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62% Person of lie about having read classic books


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#1 Francis Buck

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:24 PM

(not sure if this is more lit. or genchat)

ETA: That title was totally on purpose.

http://www.telegraph...sic-novels.html

To be fair the survey was only for Brits, but I can't see it being much different elsewhere, for the most part. It's hardly surprising in and of itself, but the numbers are pretty high.

The most popular ruse is pretending to have read classic novels, with 42 per cent of people relying on film and TV adaptations, or summaries found online, to feign knowledge of the novels. Surprisingly, half of the adults questioned admit to having displayed books on their shelves without ever having read them.


The examples used:

1984 by George Orwell – 26%
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – 19%
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – 18%
Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger – 15%
A Passage to India by E M Forster – 12%
Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein – 11%
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 10%
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – 8%
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – 8%
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – 5%

Of those I've personally read 1984, Great Expectations, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Catcher in the Rye, although only the last one was non-school related. Really though, beyond school-required stuff, I'm pretty woefully under-read on "the classics", James Joyce being one of the few exceptions. The inclusion of Lord of the Rings was kinda surprising to me (though, I know there have been times where I've said I read LOTR, which is somewhat of a fib -- I've read many separate sections of the series on various occasions, but never straight through. I've almost certainly read The Silmarillion more than LOTR).

I suppose the bright side is that there's some cultural pressure to at least appear well-read?

Edited by Francis Buck, 07 September 2013 - 05:39 PM.


#2 BigFatCoward

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:26 PM

i have personally started all of them, but a lot of classic literature is fucking shit. especially crime and punishment, i know so many people who have started and ditched that book.

#3 Galactus

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:33 PM

I haven't read:

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger
A Passage to India by E M Forster

But I've read the other ones (although 1984 only recently and in a work-related setting)

EDIT: Although technically I listened to an audiobook of P&P.

Edited by Galactus, 07 September 2013 - 05:33 PM.


#4 R'hllors Red Lobster

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:35 PM

I haven't read:

Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger
But I've read the other ones (although 1984 only recently and in a work-related setting)


Ugh, you're not missing much. Fucking hated that book.

#5 DaarioKnowsBest

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:44 PM

I've only read 2 but I think I've seen a movie version of all those

Edited by DaarioKnowsBest, 07 September 2013 - 05:44 PM.


#6 Darth Visenya

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:46 PM

I unfortunately had to read Pride and Prejudice at school, what a load of shit.

#7 1918me

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:48 PM

Ugh, you're not missing much. Fucking hated that book.


Personally, I thought it was great. A very well-done coming-of-age story, if you're into that sort of thing.

More on-topic, I don't find these statistics very surprising, although they are pretty hilarious nonetheless.

#8 BLU-RAY

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:51 PM

Man, I really didn't enjoy A Passage to India. Can barely remember what it was about at this point, but I didn't like it.

#9 Francis Buck

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 05:55 PM

I can't even remember hearing of Passage Into India before reading the article.

#10 1918me

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:05 PM

I can't even remember hearing of Passage Into India before reading the article.


Weird. Neither had I.

Edited by 1918me, 07 September 2013 - 06:05 PM.


#11 Arch-MaesterPhilip

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:08 PM

I've read 1984, Catcher in the Rye and LOTR. I was supposed to read To Kill a Mockingbird but never bothered.

#12 Sixshells

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:16 PM

I have read 1984, but have forgotten nearly all about it, as well as The Lord of the Rings (would have forgotten a lot more if I hadn't seen the movies), Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. The last two I have read several times, as well as watched several different adaptations.
Never tried to read the others.
I only ever read a simplified version for children of Homer's Odyssey.
Never read the Bible, although I did look at bits of it in the ones we had home.

What is considered a classic that has to be read to pretend having a good culture probably changes between countries, although there are internationally renowned ones. Regarding French classics, there is a shit ton I never even tried to read.


I can't even remember hearing of Passage Into India before reading the article.

Same here.

#13 maarsen

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:22 PM

I have read half of them. I have also read an abridged version of War and Peace which killed any desire to read the entire thing

#14 Robin Of House Hill

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:23 PM

In the interest of honesty...

1984 by George Orwell – Yes
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – No
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – No
Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger – No
A Passage to India by E M Forster – No
Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein – Yes
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – No
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – No
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – No
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – No

If that makes me illiterate, so be it.

#15 Matrim Fox Cauthon

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:24 PM

I unfortunately had to read Pride and Prejudice at school, what a load of shit.

Take that back!

#16 tzanth

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:24 PM

Hmmm, I've read 1984, War and Peace, and Lord of the Rings for sure (none of them were for school). I'm pretty sure I also had to read Jane Eyre in school, but maybe I'm just remembering the movie. In the right circumstance, I feel like I could find myself pretending to have read Pride and Prejudice, I've certainly seen enough adaptations to know the plot well enough.

Edited by tzanth, 07 September 2013 - 06:24 PM.


#17 Tears of Lys

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:34 PM

In the interest of honesty...


1984 by George Orwell - Yes
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – No, but plan to
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – Many times
Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger – A couple times
A Passage to India by E M Forster – No, but plan to
Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein – Three or four times - plan on reading it again and again too.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – No
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Yes. And I wanted to murder that little whinger Rashkolnikov. He was an annoying fuck.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Multiple
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – Multiple

I believe I've read all of Dickens. Loved his later stuff the most. And as I've often said on these boards, Charlotte Bronte's Villette might just be my favorite book ever of its genre.


but I don't consider myself well read by any stretch of the imagination. To be truly "accomplished," one must be able to read the Greek classics in the original Greek. /tongue.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':P' />

#18 kairparavel

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:46 PM

I've only read To Kill a Mockingbird, based on that list.

I have plenty of books on display at our apartment that I haven't read but were purchased with the intention of doing so. Whenever those lists of the 100 greatest novels EVAR etc are put out, I've probably not even read a quarter. But I certainly don't pretend I have. When I first joined this board I felt literarily insufficient because there's SO much I haven't read and seemingly so many of you are incredibly and diversely well-read. On the other hand, I've read a decent amount that isn't necessarily critically lauded but is stuff I rather enjoy. I think the notion of having 'read the classics' is an overwhelming load of BS that leads to this kind of nonsense. I myself am a proponent of reading and reading for enjoyment, not overblown social status recognition.


ETA

If you've been following my Goodreads the past week, you are aware of how low-brow my current reading is *L*

Edited by kairparavel, 07 September 2013 - 06:47 PM.


#19 Altherion

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:54 PM

For me:

1984 by George Orwell – Yes
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – Yes
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – Yes
Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger – No
A Passage to India by E M Forster – No
Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein – Yes
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – No
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Yes
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Yes
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – Yes

That said, having read a book is one thing and remembering it in detail is another. For example, I read the unabridged version of War and Peace when I was in school. What do I remember of it? A vague outline of the plot, a few episodes (e.g. the way Pierre gets engaged for the first time) and the rather awesome analysis of history at the end of the book which has very little to do with the story. My memory is much better when I've read a book multiple times (e.g. Great Expectations or Pride and Prejudice).

#20 Eugene V. Debspalm

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:55 PM

I've read 1984, LoTR and I think Jane Eyre (don't remember a thing about it thought. IIRC it was at the request of a despairing English teacher who was trying to improve me, so I guess that one was for school.)

Had never heard of Passage to India either.

I've not read it, but for some reason, I'm convinced that I will utterly loathe the Catcher in the Rye, and have been since I was a teenager. /dunno.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':dunno:' />