The Literary Blog Hop is sponsored by The Blue Bookcase and is a blog hop open to blogs that primarily feature book reviews of literary fiction, classic literature, and general literary discussion. I am doing more book reviews lately but that hasn't been the main focus of my blog for some time. YA literature may qualify. I think I tend to do more literary YA, than non-literary- or at least I hope I do. And I have done the occasional literary grown up book. So, I'm not sure that my blog does qualify really, but I hope it does as I wanted to respond to this one particularly as my lovely friend Debbie over at Readerbuzz supplied this weeks question.
What is the most difficult literary work you've ever read? What made it so difficult?
There are a few contenders for this dubious distinction. I suffered through Patrick White's A Fringe of Leaves. But it was more boring than difficult. It was difficult to get through, difficult to keep going, and did take me three months to eventually finish as I recall. I famously hated Julian Barnes' England, England. Awful, just awful. But not really Difficult.
The one that stands out for me as big D Difficult just now is Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway.
What I wrote when I read it a few years ago, when I did suffer through this book:
Definitely style over substance. The writing interferes with concentration, understanding, enjoyment. Every time I put the book down, which was fairly often it took 6 to 10 pages to get back into the style when I picked it up again. Could easily have been called Septimus Warren Smith. I certainly did not get a feel for Clarissa Dalloway nearly as much as for SWS. What is the point of it all? I have no idea.
Perhaps I'm not literary enough. Perhaps I'm just thick, but it was all too much for me. And this is exactly the sort of book I don't like, where the writing obfuscates the story. And why I perpetually put off things like attempting James Joyce. Perhaps the author is writing it for themselves. Perhaps they are clever enough to understand it. But don't make me read it. My displeasure at reading Woolf (I have read To the Lighthouse as well, but didn't hate it quite so much) made a little phrase stand out for me in Julian Barnes' wonderful Flaubert's Parrot. His main character, Geoffrey Braithwaite, decrees that he is going to "save Virginia Woolf til he was dead." Sage advice. I am more than happy to join him.