I recently finished the oh so famous Pride and Prejudice. One of the most, if not the most recommended Jane Austen novel is now officially off of my to-be-read list.
I don’t know what it is about long car trips that make me want to read classics, because this is the second time this has happened. But when I am in the passenger seat for sixteen or so hours, I guess I can handle watching rolling hills and fields pass by for only a few hours.
Did I enjoy the book? Yeah, it was good. I’m glad I read it.
Did it meet my expectations? …No, not really.
Going into this book, I knew that Elizabeth was going to end up with Mr. Darcy. Whenever someone brought up this book, everyone went on about how romantic it is, how amazing Mr. Darcy is and how they wish they had their own version of him, and built up the entire novel into being one of the best love stories in existence.
However, there is not as much romance as I thought there was. The romance between the two characters doesn’t really start rolling until about halfway through the book. And that’s saying a bit, since there are a lot of pages in this book.
That’s the problem with classics, I find: Everyone builds a classic up to be something amazing, and then I read them and have a…mediorce feeling. I should (according to every English teacher I’ve ever had) feel something greater than just meh after reading a classic. That I should have learned a greater lesson about life and the world’s working and so on. But I didn’t feel any fantastical, life-changing moment from finishing this book, or any of the other classics that I’ve finished.
The only thing I can be glad about is that I finally understand all these references and fan-created content that I keep seeing. The social aspect of finishing the novel is the satisfying part about finishing a classic than the actual reading of the classic. Now when someone brings up the Pride and Prejudice book, I can actually have an intelligent conversation with them. That’s more than I can say for other classics like The Great Gatsby or Fahrenheit 451, classic novels that book lovers and the general public are expected to read and understand.
But is it possible for all this build-up is counteractive to get people to read classics? To have all of this hype that has been around for years and years be a negative thing?
I would like to think so, only for personal reasons. Overhype can certainly kill the fun out of something. I mean, do I even need to bring up Frozen? That Disney movie that became a huge hit and is still being advertised to death even today? Do I need to bring in the backlash that came with it? And that’s for a movie that came out almost two years ago.
A book-related hype can be that of Harry Potter, which needs no real explanation as to what that is all about. I know people that haven’t read the books, because not only have they seen the movies, but they’re friends with Harry Potter fans that go on and on and on about the series so much that they don’t feel the need to read it. Some of these people even hate it, because people keep going on about it and practically force the book and its world into their lives when they didn’t really want it.
So, yeah, hype and building up expectations for books can kill the joy out of reading. But, that doesn’t necessarily have to stop someone from reading a really hyped up book. It just has to be read at the right time, and without someone forcing it into someone’s hands.
Am I going to try and read another classic? Well, I’m going to try eventually. I do have more classics on my to-be-read list, and I want to cross them off. But, unlike other people who were forced to read these titles in high school, I’m going to read them as an adult. And I’m not going to be reading them for a grade or forcing myself into it just so I can be some “Literary Elitist.” I’m just going to try and read them because I want to, and not because it’s expected of me. And, hopefully, some of the hyped up expectations can be met.