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Most difficult novel you ever read

As a challenge to myself, I've begun Absalom, Absalom! by Faulkner. It's fascinating, but incredibly opaque and and tricky. What's the most difficult novel you've read?

by Anonymousreply 259March 21, 2023 5:04 PM

War and Peace, 100 years of Solitude Love in the Time of Chloera, Beloved , Paradise, heart of Darkness

by Anonymousreply 1February 10, 2023 6:27 PM

In Search of Lost Time

by Anonymousreply 2February 10, 2023 6:29 PM

The Wings of The Dove.

by Anonymousreply 3February 10, 2023 6:31 PM

W&P got a slow start, but once it gets rolling, it's not difficult. I remember trying & failing to read Don Quixote in college...now that was a slog

by Anonymousreply 4February 10, 2023 6:32 PM

Dostoyevsky's The Devils was a tough read.

by Anonymousreply 5February 10, 2023 6:39 PM

I’m weak. I give up if I’m bored.

by Anonymousreply 6February 10, 2023 6:43 PM

Wicked wasn't "difficult" but it was very dense.

by Anonymousreply 7February 10, 2023 6:48 PM

I'm sure there are more difficult (and better) novels out there, but no matter how hard I tried, how many times I started and reread already read chapters, I could not get through 'A Little Life' by Hanya Yanagihara.

I'm a pretty voracious reader, and it was highly celebrated, but I thought it was the most difficult novel I had ever tried to read.

by Anonymousreply 8February 10, 2023 6:50 PM

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

by Anonymousreply 9February 10, 2023 6:53 PM

I agree, "War and Peace" was a killer to read. I gave up pretty quickly. But then I thought Dr. Zhivago was about as bad.

Faulkner, to me, is never an easy read. I did make it through "As I Lay Dying" and "Light in August".

by Anonymousreply 10February 10, 2023 7:09 PM

“Tom Brown’s School Days”

by Anonymousreply 11February 10, 2023 7:15 PM

SONG OF SOLOMON, SULA, THE BLUEST EYE, all by Toni Morrison. She went off on too many tangents in her writing and her prose was way too fussy for me.

by Anonymousreply 12February 10, 2023 7:16 PM

Toni Morrison is notorious for going off on tangents in her novels. It makes things very confusing

by Anonymousreply 13February 10, 2023 7:19 PM

Candide by Voltaire

by Anonymousreply 14February 10, 2023 7:20 PM

[Quote]Wicked wasn't "difficult" but it was very dense.

Pretentious twaddle more like it. I gave up and read the synopsis on Wikipedia.

I tried Joyce's Finnegans Wake but never made it past the first few pages.

Anna Karenina took me a year to read; I had to keep forcing myself to finish it. Now I don't waste my time. If a book doesn't engage me, I move on. I no longer have to finish every book I start.

by Anonymousreply 15February 10, 2023 7:25 PM

[quote]Pretentious twaddle more like it. I gave up and read the synopsis on Wikipedia.

I found it an ultimately satisfying, well spun yarn, r15.

by Anonymousreply 16February 10, 2023 7:35 PM

War and Peace. I was only 18 when I read it

by Anonymousreply 17February 10, 2023 7:39 PM

I think this question sorts into two sub-questions:

What was difficult and you finished: Gravity's Rainbow

What was difficult and you gave up: Finnegans Wake

by Anonymousreply 18February 10, 2023 7:44 PM

R 18 I think you might be the only person in this country ( or, possibly, the world) who finished Gravity’s Rainbow - most offed themselves after three pages…

by Anonymousreply 19February 10, 2023 8:01 PM

My Pet Goat.

by Anonymousreply 20February 10, 2023 8:05 PM

For different reasons: Great Expectations by Kathy Acker

Hogg by Samuel Delaney

In Search of Lost Time

by Anonymousreply 21February 10, 2023 8:09 PM

R19, I’ve also read Gravity’s Rainbow. It was The Wings of the Dove that I found very tough going.

by Anonymousreply 22February 10, 2023 8:16 PM

Dostoyevsky's Notes from the Underground

It wasn't hard, but the narrator was such unpleasant nut job I had to give up on it.

I read Paradise Lost in grad school and I really enjoyed it because it was amazingly descriptive and dramatic. At times it felt as if I were reading a compelling novel rather than poetry.

But good lord, what a chore it was getting through Paradise Regained (for the same course). In fact I can say reading about Paradise was hell.

Many years ago I took a stab at Lord of the Rings - this was before the films came out - and I was so bored, I couldn't get past the first book.

by Anonymousreply 23February 10, 2023 8:16 PM

Anna Karenina


by Anonymousreply 24February 10, 2023 8:18 PM

In my more recent years the easy winner in this category would be Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

by Anonymousreply 25February 10, 2023 8:19 PM

I second Paradise Lost. Read it for an English course once. It was torture.

by Anonymousreply 26February 10, 2023 8:19 PM

Red Comet, the 1,000 plus recent biography of Sylvia Plath. It took three checkouts and six weeks to finish, but it was magnificent and really sets a new high bar for biographies.

by Anonymousreply 27February 10, 2023 8:22 PM

The Art of War and The Prince. It's been years and still on my bookshelf collecting dust

by Anonymousreply 28February 10, 2023 8:27 PM

My Night in the Lions Den by Claude Balz.

by Anonymousreply 29February 10, 2023 8:29 PM

I was reading Moby Dick the other night. It's about this...

by Anonymousreply 30February 10, 2023 8:46 PM

Dick and Jane! I fell asleep mid-Big Mac!

by Anonymousreply 31February 10, 2023 8:55 PM

"Wide Sargasso Sea" by Jean Rhys. "Jane Eyre" was a much easier read.

by Anonymousreply 32February 10, 2023 9:04 PM


by Anonymousreply 33February 10, 2023 9:16 PM

I began reading Atlas sShrugged tje summer after my senior year in high-school. I finished it in my senior year at college . I just couldn't get into this. But I was determined. So glad i finsihed it

by Anonymousreply 34February 10, 2023 9:17 PM

The Canterbury Tales. It was forced on me in high-school.

by Anonymousreply 35February 10, 2023 9:17 PM

"City of Glass" by Paul Auster. I'm still not sure from whose perspective the story is being told.

by Anonymousreply 36February 10, 2023 9:18 PM

I find Dostoyevsky very easy to read

by Anonymousreply 37February 10, 2023 9:19 PM

Catch 22!

by Anonymousreply 38February 10, 2023 9:20 PM

Count me as another who had problems with Anna Karenina. I still haven't finished it. Another one for me is The Brothers Karamazov.

My grandmother ordered this huge bookcase and it came with something like 100 leather-bound classic books. Or maybe she paid for the books and the bookcase came free? Not sure which. Anyway, I thought I would take advantage of reading the classics since I was assigned some of them in regular or AP English in HS. I still have those 2 books and my grandmother died in 2008! Her house, those books and the bookcase are long gone.

by Anonymousreply 39February 10, 2023 9:21 PM

Ulysses James Joyce

by Anonymousreply 40February 10, 2023 9:23 PM

Gravity's Rainbow

St. Augustine's Confessions

Notes from Underground

Beyond Good and Evil (Nietzsche)

by Anonymousreply 41February 10, 2023 9:23 PM

A Tale of Two Cities. But I was seven. I'd liked the Classics Illustrated version, and my back yard neighbor had a set of leatherbound Dickens novels, which she was happy to let me borrow. I didn't get "Recalled to Life" at first. And who was this Jarvis Lorry character? Finally, Dr. Manette was recalled to life, but I had recalled myself to rereading the comic book.

by Anonymousreply 42February 10, 2023 9:31 PM

Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy. It's written in the second person and formatted like a self help book in the first half, which makes you the reader the protagonist. It launches into a massive explanation of semiotics in the second half (which I had never heard of.)

I still enjoyed it, but I can't say I understood it.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 43February 10, 2023 9:37 PM

R15 I had an annotated edition and there were so many anotations on the first page I just gave up.

by Anonymousreply 44February 10, 2023 9:39 PM

I loved the wonderful Irish Gothic beginning and ending of "Melmoth the Wanderer," but as hard as I tried I couldn't make it through the hundreds of pages of anti-Catholic propaganda that makes up most of that novel.

by Anonymousreply 45February 10, 2023 9:41 PM

My high school library had some collection of the 100 greatest books of all time (I think from Harvard). I thought I'd read them all, but bailed out halfway through "The Iliad" (in verse).

by Anonymousreply 46February 10, 2023 9:43 PM

All of the above. I seem to be able to read volumes of diaries and letters but fiction is really a slog for me. Joyce, Proust, Tolstoy all left partially read. Not particularly interested in trying to finish them. I thought, ok it's something to read when I'm old and have more time but now that I am, I just can't concentrate on it and frankly I don't see the point of it. The most difficult I have ever tried to read is Ulysses, I really haven't completed anything that I can't fathom after a few chapters in.

by Anonymousreply 47February 10, 2023 9:48 PM


by Anonymousreply 48February 10, 2023 9:49 PM

I love War and Peace and read it every Christmas season until a few years ago.

by Anonymousreply 49February 10, 2023 9:50 PM

I hated Grendel.

by Anonymousreply 50February 10, 2023 9:59 PM

What was difficult and I gave up? Ayn Rand’s THE FOUNTAINHEAD

by Anonymousreply 51February 10, 2023 9:59 PM

As I Lay Dying also by Faulkner.

by Anonymousreply 52February 10, 2023 10:08 PM

Some of you bitches are having difficulty with understanding just what a "novel" is!

by Anonymousreply 53February 10, 2023 10:09 PM

War and Peace and Moby Dick . Anything by Joyce. Im still one who has to finish a book I start but Ive learned to be more selective if its a thick book. For years when I made a library run I included one classic.Im over that now.

by Anonymousreply 54February 10, 2023 10:14 PM

It depends on what you mean by difficult. If you mean the way it is written made it difficult, then I would say "Pale Fire" by Nabokov. Its structure was very confusing.

If you mean difficult because the story was boring or otherwise uninteresting to me, then I would say "A Little LIfe". I've tried twice to read it and give up about a third of the way in because it's just torture porn.

by Anonymousreply 55February 10, 2023 10:18 PM

Naked Lunch. No issues with the subject matter (which is a lot) but just gets into repetitive loops from hell.

by Anonymousreply 56February 10, 2023 10:22 PM

[quote] SONG OF SOLOMON, SULA, THE BLUEST EYE, all by Toni Morrison. She went off on too many tangents in her writing and her prose was way too fussy for me.

I feel like out of those three, Song of Solomon is the most accessible. Faulkner and Woolf influenced her, so the stream-of-consciousness style takes a while to get used to, but once you do, the experience is rewarding.

Speaking of Faulkner, he was at his most excessive with Absalom, Absalom!, which I find impossible to get through.

by Anonymousreply 57February 10, 2023 10:28 PM

Pynchon’s MASON & DIXON might be the only one of my favourite books that I’ve never managed to read cover-to-cover or linearly. I just dip in and out, read random sections or several chapters at a time, the usually have to put it down because what the fuck am I reading. The feel and overall world is clear to me and immersive, yet I could in no way summarise the plot, create a timeline of events, or describe every character.

I’m in awe of how Pynchon even manages to come up with what he does, his talent is intimidating, but frankly it’s also impenetrable and sometimes literally too difficult to follow, to the point you wonder if he’s turned off a lot of readers to his talent.

by Anonymousreply 58February 10, 2023 10:36 PM

[quote]Im still one who has to finish a book I start but Ive learned to be more selective if its a thick book. For years when I made a library run I included one classic.Im over that now.

Oh, dear!

by Anonymousreply 59February 10, 2023 10:38 PM

My favorite Faulkner is his most accessible book Light in August.

by Anonymousreply 60February 10, 2023 10:46 PM

Unless it was for school or work, don’t force myself to read anything.

by Anonymousreply 61February 10, 2023 10:51 PM

Th Iliad and The Odyssey

by Anonymousreply 62February 10, 2023 11:46 PM

R62 the epics are easy-breezy with the right modern translation. Just like a war novel or a supernatural adventure story respectively (with a few heavy genealogy lists)

by Anonymousreply 63February 10, 2023 11:49 PM

Agree with R56 Naked Lunch was unreadable. Guess it would help to be a junkie or an inaminate object

by Anonymousreply 64February 10, 2023 11:53 PM

The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil. Can’t get past the first pages.

by Anonymousreply 65February 10, 2023 11:55 PM

R65 - I've always wondered if that was a good read or not. Sounds like not.

by Anonymousreply 66February 10, 2023 11:57 PM

I found Miller’s TROPIC OF CAPRICORN largely unreadable, but that was because of the squick and the unapologetic misogyny, not because it was hardgoing.

The same things get in the way of my ability to read Palahniuk.

by Anonymousreply 67February 11, 2023 12:03 AM

I tried to read Gravity's Rainbow twice, and gave up twice. Couldn't figure out what it was supposed to be about.

I gave up on A Little Life three-fourths of the way through, not because it was difficult, but because I thought it was fundamentally dishonest.

by Anonymousreply 68February 11, 2023 12:04 AM

The Bible !! Hands down.

by Anonymousreply 69February 11, 2023 12:20 AM

The bible, yep. It's all over the place!

by Anonymousreply 70February 11, 2023 12:30 AM

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

by Anonymousreply 71February 11, 2023 12:48 AM

Another vote for Ulysees – so tedious and *yawn* boring. Finnegan's Wake is the runner-up. Both Joyce. But I finished both.

A more recent novel I just could not enjoy was Infinite Jest. First off, I hate dystopian future stories. Second, smarmy "inside jokes" really spoil any worthwhile novel. ONAN, i.e., onanism? Really? Not remotely as funny as I think it was intended. Finally, if you need over a thousand pages to tell your story, you need a better editor. 💩📕

by Anonymousreply 72February 11, 2023 12:58 AM

Difficult as in boring me to death: Celine's Journey to the End of the Night. I never finished it.

Finnigan's' Wake is virtually unreadable IMO except in bits and fragment. I read a paragraph aloud every six months or so. It's very musical, I think.

by Anonymousreply 73February 11, 2023 1:03 AM

Moby Dick.

by Anonymousreply 74February 11, 2023 1:06 AM

We "read" Moby Dick and the Canterbury Tales (and others) in high school English Literature class. I have decent memories of them, probably because we read them as guided readings with a lot of support. Without contextualization and occasional explanations by our teacher, I don't know that I would have enjoyed them. The Canterbury Tales, now that I think about it, probably played a large role in sparking my career as a linguist; figuring out Middle English's modern English derivations, were delightful. But I have not picked up either since then.

by Anonymousreply 75February 11, 2023 1:12 AM

Which translations of the classics do you like, R 63?

by Anonymousreply 76February 11, 2023 1:13 AM

R72 I hear you.

David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest, Oh fuck.

Years ago, my then-high school-aged, twink gay nephew gave a copy to everyone in our immediate family for Christmas. My boyfriend only finished about 15 pages, while I finished about 80. Nobody in the family had finished the book, which was unfortunate because my nephew had become obsessed with it and David Foster Wallace and wanted to talk about it all the time. He even wrote a 1,200-page book in the style of Wallace while still in high school. He let me read it, and it was completely incomprehensible (just like Wallace's). However, I was impressed by his work ethics and youthful exuberance in devoting so much time to creating the book.

by Anonymousreply 77February 11, 2023 1:18 AM

"Night" by Elie Wiesel. Threw me into an unbearable pit of despair. The first time was for a college class on Jewish-American literature. The entire class was sobbing at the hour's end. Took me years to pick it up again.

by Anonymousreply 78February 11, 2023 1:20 AM

I double down on Moby Dick.

by Anonymousreply 79February 11, 2023 1:21 AM

Moby Dick is boring from beginning to end.

by Anonymousreply 80February 11, 2023 1:22 AM

Naked Lunch, though not because I thought it was difficult but because it got so repetitive. Once I got the point, I didn’t think it was necessary to finish it. Big fan of Burroughs’ Queer, which isn’t difficult at all.

The Wings of The Dove is on my nightstand. Did not expect it to be difficult.

Great, inspiring thread.

by Anonymousreply 81February 11, 2023 1:31 AM

Green Eggs and Ham.

by Anonymousreply 82February 11, 2023 1:37 AM

There are a few classics that I had difficulty reading but that I enjoyed as audio books. Tale of Two Cities and Count of Monte Cristo are two that come to mind.

by Anonymousreply 83February 11, 2023 4:18 AM

I tried to get through Beloved but just couldn't do it.

by Anonymousreply 84February 11, 2023 4:22 AM

I’ve read all of “In Search of Lost Time.” It’s long, but it’s not difficult, really.

I really enjoyed it, and will read it again sometime. But you could live a very satisfying life never having read Proust.

by Anonymousreply 85February 11, 2023 4:30 AM

The Collector John Fowles

Exhausting read

by Anonymousreply 86February 11, 2023 4:33 AM

Of course The Iliad is in verse.

by Anonymousreply 87February 11, 2023 4:35 AM

Do you mean emotionally exhausting, r86?

by Anonymousreply 88February 11, 2023 4:39 AM

I couldn’t fully get the many textures of “Pat the Bunny.”

by Anonymousreply 89February 11, 2023 4:51 AM

Gone with the Wind. Those war scenes. So tedious!

by Anonymousreply 90February 11, 2023 5:32 AM

As I Lay Dying.

Took me three times. The third was the charm. And it now ranks as my favorite novel of all time. I need to read Light in August.

I actually devoured A Little Life. It is gay torture porn, but I couldn't put it down because I desperately wanted to know where she was going with the story.

I have failed to finish Infinite Jest. Twice.

by Anonymousreply 91February 11, 2023 6:30 AM

R26, You misread r23 (waves to fellow English major!). He enjoyed "PL"; it was Milton's "Paradise Regained" he did not.

There were assigned novels I didn't like, or even didn't read and took my exam chances.

But in RL the one author I found unbearably tedious and verbose such that about three pages sufficed is JK Rowling and her adverb-adverb-adverb-adjective-neologism Harry Potter books.

by Anonymousreply 92February 11, 2023 11:01 AM

I can never get through Salman Rushdie: I gave up on both Midnights Children and The Satanic Verses.

by Anonymousreply 93February 11, 2023 11:34 AM

Don Quixote, which seems to be on every bloody Intro to Comp. Lit reading list

by Anonymousreply 94February 11, 2023 12:08 PM

R83, even as an audiobook, The Count of Monte Cristo is a huge undertaking. It’s like 45 hours long!

Well done.

by Anonymousreply 95February 11, 2023 12:11 PM

Gone With the WInd doesn't have war scenes

by Anonymousreply 96February 11, 2023 12:13 PM

R73. It’s also “Finnegans,” not “Finnegan’s.”

by Anonymousreply 97February 11, 2023 12:14 PM

All of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

by Anonymousreply 98February 11, 2023 12:37 PM

Another vote for Rushdie's Midnight's Chiildren

The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner

Franny and Zoe, Salinger

Master and Margarita, Bulgakov

by Anonymousreply 99February 11, 2023 12:57 PM

R76 for both The Iliad & The Odyssey, can’t go wrong the Rieu trans. from Penguin.

The first Odyssey I read in English was the Chapman verse trans., and it made me want to kms.

by Anonymousreply 100February 11, 2023 1:06 PM

Another vote for A Tale of Two Cities. Put me to sleep over and over.

The Fountainhead wasn't as difficult, but there's no there, there.

by Anonymousreply 101February 11, 2023 1:29 PM

R101 imo the majority of Dickens is an overlong, wordy, bloated slog replete with fluff & filler, because it was written serially to pad out newspapers, and yet most editors are fans or at least in awe of his work, and refuse to be ruthless about truncating his novels.

by Anonymousreply 102February 11, 2023 1:31 PM

The Collected Works of David Ehrenstein

by Anonymousreply 103February 11, 2023 1:49 PM

R102 is right only about early Dickens. The late, long novels are brilliant works, bursting with mystery, comedy and social commentary. So what that they were written as serials: so were The Wire and The Sopranos. You wanna truncate them too?

by Anonymousreply 104February 11, 2023 2:05 PM

[quote]R76 for both The Iliad & The Odyssey, can’t go wrong the Rieu trans. from Penguin.

Does anyone here have impression of the other translations?

I have the Samuel Butler translation of The Iliad and the Emily Wilson translation of The Odyssey.

I haven't cracked them open yet, but glancing through them, they seemed pretty readable.

by Anonymousreply 105February 11, 2023 2:52 PM

R99 No!!!! I love Master and Margarita and reread it about every two years.

by Anonymousreply 106February 11, 2023 2:54 PM

R105. I think the Fagles is the best for the Iliad. Lombardo is good too.

by Anonymousreply 107February 11, 2023 2:59 PM

I don't quite get why some are listing "Song of Solomon" and "Sula" as difficult, as both are fairly straightforward. "Beloved," "Tar Baby," "Paradise," ...those I could see calling difficult, yet rewarding.

by Anonymousreply 108February 11, 2023 3:12 PM

Another vote for Ulysses by James Joyce although Finnegans Wake is so closely tied that the difference is negligible.

The majority of other stuff listed is standard English major stuff. While Joyce is also standard English major reading, both novels stand out as difficult reads. I was in a Joyce focused seminar class for English majors and both novels were slogs for everyone - we all regretted taking the class to fulfill one of the major requirements.

by Anonymousreply 109February 11, 2023 3:12 PM

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

by Anonymousreply 110February 11, 2023 3:13 PM

"The Waves" by Virginia Woolf is up there, though I do admire it and plan to read it again someday.

by Anonymousreply 111February 11, 2023 3:14 PM

[quote] One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

That books isn't hard, what are you, stupid n' stuff?

by Anonymousreply 112February 11, 2023 3:14 PM

R109 I find (as an English major and doctoral student) Ulysses and Finnegans to be of different categories. Ulysses is difficult, allusive, experimental... but it's a novel with characters, setting, and plot. Finnegans is a prose poem that chops up and rearranges language in ways so unusual that simple decoding is almost impossible.

R111 Yes, the Waves is so hard to push through but the reward of doing so is.... mystical? Healing? Transformative?

I think the average age for posters in this thread must be over 60. I don't think Gen X reads much (other than Infinite Jest, and, true to the Gen X brand, never finishes it). I wonder if Gen Z even knows most of these titles.

by Anonymousreply 113February 11, 2023 5:16 PM

[quote][R102] is right only about early Dickens. The late, long novels are brilliant works, bursting with mystery, comedy and social commentary.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 114February 11, 2023 5:43 PM

Do some of you find it easier to get through difficult novels by listening to them via audiobook? When I tried reading Virginia Woolf's books, I could never complete them. But the audiobooks of "To The Lighthouse" and "Mrs. Dalloway," read by the great Juliet Stevenson, made those books much more palpable for me.

by Anonymousreply 115February 11, 2023 8:23 PM

FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY. Difficult because it was so dull and poorly written.

by Anonymousreply 116February 11, 2023 8:36 PM

Agree r93, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, which is constantly praised, was deadly dull for me.

by Anonymousreply 117February 11, 2023 8:47 PM

[quote]Do some of you find it easier to get through difficult novels by listening to them via audiobook? When I tried reading Virginia Woolf's books, I could never complete them. But the audiobooks of "To The Lighthouse" and "Mrs. Dalloway," read by the great Juliet Stevenson, made those books much more palpable for me.

I don't ever "get through" novels by listening to audiobooks.

I might listen to one for non-fiction or for a handful of genre books (Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books are great as audiobooks).

However, for so-called literary fiction and classics, the quality of the written prose matters. The author controls so many things, such as tempo and pacing, through choice of diction and syntax that you lose a lot of the mastery, or at least have it meaningfully filtered. It's like looking at a Caravaggio or Vermeer in bad or colored lighting. The way the reader chooses to emphasize words, take breaths, pause, and speed up and slow down are interpretations of the written word that are not intrinsic to the way the author wrote the text.

by Anonymousreply 118February 11, 2023 8:57 PM

The Idiot by Dostoevsky.

Made me feel like an idiot.

by Anonymousreply 119February 11, 2023 8:58 PM

" dostoevsky"

Oh dear

by Anonymousreply 120February 11, 2023 9:10 PM


I don't know him

by Anonymousreply 121February 11, 2023 9:10 PM

[quote]" dostoevsky"

[quote]Oh dear

Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский

LOL - apparently, transliteration gets just as much hate on DL as every other kind of T.

by Anonymousreply 122February 11, 2023 9:24 PM

I thought "As I Lay Dying" was easier than "Sound and the Fury" though I definitely had to read slow and concentrate to get what was going on. Stunningly beautiful descriptive writing throughout. I don't find Toni Morrison all that difficult although, like Faulkner, she does like to play tricks with narration and timelines. But I think he's more esoteric.

I finally read "Moby Dick" a couple years ago and was also, honestly, quite bored. And there were many parts I found inscrutable. So that probably gets my vote.

Have not yet attempted "Gravity's Rainbow" but did read his "V." a couple years ago and it's definitely challenging. But also funny, fascinating, heady, overall loved it.

Another very tough one was "Ratner's Star" by Don DeLillo. Definitely the weirdest book I ever read.

by Anonymousreply 123February 11, 2023 9:37 PM

Funny about Dickens. You must invest your attention, but I find him one of the most hilarious writer…with a very keen perception of human nature. He also has such a mastery of words that his descriptions of said human nature are delivered in a sly, understated way that you will miss them if you blink.

Yes, I was an English major. I used to get LPs out of the library and listen AND read Shakespeare’s plays. It pulled me through quicker than if I just read.

by Anonymousreply 124February 11, 2023 9:54 PM

The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Little translated from French Les Bienveillantes. The book is narrated by its fictional protagonist Maximilien Aue, a former SS officer of French and German ancestry who was a Holocaust perpetrator and was present during several major events of World War II. I found it absolutely horrific and difficult to read. I abandoned it and washed my eyes with bleach.

by Anonymousreply 125February 11, 2023 9:56 PM

Fuck the old cunt who thinks only people over 60 read novels. I'm squarely Gen X and I read a book every week or two all year. What a silly assumption you've made.

by Anonymousreply 126February 11, 2023 10:23 PM

Hollywood Wives

by Anonymousreply 127February 11, 2023 10:28 PM

some absurdist prose by some guy, a book full of gobblty gook that had no grammar, very difficult. it left an impression , but nothing more

by Anonymousreply 128February 11, 2023 10:28 PM

[quote] Fuck the old cunt who thinks only people over 60 read novels. I'm squarely Gen X and I read a book every week or two all year. What a silly assumption you've made.

I'm a millennial (I turned 40 last August), and I'm a huge bookworm and try to read as many books as I can per week, especially those in the "Western canon."

Quite presumptuous for R113 to assume that most people posting in this thread are Boomers or older.

by Anonymousreply 129February 11, 2023 10:44 PM

Fuck that cunt @ r113

by Anonymousreply 130February 11, 2023 10:51 PM

R120. Well, since the name was original written Cyrric, any number of transliterations are fine . No Oh, dear called for.

by Anonymousreply 131February 11, 2023 10:55 PM

The Recognitions by William Gaddis.

by Anonymousreply 132February 11, 2023 10:57 PM

A friend gave me A Confederacy of Dunces. I maybe got through two chapters. I love reading but I fucking hated it.

by Anonymousreply 133February 11, 2023 11:09 PM

The unbearable lightness of being

by Anonymousreply 134February 11, 2023 11:44 PM

^Have always said and will always say that life is too fucking short for persevering with books you hate reading or find tiring and disheartening and impenetrable. To be challenged by a hard book is healthy, but to be turned off and demoralised is not. Further, if you’re someone who absolutely hates recreational reading or finds it impossible, well, life’s too short to dwell on that, too—it’s not for everyone, and I don’t know why we’ve created this society where it’s prescriptive.

What I think is a must is an ability to enjoy stories, in any one or several medium (spoken word, theatre & film, visual art & comics, music, even high concept tv drama). When someone doesn’t engage or care to engage with stories at all, that is a worry, because the person is likely to lack empathy or at least lack interest in/consideration for the interiority of other people.

by Anonymousreply 135February 12, 2023 12:41 AM

R131 - "Cyrric"

Oh, dear.

by Anonymousreply 136February 12, 2023 12:44 AM

Blame speed and arthritic finger in a phone. Cyrrilic, of course.

by Anonymousreply 137February 12, 2023 1:41 AM

Cyrillic, dear r137.

by Anonymousreply 138February 12, 2023 1:44 AM

I give up (and I took a year of college Russian 30 years ago!)

by Anonymousreply 139February 12, 2023 1:49 AM

[quote]I finally read "Moby Dick" a couple years ago and was also, honestly, quite bored. And there were many parts I found inscrutable. So that probably gets my vote.

Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale

by Anonymousreply 140February 12, 2023 2:12 AM

I've tried to tackle "Ulysses" since I was a. kid. The thing is the story ends up being fascinating, but I end up being bored. Boredom belongs to children.

by Anonymousreply 141February 12, 2023 2:20 AM

The "y" in English Dostoyevsky (Достоевский) is required, since the "ое" in Russian yields "ah-YEH." Like the city Yekaterinburg; Yekaterinburg starts with a E, not a Э. Ереван is Yerevan.

If you want to transliterate Достоевский, it would be Dostoevskij. Standard Modern Russian reduces the letters "o" in Dostoyevsky to schwa and ah in that order, so the proper pronunciation of the name is duhs-tah-YEV-ski

by Anonymousreply 142February 12, 2023 2:56 AM

The Bible. The genealogy lists are dreadful. Even the surprisingly frequent gay erotica don't compensate for endless family histories.

A better transation of "In Search of Lost Time" would be "To Justify Wasted Time" which after all is the theme of the book. The last part he couldn't edit before he died was brilliant. The first parts were over-written and sometimes quite dreadful or boring.

Ulysses was such a masturbation one loses interest.

Faulkner is actually a terrible writer, which you can easily see from his early work.

But I think Gunter Grass wins for tedium.

by Anonymousreply 143February 12, 2023 3:22 AM

The only classic I couldn’t bring myself to care about, and thus faked my way through it, was Moby Dick. I later read a synopsis that made it seem so interesting that I almost went back to read it. Perhaps one day.

100 Years of Solitude was difficult for me but I loved it. Took me ages, though. Anna Karenina, War and Peace, any Russian literature, really, I devoured. A Confederacy of Dunces is one book I’ve tried so many times and I just don’t see what others do. Finally gave away my copy.

Worst book is A Little Life. Horrible torture porn that went on and on. Wish I hadn’t finished it. Not even well written. It put me off reading anything new for months; I needed to go back to old favorites to regain my passion for literature.

by Anonymousreply 144February 12, 2023 3:46 AM

Tender is the Night

by Anonymousreply 145February 12, 2023 3:52 AM

Cathy - Office Jokes

by Anonymousreply 146February 12, 2023 3:57 AM

Christopher Hitchens: Why does Moby Dick stink? Why is it revered?

Gore Vidal: I wouldn’t say it is all that bad, but it is not very good, either, unless one wants to know a great deal about whales. It is revered because it is very much in the American manner - pompous, humorless, self-important, and ill-written. There are some interesting annotations in Melville’s copies of Shakespeare where you can see him aiming at magnificence and falling with a splash into the old-man-and-the-sea shallows.

by Anonymousreply 147February 12, 2023 4:11 AM

War and Peace. I loved it but couldn’t tell you anything about it now (granted, it was 20 years ago).

by Anonymousreply 148February 12, 2023 4:13 AM

Moby Dick, in high school.

by Anonymousreply 149February 12, 2023 4:53 AM

[quote]pompous, humorless, self-important

Vidal isn't describing Moby Dick, he's describing himself.

by Anonymousreply 150February 12, 2023 7:03 AM

I thought The Sound & the Fury was tough until I took a graduate seminar on Faulkner & everything fell into place.

Lolita was a bit tough for me, having seen the movie beforehand I didn’t realize the novel would be so richly dense in over-my-head allusions, wordplay, etc. Try the Annotated edition, there’s a citation like every other sentence! It’s a great read though, one of my favorites.

I had to read Moby-Dick in another seminar & that’s my least favorite novel of all time, horribly disappointing. There were only 6 or 7 of us in the class & each of us had to do a 2hr presentation of one of the novels from the reading list (Uncle Tom’s Cabin for me). We had one more book than the number of students, so the professor had to present the unchosen novel which was, you guessed it, Moby-Dick.

by Anonymousreply 151February 12, 2023 7:11 AM

Isn’t one of those Faulkner novels a lot easier if you read the color coded edition?

by Anonymousreply 152February 12, 2023 7:29 AM

[quote] The Bible. Even the surprisingly frequent gay erotica don't compensate for endless family histories.

Where do you find the homoerotica?

Having only skimmed the Old Testament, all I ever found in this vein was David & Jonathan’s tale.

by Anonymousreply 153February 12, 2023 9:55 AM

R152. Faulkner wanted The Sound and the Fury to have different colored types, but the publisher deemed it too expensive to do and still sell at reasonable price.

by Anonymousreply 154February 12, 2023 12:35 PM


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by Anonymousreply 155February 12, 2023 5:21 PM

Re Dickens and A Tale of Two Cities: i started several times, but finally made it last year. The first chapters are a chore (this happens in other of his works) but then I ended up loving. Madame Lafarge is one of the more ruthless, scariest characters ever created.

by Anonymousreply 156February 12, 2023 5:59 PM

[quote]Fuck the old cunt who thinks only people over 60 read novels. I'm squarely Gen X and I read a book every week or two all year. What a silly assumption you've made.

Good for you, but 'Graphic Novels' don't count. Whenever my colleagues and I try to talk books to Gen Xers, Millennials, and Zoomers they always talk about Graphic Novels. If it's not in comic book form, and a has a superhero in the multiverse, they're not interested in reading it.

by Anonymousreply 157February 13, 2023 3:36 AM

Moby Dick is awesome. Don't forget homophobia is behind a lot of the hate.

by Anonymousreply 158February 13, 2023 3:46 AM

[quote] Vidal isn't describing Moby Dick, he's describing himself.

I'll give you pompous and self-important. But humorless? The Godfather of Pointless Bitchery and Shade, humorless? I think not!

by Anonymousreply 159February 13, 2023 4:11 AM

[quote]Whenever my colleagues and I try to talk books to Gen Xers, Millennials, and Zoomers they always talk about Graphic Novels. If it's not in comic book form, and a has a superhero in the multiverse, they're not interested in reading it.

Who do you think you're fooling by making this shit up? You clearly don't know many Gen Xers, millennials or zoomers, if any.

by Anonymousreply 160February 13, 2023 9:49 AM

Me & my Millennial cousin both concur that The Canterbury Tales are boring and overrated, but Beowulf is not.

by Anonymousreply 161February 13, 2023 12:34 PM

[quote]Whenever my colleagues and I try to talk books to Gen Xers, Millennials, and Zoomers they always talk about Graphic Novels. If it's not in comic book form, and a has a superhero in the multiverse, they're not interested in reading it.

You're describing every single person who is age 57 and under with that description. You don't know what you're talking about.

by Anonymousreply 162February 13, 2023 12:49 PM

Watt by Samuel Beckett

by Anonymousreply 163February 13, 2023 1:55 PM

I hope nobody has a shit hemorrhage, but I found it impossible to follow The Koran. Yes, it was spelled like that when I read the English translation years ago. I couldn't finish it. I think it's the 1st person POV that throws me.

by Anonymousreply 164February 13, 2023 2:00 PM

[quote]I hope nobody has a shit hemorrhage, but I found it impossible to follow The Koran

I almost took a course that was essentially the Bible as literature. Its imagery and allusions to it are so prevalent in western literature that I thought it would give me more complete view of works from authors like Melville and Hawthorne to the "classics." So much of western lit is either a direct reference or response to it that it seemed like a good idea.

I didn't end up taking the class, but I periodically consider finding something that covers the topic without having to actually read the bible.

by Anonymousreply 165February 13, 2023 2:10 PM

Roberto Bolaño's 2666. It was just interesting enough to keep me going, until it got to the point where I didn't know what the fuck it was about.

by Anonymousreply 166February 13, 2023 2:16 PM

[quote]Who do you think you're fooling by making this shit up? You clearly don't know many Gen Xers, millennials or zoomers, if any.

Geez, you're wrong once again. I work at a university and deal with Gen Xers, Millennials, and Zoomers on a daily basis in the library. If it's not a Graphic Novel, they have zero interest in it. They need to be entertained on every page with colorful graphics and superheroes. It's sad.

by Anonymousreply 167February 13, 2023 2:20 PM

Moby Dick is a favorite. Think of the white whale as the existential inevitability of death, and the quest of Ahab and eventually the crew as man's hopeless struggle against it.

by Anonymousreply 168February 13, 2023 2:22 PM

r158 Exactly right...Melville himself was enamored of Hawthorne, who was quite a beautiful man. Moby-Dick is a very "gay" novel. coded at times.

by Anonymousreply 169February 13, 2023 3:08 PM

[quote][R158] Exactly right...Melville himself was enamored of Hawthorne, who was quite a beautiful man. Moby-Dick is a very "gay" novel. coded at times.

For a hot minute, perhaps. But, he aged out of it pretty quickly.

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by Anonymousreply 170February 13, 2023 3:18 PM

I can't believe the dickhead at R157 is doubling down on GenX readers.

Just fuck off, mate. We're all here to talk about books. No time for the likes of you swanning around at your book club meeting, boring every one to death.

by Anonymousreply 171February 13, 2023 5:39 PM

Spare. I felt like no one thinking about how I felt.

by Anonymousreply 172February 13, 2023 5:42 PM

DH Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers.

by Anonymousreply 173February 13, 2023 8:12 PM

R173 I never found Lawrence difficult... pretty easy reading, if a bit boring.

by Anonymousreply 174February 13, 2023 9:02 PM

[quote]Moby Dick is awesome. Don't forget homophobia is behind a lot of the hate.

R158 I dislike the book on it's own. Why drag homophobia into it?

by Anonymousreply 175February 13, 2023 10:39 PM

R171 Go back to your Superhero megaverse graphic novel in your safe space. It's the only thing your ADHD can handle.

by Anonymousreply 176February 13, 2023 11:03 PM

R176 is currently meandering his way through the second volume of John Dos Passos' U.S.A. trilogy and is savoring the poetic irony and every juicy sociopolitical allusion.

With his highbrow ass.

by Anonymousreply 177February 14, 2023 2:27 PM

Good thread, OP, but it has now dissolved into a few queens arguing.

by Anonymousreply 178February 14, 2023 11:30 PM

Howard Cruse's "Stuck Rubber Baby" is an excellent LGBT Graphic novel.. It is not difficult, however.

by Anonymousreply 179February 15, 2023 3:30 AM

John Dos Passos was a junior congressman wiseass type. Spare us these people (hey Jonathan Franzen, why haven't you been able to buy a Nobel Prize yet?)

by Anonymousreply 180February 15, 2023 3:31 AM

Don DeLillo makes me want to barf.

by Anonymousreply 181February 15, 2023 3:32 AM

Die Wahlverwandtschaften (Elective Affinities). To be honest, I’m not sure I entirely understood it.

by Anonymousreply 182February 15, 2023 3:39 AM

James Joyce’s Ulysses. I was assigned it in college and had to resort to Cliff Notes.

by Anonymousreply 183February 15, 2023 3:50 AM

Plato's The Republic. What the fuck is that book?

by Anonymousreply 184February 15, 2023 4:06 AM

Not a novel, for starters, R184.

by Anonymousreply 185February 15, 2023 7:23 AM

R157 You're describing somebody. But not any of the many Millennial readers I've known. The fuck are you on?

by Anonymousreply 186February 15, 2023 8:02 AM

My best friend's favorite book was A Confederacy of Dunces, which he gave to me with a note explaining how difficult it was for him to finish due to his constant laughter. I tried and failed to finish it. I tried my hardest for his sake, but I couldn't even crack a smile, let alone a laugh.

by Anonymousreply 187February 16, 2023 12:16 AM

Wow, I can't even imagine Divine as the lead Confederacy.

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by Anonymousreply 188February 16, 2023 12:19 AM

Apart from Don Quixote, Moby Dick and War and Peace which I believe have all been mentioned, I once dated a guy who kept pressing this book on me as his favourite. I felt dumb at the time because I really couldn’t get through it and found it punishingly dry.

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by Anonymousreply 189February 16, 2023 12:25 AM

With difficult books I often use a guide, like Cliff Notes or Spark Notes, to help me understand. I know a lot of students use them to avoid reading the original novels, but I find them helpful.

by Anonymousreply 190February 16, 2023 1:41 AM

I am with OP, I miss the good ole days

by Anonymousreply 191February 16, 2023 1:52 AM

R190. As a retired college teacher, I commend you for using those as guides to supplement the novel itself. Students rarely succeeded with Cliffs Notes—it was easy to devise an assignment that was more than plot summary (which Cliffs/Sparks is mainly used for—they may help a student squeak by on a spot reading quiz) and after a few years as a teacher, you recognize the language and themes from the Cliffs Notes. I’m amazed, though—when I was a student, they were mainly used for the long, content heavy books (Dickens, Melville, Ivanhoe)—now they have them for The Hunger Games—how lazy or stupid do you have to be to need them for The Hunger Games?

by Anonymousreply 192February 16, 2023 2:02 AM

R189 Yep, there are books that are very difficult but you "get" why they are so commended (anything Pynchon), and then there are books that are very difficult, and you think, huh? What's the deal with this carp? Recognitions was like this second category to me: relentlessly dry, boring....

by Anonymousreply 193February 16, 2023 2:13 AM

The Ambassadors by Henry James. Something happened in English but I wouldn't bet on it.

by Anonymousreply 194February 16, 2023 2:18 AM

“My Antonia”

by Anonymousreply 195February 16, 2023 2:25 AM

The flowchart of George Santos' lies.

by Anonymousreply 196February 16, 2023 2:44 AM

Does this exhausting thread count as a novel?

by Anonymousreply 197February 16, 2023 2:45 AM

It’s novel, without being a novel.

by Anonymousreply 198February 16, 2023 2:48 AM

r193 yes exactly! I don’t mind difficult literature at all, I was just mystified by that book, could not see the so called genius of it in any way.

by Anonymousreply 199February 16, 2023 2:54 AM

Zadie Smith novels. She tries too hard

by Anonymousreply 200February 16, 2023 2:55 AM

Giovanni's Room and The Invisible Man. Particularly the latter.

by Anonymousreply 201February 16, 2023 2:58 AM

Must agree with War and Peace. An ass-kicker.

by Anonymousreply 202February 16, 2023 3:13 AM

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

I found it shallow and pedantic.

by Anonymousreply 203February 16, 2023 3:17 AM

American Psycho. It insisted upon itself.

by Anonymousreply 204February 16, 2023 3:18 AM

If you're referring to Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, R201, I didn't find that too difficult. Perhaps a little long in some parts. But what I like about Ralph Ellison is that he was a modernist but not the kind who tried to alienate the reader with experimentation. Many post-war writers of his generation often held contempt for the reader and only wrote novels that appealed to literary scholars. I never got that from Ellison's work.

Baldwin could get carried away with his Jamesian type of prose in Giovanni's Room, but I didn't find that difficult either. It's probably one of the most beautiful gay novels written in English.

by Anonymousreply 205February 16, 2023 3:19 AM

Giovani's Room is not at all difficult.

by Anonymousreply 206February 16, 2023 3:10 PM

I never found Baldwin (Giovanni's Room, Another Country, The Fire Next Time) difficult. Sometimes beautifully dense prose, but never felt he was "pushing the limits" of fiction.

But R205, modernist writers: what evidence do you have that any of them wanted to "alienate the reader?" That's a pretty odd conclusion. Sources?

by Anonymousreply 207February 16, 2023 4:34 PM

[quote] But [R205], modernist writers: what evidence do you have that any of them wanted to "alienate the reader?" That's a pretty odd conclusion. Sources?

Maybe "alienate the reader" was the wrong phrase. I'm thinking of writers like T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Wyndham Lewis, who did not offer an easy experience reading them. Because they rejected what they found inadequate in Romanticism, they often dismantled storytelling methods that most readers were accustomed to and created new approaches that were esoteric and challenging to decipher. While they may not have wanted to alienate the reader, they certainly didn't want to make it easy to read them, either. Their approach wasn't all that different than Dada/Surrealist writers.

by Anonymousreply 208February 16, 2023 6:29 PM

The Man Without Qualities. Maybe it was just boring.

by Anonymousreply 209February 16, 2023 7:11 PM

“1Q84,” by Harushi Murakami.

I’ve wanted to try again, but I may never finish it.

by Anonymousreply 210February 16, 2023 7:36 PM

R208 I don't disagree with what you're saying completely, but when TS Eliot exploded modern poetry with

"When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherized upon a table;

He wanted not to "alienate" his contemporary readers, rather to depict and offer them back the actual alienation they experienced. And touch them and their emotions and their intellect in ways that:

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

... could never do. Not that Yeats could not move the reader, but rather his singing was of something remembered, not immediately experienced. I'd argue that Eliot was trying to be "closer" to modern living than "art" had previously been.

by Anonymousreply 211February 16, 2023 9:11 PM

R201 how come you struggled with Giovanni's Room? I find it the most readable of Baldwin's ouevre.

The length and the colloquial vernacular of Just Above My Head almost defeated me, but once I got into the drama it was easier.

by Anonymousreply 212February 16, 2023 10:30 PM

Three I could never get through: Proust, James Joyce, and Faulkner.

by Anonymousreply 213February 16, 2023 10:35 PM

Absalom Absalom as well. I forced myself to finish it for some masochistic reason.

by Anonymousreply 214February 16, 2023 10:48 PM

Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. It was good but a challenge to get through. At least 1200 pages from I recall.

by Anonymousreply 215February 16, 2023 11:01 PM

[quote]I'd argue that Eliot was trying to be "closer" to modern living than "art" had previously been.

And then, unfortunately, he became closer to Cats than "art" has ever been. A lot of Memory is plucked from Rhapsody on a Windy Night. Serves him right for being mean to his mad wife.

by Anonymousreply 216February 17, 2023 6:07 AM

R124, one of my favorite memories of college is sitting at a little desk with a turntable in the 5th floor stacks listening to LPs of Shakespeare while reading the plays. And smoking! It was the 80s, and apparently no one gave any thought to the damage smoking would do to all the books (let alone lungs).

by Anonymousreply 217February 17, 2023 6:28 AM


[quote] Not that Yeats could not move the reader, but rather his singing was of something remembered, not immediately experienced.

Ever read "Easter 1916"?

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by Anonymousreply 218February 17, 2023 12:27 PM

Clifford the Big Red dog is a slog but I'm almost done with it. I'm a bit confused though by the story I may check cliff notes ( or Clifford Notes) at some point.

by Anonymousreply 219February 17, 2023 12:38 PM

One Hundred Years of Solitude. I want those wasted hours back.

by Anonymousreply 220February 17, 2023 12:38 PM

The Illiad, in ancient Greek. I was 13 and it was an assigned book. My father helped me get through it. Thanks Dad.

by Anonymousreply 221February 17, 2023 2:00 PM

Anything by James Fenimore Cooper.

by Anonymousreply 222February 17, 2023 2:17 PM

He's not an impenetrable author, but I find that smug anaemic bore Ian McEwan unreadable. Never have I encountered an author whose self-satisfaction and covert misogyny oozes off the pages to that degree. It seems like he writes to specific beats that he knows will get him mainstream book prizes, and that is very apparent once you notice it.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been as angry at a book as I was at Atonement. Saturday was the most miserable shit, as well. I think I skim read most of it, but the crux is simply 'apples-and-pears working class lout who’s straight out of a Guy Ritchie movie holds the upper class surgeon’s family at gunpoint until the daughter moves him to tears by reciting a poem (that he was, obviously, too stupid and common to know)'.

by Anonymousreply 223February 17, 2023 2:17 PM

Would a script count?

by Anonymousreply 224February 17, 2023 2:20 PM

What exactly did you find difficult about One Hundred Years of Solitude, R220?

by Anonymousreply 225February 17, 2023 2:50 PM

With War and Peace, once you understand the Russian patronymics and the French (which you can easily look up now), it's not hard. It's just long.

by Anonymousreply 226February 17, 2023 7:08 PM

R225, maybe the fact that every character has the same name?

by Anonymousreply 227February 28, 2023 4:03 PM

I’d like to see more posters list a children’s book here. That is one hilarious joke and it somehow gets funnier the more people make it!

by Anonymousreply 228February 28, 2023 4:05 PM

The Picture of Dorian Gray and Madame Bovary

by Anonymousreply 229February 28, 2023 4:25 PM

American Psycho because it was so obviously written by someone on a three day coke bender.

by Anonymousreply 230February 28, 2023 4:41 PM

As others here have mentioned:

ULYSSES by James Joyce. Had to read it for a course in college and actually finished -- and liked! -- it. Having a companion text with analysis & discussion on a chapter-by-chapter basis was an immense help. (Sorry, I can't recall the name of this second book.)

GRAVITY'S RAINBOW by Thomas Pynchon. Although I have successfully read other books by Pynchon, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW thwarted me after a couple hundred pages. I am still hopeful to conquer it one day.

HOUSE OF LEAVES by Mark Z. Danielewski. I'm surprised no one has mentioned this one yet. It's an unbelievably dense & intricate novel that is almost impossible to summarize. At its core it's about a supposed documentary about a family whose house is immensely larger on the inside than on the outside. This tale is told via multiple narratives and multiple narrators and is physically represented by the most mind-boggling layout imaginable. (See one example below.) Text goes backwards, forwards, upside down, and on end. Numerous different fonts are used, including bold, italic, and strikethrough. Columns appear and disappear, displaying their own narrative. There are hundreds of footnotes, some of which take up several pages, while other pages may contain no more than a word or two. Some text is in color; some is formatted to form pictures. And so on and so on. I was actually intrigued by the story and made it about halfway through its 700 pages before real life intervened and I had to put the book aside. It is not, however, a book you can easily go back to and so, like GRAVITY'S RAINBOW, it remains on my Hopefully-To-Read-In-Full-Someday pile.

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by Anonymousreply 231February 28, 2023 5:16 PM

Bret Ellis was a major supporter of the piece of crap that was House Of Leaves.

by Anonymousreply 232February 28, 2023 5:25 PM

Gays used to write and read books like "Moby Dick" and "In Search of Lost Time." Now they complain about having to think too hard and would rather obsess on the real housewives. Smh.

by Anonymousreply 233February 28, 2023 8:49 PM

Pat the Bunny

by Anonymousreply 234February 28, 2023 11:28 PM

Under the Volcano: 423 pages and it took most of the summer for me to read it.

The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick: 133 pages and I struggled with every single one of them.

by Anonymousreply 235February 28, 2023 11:32 PM

People who compare "Ulysses" and "Finnegan's Wake," saying the former is more difficult, obviously haven't read two sentences from them.

by Anonymousreply 236February 28, 2023 11:35 PM

My Pet Goat

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by Anonymousreply 237March 1, 2023 1:28 AM

R236 The only way I've been able to work through more than a couple of pages of Wake is to think of it as a prose poem: then the language and its sound just have to fall like rain, I have faith in a web of meaning underneath what i am hearing.

I had a friend who did a PhD in Finnegans Wake. She was insufferable and damaged by it and I believe only recovered when she left the Academy to run a book store.

by Anonymousreply 238March 1, 2023 2:17 AM

In my younger - and much more foolish - days, I looked down upon those who resorted to Cliff Notes or ‘X made easy’ to help with their reading

So I valiantly and needlessly struggled through primary texts like ‘Critique of Pure Reason’, ‘The Phenomenology of Spirit’ or ‘Swann’s Way’, without referring to any secondary reference books/guides

Nowadays? Fuck, give me, pronto!, the ‘Dummy Guide’s or the ‘Very Short Introduction’s or whatever that’s available to expedite the process

I’m not ashamed to ask for help now I’ve gained a bit more maturity

by Anonymousreply 239March 1, 2023 8:50 AM

[quote] Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Oh God yes! I'd forgotten that piece of laborous shit! Why? How? But I was goddamned determined to read it till the last sentence in the hope of some kind of satori. Well that was a lost hope.

by Anonymousreply 240March 1, 2023 9:05 AM

I wanted to like "The House Of The Seven Gables" but it could have used a good editor. Overlong paragraphs to describe simple things.

by Anonymousreply 241March 1, 2023 10:13 AM

Atlas Shrugged. I was determined that I wouldn't let it beat me, but it was torturous to finish, especially the repetitive, political and socio-economic, hundred page diatribe at the end. I've never hated a book as much as I did this one.

by Anonymousreply 242March 1, 2023 10:37 AM

R242 Libertarians love to be unlikeable, so it’s the response Rand probably wanted.

by Anonymousreply 243March 1, 2023 11:45 AM

I thought it would be fun to read "Dream of the Red Chamber" because at one point a few years ago I was really into Chinese films and saw some interesting clips of one of the movie versions of "Dream of the Red Chamber" with Brigitte Lin.

But after 30 or 40 pages I had to give up. The maze of relationships in the Chinese court was too confusing and the names were a huge headache. I could never remember who was who. Even understanding which characters were male and which were female was confusing not being familiar with Mandarin.

by Anonymousreply 244March 17, 2023 4:41 PM

Atlas Shrugged. Forced to read it in a college philosophy class and NGL I found ayn rand’s unrealistic, anti empathy reactionary manifesto disgusting. Nonstop alt right railroad tycoon bs that was the mentality that led to the Ohio rail explosion disaster.

by Anonymousreply 245March 17, 2023 4:50 PM

A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway was a raging borderline. Another book I was forced to read at school. Gratuitous violence in slow motion with zero solutions. Hated it

by Anonymousreply 246March 17, 2023 4:52 PM

[quote] The maze of relationships in the Chinese court was too confusing and the names were a huge headache. I could never remember who was who. Even understanding which characters were male and which were female was confusing

R244 y'know I had the same experience reading a translated Tale Of Genji, but I loved it and devoured it anyway because the narrative was full of sex and gossip and DL-style courtly snark and Genji being a colossal bitch. It's amazing and somehow reassuring how even the ancient world could be captivated by personal life drama and salaciousness.

by Anonymousreply 247March 17, 2023 5:03 PM

[quote] Gratuitous violence in slow motion with zero solutions. Hated it.

Henry Miller's Tropic Of Capricorn made me sick and depressed with all the violence and squick. I couldn't finish it and didn't want to, it was just nihilistic fet!sh fuel that the prose wasn't good enough to justify.

The worst of it is that apparently Anais Nin edited it and contributed a few parts, which isn't very feministically empowering.

by Anonymousreply 248March 17, 2023 5:06 PM

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

by Anonymousreply 249March 17, 2023 5:08 PM

[quote]Candide by Voltaire

You can't be serious. It's written like a fairy tale. I found it easy to read even in the original French (and I'm not a native French speaker).

by Anonymousreply 250March 17, 2023 5:10 PM

Celine's Journey to the End of Night.

I don't know, maybe something lost in translation, but it was opaque, tortured prose. Sentence by sentence, I'd forget at the end of the sentence what was happening at the start, let alone being stranded in a paragraph. I think it was 500 pages... I didn't make it to 50.

by Anonymousreply 251March 17, 2023 5:24 PM

Two in the ass is worth more than one in the pussy

by Anonymousreply 252March 17, 2023 5:25 PM

Last Exit to Brooklyn is a brutal read.

by Anonymousreply 253March 17, 2023 7:16 PM

[italic]À la recherche du temps perdu[/italic], which took a long time, but in fairness to myself I don't know French.

by Anonymousreply 254March 17, 2023 7:19 PM

War and Peace

by Anonymousreply 255March 17, 2023 7:20 PM


by Anonymousreply 256March 17, 2023 7:22 PM

Tale of Two Orifices

by Anonymousreply 257March 17, 2023 9:02 PM

R242 and R245...You got the title wrong. It's Atlas Shagged

by Anonymousreply 258March 21, 2023 5:02 PM

I'm with R8... A Little Life.

by Anonymousreply 259March 21, 2023 5:04 PM
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