Overrated Classics?

Cover of The Catcher in the Rye 1985 edition

Image via Wikipedia

Today The Huffington Post released this short list of classic novels which it considers overrated:

  1. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  2. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  4. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  5. Ulysses by James Joyce
         Personally, I have read 3 and 4, and highly disagree with their reasoning. The Catcher in the Rye is an exquisite read at any age, and to oversimplify it as “whiney” is insulting. The Stranger is one of my favorite novels, precisely because it’s difficult “for the reader to feel a connection to the character.” As the epitome of French existentialism, you’re not supposed to understand Mersault, because the point of the novel is that sometimes, life just doesn’t make sense. It’s beautifully written and engaging, not bland and glacial.
         Now I haven’t read the others, but I have read Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” and 2 is the only one I would probably agree with, since I found his writing rather boring. But after hating Wharton’s Ethan Frome and loving The Age of Innocence, I try to never judge an author’s novel based on other work of his/hers that I’ve read previously. You never know, right?
          So do you think HuffPost’s spot-on, or did it totally miss the mark?
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7 thoughts on “Overrated Classics?

  1. I personally wasn’t a fan of Catcher in the Rye, but I didn’t like most books I read in high school simply because I was forced to read them. I got through half of Moby Dick last summer and haven’t finished yet, but I’m determined to eventually. I think James Joyce is TOTALLY overrated, after reading Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Maybe I’ll have to try him again, but I’m really not looking forward to that day, haha.

    By the way, your blog looks really cool 🙂

    • Thanks for reading! It’s a shame you didn’t like Catcher in the Rye, but kudos for attempting Moby Dick. Melville is just too boring for me to try. I haven’t read any Joyce, but maybe someday!

  2. I haven’t read any of those, and honestly the only that I’m interested to try is Moby Dick. I don’t expect I’d like The Stranger, as I have issues with existentialism, but I can’t comment on the books I haven’t read. My personal choice for most overrated book is Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. One of the few books I actually hated!

    • I haven’t read Slaughterhouse-Five yet, but I’m always intrigued by books that make the banned lists. I’ve checked out your blog too, and since you’re a Christian, you might have issues with The Stranger. I don’t mean that in offense, it’s just the protagonist is an atheist who makes rather blasphemous comments. But if you’re willing to experience a different perspective and you enjoy books that provide a philosophical challenge, then I highly recommend it. And regardless of people’s religious views, Camus is an excellent writer!

      Of course, I’m always looking forward to other reading suggestions, if you have any!

      • Well I love giving suggestions (who doesn’t?), though I don’t know what kind of books you’re likely to try. For philosophical fiction, my favorite series is probably the Space Trilogy of C.S. Lewis: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. Everyone knows Narnia, but his sci-fi is adult, incredibly complicated, and astounding in artistic vision. The religious themes aren’t mere allegory, but are complex and reasoned arguments worked into the fabric of a pretty original saga. So, I recommend them to all and sundry.

        For lighter, but no less sublime, fare, I always recommend Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novels, especially The Eagle of the Ninth and The Lantern Bearers. Some of the best prose writing, best plots, and most interesting characters I’ve ever encountered!

        • Interesting! I haven’t read any other works by Lewis other than Narnia, so it would be cool to read his adult stuff. As for The Eagle of the Ninth, I checked out your review, and I love all things Roman (as I was a Classic minor myself and studied Latin for two years). I’ll definitely add it to my never-ending reading list!

  3. Pingback: Top Ten Quotes from My Favorite Books | Book Club Babe

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