Author Topic: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated  (Read 9209 times)

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Offline David "Stubb" Oswald

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #30 on: November 22, 2010, 12:30:31 AM »

So your argument is if it weren't absolute dreck and pablum for hundreds of pages on end, without rest or redeeming qualities, it wouldn't suck?


Somewhere between our positions there is probably a healthy compromise.  Let us strive to not reach it.
If you read a book and it changes your life, you are fucked. -Seth Romatelli

Offline Bunsen

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #31 on: November 22, 2010, 12:40:59 AM »

So your argument is if it weren't absolute dreck and pablum for hundreds of pages on end, without rest or redeeming qualities, it wouldn't suck?


Somewhere between our positions there is probably a healthy compromise.  Let us strive to not reach it.

Agreed.  Moby Dick is the worst book ever written, in any language, on any planet.

And you're a Satanist for liking it.

Also, your mom smells funny.

Offline David "Stubb" Oswald

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #32 on: November 22, 2010, 12:52:56 AM »
Your dislike of the book is an example of the argument from personal incredulity.  You lack the intelligence to understand why it is great, therefore you believe it is terrible.
If you read a book and it changes your life, you are fucked. -Seth Romatelli

Offline Bunsen

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #33 on: November 22, 2010, 12:55:34 AM »
Your enjoyment of the book is an example of herd mentality.  You've been told that it's great, but lack the literary chops to recognize why it is a weak example of American Romanticism.

Also, your mom smells funny.

Offline David "Stubb" Oswald

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #34 on: November 22, 2010, 12:59:19 AM »
The classic tail of Moby Dick helped save humanity when Captain Picard realized he was sacrificing everything for revenge.  If it wasn't for Melville you descendents would all be Borg.
If you read a book and it changes your life, you are fucked. -Seth Romatelli

Offline Bunsen

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #35 on: November 22, 2010, 01:20:00 AM »
The classic tail of Moby Dick helped will help save humanity when Captain Picard realized realizes he was will be sacrificing everything for revenge.  If it wasn't for Melville you descendents would will all be Borg.

I hate time travel grammar.

Offline Jack

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #36 on: November 22, 2010, 01:31:17 AM »
The classic tail of Moby Dick helped will help save humanity when Captain Picard realized realizes he was will be sacrificing everything for revenge.  If it wasn't for Melville you descendents would will all be Borg.

I hate time travel grammar.
Also, that movie sucked.

Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #37 on: November 22, 2010, 01:37:52 AM »
So I *did* read Moby Dick as an adult and so long as you use my technique I use on all 19th century novels - read it quickly, don't worry if you don't get one particular passage because the vernacular's going to be off to a person living in 2010, just get through the thing - it's actually a pretty fascinating, funny book. The aforementioned bit about a whale being a fish, for example, is pretty funny stuff. It *is* about 60% Moby Dick and 40% Melville riffing on whatever he feels like riffing on at the time, but not only is that part of its charm (you'll finish the book knowing more about whaling and what it must have been like to have been a whaler in the mid-19th century - the bad science actually helps with that - than you ever thought you could know), it's not exactly out of the ordinary. Victor Hugo does just about the same thing with French currency in Les Miserables, for example.

Anyway, it's a big, sprawling book that would have had about half of it cut by  modern day editor, but it's still not a bad read. Actually, I think there's some useful comparison between it and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, also overlong (but a lot more to the point than Dick because, well, it wasn't written in the 1840s and 50s), also stopping to discuss crap that has nothing to do with the actual story, also including memes that were pretty shocking for the time (it's pretty much a done deal that Queequeg and Ismael are lovers), also pretty messy (I just love, love, love Buffington), but also pretty gripping in its own way.

On another note, I read Catcher in the Rye when I was a kid and despite my English degree somehow never read it again as an adult. And now I'm going to have to. DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL. PHONY
Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Offline Bunsen

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #38 on: November 22, 2010, 02:24:03 AM »
One of the big problems of Moby Dick is that it doesn't travel well.  It worked pre-Internet when people  that were reading the text hadn't seen whales for themselves, and when the taxonomy of the creature was still vague.  It had this allure of both mystery and knowing, viciousness and gentleness, which is now gone and replaced with the modern liberal American image of the whale as helpless and defenseless victim.

Another problem with Moby Dick is that it was bloated by the fact that it was written as a serialized 3-part bowdlerized novel.  Much like Doyle, Melville's greatest flaws are claimed as virtues by academia in a desperate gambit to avoid addressing the issue that problems with how popular novels of the time were published led to dramatic styles and act structures that were poorly paced and rife with filler.  This leads to the on-off-on-off narrative that Stubbs was talking about.  If you have to power through it, or "just get through the thing," as Slick was saying, it's not a good piece to teach, and it's not a good piece to hold up as a literary gold standard. 

There are plenty of comparable works from the same time period and form that aren't a chore to get through.  We should be encouraging kids to read those instead (or, God forbid, read something that was actually written within the last century and a half.)  Does Moby Dick deserve its place in the Everyman's Library catalogue?  Sure.  And I think everybody should read it.  It has an alright story, and the narrative language is both apparently natural and beautiful.  For that reason alone, everybody should try to get through it at least once.  But it's time to stop pretending that it's a relevant text that should appear in the top 10 of Great American Literature.  That list hasn't been updated since 1939, and its teeth are starting to rot out.

On another note, I read Catcher in the Rye when I was a kid and despite my English degree somehow never read it again as an adult. And now I'm going to have to. DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL. PHONY

Isn't that always the worst?  I have enough to read right now without somebody pointing out something I never noticed in the unabridged version of War and Peace, making me go back and start that 1300+ page monstrosity all over again.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 02:26:09 AM by Bodhisattva Bunsen »

Offline MikeNH

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #39 on: November 23, 2010, 02:11:53 AM »
I'm no literary expert, but Holden Caulfield is my favorite literary character of all time.

Offline Green Ideas

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #40 on: November 23, 2010, 03:21:01 AM »
I'm no literary expert, but Holden Caulfield is my favorite literary character of all time.

I wouldn't expect otherwise from the 'Negative Vibe Agent'...

(Just kidding, I like him too.)

Offline Green Ideas

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #41 on: November 23, 2010, 03:43:33 AM »
Overrated? Apparently yes, in the US at least, Salinger is not that known where I live. I like it, I like it a lot, but, as mentioned before in this thread, it's not even his best book, "Franny & Zooey" (and perhaps also "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction") is better. And if you look at the contemporary competition, well, you have "Lolita" a few years later. Now, that's a true masterpiece.

Offline Helium Flash

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #42 on: December 09, 2010, 03:39:37 PM »
Its the only book of his I've read, and by far the best of his I've read so far.  Awesome book.  Jane Eyre is far more overrated.  I can imagine people dislike Catcher in the Rye in the same way people dislike Blair Witch Project....mistaking the genius of progressive style for poor quality. 
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Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #43 on: December 09, 2010, 05:19:59 PM »
I've been re-reading it as of late as well (actually, this thread made me pick it up). I think the #1 reason people don't like it is that they don't get the concept of the unreliable narrator. Holden says he doesn't know why he throws a punch at his roommate and then goads him into punching him back but the fact is it's freaking obvious why he did so. There are many cases where Holden seems to be calling someone a phony or sneering at them when in actuality he is offended or saddened. Actually, the use of the term "phony" itself often seems to be another way of saying "this person acts like they care about me but I know they don't."

It's a really depressing book, actually, although depressing in a good way.
Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Offline MountainManPan

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Re: Catcher in the Rye = Overrated
« Reply #44 on: December 09, 2010, 06:48:24 PM »
Why did he start the fight with his roommate?

 

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