Fear of the Classics

I have a problem, it’s with classics but not all classics just some of them.

I’ve read, Frankenstein, Dracula, most of Lovecraft, Alexandre Dumas, and I love Algernon Blackwood, Dum. The Willows is one of my favorite stories I’ve ever read.

But there are others that I have trouble with; Dostoevsky, Faulkner(not all of them), Melville. I know that I should read them and enjoy them but I don’t. I have tried reading Crime & Punishment at least 10 times, but on the last read, I quit. I can’t read that book.

I wish I knew why I have this trouble, but I’ve narrowed it down to fear.

What if it’s amazing and I wished I’d read it earlier. I feel that way about Frankenstein and a few others, but they’re either sci-fi or horror. It’s the literary classics I have trouble with. It’s not the way it’s written, it’s the fear that I’ll either hate it and feel like I’ve wasted my time on it or I’ll love the hell out of it.

This comes in many ways to me. I am going to read a bunch of classics this year and my current read is ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. I know it’s Dostoevsky, but I want to read it for my own reasons. These books are part of my learning as a writer and while I hope to enjoy them, there’s that fear I won’t.

It’s the whole I’m not good enough to do this writing thing. What if I read something and I feel I’ll never accomplish that grandiosity of what I’ve read? This came to me a lot in the early days of writing but hasn’t been raising its nasty little head lately.

I don’t know how to get past all of this other than keep reading, keep writing, and ignoring the voice in my head, so I’ll ignore it and read all these books.

This started as a conversation between my wife and me. I bought Don Quixote recently and she was surprised I’d never read it. I told her it’s one of those books I was afraid to read for all of the reasons I stated above.

Anyway, read what you like and don’t let that voice screw it up for you.

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2 thoughts on “Fear of the Classics

  1. I’ve never read a bunch of those classics myself. Most I don’t want to, and those I do are usually for my own reasons. And if you end up liking a book or disliking a book, treat it as a discovery. Thomas Edison used to say he didn’t have ten thousand fails before he got a working lightbulb, he said he discovered ten thousand ways not to make one. I keep that in mind when I’m reading something and I discover I’m not going to finish it.

    Liked by 1 person

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