The OF Blog: Do works hated in adolescence improve with age?

Friday, August 08, 2014

Do works hated in adolescence improve with age?

I was thinking the other day of three books that I read between 16-23 that I really despised at the time of reading them.  These books, listed below, were either high school Honors English assignments or was a book picked up because of frequent discussions in passing in college.  Now that I'm decades older, I wonder if I would have the same visceral dislike or if my reactions would be more tempered, if not reversed to something approaching praise for these works.  Might start this in a couple of weeks, once a few obligations are complete.  Here's the list:

Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding – read it when I was 16.  I remember my entire junior Honors English class despising this one.  One classmate even confessed that he cheered the death of one character because he was so sick of reading about him.

George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss – read it when I was 17.  While I enjoyed Silas Marner when we had to read it my sophomore year, I disliked this book so much that I believe I actually dropkicked my paperback copy across my bedroom.  Yes, I did do that.

Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged – read when I had just finished grad school after years of hearing others talk about it in passing.  I recall finding myself appalled at several points, but I was by novel's end so benumbed that I can only vaguely recall what it was about.

So...any of these appear on any of your literary "hate" lists?  If so, why?


srs said...

I haven't read the first two but I did read Atlas Shrugged at 23. I didn't like it and don't have any interest in reading it again. Because there are so many books I haven't read yet that hold the promise of being better.

(I would recommend that people of certain political persuasions who think they would like the book to actually read it so they know what they are talking about.)

What was it about? I mean there were trains... and... a speech. That went on for 100 pages. And OW! MY BRAINS! Will that monologue ever end?!?

But yeah, you can have a utopia for all the doers of the world and only them if you can just suck energy out of the air for free. And be totally logical. etc. Ignore that those last two might conflict.

Larry Nolen said...

I suspect I might have a more visceral reaction at 40 than I did at 23, but I'm curious to see how/when/why that'll be the case, if so.

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