Books you didn't understand

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chompers

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Just what the title says. Not poorly written books, but books where something about it made you scratch your head. Maybe someone can explain.


For me it's Huis Clos/No Exit by Sartre. I still don't understand how people know the characters are in hell. I first read it in French. And when people were saying the characters were in hell, I was like, "Say what?" I totally didn't pick up on it.

So I read it in English. Still didn't pick up on it. How do you know?
 

Emermouse

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I finally read the final volume of Children of the Sea manga by Daisuke Igarashi. The artwork is gorgeous like the rest of the series, but I'm afraid I didn't understand much of what was happening and it was told mostly in pictures with no dialogue. I kept going, "This is beautiful but I have no idea what's going on." Still I regret nothing.
 

JacobS.Tucker

A Wannabe F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Sound and the Fury by Faulkner.

I mean I went and read the appendix, I just didn't really understand the book in its entirety. I got the story, but I'm still unclear as to the message or the point of the book really.
 

briannasealock

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Anything by Jane Austin. I tried to read Pride and Prejudice, but I couldn't get past the first chapter. I just couldn't make heads nor tails out of it. Why is marriage so important anyway? she never got married herself and she wrote like seven books about it.
 

Wilde_at_heart

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Anything by Jane Austin. I tried to read Pride and Prejudice, but I couldn't get past the first chapter. I just couldn't make heads nor tails out of it. Why is marriage so important anyway? she never got married herself and she wrote like seven books about it.

Might want to look into what the employment options were for women back in the mid-1800s.
 

MsGneiss

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Whenever I try to read Salman Rushdie, I totally don't get it. I mean, I understand the writing, but I don't get the point. Maybe I'm not trying hard enough.
 

katci13

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Remember Me by Christopher Pike
Or really anything by Christopher Pike. I never understood his endings. I was always left with the feeling that what I had just read was just a figment of someone's imagination. (Ha, ha, but really...)
 

Forbidden Snowflake

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I tried Ulysses. But English isn't my mother tongue, so maybe I should try it in German, because I did not understand a single sentence and gave up on page 25.
 

Readable Joe

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Just what the title says. Not poorly written books, but books where something about it made you scratch your head. Maybe someone can explain.


For me it's Huis Clos/No Exit by Sartre. I still don't understand how people know the characters are in hell. I first read it in French. And when people were saying the characters were in hell, I was like, "Say what?" I totally didn't pick up on it.

So I read it in English. Still didn't pick up on it. How do you know?

Sartre was saying that "hell is other people", essentially. The strange place they are in being hell is just an artistic device used by Sartre. All the main characters in that play want something, but they have to rely on the other people around them to get it. For example, Garcin does not want to be thought of as a coward, but whether or not he is seen as a coward by others is ultimately beyond his control.
 
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blacbird

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I'm reading At-Swim-Two-Birds right now and I feel like I'm heading towards an "I don't get it" conclusion.

Yup. And anything else by Flann O'Brien will only make your head hurt worse. When I lived in England I worked with two Irish women who thought Flann O'Brien was about the worst writer who ever lived. It escapes me how this moronic self-indulgent fluff has stayed in print and become so famous.

caw
 

blacbird

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Sound and the Fury by Faulkner.

I mean I went and read the appendix, I just didn't really understand the book in its entirety. I got the story, but I'm still unclear as to the message or the point of the book really.

The major problem with S&F is that sooo many people get told it is Faulkner's best and most important novel, so they read that, and it defeats them. I had the good fortune to take a William Faulkner course as an undergrad, from a well-known Faulkner scholar, who said, paraphrased: "Students are taught to hate Faulkner by being forced to read The Sound and the Fury."

His point was that that novel wasn't where you needed to start reading, and understanding, Faulkner. It was, in fact, one the last of his novels you should read, only after having read, in some slightly flexible order:

Sartoris
The Unvanquished
The Wild Palms
Sanctuary
Light in August
Go Down, Moses
The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion (The Snopes Trilogy)
Intruder in the Dust
As I Lay Dying
Absalom, Absalom!

Then, and only then, S&F.

And finish with The Reivers, Faulkner's coda, the novel he meant to be his finale. He died shortly after it was published.

Faulkner was a difficult, but great writer, whose work is rewarding when approached in the proper manner. But his Mississippi novels don't entirely stand on their own; there's a sequential development that is hard to grasp if you start with the absolutely most difficult of them.

caw
 
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Sunflowerrei

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Yup. And anything else by Flann O'Brien will only make your head hurt worse. When I lived in England I worked with two Irish women who thought Flann O'Brien was about the worst writer who ever lived. It escapes me how this moronic self-indulgent fluff has stayed in print and become so famous.

caw

I gave up after 15 pages, the first book I've given up on all year. I read the summary, the Wikipedia synopsis, and I still didn't get it. And I did get a headache!
 

Cella

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I loved The Yellow Wallpaper although I never felt I really grasped why I loved it as much as I did.


Also, Foucault's Panopticon made my brain do excited weird flips and kicks...
 
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Diana Hignutt

AKA Dr. Velocity
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I remember totally not getting Beneath the Wheel by Hesse back in High School...
 

rohlo

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The major problem with S&F is that sooo many people get told it is Faulkner's best and most important novel, so they read that, and it defeats them. I had the good fortune to take a William Faulkner course as an undergrad, from a well-known Faulkner scholar, who said, paraphrased: "Students are taught to hate Faulkner by being forced to read The Sound and the Fury."

His point was that that novel wasn't where you needed to start reading, and understanding, Faulkner. It was, in fact, one the last of his novels you should read, only after having read, in some slightly flexible order:

Sartoris
The Unvanquished
The Wild Palms
Sanctuary
Light in August
Go Down, Moses
The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion (The Snopes Trilogy)
Intruder in the Dust
As I Lay Dying
Absalom, Absalom!

Then, and only then, S&F.

And finish with The Reivers, Faulkner's coda, the novel he meant to be his finale. He died shortly after it was published.

Faulkner was a difficult, but great writer, whose work is rewarding when approached in the proper manner. But his Mississippi novels don't entirely stand on their own; there's a sequential development that is hard to grasp if you start with the absolutely most difficult of them.

caw

Somehow I could get through S&F and Absalom Absalom, but I did not find The Unvanquished to be as enjoyable even though the narrative voice was much clearer.
 

chompers

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Sartre was saying that "hell is other people", essentially. The strange place they are in being hell is just an artistic device used by Sartre. All the main characters in that play want something, but they have to rely on the other people around them to get it. For example, Garcin does not want to be thought of as a coward, but whether or not he is seen as a coward by others is ultimately beyond his control.
Thank you! That makes a lot of sense now. :D And deep.
 

Readable Joe

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His point was that that novel wasn't where you needed to start reading, and understanding, Faulkner. It was, in fact, one the last of his novels you should read, only after having read, in some slightly flexible order:

I'm of the opinion that a good writer will write novels captivating enough to stand on their own without asking the reader to do some groundwork first. If you look at say, the collected novels of Emile Zola, you could jump in anywhere in his 20-volume cycle and get a good read as though none of the other novels were required reading.
 

Chris P

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Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco. To me, he was just reminiscing about the interwar peroid based on stuff in his attic. Unless, of course, that was the point and that idea just doesn't resonate with me.
 

benbradley

It's a doggy dog world
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Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco. To me, he was just reminiscing about the interwar peroid based on stuff in his attic. Unless, of course, that was the point and that idea just doesn't resonate with me.
I had a problem reading "Focault's Pendulum." It's in first person, and it's a translation, but I don't know if either of those had anything to do with me not liking it.

But even if I didn't like it, I perhaps understood what little I read more than I did Satanic Verses.
 

Forbidden Snowflake

I'm quite put out.
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I had a problem reading "Focault's Pendulum." It's in first person, and it's a translation, but I don't know if either of those had anything to do with me not liking it.

But even if I didn't like it, I perhaps understood what little I read more than I did Satanic Verses.

While I gave up on the Satanic Verses because they made no sense to me, I loved the Pendulum so much... I quite like the re-imagining of all history because of a simple conspiracy theory. I've read a German translation, so I don't know if the English one ruined the book.
 

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