I did it. I slogged through Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I say “slogged” not because I didn’t enjoy the experience. I did. Thoroughly. But 800 pages of ANYTHING becomes a bit wearisome after awhile. (When the bookmark doesn’t seem to move after hours of page-turning, well, you get the idea.)
But I’ve experienced the euphoria before, and knew the pay-off would be worth it. I slogged through Les Miserables and War and Peace—the unabridged versions, mind you—on my own initiative. In all three cases, the story, the characters, the themes, the writing made it worthwhile. For a writer, missing these stories would have been like a world traveler missing the pyramids while in Egypt, Big Ben while in London.
Take, for example, these examples of imagery in Bleak House I might have missed:
“Thus, night at length with slow-retreating steps departs, and the lamplighter going his rounds like an executioner to a despotic king, strikes off the little heads of fire that have aspired to lessen the darkness.”
“In Lincolnshire, the Dedlocks of the past doze in their picture-frames, and the low wind murmurs through the long drawing-room as if they were breathing pretty regularly.”
See what I mean? Who would want to miss writing like that—let alone compelling stories and memorable characters?
What lengthy works of classic literature have you conquered? I’d love to know, because I intend to keep adding to my list.
But not until at least next year!