October 19, 2006

Disappointing Classics

Last week I posted a list of my favorite classics. This week you get to see what has failed to impress me.

1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

3. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

4. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

5. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

6. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

9. The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck

10. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

11. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

12. The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty

13. Animal Farm by George Orwell


  1. Oh I loved Dorian Gray! But I read it in college and had an amazing professor. What a difference it made!

    I didn't much like Fahrenheit 451 either. Just couldn't get into it. Or All Quiet on the Western Front.

    I do love The Great Gatsby though. I've read it several times. Haven't read the rest of them. Or even tried.

  2. The only one I disagree with is Catcher In The Rye. I loved that classic. But the rest, yeah...P.U.!
    I wonder what really makes a book a classic, besides its age. Surely it can't be popularity.

  3. Sorry to hear about Fahrenheit 451. My niece loved it and I told her I'd read it this winter. And I like Animal Farm, but I was in Jr or Sr High when I read it. Hated the Great Gatsby, too. I enjoy your list, Les.

  4. Anonymous6:52 PM

    I have Dorian Gray tentatively on my list for the upcoming Classics challenge. Some of your list I agree with, but many I haven't read yet.

  5. Anonymous7:07 PM

    I think #7 is one of my top five favorite books ever. I could read it every month and still never be bored. How I love it!

    #8 is way, way too sad for me. I read it when I was younger and better able to "take it".

    Remember we still have a "book date" to read Travels with Charley together?!


  6. Anonymous4:01 AM

    Again, a very useful list, Les. I didn't enjoy "Lady Chatterly's Lover" either. Guess it was shocking and provacative in the time that it was written, but reading it in this day and age didn't do much for me. I'm embarassed to admit I haven't read any of the others, however, I do intend reading 'Dorian Gray' and 'The Great Gatsby', would be fun to compare notes when I do...

  7. I tried reading The Picture of Dorian Gray a couple years ago, but got so bored I had to drop it.

  8. Thank you! Someone else who didn't like Animal Farm!!!! I couldn't stand reading that book in high school!

  9. I still have quite a few of these on my TBRs. I did enjoy Fahrenheit 451 and The Catcher in the Rye - the latter more than the former. Couldn't get through Lady Chatterly - it bored me. In its time, as Lotus mentioned, it was quite racy. Now, it's just silly. It's fascinating how greatly the opinions on these books vary!

  10. Great list, Les. I thought I was the only one that didn't like THE GREAT GATSBY. I can breathe easier now. :) :) :)

  11. looks like lots of book lovers have found yr blog useful

  12. Oh, no! The Optimist's Daughter is one of the great works of 20th century literature.

    Otherwise, your list is pretty much what mine would look like.


  13. I don't think I've read any of these books completely except for Animal Farm. That was ages ago and I liked it then. But I couldn't finish Catcher in the Rye or Lady Chatterly's Lover. Interesting that, even though I don't finish book very often, two that I quit mid-read are on this list. I feel vindicated! I'll probably avoid the rest because there are so many other classics out there to read.

  14. Agree with you on many of these, especially Of Mice and Men! I very nearly threw it under a garbage truck (literally).

  15. Wow! This post sure generated a lot of comments. I suppose everyone's passionate about the classics, one way or another.

    Heather, I read Dorian Gray for an online book group. Perhaps I would've had a different opinion had I read it for a college class (taught be an amazing professor as you were). I agree. It really can make all the difference in the world how you perceive a book. Class discussions can certainly help uncover the mystery or nuances of a more complicated novel. I know a lot of people love The Great Gatsby and I actually enjoyed it better the second time around. It just didn't wow me like some other classics.

    Belleza, I really wanted to like The Catcher in the Rye. It was Rachel's favorite book in high school (or maybe Jr. High). I just got so irritated with Holden.

    Booklogged, you may enjoy Fahrenheit. I may have just had such high expectations that it was a letdown. Glad you enjoyed my list.:)

    SuziQ, do you still plan to read Dorian Gray for your classic challenge? I'd love to hear your thoughts, if you do.

    Nan, I knew you and Andi were two of my pals who'd remind me how much you love The Great Gatsby. I wanted to! Truly, I did. Maybe the third time's a charm? ;) Yep, I haven't forgotten about Travels with Charley (love that book!!).

    Lotus, glad to hear I'm not the only one who thought Lady Chatterley's Lover was disappointing. Ho-hum. I'm excited about the upcoming Classic Challenge. It'll be fun to read everyone's reviews and not do any of the work myself! :)

    Angela, I considered dropping Dorian Gray, but stuck it out for my online group discussion. It sure was a struggle.

    Jen, not only did I read (and dislike) Animal Farm in high school, but I read it again a year or so ago, just to see if age/maturity would make any difference. NOPE! I understood it much better the second time around, but I still didn't care for it.

    Nancy, I agree. I think it's very interesting how some of us agree on our dislikes and others feel just the opposite. It would be so much fun to gather in someone's living room, sipping wine or hot cocoa and discuss all these classics, sharing our reasons for hating them or loving them. I wonder if we'd change anyone's opinions?

    Joy, you and I can both breathe easier. Have you read anything else by Fitzgerald? I'd like to give A Moveable Feast a try someday. I haven't sworn him off completely.

    Johnny, thanks for visiting.

    Mary, I really wanted to like The Optimist's Daughter. I plan to read some of Welty's short stories later this winter.

    Framed, perhaps you should give The Great Gatsby a try in spite of my opinion. There seems to be quite a few fans amongst us.

    Miss Sassypants, I was expecting you to remind me that you loved The Great Gatsby. Or was it A Moveable Feast?? BTW, I'm happy to see you back at OTPS. You've been missed by many.

  16. Of Mice and Men was a depressing story, but it was the most beautifully described depressing story I've read in a long time. :)

  17. Thanks for visiting, Tristi. And, yah, a far as a good depressing story, I suppose this one wasn't too bad. Just not nearly as good as The Grapes of Wrath.

  18. Anonymous8:48 AM

    Steinbeck is a genius,Cannery Row is a classic..not to be missed inthe great works of art.

    Mike Doncaster ENGLAND


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