FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD by Thomas Hardy. Awful. Ghost Stories by M.R. James. Horrible. Both authors were, and still are in some circles, acclaimed writers. I couldn’t give a shit. That’s not me being dismissive, simply stating facts. Reading both of their books put me through a rare torture as a reader, one voluntary, the other for a school assignment years ago.
Reading through text written over a hundred years ago, is the equivalent of mental Olympics on every page, the syntax and word use so foreign to me, enjoyment of story, characters or imagery is virtually zero.
When compared to American writing of the same era, the English prose is a totally different animal; dead, the flies and maggots long gone, with nothing but quaint bones left behind, that some idiots will proclaim to be from the Juras..I mean, Classic Era of literature. Meanwhile Twain, Fitzgerald, Poe, and Lovecraft are all still highly readable and haven’t lost their magic. I think it’s a testament to the modernity of American writing while in Not So Great Britain, writing was all institutional, of the establishment, by scholarly types still caught up in being overly verbose and using entire pages to describe one thing, as the plot floundered, running out of oxygen.
It’s a shame in many ways, because it puts me off reading some of the books of yesteryear. So called classics are often like Oscar winning films: there is no guarantee of enjoyment. But that’s the way it is. I need to read more contemporary books anyway to keep up with the times. I’ve been reading dead-man-books not too much, but I need to balance it out with what’s being written today. I’m not sure where I was going with this post, but it went somewhere. I think!