New Year’s Resolution or Delusion?

I started reading the classic gothic tale “The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins.  The story is always referenced as one of first of its genre and certainly enjoys a special place in literature.  I was dismayed, however, to find that I could not drag myself through the long and excruciatingly detailed descriptions, the painfully stiff dialog, and the dragging pace.  I am ashamed of and disappointed in myself.  Have I become that type of reader?  Someone who has to have snappy dialogue or an act of sex or violence on every page, and who cannot read a description which exceeds two lines?  Have I indulged in too regular a diet of commercial fiction that I can no longer enjoy the slower pace of a 19th century work?  I was a Russian literature major, for goodness sake!  I was weened on long, long novels wherein absolutely nothing happened and that was sort of the point.  Ultimately, I have not given up entirely on the Woman in White, despite its massive bulk…(I put it aside at about page 50 of its more than 500+ pages.)  I haven’t quite given up on myself, either, and promise to get back to some more challenging reading this year (alert: sounds like a new year resolution).  In the meantime, I’m indulging in the guilty pleasure of reading Robert Parker’s “Melancholy Baby.”  Don’t judge me!

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4 Comments

Filed under Book Review

4 responses to “New Year’s Resolution or Delusion?

  1. If it helps any, I’ve always thought Wilkie Collins was grossly over-rated. I always find them dull and tedious – not a patch on Dickens, Thackeray and all the other greats. I’ve never quite understood what his reputation is based on.

  2. Ahhh, I’ve been redeemed! Thank you Fiction Fan!

  3. Chris Sullivan

    I agree with Fiction Fan. I found Wilkie Collins over rated and I struggled to finish Woman in White and I love 19 century literature. I did smile at your comment about you being a Russian Literature Major. Before I had read further my first thought was you should be used to reading looonnng novels. I believe that all too often we as readers feel we should love the classics and feel guilty when we don’t.

    • That’s just it! Guilty feelings. Feeling inadequate, like you’re too dull-witted to enjoy something everyone else has lauded. I’m the same way with movies…some of the “critically-aclaimed” ones just leave me cold. Thanks for your comment!

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