Critics sound off on their least favorite books


As part of an extremely witty column on the most despised books of literary critics, Simon Jenkins has this to say about Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment:

I have lost count of the number of times I have taken Crime and Punishment on holiday and ended up throwing it in the pool. Every page seems calculated to depress the spirit, and its sense of place reeks of poverty, treachery, decay and death. It is as far removed from a beach, the sun, good company and relaxation as could be imagined. I am sure it is fine for a weekend suicide break to Siberia, a sort of Karamazov without the laughs. But please, not for a holiday.

C&P happens to be my favorite novel of all time, but I have to admit, that’s a pretty funny send-up. Even funnier is Stephen Amidon’s assessment of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves:

The Waves by Virginia Woolf is everything a novel should not be – and so much less. After the triumphs of Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, and the fascinating experimentation of Orlando, Woolf decided to change tack with this “playpoem” and wound up sinking into a putrid morass of unreadability. Beloved of American academics – which ought to tell you something right there – the book fairly accurately simulates the experience of sitting next to a pretentious old windbag on a flight to Australia.

Read the whole thing.

[h/t Critical Mass]

1 Comment

Filed under books

One response to “Critics sound off on their least favorite books

  1. “Writing it and reading it” I used to say. Writing it being the crime…

    Jonathan