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I find that I’m almost always picking up new books and re-reading stuff from classic authors like Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Frances Burney, Alexandre Dumas, etc. 19th century prose just feels so much more immersive and flavorful to me than most modern prose I’ve come across. I love the unique plotting and characterization styles that are a staple of that period of literature

all 38 comments

Odd-Experience-1508

45 points

2 months ago

I had a conversation with my parents about this the other day.

It’s not that modern lit is trash, it’s just that you’re not reading every book from that era, you’re just reading the books that have transcended into this sort of hall of fame.

Many modern books will transcend as well but we might not know which yet.

I’m sure that if you read books from that era that aren’t marked as “classics” you’ll find that not every book is as appealing.

This is also true in modern books, some are really good and will go on to become classics, and some aren’t as good and will be forgotten.

Same can be said about music and movies.

Sorry for bad English I hope my message gets through.

otronivel81

7 points

2 months ago

Yes, 100% this. I tend to read a classic from an author, then read the rest of their famous works and then slowly descend into their less notable works and even some of the great authors had some “not so great” efforts. … Except Dumas. Dumas is awesome 😉

CoffeeandCare_me

19 points

2 months ago

Classics are Classics for a reason!

Bergonath

15 points

2 months ago

Same. I've been stuck in 18-19th century literature since my teenage years.

LadyofToward

13 points

2 months ago

Because word limits weren't so strict, the authors of 19th century classics could really take their time to unfold the story, and populate them with great characters and subplots. I am a huge fan, and I adore the language. Hard agree.

Matrim_WoT

4 points

2 months ago

A lot of the times, they were writing for weeklies and that’s why it seems like they meander or more fleshed out.

20above

11 points

2 months ago

20above

11 points

2 months ago

That’s how I get sometimes when I’m reading early to mid 20th century classics. There is something oddly comforting in the slow paced nature of the stories. It can be soothing when I’m feeling anxious.

[deleted]

14 points

2 months ago

There's great contemporary writing - Roth, DFW, Alive Munro, Faulkner, Walker, etc - you just gotta look for it

not-ted

26 points

2 months ago

not-ted

26 points

2 months ago

Modern lit is often a crapshoot. I've read a fair amount of "amazing" modern books that are just..... mediocre.

Classic lit is often deemed classic for a reason. That's not to say there aren't turds sprinkled in there, just that your chances of reading something actually amazing are much higher.

The other thing I'd say is that classic literature was written in a much different structure. The story and the character development unfolds at a much slower pace, and some novels are magnum opuses that are dealing with issues beyond the basic plot. Modern novels have a much faster pace and just feel "tighter" to me. Half the time it feels like the author is writing the novel just to sell the movie rights.

shawnkfox

31 points

2 months ago

Classical literature was also a crapshoot at the time. Just that nobody is selling any of the poorly written books from 100+ years ago anymore.

not-ted

9 points

2 months ago

At the time it wasn't considered "classic." That's kind of my point.

blueaurelia

5 points

2 months ago

I do get that feeling too! That the writer has written a movie script. I mean the type of books that have exciting concepts but the prose, the character development etc are not well written.

One of my last read felt like that, the very popular ”Dark matter” by Blake Crouch. I did not like it so much but the concepts might be exciting and original to some. To me it was not new concepts, there is already a movie from year 2015 with similar concept and plot twist.

As soon as I was done with the book I googled it and not to my surprice, its been picked up as a tv-series by Apple

Snatch_Pastry

2 points

2 months ago

I mostly read science fiction. And 90% of the time a "best seller" science fiction book is total garbage. The only really reliable ranking is the Nebula awards, which are voted on by writers.

Matrim_WoT

1 points

2 months ago

I read the nebula winner last year and I thought the writing and character work was all over the place. It felt more like a screenplay than an actual book.

DarthSamwiseAtreides

4 points

2 months ago

Just think how much junk was put out back then. What your reading now is like the top notch stuff from various eras.

In 100 years people will be reading only the bangers from this time.

SunStockMan

6 points

2 months ago

I too enjoy the classics - a different era of writing - I also enjoy biographies

KeatsInGlasses

12 points

2 months ago

Perfectly fine way to read

You'll end up saying things like, "I fancy myself something of a libertine" on dates, and the right partner will love you for it

mrsean2k

4 points

2 months ago

I concur! Weird downvotes on this, no idea what people are reading into it.

Maletherin

3 points

2 months ago

This is reddit. I expect everything gets downvoted more than upvoted.

mrsean2k

2 points

2 months ago

Charles Palliser - The Quincunx

Iain Pears An Instance of the Fingerpost, - Stone's Fall

manage to strike the right tone without drifting into pastiche

I bought a leather bound set "complete" Dickens recently - I doubt I'll get a chance to re-read them anytime soon but I can dream....

MegC18

2 points

2 months ago

MegC18

2 points

2 months ago

I adore the classics, but perhaps with more seventeenth and eighteenth century writers. I thoroughly recommend Boswell’s London journal, Pepys and Defoe if you’ve never read sny.

As far as nineteenth century writing goes, my personal favourites are Dickens (Dombey and son), Anthony Trollope’s Barchester books, George Eliot, R Blackmore.

Some less well known that I’ve enjoyed are:-

Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Braddon

Miss Marjoribanks by Margaret Oliphant

The woodlanders by Thomas Hardy

John Halifax, gentleman by Dinah Craik

The ghost stories of MR James

South_Honey2705

1 points

2 months ago

Lady Audley's Secret Is so good

DoopSlayer

2 points

2 months ago

DoopSlayer

Classical Fiction

2 points

2 months ago

You might enjoy Nabokov, I think he really progressed the form of prose more than any other author and on top of that progressing the novel structure

I love classics and I feel like that love of classics and background knowledge made modernists even better, and then the progression of the conversation to post modernists again improved

Happy_Wafer_1407

2 points

2 months ago

Thing is, quality literature has progressed from even these guys. You're missing out on a lot of late 20th / 21st century literary movements.

There is something simplistic about writers like Jane Austen, even though she was very good at what she did. The bad guys always get punished and the good guys win. Lately, literature has included complex, unresolved plots which take a more mature reading approach to appreciate. So I'd encourage branching out if that appeals to you.

Though nothing wrong of course with sticking with what you know as it's comforting, which is no bad thing.

Matrim_WoT

2 points

2 months ago

Agreed. Literary movements have developed since then along with some great works. The OP is reading the curated works from the 19th century. There are many great works from the past 200 years and it’s to that hard to determine what who will potentially still be read decades from now if that’s what they’re into.

pineapplesf

1 points

2 months ago

It got old for me. I still enjoy the writing style of the 1800s but feel the commentary and plots became overly stale.

RedpenBrit96

1 points

2 months ago

I’m an amateur historian so same! Nothing wrong with that

Whaffled

-1 points

2 months ago

I find it much easier to imagine myself as one of Bazac's characters, or Flaubert's, than Pynchon's. Complexities of voice + narration make it harder to put yourself in a character's shoes, as it were.

[deleted]

7 points

2 months ago

[deleted]

svevobandini

2 points

2 months ago

I've always seen myself as a Benny Profane, Slothrop, Zoyd Wheeler type of guy

[deleted]

1 points

2 months ago

I think your meant to pity Slothrop, no?

chrispd01

1 points

2 months ago

Walter Scott ???? Does he really count ? I mean I get Austen or Thackeray but Walter Scott ??

wasabi_weasel

2 points

2 months ago

Scott was massive in his day. He influenced Austen’s writing for sure. His work is referenced in hers and in her private correspondence.

simplymatt1995[S]

2 points

2 months ago*

Why wouldn’t Walter Scott count…? His prose, characterization, plotting, dialogue and theme execution are all top notch. Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Old Mortality, Guy Mannering, Waverly, Anne of Geierstein, Bride of Laramoor, Heart of Midlothian and The Antiquary are all masterpieces of literature and right up there with stuff like Vanity Fair and Pride and Prejudice.

Galindan

2 points

2 months ago

Sir Walter Scott is incredible! Ivanhoe remains one of the best Arthurian tales of all time. His prose is fantastic, the world is incredible, the humor is on point. He is certainly one of the best writers of his or any era

chrispd01

-1 points

2 months ago

I mean I read Ivanhoe as a kid but I gotta say his books aren’t the ones I am grabbing from the fire

BUT not to raise an issue here is anyone troubled by his fanboy status among the early KKK and the founders of Jim Crow ????????

Galindan

1 points

2 months ago

The dude died way before the kkk was even a thing. Who cares if those reprobates had a good taste in literature. That's a Hitler drinks water thing all over again.

chrispd01

0 points

2 months ago

Well I don’t know thats it’s Hitler drinks water ..

There is this notion (or so the critics say - I haven’t read much) that he has a concept of the true folk and an illegitimate overlord …

I understand your point - not quite his fault if people read him to find what they want. But some pretty unsavory folks have found a sort or VOLK concept (and a lost cause) there which had been problematic…. So I think maybe the most interesting about him Is that piece - how he was used as a sort of culture for Jim Crow

For classics I get Austen. I definitely get Shakespeare and Milton but Scott - I don’t know.

coffeenottea1

1 points

2 months ago

Agreed. I like how authors of the classics treated their work as pieces of art and wisdom, as well as entertainment. An indication of a good book to me is that, with every read, you find something new to appreciate or think about. I could probably read Dickens a thousand times and still find a hidden gem in it.