Friday, January 21, 2011

Literary Blog Hop: Hateful

Literary Blog Hop

The Blue Bookcase hosts a "Literary Blog Hop" for blogs "that primarily feature reviews of literary fiction, classic literature, and general literary discussion."

Each week, in addition to hopping around and visiting some terrific book blogs, participants answer a bookish question.  This week's question -- answered very well for the BB team by Lucia -- is:

Discuss a work of literary merit that you hated when you were made to read it in school or university. Why did you dislike it?

"School or university" was a long time ago and, looking back, I can think of several books I "hated" while I was reading them. The Grapes of Wrath, 1984, Sister Carrie, and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage come immediately to mind.  But, the thing is, I don't think I would hate them now.  I simply didn't understand them when I read them or was bored by them with the profound boredom of a teenager.  I re-read Sister Carrie, for instance, and enjoyed it tremendously (review here).

But there is one book that I can honestly say I hated -- I hated it then and I am certain I would hate it now:  Waiting for Godot.

I don't care if this confession brands me a literary Philistine.  Irish critic Vivian Mercier famously described Samuel Beckett's masterpiece as "a play in which nothing happens, twice."  I had to read it twice, for two different college classes, and I saw it performed once in London, so in my personal experience, nothing happened six times.

Why did I hate it? I found it excruciating. Absurdist theater is not for those who seek a plot. Or character development. Or clever dialog. Or even just a scintilla of entertainment.

In Annie Hall, Woody Allen tells Diane Keaton, "Never take a class where they make read Beowulf." My advise is to skip any class involving Waiting for Godot.

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