Is it ever okay to hate a literary classic?

I had a very interesting conversation with my aunt about Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” Here’s a confession: I always hated that book. My aunt asked “How can you have an English degree and hate Pride and Prejudice?” Good question. How can I not like something that has been loved by millions of people around the world? Something that has consistently been named one of the most beloved classics of all time?

Frankly, I found it dull and boring. I realize that by admitting this, I come off as uneducated and classless. And I really hope you don’t think that of me. But I can’t for the life of me bring myself to like this book.

Don’t get me wrong… there are many classics that I completely fell in love with. “The Great Gatsby” is by far one of my favorites. I felt like I could identify with Jay Gatsby and his need for belonging. I remember in college I devoured everything by Shakespeare and I loved the Bronte sisters. There were so many books that I felt a deep connection with. In fact, I think that’s why I chose to major in English in the first place. So it’s not like I didn’t like classics, I just didn’t like “Pride and Prejudice.”

So this brings me to my question: Is it ever okay to hate a classic?

Here’s my best answer: yes. I think it is completely unrealistic toย  assume that people will love every classic ever written. I’m sure even my fellow English majors would agree. I can remember hearing my peers saying things like “Not Hamlet again!” or “I can’t stand “Wuthering Heights.” Yet, we all survived college and earned our English degrees just the same.

To this day, I’m sorry that Pride and Prejudice never appealed to me. I read the thing twice in an attempt to try and force myself to find something about it that I liked. But in the end, it wasn’t meant to be.

I’m sure Jane Austen would forgive me.

 

Pride and Prejudice

11 thoughts on “Is it ever okay to hate a literary classic?

  1. writingverbaboutwritingnoun

    I agree about it being okay to dislike classics – I have to confess that The Great Gatsby isn’t at all to my taste! Of course people have different likes and dislikes, and there’s enough out there that I can put a book down if I’m not enjoying it and move on to something else. As a literature student I’ve found that even when I personally dislike a text I can find something about it which is at least interesting. How have you approached this?

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    1. Gramworth Post author

      Yes, I agree! There’s usually something within a text that I like or find interesting. Even with Pride and Prejudice, Austen really is candid about the injustices against women within 19th century English society. I can certainly appreciate that.
      Thank you for your comment.

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  2. Jillian

    First, I think being a free-thinker is a sign of intelligence. A classic is merely a book several people have decided has something to say. If you don’t think it has something to say, and can back that up with solid reasons, it’s not only okay — it adds to the conversation. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love the classics, but I DID NOT GET Pride and Prejudice the first time I read it. I ended up reading “Jane Austen: A Life” by Claire Tomalin to better understand the era and what Austen might have been writing against, then I reread Pride and Prejudice. THEN I got it. Since then I’ve devoured all her major novels, and they all require a couple reads at least. The more you read her, the more you see.

    She’s actually ridiculously hysterical and is being EXTREMELY IRONIC all through Pride & Prejudice. Once you understand that she is challenging everything she appears to be saying in that book, your whole opinion of her work goes upside down. How you feel when you read Pride and Prejudice is her point — as in, this is all so tedious.

    CHEERS! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Rachel Smith

    I agree, sometimes certain classics just aren’t your favorite (though I do love P&P, I can understand why others might not). I have never been able to love Catcher in the Rye despite the fact that my husband and friends love it. But, different books appeal to different people.

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