Friday, August 12, 2011


In graduate school I heard about (but never seriously played) a game called "Humiliation." In this game, players would take turns naming the canonical works that they had never read. And, of course, rather than being "humiliating," the greater the scandal--Renaissance scholar who had never read Hamlet, expert on naval writing and whales in literature never reading Moby Dick, etc--the more triumphant the confessor.

This piece in Slate has writers confessing to some of their biggest sins, in the form of Modern Library Top 100 books that they DON'T LIKE! Though a couple of authors skirt the charge, naming Saul Bellow's third-best book or Finnegans Wake, there are plenty of great jabs, especially at Gravity's Rainbow and (my favorite book to hate) Catcher in the Rye.

But the best remark, from Jonathan Rosen, bears repeating: "Hating great books just isn't that fun when there's nothing you are required to like or read, and perfectly smart people keep telling you that The Wire and The Sopranos, excellent television shows, to be sure, have replaced the novel."

Hear that, English teachers? There's nothing you are required to read. And, horror of horrors, perfectly smart people are saying that television has replaced the novel.

No comments:

Post a Comment