Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Literary Blog Hop Asks: Are You Predisposed to Like the Classics? Yes. Next Question.

Literary Blog HopI'm beginning to look forward to every other Thursday and the Literary Blog Hop hosted by the lovely ladies over at The Blue Bookcase.  Not only have they introduced me to some wonderful literary book blogs, which have turned me on to some great books, but they always ask the most interesting questions.  This week's question is as follows:

Do you find yourself predisposed to like (or dislike) books that are generally accepted as great books and have been incorporated into the literary canon?

Yes (like).  Next question.

Discuss the effect you believe a book’s “status” has on your opinion of it.

Aha!  I thought we were getting off easy this week.  Ok.  Well, I'd like to say that I remain objective in my reviews, regardless of the reputation of the author or work under consideration, but that's simply not true.  In fact, I would argue that it's not human.  We're all subject to social pressures and preconceived opinions, though some do a better job than others of maintaining a relative objectivity.  For myself, I think that a book's status or reputation creates a kind of synergistic effect on my own appreciation of it.  If it enjoys a reputation as a classic, I am predisposed to like it, and I tend to be more effusive in my praise of it.  On the other hand, if I do not like it, my dislike tends to be exaggerated as well.

A case in point is our recent review of The Man Who Loved Children.  Though not widely known, the book enjoys a reputation as a modern classic and, in fact, is included in Time Magazine's list of the Top 100 Novels in the English language from 1923 to the present.  I was predisposed to like it.  I did like it.  And I was probably more effusive in my praise because the book (twice) met and even exceeded my expectations.

What about you?  Do you love to love the classics or do you love to hate them?   


  1. I have to say I'm generally predisposed to dislike or at least be wary of classics. I've liked plenty once I actually start them but getting to that point of actually giving them a chance is a hurdle for me.

  2. I pretty much am predisposed to like classics, but if I read them and then think they're awful, I get extra irritated at whoever named it a classic, and doubt everyone who said they liked it, thinking they're just saying that because- it's a classic! But most of the classics I have read, I do love, and maybe that's because I feel clever for having read them!

  3. I love to like it one day and then change my mind and hate it the next day. It all hinges on my mood I guess.

  4. When I started reading I devoured everything regardless of presumed worth, 1 moment Jude the obscure, next Jaws, spiderman etc. It's only later when finding my way the the labyrinth that is literature, that status became a shorthand or a signpost pointing to possible directions.

  5. Aha! I wished I'd thought of that: classic status amplifies your own reaction to a book. When I love a classic, I love it more than the equivalent classic, but when I dislike one I o the whole hog and hate it.

  6. While I am less inclined to pick up one of the classics than other more contemporary books, it is not so much from hate as from wanting to discover other voices that are left out of the canon (either the "official" one taught in school or the "unofficial" one decreed by the New York Times Review of Books). I need a little more 'multi' with my culture.