What Caught My Fancy
This article from the Salon talks about Amazon reviews of classics. Classics that suck, or at least that the reviewers thought sucked. This article has made the rounds in the past week or so but I still wanted to talk about it because it made me think (I mean I read it over a week ago and I am still thinking about it). You see the author of it, to a certain extent labelled me a horrible, no good, very bad person. The author writes in response to a review that labelled Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl “a very [and they used multiple ‘very’] boring book:
“Can you imagine being this person? It seems like a life completely devoid of any subtlety, introspection, caring or empathy. Or am I reading too much into these few sentences? I hope I am. Maybe this "reviewer" was just having a bad day. But, just the same, I hope I never actually meet him or her. It might get very uncomfortable.”
Well I wasn’t the reviewer but, I too, found Anne Frank to be a rather boring book. I can appreciate what it says about humanities ability to do good in the face of evil and of humanities capacity for that evil. I can appreciate it for its place as a historical document. I think it is an important book. But just because I think it is important doesn’t mean I can’t say that thirteen year old me wanted to hit Anne over the head with a frying pan for being a rather whiney person (and I had formed this opinion long before they went into hiding). Now admittedly the last time I read Anne Frank was when I was thirteen (or there about) but my overall memory of that book was that I thought Anne was rather whiney. Yes she had a horrible time. Yes I wouldn’t want to be in that situation. But still I was left feeling that she was not someone I would have been friends with. I read this book at the same time as I read several books written by surviviours of the holocaust that impacted on me a great deal more (although now I can’t for the life of me remember any of the titles).
So apart from the fact that I wanted to say that there are people out there who did not like Anne Frank (and thus forever labelling myself as a horrible, no good, very bad person) I wanted to discuss the concept of negative reviews of classics. Why should a classic be immune to a negative review?
Personally I don’t believe that classics should be given a free pass just because they are classics. What makes something a classic in the first place? Did it say something profound about the times when it was written? Does it say something profound about life or humanity? (lets leave aside the discussion of whether or not there is such a thing as the human condition). Is it a rollicking good entertainment. For me Anne Frank falls in the first category. It says something about the times. It is a historical document and as such is important to read. I feel much the same way about the “I Have a Dream” speech or any other speech (although I feel a lot more inspired by “I Have a Dream” than I do by other speeches), but I digress. A classic that is a classic because it has continued to entertain should not be given a free pass from a discussion over its merits just because it is a classic. People like what they like. Some people like Dickens, others do not, just like some people like the Twilight series and others do not. I personally believe that we must have discussions about classics just as we do about new books.
Now all that said, some of those reviews were just a little bit silly (anyone want to ghost write for the apostles?) but still the discussion should be had.
What do you think, should classics not be negatively reviewed because they are classics?
Reviewed, Read and all that Jazz
My first draft of my thesis is due on Tuesday and I have to admit reading for pleasure has thereby fallen on the wayside this week, my brain is rather mushy from reading to many angry feminists and trying to bash said thesis into submission. I am hoping that I will get back to reading for pleasure within the next week. But because of this I only have one review up this week and I will include that in a larger link up hopefully next week.
What I did see this week was a link from Cym Lowell to the most amazing library ever! So those who coveted my high school library :) take a look at this one! What possibly makes it even better (and it is amazing as it is) is the story that goes with it. Truly inspirational!