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Most overrated novel of all time?

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Showing 201-225 of 466 posts in this discussion
Posted on Jun 6, 2012, 5:27:23 PM PDT
Not technically a novel, but Romeo & Juliet just doesn't do it for me. I took a class on Shakespeare in university and he has so many incredible plays. I don't know why everyone is so smitten by that one.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2012, 9:04:48 AM PDT
Nick Jones says:
A Midsummer Night's Dream; lame beginning and end, middle not bad.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012, 7:43:49 AM PDT
KOMET says:
"Most overrated novel of all time?"

Never was I MORE RELIEVED to be done with reading a book as I was with this one. This novel, in which Alessandro Giuliani, an aging First World War veteran in his dotage, speaks about his life to a young lad (Nicolo) in his late teens while the 2 make their way on foot from the countryside to Rome during August 1964, is ponderous and tiresome. Alessandro, who grew up and lived a life of ease and comfort up til the First World War, loves to pontificate on just about any subject. In this respect, he comes across as very annoying and pompous.

The prose also had a tendency to be clunky and superfluous. All in all, this novel was a very bitter pill to swallow. UGH!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012, 12:26:31 AM PDT
Anything by Joseph Conrad. I just do not get them.

Posted on Jun 9, 2012, 2:11:05 AM PDT
Anything by David Foster Wallace, Faulkner and Joyce; everything I tried to read on the Best Seller lists by women writing book after book about 'romance' (I did this as an experiment when I realized ----that in a span of about 20 years----one Sunday I noticed that every book on the list was written by a woman, not a single one was written by a male, as opposed to earlier times when there was), John Irving's latest books in which the theme he chose in ".....Garp...." and one the funniest books I ever read, but has now become an obsession and seemingly a "Cause".

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012, 5:26:17 AM PDT
'probabilist says:
> Another vote for Atlas Shrugged.

Aye. That one gets my vote, too.


In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012, 8:39:03 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 9, 2012, 8:41:36 AM PDT
Laura and Nick Jones:

I just wanted to say that I think "Midsummer Night's Dream" is the best children's play ever written. It's wonderful, except that the young Will didn't really know how to bring it to a tight conclusion and sort of flounders there at the end, bumbling through the wedding celebration party until the very end. Thank the gods for Puck.

I also think that "Romeo and Juliet" is a splendid play, extremely impressive for a young playwright.

Okay, you want to know my take on the two most over-rated plays in the Shakespeare canon? "Hamlet" and "A Winter's Tale". Hamlet has some great writing, but the central character is such an unsympathetic, whinging nimrod. About one-third of the way through, I always want to grab him by the throat and say, "You've found the murderer, the usurper - now get on with it, guy!"

"A Winter's Tale" (aka, "The Winter's Tale") ... I just see nothing there. It seems like the work of a third-rate Jacobean scribbler. And this was one of the Bard's last plays. (Thank the gods he more of less finished his career with "The Tempest", one of his greatest works. In fact, one of the greatest plays ever written in English.)
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In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012, 12:38:51 PM PDT
Sweetie says:
Agreed! I loved the movies (Swedish version please) but couldn't get 1/3 of the way through the book. Boring, boring, boring....

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012, 6:00:33 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 13, 2012, 2:15:27 PM PDT
Brian Downing,
Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is NOT a novel. Despite a dash of fiction here and there, whatever it is, a novel it ain't.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012, 6:08:04 PM PDT
I agree with you. I finished THE ROAD by Cormack McCarthy just to legitimately claim I had read it, and thus had a right to criticize it. Otherwise a complete waste of my time.

Posted on Jun 9, 2012, 7:50:14 PM PDT
Jack Durish says:
What a great opportunity to annoy people. You just know that someone had to mention the Bible just to stir the pot. Then there are those who simply "hate" works like Huckleberry Finn, "Anything by Hemingway," etc., etc., again (I'm betting) just to stir the pot. Okay, here's a suggestion for one that I honestly believe is overrated: Gone With The Wind. I simply can't stand the heroine (as a person) and "don't give a damn" what happens to her. So, why should I care to struggle through it to find out.

Posted on Jun 9, 2012, 11:21:11 PM PDT
MelP says:
A book can be great, or just enjoyable, without being universally loved, of course. A paunchy stuffy "classic" that hasn't been mentioned yet, to my surprise, is 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'. Wilde apparently thought that writing about beautiful objects made a beautiful story, and no one since seems to have noticed to what boring results his theory led.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2012, 8:29:13 AM PDT
D. Brittain says:
You listed Pride and Prejudice as an over rated book.
My wife has read it probably three times, and would loudly dispute your claim!
I'll have to admit that I have never read it, though.


In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2012, 8:39:20 AM PDT
D. Brittain says:
R.H. Stern,

My dizzy sister read Gone With the Wind eleven (11) times. Can you believe? (We have not spoken to each other in 12 years.)

I shouldn't talk, though. When I was in junior high, I read Robin Hood 8 times....


Posted on Jul 29, 2012, 8:45:13 AM PDT
D. Brittain says:
When I was in high school (early '50s), we had to read Silas Marner (at least that is the way I remember the title). It was awful.

Posted on Jul 29, 2012, 8:45:41 AM PDT
D. Brittain says:
When I was in high school (early '50s), we had to read Silas Marner (at least that is the way I remember the title). It was awful.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2012, 8:54:24 AM PDT
D. Brittain says:
S. Davis,
The Bible. Probably 99 out of 100 who own copies have never read more than a bit here and there. It sits on the shelf unread, collection dust (just like my several copies).

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2012, 8:56:28 AM PDT
D. Brittain says:
David T.
And yet stuff my Henry James is still in print.
I don't understand why.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2012, 12:00:58 PM PDT
Verna says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2012, 12:06:51 PM PDT
Verna says:
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Posted on Jul 29, 2012, 2:38:06 PM PDT
Anything by Steinbeck. Overrated..

Posted on Jul 29, 2012, 3:33:09 PM PDT
Nicki says:
50 shades of grey

Posted on Jul 29, 2012, 4:58:10 PM PDT
Eve Ringel says:
Nabokov------anything by

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 30, 2012, 7:37:14 AM PDT
I. Deaconu says:
You could try Arnaldur Indridasson - a very good Icelander crime novelist.

Posted on Jul 30, 2012, 8:36:43 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 30, 2012, 8:43:23 PM PDT
Nearenough says:
I started a reading program several years ago (I am now 74) to catch up on the classics that everybody talks about but which I had not yet managed to read. I kept a "SUMMARY OF BOOKS READ, REFERENCES AND POSSIBLE FUTURE BOOKS"

Background: Medical school and pathology practice for about 25 years. Hence little time for serious non-medical reading (chasing women took up most of the extra spare time.)

I purchased or consulted a few helps:

The New Lifetime Reading Plan - Clifton Fadiman and John S. Major, 4th ed 1999, a lovely readable guide to the greatest ever. I read about half so far.

The Top Ten - Writers Pick Their Favorite Books ed. by J. Peder Zane. An up to date (2007) compact listing of great works (353 items) by many top writers. Very succinct, well described and seemingly a reliable guide on what to read now.

The Prentice Hall Good Reading Guide - Kenneth McLeish (c. 1988). 300 authors discussed.

Masterpieces of World Literature - Frank N. Magill, Editor (c. 1989). Essays on 270 classic works or world literature. An essential guide book.

Masterpieces of American Literature Frank. N. Magill, editor, 199 articles and essays on books.

The Book of Great Books, W. John Campbell, Ph.D. A Guide to 100 World Classics.

Harold Bloom The Western Canon has remained bathroom reading mostly unassimilatable because it presumes a large amount of background education, and the actual reading of, the literature it discusses and the convivial and atmospheric in-the-know discussions of the esoterica and intellectual writers' secrets under discuassion.

Harold Bloom "Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?" (2004) -- continuing. A little more intellectually "deep" but still with good advice from someone who has studied the issues more than you have.

Harold Bloom "How to Read and Why" (c. 2000) -- a variety of great works discussed in a readable friendly and convivial style. Still reading into it 17 Aug 2007.

Harold Bloom - Shakespeare. A discussion of all the plays by someone who thinks very highly of the bard and has studied the man all his life. Invauable.

Essential Shakespeare Handbook by Lesilie Dunton-Downer & Alan Riding DK 2004 purchased as used March 2007. Highly useful synopsies, interpretation and background information of all the works of the greatest writer of the English canon, which is invaluable in filling in the gaps in your understanding of the plots, characters, background and employment in theater of these works. Wonderfully illustrated with sets, theaters, actors and a list of characters and who played their parts.

No Fear Shakespeare - A Companion 2007 Spark Publishing. A listing of plays, short summaries and importance of each, plus a list of the 17 that are available in the "No Fear" edition (original text on the left page, a modern rendering on the right). Shakespeare in the original is largely incomprehensible and much of it could qualify as the "worst" reading no matter what the cognoscenti think. Screw them high falootin snobs.

David Denby "Great Books" a narrative diary of literary criticism descriptions as he takes college courses in "great books" canonical literature (Homer, Plato, Dante...) and describes his retrogressed student travels through the classic literature. I am about 2/5 the way through and am continuing it sporadically. It tends to be wordy.

Ronald B. Shwartz "For the Love of Books" 115 celebrated writers list the books they love the most.

As mentioned, the Bible is one of the worst books around. It is ALL fiction and is a polemic urging belief in some crazy-assed supernatural warlord in the sky and his degenerate son. The Koran is worse. It is repetitive and barbaric and doesn't belong in civilization.

The worst conventional classic is Tristram Shandy. Here's what I wrote at the time I finally fished it:

Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne essentially finished -- skimmed last 1/3; very irritatingly repetitive, jerky, annoying, ideas replayed over and over and thus tiresome; a capital advanced idea, but over trendily hyped and excessively eulogized.

Another is Faulkner. My review of "The Sound and the Fury": read now July 2007 for the second time, originally quickly read in 2000 when I purchased it at a localused book store. I hated it then and hated it now. It has you read gibberish from a retarded child for the first 75 pages and I read the rest of the insanity just to say I read it. I prefer looking at paintings done by elephants having their tails dipped in artists' paints.
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Initial post:  May 5, 2012
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