What defines a classic novel? Is it its popularity, its total sales, or the amount of time that it has been popular? Essentially it can be all of these things combined, but just because its popular doesn't mean its good. I'm not going to lie here: I haven't read all of the classic novels out there (gasp!). But I have read enough to know what I like and what I don't like. Here is a list of the top 5 so called "classic" novels that I couldn't stand:
5. Lewis Caroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. You know what? I've gotta hand it to this guy- this book is neat. And I kind of liked it. So did everyone else. But did you know that Alice Liddell was a real girl? Nothing wrong with that. But did you know that Carroll was literally in love with her? Once you know that fact and you read the book, you can really see the love he had for her and it's creepy. That's what puts this classic book on this list.
4. Emily Brontë , Wuthering Heights. The Brontë sisters are well known, and this is Emily's only novel. Apparently, "wuthering" means "turbulent weather" which is suitable considering the location and characters. It tells a tale of two lovers in the early 1800's, Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff who were close as children and became lovers later on. But the reason why I hated this book so much was that I couldn't really understand WHERE their love really originated from. It seemed to me that when they were lovers, they were constantly fighting, unless I fell asleep when they were nice to each other. That's entirely possible. Either way, call me a diva, but all that fighting isn't what I call love. Then Heathcliff becomes a jerk to a kid, also not cool. Catherine also went crazy because of Heathcliff and Linton, whereby Brontë claims Catherine exhibited a "permanent absence of intellect." I like that line!
3. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby. This novel takes place in 1922 in New York and I couldn't put it down- simply because I wanted it to be over with. The plot is similar to the mindset of today- idolizing the rich and famous-but makes it seem as though the rich and famous are pretty much all loonies, and I'm not talking about the Canadian dollar. The love triangle between Daisy, Gatsby and Tom was nothing short of bizarre. And the ending was sad, and not exactly the good kind of sad. Too bad.
2.. Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles. England is known for producing many of the world's great novelists, where we've already seen the likes of Carroll and Brontë, but this novel written by Hardy does nothing for me. Granted, this novel was originally declined to be published, but it achieved widespread fame for reasons I cannot understand. We are introduced to the beautiful Tess, who is taken advantage of throughout the entire novel. Sure it makes us feel sad and mad, but that's the basis of the whole book- to feel sorry for the young woman. Can we have a beam of sunshine fall into the pages of this book at anytime?
1. Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms. Ok , so maybe it isn't fair that I include this book on this list, considering I couldn't even finish it. But I really couldn't finish it. It's no suprise that the number 1 worst classic novel on this list comes from a friend of Fitzgerald, one of our contributors to this list. The magical moment occurred in 1825 when they met in Paris, France, at the Dingo Bar, a couple of weeks after The Great Gatsby was published.I mean, its a good concept- right? An American ambulance driver serving in the Italian army during World War I, a romance, based on a true story, what's not to like? How about the fact that there seemed to be more run on sentences than complete ones? Honestly, there was 1/2 a page of what seemed to me to be complete jibberish explaining nothing in particular, with none of those friendly little dots we see at the end of sentences. That's when I put the book down. But maybe I'm not cultured enough to see the true beauty of his writing style.
What do you think? Are there any classics that you don't like?
Take a look at my more positive blog, Top 5 Best Classic Novels!