Thursday, November 11, 2010

Literary Blog Hop: November 11-14

This is a wonderful little event hosted by The Blue Bookcase as a way for literary fiction blogs to spread around and discover wonderful new blogs. I usually only participate in a few memes sporadically, but this one is right up my alley. :)

This weekend's question is: What is the most difficult literary work you've ever read? What made it so difficult?

This is a tough question for me to answer since some of the most difficult books on my list I haven't even touched yet. I will say that there have been a few books that have proved hard to get into and finish.

I can obviously point to my 2 experiences with Charles Dickens. When I read both Great Expectations and Bleak House I had an incredibly hard time finding the motivation to read them. I found both of them long and tedious. He was in desperate need of an editor.

I also struggled at first with reading some of Shakespeare's plays. When I first started reading Shakespeare, I attempted to read it from the straight text. I soon discovered that it is incredibly difficult to read Shakespeare straight without a little guidance.

Surprisingly, both of the novels by Dostoevsky that I have read so far (Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov) were accessible.

Looking forward, I know there are a few books that I will struggle with: War and Peace, Ulysses, Lord Jim and The Heart of Darkness (I really don't enjoy Conrad), the rest of the Charles Dickens madness, Don Quixote, The Aeneid, and Moby Dick. Well, at least those are the ones I'm assuming will be difficult.

I hope that you will head on over and participate in the Blog Hop! See you all next week!


  1. I think you'll enjoy Don Quixote, actually. It's a beautiful book. And my experience with Dickens is that you generally have to plow through the first few chapters and it's pretty smooth sailing afterwards.

  2. War and Peace is much more fluid than Dickens. I'm not even tempted to slog through Moby Dick though.

  3. I didn't realize this was up today and thought it was going up tomorrow, so I don't have my post ready yet...whoops! I'll be on that tomorrow, I guess.

  4. I still remember reading Don Quixote when I was in high school. I could not believe how funny it was. And it was OLD!

    Here's a link to my post:

  5. I'm surprised that no one else has mentioned Shakespeare! I honestly don't think anyone can read Shakespeare without some good explanatory footnotes.
    Thanks for participating in our Hop this week!

  6. I'm like you: I haven't read enough of the 'difficult' ones to judge yet. But I have to say, I'm excited to hear that Dostoevsky is accesible. I think we have similar reading tastes. :-)

  7. I also find Dostoevsky accessible. I can't remember what I read by him, except that I read The brothers Karamazov when I was about 16 and didn't know it was supposed to be difficult. It was just something I read in between loads of non-literary, and some literary works.

    Shakespeare did not feature on my curriculum, but then I'm not a native English speaker, so it was not an important writer where I live.

  8. The more I have read Dickens, the easier it seems to get. I didn't finish Don Quixote because I had to return it to the library, but it was not difficult to read at all. It was funny, as others mentioned. I read the Edith Grossman translation and thought it was fantastic.

  9. nice post! I thought crime and punishment was accessable as well... I read it really easily!

    Moby Dick, however, could not do. Only made it a few chapters in! Heart of Darkness I just got to the jungle part then gave up...

    oh well :)

  10. Glad to hear you found C&P accessible. I plan to get to that and W&P eventually. I'm nearing the end of Bleak House now... am enjoying it, but Dickens sure could have used some editing!

  11. I don't particularly like to read Shakespeare, but I find watching it acted--acted well--I have no trouble following what's going on. (Maybe I miss a few of the jokes.) I think I'll be moving Dickens down to the bottom of my TBR pile though!

  12. Hey, like your blog's name! :-)
    Good luck on your challenge-it's very ambitious. I'll look forward to reading your reviews.

    MJ's Literary Odyssey

  13. If you enjoy Dostoevsky, you should really read The Idiot. One of my favorite books, for sure.

  14. I agree about Dostoevsky, while on the bleak side of the ledger it is eminently readable. I think you'll find Dickens even easier. Shakespeare takes time, i.e., the more you read the easier it becomes. It helps to read Shakespeare with others, and bounce ideas off one another. I am actually doing a group-read of Moby-Dick over a two-month period in early-2011, and very much looking forward to it.

    Having said all of this though, I find Joyce to be an absolute 'brick-wall' for me. His writing is simply impenetrable for my walnut-sized brain. Lord knows I have tried to read "Ulysses" 12-15 times over the past 30+ years of my adult life. I have finally cashed in my chips, and have moved on to a literary world sans Joyce. I am actually sleeping better at night now.

    Have a wonderful weekend! Cheers! Chris

  15. " The rest of the dickens madness" I am so in sync with you there, don't get, don't want to get dickens in any format, so enjoyed your write up.

  16. I used to read Dickens and liked them well enough. Then I tried a couple of unabridged audiobook verions, including Great Expectations, and they knocked my socks off. The adio versions are much more accessible to me. Kind of like a SHakespear play being easier to understand when you see the play performed rather than trying to read it on the page.

    My choice was Finnegans Wake. It was all but impossible for me.

    Rose City Reader

  17. I have horrors of reading Ulysses...never have, wonder if I ever will. It seems so very tedious, yet at the time just when I hear something's impossible is the same time I want to do it.

    Personally, I loved Bleak House. But, perhaps I had the background of the film from the BBC as a reference point.

  18. I loved Moby Dick. I had two weeks to read it for a college class and I didn't find it difficult at all. But I also enjoyed Great Expectations, so we may have different reading styles! lol

    I'm looking forward to reading War and Peace. No, I have NOT started as I'm trying to finish a 700 page nonfiction book first. But I'm getting antsy as my book club is only two months away!!