Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What Didn’t You Get?

Following up on the Perspective thread, a slightly different spin :

What “high school classic”, that you never read in high school, did you finally get around to reading, only to not see what the big deal was?

I don’t want to talk about what you loved, or how every book you pick up you grok from the first word.  I want to hear about something that modern culture tells you should have meant something to you, and just… didn’t.


Weez said...

Classic coming-of-age novels generally, Catcher in the Rye being the prime example. There is a certain sort of book you need to discover and you need to read it before you reach a certain level of maturity. If you read it because it's a widely thought of classic that everyone says you must read, and/or if you're a full-grown adult at the time, then it'll never resound with you as fully as if, say, your English teacher surreptitiously slid a well-thumbed copy to your teenage self while leaving the classroom one day. At least you've read these classic novels, but it's just not come at the right time.

Also - this is a big moment for me, the first time I've gone public with this realisation that's been growing for some months now and I'm not looking forward to the backlash that could follow - I just don't like Roald Dahl books as much now I'm an adult as I did when I was a child. I have a residual fondness for the ones I read as a child, but there were a couple I never got round to, and when I read them as an adult, I realised that he just doesn't affect me anymore. I guess it's a good job I did read most of his books when I was the right age for them. :/

Ren du Braque said...

Well, I have my view on this question too, but I'm not sure whether to write it... I think Weez is onto something and you too. You read something, you don't like it. Something's changed, you have to be in the right mood, etc.

My high school was not really good, so I can't really answer this question, but it's basically some people say "wow this book is really great" and you say "what's the big deal?"

If I'm forced to answer, then Dante's inferno seems a little too remote for me, but then again when I look at the notes I realize that I'm just too ignorant to appreciate what's going on.

Does it really matter that the "some people" represent those that wanted to educate you? Wouldn't legions of fans of some TV show or genre of music qualify as well. What's the big deal about Lost or The Sopranos or hip-hop or Lady Gaga or anything anyone is going Gaga about?

Why do educators get stuck with the only ones throwing out "hype"? Contemporary culture is much more proficient, so much so that they have us convinced that academics are writing lists of great works based solely on their fads and arbitrary tastes. That's not fair!

Anyway, I'm hoping for a response to my last comment. This is a dialog, right? Not some hyper-modern uni-directional blogosphere non-communication... right? You can say that I'm writing nonsense.

Ty Unglebower said...

The Great Gatsby and Native Son come to mind.

Anonymous said...

The Sorrows of Young Werther. Ugh.

Laura said...

Great Expectations. Ugh. >:P