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DanWilde1966

Books You Loved Years Ago, But Now...

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A few weeks ago, I took Henry Miller's Tropic of Capricorn off the shelf...

 

In the Eighties, I read through Miller's available books ravenously. I'd come across him via George Orwell's essay "Inside the Whale", and had been intrigued by Orwell's comments on Miller's prose. I read Tropic of Cancer and loved it; I read Black Spring, and felt that it contained some of the most astonishing prose I'd ever read. And I ploughed through the Rosy Crucifixion trilogy, not to mention a variety of Miller essay anthologies and critical works. And of course, I read the verbal sprawl that is Tropic of Capricorn - and loved every ranting page of it.

 

My experience of Miller a few weeks ago, however, was not a pleasurable one. In fact, I gave up Capricorn after about twenty pages. It struck me as a disorganised muddle - a clutter or memories and reflections, which were exhausting to read. Orwell said that Miller is good for about five pages, but then the reader needs a rest. That few pages charges you up; you don't need anymore. This is an accurate assessment... And yet twenty years ago, I would have classified myself (with a sprinkling of hubris...) as Miller's leading disciple. Now, I go for things like... narrative structure, story, character. All these things are in Capricorn, but buried in the verbal mire. I now find the book unreadable.

 

Does anyone else here have books you would have sworn by years ago, but which have thoroughly disappointed you more recently?

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Well I didn't exactly swear by them, but I read a few Stephen Lawhead books - The Pendragon Cycle and the Song of Albion trilogy - while I was in University about 12 years ago and loved them. But I tried to read "Taliesin" again last year and couldn't believe it was the same book. I found it tedious and repetitive and I disliked the mixing of I don't know how many myths into one pseudo religion. I had to give it up after 50 pages and put the experience down to 'tastes change!'

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I must admit - in fact, I did, several months ago on this very site - that I very rarely re-read books. However, when I do, I nearly always find myself thinking that I'm reading an edited version! This happened to me twice in the last 2 years.

 

Last year, I re-read Christopher Priest's Space Machine. This is the book that tells "the story" behind HG Wells' Time Machine and War of the Worlds. There's a scene where the lead character meets the lady who is to become his travelling companion, and I was absolutely convinced that her attitude towards him was the result of his having met her earlier during a time-travelling scene. Not only that, but I was convinced that it was a pivotal scene in the whole tale. When I got to the end, and found I was wrong, I felt rather cheated. What puzzles me is, why was I so sure?

 

The other occasion was when I re-read Frank Herbert's original Dune trilogy 2 years ago. I was quite certain that the evil Baron Harkonnen had fitted "heart-plugs" to some of his minnions - when he wanted to dispense of them, he pulled the plug and - well - woosh! However, no such thing happened when I read the books again. To make matters worse, I am also quite sure that I recall the same scene in the film. Any Dune readers (or watchers) out there who can convince me I was right?

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Any Dune readers (or watchers) out there who can convince me I was right?

I don't have the book anymore but I just checked the film for you ... scene 8 (where we first meet Sting too), he pulls the heart plug out of one of the young assistants. :eek:

 

Don't you just love it when that happens? Being right, that is! :rolleyes:

 

And as for re-reading something and regretting it ... not happened so far but I'm still young! :P

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I don't reread books - there are too many others out there I want to read for the first time - but I loved (or slightly pretended to love?) Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson ten years ago, and have a feeling I'd find it very boring now.

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I lapped up Wuthering Heights as a teenager. I read it almost ritualistically once a year (in November I think) and I wore out one copy, so now have two. I haven't read it since 1996 because I'm pretty sure I would break the spell. I look back with fondness at how much I enjoyed getting lost in the world of the moors and storms but the me of today wouldn't have patience with the melodrama and general hysteria of it. In my brain it's categorised alongside the boyfriends of the same period; a swift flick through my memories makes me feel all warm and fuzzy but looking any deeper just makes me cringe.

 

Rebecca

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Paul Scott's Raj Quartet - kept them because I knew I would want to read them again. At the time I thought they were completely wonderful (and this was before the TV series which was also wonderful)

 

I think maybe books can be rather like paintings - there is a period when they just look/feel dated and then ten or 15 years later they are fine again.

 

So - have just put them back on the shelves and will try again in about ten years

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I must admit - in fact, I did, several months ago on this very site - that I very rarely re-read books. However, when I do, I nearly always find myself thinking that I'm reading an edited version! This happened to me twice in the last 2 years.

 

The other occasion was when I re-read Frank Herbert's original Dune trilogy 2 years ago. I was quite certain that the evil Baron Harkonnen had fitted "heart-plugs" to some of his minnions - when he wanted to dispense of them, he pulled the plug and - well - woosh! However, no such thing happened when I read the books again. To make matters worse, I am also quite sure that I recall the same scene in the film. Any Dune readers (or watchers) out there who can convince me I was right?

 

MFJ,

 

This has happened to me, also. I think that they have now begun to put out politically correct versions of old books (so as not to offend the tender sensibilities of the modern reader) which leaves those of us who are a bit, shall we say, more mature, feeling like we are in the Twilight Zone when we re-read a book! :(

 

And, Yes, the heart plug thing was in the original books and the movie!

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