Sunday, April 2, 2017

5 Struggles of Classic-Lovers

I took a walk to the library this afternoon, looking for a nice easy read--something fluffy and simple that I could mindlessly read.  I've been pretty stressed about this audition I have coming up, so I wanted something relaxing, like a rom-com in book form...

...and I ended up lugging some Dostoevsky home.

I found a contemporary book in the teen section of the library (a place I hate to go by the way because I dislike the majority of the books there), called Better Off Friends.  It seems tolerable enough, and pretty simple.

But I couldn't leave the library without checking the Tolstoy section.  There was only War and Peace (no Anna Karenina) so I checked Dostoevsky, and bingo--The Brothers Karamazov.  So that's how it happened.

Even against my will I came away with a classic, and I realized there are some distinct struggles that people who love classic books have and I hope you can relate.

bookcase, books, bookshelves

Extensive translation notes 

I feel compelled to read everything in a book, even if it doesn't directly relate to the story before I consider myself done with the book.  Some books (ahem, Les Miserables) have excessive notes on translation, or at least the copy I read did.

Apparently the translator always assumes you have read another edition before and will care about what he changed from that edition.  I'm not a doctoral student studying the text, I just want a good story, so cool it on the notes!

Image result for les miserables book

Being spoiled by the commentary

I hate reading the essays and commentary translators or publishers put at the beginning of their editions.  It's even worse when they contain spoilers.  This was particularly annoying in my edition of Romeo and Juliet which completely spoiled every single plot point.  Granted, I knew the ending, but still!  At least put the essay at the back of the book!

Image result for romeo and juliet book penguin

Feeling empty with other books

Reading a simpler book like Better off Friends or even Lexicon left me a little wanting.  I have no idea why, but I'm just more intrigued about a book if I know other people like it, or at last regard it as a classic.  This is the same feeling that drove me away from the teen section of the library and into the adult fiction section.

Image result for better off friends

Not being able to relate with pop culture

This may just be because I'm kind of young, but I sort of lose track about what the most popular books among my friends are because I'm off to the side annotating.

Image result for lexicon book cover

Being pretentious or viewed as pretentious

I really really try hard to not be pretentious, but that is one of my biggest character flaws.  I dunno if it's just because I like things people consider pretentious, or maybe I really am braggadocios or something.  But whenever I'm seen reading a classic, people think I consider myself better than they are.  Really, I don't!  The book someone is reading doesn't necessarily reflect their character.  I'm already really self conscious about being perceived as pretentious, so it's stressful.

Image result for the brothers karamazov

There are a lot more problems with reading classics, but I wouldn't want them any other way!  I would relate more, but not right now...I'll save them for another post (apparently I am obsessed with the number five this week if you look at the archive...).  Can you relate at all to these issues?  What problems do you have?


  1. Yep! The pretentious point is super true for me. It is stressful!

  2. I don't really know if I've ever been considered pretentious by friends or acquaintances, because quite simply I've never really cared. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a kind, friendly person. However, I'm one who can enjoy classics and contemporary stories equally. Though I may enjoy David Copperfield, I'm certainly not going to look down on anyone for enjoying a light and fluffy romantic teen novel. I'm not afraid to admit I've enjoyed silly children's books, and I'm not afraid to say that I read Les Miserables and thoroughly enjoyed the commentary.
    The bottom line for me is that I love stories, and I think God gave some the ability to tell complex, intellectual, long-lasting masterpieces while giving others the ability to write lighter, more simple stories. In the end, all of them will pass away, and it's not for me to look down on someone for liking one kind or the other. :) There are certainly some books that I think are ridiculous... but as long as they're not immoral, we're good.

    1. That's good that you're secure with yourself and don't worry about other people's opinions :)

  3. Oh, I relate to being spoiled by the commentary! My first copy of A Tale of Two Cities spoiled the climax - on the back cover blurb! They couldn't even bury it in an introduction; it was right there where you couldn't avoid seeing it!

    I can understand the fear of being viewed as pretentious, although I've never really experienced it myself because my homeschooled friends all share my taste for classics.

    - Ellen

    1. Oh, what a pity! That is so frustrating!!

  4. Same! Especially the pretentious part-- partially it's an issue because I don't want to be prideful over my reading choices(which for me would be a stupid reason to be prideful xD) but also because I don't want to look weird. I guess that's the price you pay for a good(and outdated) book.

    1. You're right, it IS a stupid reason to be prideful. That kind of helps with that problem, I think.