A friend of mine just asked people on Facebook for their favorite Classic novel. She said she had downloaded Pride & Predjudice to read. I told her it probably wouldn't be good.
What's that you say?!?!
A Jane Austen classic 'not good'?!?!?!
Yeah, well. That's my opinion.
I challenged myself, starting last year, to read one Jane Austen novel per summer until I'd read them all. I made this challenge for myself after reading and then watching The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. It wasn't that the books were so well advertised in the book/movie that I HAD to go out and read them. It was just something I thought I might do since I had never read any Jane Austens. I always saw/heard good things about the books and new they were considered classics so I thought it would be something I could say I've done and sound well-versed on the subject.
Last summer I suffered through Mansfield Park. Not including the fact that the book had a misprint and started repeating pages while leaving out several chapters and I had to contact the publisher in England for them to send me a new copy (which they gladly did), *breath*, I absolutely suffered struggled through the thing.
Don't get me wrong. The plot was enough to make a decent story. However, Ms. Austen's righting was so not my style. I couldn't stand the way she went on and on about one thing and repeatedly said the same thing in 400 different ways in one paragraph lasting 2-3 pages. She also doesn't use pronouns. If the characters or having a conversation, I lose the place of who is talking. I mean, I figure it out eventually, so I hope I am not coming off unintelligently (go ahead and laugh if I am...I'm okay with it), but would it hurt her to put a "he said" or "she commented" here or there?
Anyway, I made it through that one and dreaded starting a new one this June. But I did. I started Emma. And it just went on forever and ever. I finally forced myself through the last 200 pages in the last week of August.
Emma's only saving grace was being able to compare it to the movie Clueless which I've seen 50+ times. I know I sound vapid. Oh well.
Now, having said all that, I think my point is that I feel like I am in the minority. I've never really seen/heard criticisms of Jane Austen's writings. Maybe they are out there; I've truly never looked. But I can honestly say that I don't enjoy them. Rather, I haven't found one that I enjoy yet. I think I have 4 more to go. So I'll get back to you next summer and let you know how the next one goes.
Yep, even though it is painful, I still plan on following through with my challenge. I think of it as a way of bettering myself. Giving myself a bit of culture and history.
What's your favorite classic novel? What's one that you hated but still had to read?