoolers don't connect with Shakespeare's characters because there's meant to be an actor conveying an emotion with every line (what's a "lewd minx"? Judging from his tone I'd say "%#(&ing whore").

The Sound and the Fury. It's a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury (and signifying nothing?) I gave up after ten-fifteen pages. No matter how clever it was on the meta level, in the end I wanted to read a tale told by a skilled and accomplished novelist, not an idiot. Note that it's not told as if TO an idiot; the narrator has no idea what's going on and the action is left as a riddle for the reader.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Jorpho » Wed Aug 01, 2012 3:06 am UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:I'd say the great Gatsby was good, but overrated. I think it would have made a better novella and a lot of parts could have been cut out, like where it goes on for <n> pages describing the varied, quirky, and interesting guests coming to Gatsby's parties.
Eh? I think it might be the shortest piece of assigned reading I ever had in high school. Which isn't to say that it couldn't be shorter, I suppose, but the length is one of the things it has going for it, relatively speaking.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Guu » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:03 pm UTC

A friend of mine recommended Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, saying it was "exceptional, awesome, mind-blowing" or something like that.
I couldn't quite agree with that, I thought there were too many characters with strange names doing strange stuff for (to me, at least) no apparent reason. Also, because there were too many characters, I found it difficult to "identify" with or keep track of the different personalities - which ended with me not caring what happened to them. (Maybe I should give it a second try...)

Also, The Physician by Noah Gordon. It's a good read, but the historical "facts" are all mixed up :P

Effi Briest by Fontane (german author). We had to read it in school. Basically, it's about a whiny girl getting married, becoming depressed, having an affair and dying, but it drags on and on. And somewhere, somehow there's a chinese guy. Oo

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Jesse » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:37 am UTC

Haunted is probably Chuck's weakest book, but also one of his most recommended. He's certainly not for everyone.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby ahammel » Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:22 am UTC

Jesse wrote:Haunted is probably Chuck's weakest book, but also one of his most recommended.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Metaphysician » Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:09 am UTC

Moby Dick.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby DR6 » Sat Feb 23, 2013 6:22 pm UTC

From HgttG, "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish" was horrible. The first three were awesome, and the fourth was good enough, but that one isn't. It feels more like a fanfic of the series than an actual part of it.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Jorpho » Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:16 am UTC

Considering "So Long And Thanks For All The Fish" was the fourth book, I have to assume you're referring to "Mostly Harmless".

I was quite taken with the bits about sandwich making; I thought they were very nicely done. The rest is rather forgettable.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby DR6 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 9:37 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:Considering "So Long And Thanks For All The Fish" was the fourth book, I have to assume you're referring to "Mostly Harmless".

I was quite taken with the bits about sandwich making; I thought they were very nicely done. The rest is rather forgettable.

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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:41 pm UTC

Looking backward 1888 - 2000 stands out because it had no conflict. The book is almost entirely one character explaining to the protagonist how the (fictional) year 2000 is different from the year 1888.
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Re: Worst/Overrated books.

Postby ygp » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:12 am UTC

I seem to recall reading (perhaps in the assorted writings in The Salmon of Doubt) an interview with Adams saying that he himself wasn't particularly happy with Mostly Harmless, as he had been fairly depressed while writing it, and that he wanted to eventually write a sixth book, to clear everything up a bit more. In fact, he thought that many of the ideas he had for TSoD would be better in a Hitchhiker novel.

(It's been a while since I read it, so there may be some inaccuracies in the above)


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