The Most Overrated Classics

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Britty01
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Re: The Most Overrated Classics

Post by Britty01 » 16 Jul 2018, 16:18

maiamalanee wrote:
29 Aug 2017, 12:38
Classics as required reading have a purpose. Besides the classic, "read this and we'll discuss it next week," that we've all been through in high school, I've taken a lot of literature classes that really make you think about the books in different ways. For me, The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, and Pride and Prejudice are the most overrated classics.

I can name a number of classics that I consider underrated (these might not even be considered classics, but I think of them as such):
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney
How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn (this is my father's favorite book)
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
anything by Alexandre Dumas
anything by Dashiell Hammett
How Green was my Valley, by Richard Dafydd Vivian Llewellyn Lloyd (1906-1983) is a favorite of mine.

This particular passage appeals to me as I love the sound of Welsh voices.

"Sing then. Sing, indeed, with shoulders back, and head up so that song might go to the roof and beyond to the sky. Mass on mass of tone, with a hard edge, and rich with quality, every single note a carpet of colour woven from basso profundo, and basso, and baritone, and alto, and tenor, and soprano, and alto and mezzo, and contralto, singing and singing, until life and all things living are become a song. O, Voice of Man, organ of most lovely might."

In some ways it can be viewed as a nostalgic look at what life was like, but I always felt it showed enough of the harshness of a miner's life and it made one think about what was lost in the process of industrialization.

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Post by MollyA » 18 Jul 2018, 10:27

Tolstoy’s War & Peace has to be one of the most overrated classics. I couldn’t even bring myself to finish it because I had completely lost of the point of the plot halfway through reading it. There were so many characters, but very few of them had actual personalities. It was impossible to keep track of who was where and which of them had met. I’ve never been more frustrated reading a book than when I was reading War & Peace.

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Post by Vscholz » 18 Jul 2018, 20:58

Reuben 92 wrote:
26 Aug 2017, 13:17
Have you ever been forced to read a book for school and were left wondering 'why are they making us read this???' Or have you ever stumbled across a classic that has left you reeling with just how good it was?

Classics, of course, are always classics for a reason, and I don't intend to claim that any of the below books should be otherwise. They are all, in their ways, important books that have brought pleasure to many.

Below is my (highly personal!) list of top 5 most OVER- and UNDER- rated literary classics that I've read to date. These are ones that left me either disappointed and underwhelmed, or excited and overwhelmed...

Let me know if you agree or disagree!


OVERRATED:

1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I didn't find this funny, except at rare moments, and I thought it was rambling, over-long and poorly structured.
2. Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. I can see its appeal to teens, with its rebellious undercurrent and angst-ridden anti-hero, but even as a teen I was unimpressed by Holden's repetitive dislikes and vernacular phrases.
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. One of the most important books of the 20th C, without a doubt, but I found it hard to get through. I just didn't find the style exciting and I'm not a fan of courtroom scenes...
4. Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Having read any number of essays about it, and picking it apart scene by scene, I still found very little to celebrate. It didn't engage my imagination or emotions.
5. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Another revered author who, I think, is set on too high a pedestal. Though I do enjoy much of Dickens' writing, this is one of my least favourite of his novels - far too sentimental for my taste!


UNDERRATED:

1. Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. I enjoy Marlowe more than Shakespeare, heresy though that may be... A spine-tingling exploration of a classic legend, with enough ambiguity to keep you rereading for years.
2. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope. My introduction to this author which sent me on a pilgrimage to read all 40+ of his novels. A gripping, complex plot; a warm, engaging style; a wealth of information on nineteenth-century life.
3. Perfume by Patrick Süskind. This book sucked me in so quickly and didn't let me go until the final page. Such a unique premise and such a unique treatment - a truly one-of-a-kind story.
4. The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy. A most beautiful, heart-wrenching exploration of nature and love. My personal favourite of Hardy's novels. Not for those who prefer a happy ending, but thankfully I don't...
5. A Little Life by Hanye Yanagihara. Can you qualify such a recent book as a classic? I suppose this is more like a prediction. It is rare for a contemporary book to effect me so deeply. A gut-wrenching, unputdownable story written in hypnotic prose. Again, not for the faint of heart but with a protagonist who will stay with you strongly for - well, at least a year!

It is refreshing to see someone else rate The Catcher in the Rye and Hamlet as overrated! I never encountered Salinger until graduate school (the class was Problems in Adolescent Literature--I found The Bell Jar to be far superiour but I am biased because I relate to the narrator too much).

And Hamlet ... I never liked it. I went through a very tempestous relationship with Shakespeare--I read Romeo and Juliet in sixth grade on my own because I was 11 and romanticizing the romance, but I grew out of it by the time I began high school and then found hilarity in it in college (it has potential to be a comedy up until--spoiler--Romeo actually dies). Even T.S. Eliot called Hamlet a literary failure, although he was a formalist and that influenced his opinion. I enjoyed Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead, though.

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Post by Julie Green » 29 Jul 2018, 16:38

I struggled to appreciate DH Lawrence but it may simply be that I had an uninspiring teacher for the year that we studied this author at school. I'm a fan of classics generally, I just found his novels slightly tedious!

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Post by Northernbird84 » 30 Jul 2018, 05:05

Tess of the D'Urberville's was one we had to read at school that I absolutely hated. I've never gotten on with Pride & Prejudice either.

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Post by Abigail R » 06 Aug 2018, 19:46

Lord of the Flies is so overrated to me. I heard about it all through high school and how good it was but I never had to read. Or maybe I did and just didn't...oops... Recently, I decided to read it and it was AWFUL and incredibly boring.

You mentioned Perfume and I just read this book last week after the recommendation of a friend. I have never read such a storyline! There were some parts that absolutely dragged on but holy cow the end was wild!

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Post by Book Bear » 07 Aug 2018, 08:32

CatInTheHat wrote:
26 Aug 2017, 15:04
In my opinion, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is not overrated. It's not supposed to be easy to get through. It is intended to make you think, in ways that aren't easy, about the problems in society.
I loved To Kill a Mockingbird. I've re-read it countless times. I didn't get to read it at school. I was, however, forced to read Animal Farm and thought it was absolutely horrific. I'm sure it's scarred me for life.

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Post by AnnaKathleen » 10 Aug 2018, 11:52

I hate to call anything overrated, but I don't get the hype...
1. Catcher in the Rye by wasn't bad or wonderful in my opinion, it was an okay read. I enjoyed it well enough but didn't find anything life changing in it. I read it in 7th grade was pretty much along the lines of "okay, now what?"
2. I absolutely hated Madame Bovary by Flaubert when I had to read it in school. I cannot stand her character and how she treats people.
3. Anything by Charles Dickens is boring in my opinion, but I can respect people that like him.

Books that I highly enjoyed...
1. A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. It has so many layers and themes from government control to gender and socially acceptable roles and identities to it and her use of language is wonderful. I consider it a classic because it is a book that will have a lasting impact, but it was only published in 1998 I do believe.
2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. This one caught me off guard in school and something has always stuck with me about it. The idea that pursuing perfection and the ideal to the point we lose our humanity and fail to see the worth in others is chilling and the fact that all it take is one person to start a revolutionary change is empowering.
3. Aeneid by Virgil. This epic poem was insane. I have a version in Latin (I too the language in high school) and a translated version. I love the imagery and action and myth.
4. Metamorphoses by Ovid. This is another high school read. The poems are lyrical and full of imagery and life.
5. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. This introduced me to a new writing style and I think that is what had such a big impact on me when I read it in middle school. The heartbreaking immersion of a young man in war is something that may not appeal to every reader, but I loved it in a bittersweet way.
"I became darkness, shadow and wind." - Sarah J. Maas A Court of Mist and Fury

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Post by ea_anthony » 12 Aug 2018, 18:30

Reuben 92 wrote:
26 Aug 2017, 13:17
Have you ever been forced to read a book for school and were left wondering 'why are they making us read this???' Or have you ever stumbled across a classic that has left you reeling with just how good it was?

Classics, of course, are always classics for a reason, and I don't intend to claim that any of the below books should be otherwise. They are all, in their ways, important books that have brought pleasure to many.

Below is my (highly personal!) list of top 5 most OVER- and UNDER- rated literary classics that I've read to date. These are ones that left me either disappointed and underwhelmed, or excited and overwhelmed...

Let me know if you agree or disagree!


OVERRATED:

1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I didn't find this funny, except at rare moments, and I thought it was rambling, over-long and poorly structured.
2. Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. I can see its appeal to teens, with its rebellious undercurrent and angst-ridden anti-hero, but even as a teen I was unimpressed by Holden's repetitive dislikes and vernacular phrases.
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. One of the most important books of the 20th C, without a doubt, but I found it hard to get through. I just didn't find the style exciting and I'm not a fan of courtroom scenes...
4. Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Having read any number of essays about it, and picking it apart scene by scene, I still found very little to celebrate. It didn't engage my imagination or emotions.
5. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Another revered author who, I think, is set on too high a pedestal. Though I do enjoy much of Dickens' writing, this is one of my least favourite of his novels - far too sentimental for my taste!


UNDERRATED:

1. Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. I enjoy Marlowe more than Shakespeare, heresy though that may be... A spine-tingling exploration of a classic legend, with enough ambiguity to keep you rereading for years.
2. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope. My introduction to this author which sent me on a pilgrimage to read all 40+ of his novels. A gripping, complex plot; a warm, engaging style; a wealth of information on nineteenth-century life.
3. Perfume by Patrick Süskind. This book sucked me in so quickly and didn't let me go until the final page. Such a unique premise and such a unique treatment - a truly one-of-a-kind story.
4. The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy. A most beautiful, heart-wrenching exploration of nature and love. My personal favourite of Hardy's novels. Not for those who prefer a happy ending, but thankfully I don't...
5. A Little Life by Hanye Yanagihara. Can you qualify such a recent book as a classic? I suppose this is more like a prediction. It is rare for a contemporary book to effect me so deeply. A gut-wrenching, unputdownable story written in hypnotic prose. Again, not for the faint of heart but with a protagonist who will stay with you strongly for - well, at least a year!
These are quite brave assertions, you could be lynched in some literary circles. I somewhat have to agree with you on Catch -22 by Joseph Heller. I bought it 2nd hand to read on a road trip (didn't know it was a classic then), I didn't do more than two or three chapters. Picked it a couple of times in intervening months and never could deal with more than a few pages.
However now knowing it's a classic, I will probably add it to my 2019 reading challenge.
Ignorance promotes divisiveness, knowledge encourages diversity. :techie-studyingbrown:

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Post by Facennagoss » 17 Aug 2018, 04:23

Reuben 92 wrote:
26 Aug 2017, 13:17
Have you ever been forced to read a book for school and were left wondering 'why are they making us read this???' Or have you ever stumbled across a classic that has left you reeling with just how good it was?

Classics, of course, are always classics for a reason, and I don't intend to claim that any of the below books should be otherwise. They are all, in their ways, important books that have brought pleasure to many.

Below is my (highly personal!) list of top 5 most OVER- and UNDER- rated literary classics that I've read to date. These are ones that left me either disappointed and underwhelmed, or excited and overwhelmed...

Let me know if you agree or disagree!


OVERRATED:

1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I didn't find this funny, except at rare moments, and I thought it was rambling, over-long and poorly structured.
2. Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. I can see its appeal to teens, with its rebellious undercurrent and angst-ridden anti-hero, but even as a teen I was unimpressed by Holden's repetitive dislikes and vernacular phrases.
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. One of the most important books of the 20th C, without a doubt, but I found it hard to get through. I just didn't find the style exciting and I'm not a fan of courtroom scenes...
4. Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Having read any number of essays about it, and picking it apart scene by scene, I still found very little to celebrate. It didn't engage my imagination or emotions.
5. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Another revered author who, I think, is set on too high a pedestal. Though I do enjoy much of Dickens' writing, this is one of my least favourite of his novels - far too sentimental for my taste!


UNDERRATED:

1. Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. I enjoy Marlowe more than Shakespeare, heresy though that may be... A spine-tingling exploration of a classic legend, with enough ambiguity to keep you rereading for years.
2. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope. My introduction to this author which sent me on a pilgrimage to read all 40+ of his novels. A gripping, complex plot; a warm, engaging style; a wealth of information on nineteenth-century life.
3. Perfume by Patrick Süskind. This book sucked me in so quickly and didn't let me go until the final page. Such a unique premise and such a unique treatment - a truly one-of-a-kind story.
4. The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy. A most beautiful, heart-wrenching exploration of nature and love. My personal favourite of Hardy's novels. Not for those who prefer a happy ending, but thankfully I don't...
5. A Little Life by Hanye Yanagihara. Can you qualify such a recent book as a classic? I suppose this is more like a prediction. It is rare for a contemporary book to effect me so deeply. A gut-wrenching, unputdownable story written in hypnotic prose. Again, not for the faint of heart but with a protagonist who will stay with you strongly for - well, at least a year!
To Kill a Mockingbird is my all time favourite book! I didn’t read it at school but taught it a few years ago to an incredibly bright class of 15 year olds and they brought it to life. Different experiences surrounding the reading certainly have a lot to say about the readers overall opinion of them!

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Post by Jennifer Fernandez » 25 Aug 2018, 00:37

Moby dick is so overrated. I don't know why people love it so much. It was a disappointment for me. I really wanted to like it.
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Post by Kareka88 » 08 Sep 2018, 08:58

I would have to agree that The Great Gatsby is one of the most overrated books. I would also add The Scarlet Letter.

I would have to disagree with your opinion of Hamlet. I thoroughly enjoyed my Shakespeare class in College and got a new appreciation for all of his writings. Of course, some of that could have been due to the teacher's very English accent.

Moby Dick, yes overrated. Pride and Prejudice, yes overrated. However, I would consider her novel Emma completely underrated.

As for To Kill a Mockingbird, I read it when I was in high school and would have agreed with you, however, I recently "read" it again using Audible and now at my much more mature age, I can see why it is considered a classic.

Perhaps some of these classics are meant to be read in a different season in life and therefore being required reading in schools isn't the best idea. Some of today's literature may be a better choice to relate more to the younger reader. I might try reading them again, who knows I may have a different opinion.
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Post by KarlaE89 » 11 Sep 2018, 17:54

tamdlyte wrote:
27 Aug 2017, 19:37
Ugh... the classics... I am not a big fan of "the classics"... I think, if I had been a "school" reader, (only reading books that were assigned in school) and not a "for pleasure" reader, like I was, then I would hate reading! I am a voracious reader but could barely stomach any of "the classics." I don't know. They were just not my thing. They all seemed so very very boring to me. Good thing I knew the difference before I was turned off to reading anything all! LOL
I'm not going to lie, I laughed so hard when I read this. I felt myself rolling my eyes along with you! I love how you stated it because on some level I feel the exact same way. When someone mentions "The classics" I am automatically transported back to high school where we were forced to read Great Expecations, and then try to discuss the book in class with fellow students who were desperately grasping at misunderstood themes. However, on the other hand, I have read some classics as my "pleasure reads" and I have loved them! For instance, The Great Gatsby, Doctor Faustus, The Picture of Dorian Gray, etc. I've read so many classics for pleasure and it does change your mindset when you HAVE to read them versus when you WANT to read them. I, too, and so glad I knew the difference before it was too late!

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Post by Chandler_Greg » 22 Sep 2018, 21:31

CatInTheHat wrote:
26 Aug 2017, 15:04
In my opinion, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is not overrated. It's not supposed to be easy to get through. It is intended to make you think, in ways that aren't easy, about the problems in society.
I've always loved it, though I admittedly was not "forced" to read it. I attended alternative schools and there were very flexible requirements. Now I teach high school math and am always surprised by how many kids complain about having to read it. Some are complaining though, that they are made to read it "again", so it may be a reflection of lack of curricular planning.

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Post by Chandler_Greg » 22 Sep 2018, 21:39

maiamalanee wrote:
29 Aug 2017, 12:38
Classics as required reading have a purpose. Besides the classic, "read this and we'll discuss it next week," that we've all been through in high school, I've taken a lot of literature classes that really make you think about the books in different ways. For me, The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, and Pride and Prejudice are the most overrated classics.

I can name a number of classics that I consider underrated (these might not even be considered classics, but I think of them as such):
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney
How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn (this is my father's favorite book)
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
anything by Alexandre Dumas
anything by Dashiell Hammett
I've read Gatsby and seen 2 versions of the movie and still don't get what's so great about it. got through Moby Dick, but kept thinking the whole time that they could drop all the philosophy and "how to" on whaling and that it would make the plot a whole lot more interesting.

Thanks for suggestions. I agree re: Black Beauty and How Green was my Valley.
I've been meaning to read Robinson Crusoe. That's one of those books that has become so much a part of the culture that you feel like you know it without reading the actual book, but there's often more there than the watered-down versions we're all fed by mass culture. That's certainly true of "frankenstein".

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