Saturday, April 28, 2007

Moby Dick goes on a diet

I set up digg, reddit, and accounts today, and I'm already glad I did because they introduced me to gems like this article, which discusses a publishing house chopping roughly 40% off classics in an effort to make them easier to read:

Research confirmed that “many regular readers think of the classics as long, slow and, to be frank, boring. You’re not supposed to say this but I think that one of the reasons Jane Austen always does so well in reader polls is that her books aren’t that long”.

First of all, Jane Austen does so well in reader polls because she's a great writer. Her books are witty and engaging, and filled with characters and situations that we can still relate to after 200 years.

Second of all, that is just sad. Go read the Cliffs Notes if you don't want to read the whole book, but don't read a watered-down version and think it's the same thing. Any English major could tell you that the 40% "filler" they're trimming is probably pretty important, even if it doesn't seem like it.

All things considered, though, it might be interesting to see what they do with someone like Faulkner. I couldn't finish Absalom, Absalom, but I don't think that makes me any less of a person. It certainly doesn't give me a desire to try reading it again, even with a condensed version.

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