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Old 08-08-2012, 09:54 AM   #1
Daithi
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The Worlds' Most Difficult Books

I just read an article on the The Worlds' Most Difficult Books. Which have you read?

Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
A Tale of a Tub by Jonathan Swift
The Phenomenology of Spirit by GF Hegel
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Clarissa, or, The History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson
Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
Being and Time by Martin Heidegger
The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein
Women and Men by Joseph McElroy

The only one I have read is To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. I have to say that I am really not a fan of her style of writing. I've read The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner and thought it was a much harder read than To the Lighthouse, and also a much better book (even though I'm not really a Faulkner fan either).

I've read some of Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. If you have ever seen a painting where the artists just throws paint on a canvas and the critics ooh and aah (e.g. Jackson Pollock) then you have the gist of Finnegans Wake . It is nothing but gibberish. I could only read a little bit of it.

I also don't think The Phenomenology of Spirit by GF Hegel and Being and Time by Martin Heidegger belong on this list. These belong on a philosophy list and most philosophy books are difficult reads -- the more difficult they are, the more the critics like them.

Personally, I prefer simpler reads, like Hemingway, Steinbeck, and even Stephanie Meyers. I can't wait until Brent Weeks next book comes out. It definitely won't be a difficult read, but I don't think a difficult read is what makes a book good.
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Old 08-08-2012, 10:32 AM   #2
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I just read an article on the The Worlds' Most Difficult Books. Which have you read?

Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
I'm really surprised Ulysses didn't make the list. Talk about laborious. That one made me want to murder myself in the face.
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Old 08-08-2012, 10:38 AM   #3
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I've read To the Lighthouse. It was dull for me. I haven't read Finnegan's Wake. I've read Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist by Joyce. Both were tough, but Ulysses would be the toughest for me so far.

I read The Sound and the Fury as well. The first section is difficult.

These are supposed to be difficult Daithi, but I agree, I much prefer Steinbeck over Joyce.
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:15 PM   #4
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I haven't read any of them. I prefer something I can at least read and enjoy on a superficial level even when there is plenty going on under the surface. I often feel I'm missing 90% of what's really going on in a Gene Wolfe novel, for instance, but I don't mind because the remaining 10% is still excellent. If that 10% isn't there at all, then the book's not going to work for me.
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:26 PM   #5
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Here are the first few paragraphs of Finnegans Wake, and no, it doesn't get any better---

Quote:
Riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

Sir Tristram, violer d'amores, fr'over the short sea, had passencore rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggy isthmus of Europe Minor to wielderfight his penisolate war: nor had topsawyer's rocks by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselse to Laurens County's gorgios while they went doublin their mumper all the time: nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe to tauftauf thuartpeatrick: not yet, though venissoon after, had a kidscad buttended a bland old isaac: not yet, though all's fair in vanessy, were sosie sesthers wroth with twone nathandjoe. Rot a peck of pa's malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface.

The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronn tuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnu k!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy. The great fall of the offwall entailed at such short notice the pftjschute of Finnegan, erse solid man, that the humptyhillhead of humself prumptly sends an unquiring one well to the west in quest of his tumptytumtoes: and their upturnpikepointandplace is at the knock out in the park where oranges have been laid to rust upon the green since devlinsfirst loved livvy.
Ulysses is a cake walk in comparison (although I haven't read it). I have read "The Dead", which is the final story in Joyce's Dubliners. That was enough Joyce for me.
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:31 PM   #6
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Is bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronn tuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnu k! supposed to be an onomatopoeia?
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by djulian View Post
Is bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronn tuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnu k! supposed to be an onomatopoeia?

That or Klingon opera.
(gulp.)
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:45 PM   #8
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Here are the first few paragraphs of Finnegans Wake, and no, it doesn't get any better---
Isn't Finnegans Wake the book Douglas Adams based Vogon Poetry on?

Quote:
"Oh freddled gruntbuggly/thy micturations are to me/As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee.
Groop I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes. And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles,
Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon, see if I don't!"
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Old 08-08-2012, 02:21 PM   #9
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Oof. I tried reading Finnegans Wake on recommendation from a teacher in college... I soon stopped listening to that college.
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Old 08-08-2012, 03:50 PM   #10
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I've read A Tale of a Tub. I think it's hilarious. Particularly the parts about the Aeolists.

Also the Faerie Queene for college; I remember slogging through the allegorical stuff there.

My husband's favorite book is Finnegan's Wake. I have read parts of it aloud, and it's more fun that way. You can't take it seriously, and you can't expect it to make sense, but you can get something out of it, it's like a grown up Irish Dr Seuss run through a great deal of cultural / historical stuff. If you do it the right way it makes little kids giggle really hard.
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Old 08-08-2012, 03:51 PM   #11
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Read Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. It wasn't difficult, just long, (two print volumes). It is written as a series of letters by several different characters. The writing style was very subtle. I followed this book with a Steven King book, written in Steven's "in your face" style. The contrast between the two book's styles couldn't have been larger.
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:42 PM   #12
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Finnegans Wake is the bible of the pretentious pseudo-intellectual crowd.

If anyone gifted me a copy of the book, I'd thank them for providing me with a long supply of kindling for my grill and fireplace.
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djulian View Post
Is bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner-ronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenth ur— nuk! supposed to be an onomatopoeia?
The sound of Finnegan as he falls having heard the sound of thunder, the voice of God, i.e. the Fall of Man.
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:47 PM   #14
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"Oh freddled gruntbuggly/thy micturations are to me/As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee.
Groop I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes. And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles,
Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon, see if I don't!"
See, I don't see how that isn't hilarious if you read it in a silly voice.
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:53 PM   #15
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I really like The Faerie Queene. I don't really see how it's one of the "world's most difficult" books?
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