Hot Take: The Worst Classics I Have Ever Read

Hot Take: a piece of commentary, typically produced quickly in response to a recent event, whose primary purpose is to attract attention.

This blog is named Caffeinated and Opinionated, mainly because I have many opinions, and I have a lot of hot takes. Which I have previously been really nervous about sharing them on here, because I didn’t want to have to deal with any potential backlash. 
But then I realised, I’m allowed to have opinions, and I’m certainly going to be obnoxious about them.

I also love books, I try to read about 100 a year, so in that amount, I do find ones that I hate. I usually love classic books, but when I hate them, boy that hate boils my blood. I have read some hyped up ‘you must read’ classics and I haven’t understood why they even rate as a ‘classic’. It baffles me.

I love the classic stories, the glimpse into a time period that would otherwise be inaccessible to me, and of course the interesting characters. But sometimes classic books are hot garbage. What makes them more prestigious than other books?

In my opinion, classics are often defined by people who define what class is, and those people are usually, white, upper middle class, from western countries, and usually men, and I assume that they decided that the following have cultural weight, these are the worst ‘classic books’ I have ever read.

1) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

I know that a woman hating Ernest Hemingway is almost as cliche as being a man who worships Hemingway. And I’m sure I don’t have any original criticism, but I hated the shallow female characters, the hyper-masculine bullshit, and the violence and misogyny of his life that I can’t remove from his art. Not to mention his raging semitism, and his dismissal of anything but the most toxic form of masculinity as ‘pathetic’ and his belief that alcoholism is a personality trait.

I think that one of the reasons this book is so famous is because of an interesting combination or gender, class, race and privilege. I think if ‘The Sun Also Rises’ had been written by anyone other than an upper class, wealthy American man it would have been considered alcoholic ramblings committed to paper, and would never have been published. I’m right, and I will fight you on this.

2) Animal Farm by George Orwell

To start with, I love George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London is one of my favourite books of all the, and so is 1984. But Animal Farm is about as metaphorically subtle as a sledgehammer to the face, the symbolism and satire is so heavy handed I can only assume it was laid with a concrete trowel. I miss the subtlety and drama of his other books, and the idea that this is his most famous book confuses me to no end. It’s not the worst book in the world, I’m just saying it’s not his best.

3) Anything by Charles Bukowski-But Especially Post Office

Anything by Charles Bukowski brings this Katherine Dunn quote to mind:

“There are those whose own vulgar normality is so apparent and stultifying that they strive to escape it. They affect flamboyant behaviour and claim originality according to the fashionable eccentricities of their time. They claim brains or talent or indifference to mores in desperate attempts to deny their own mediocrity. These are frequently artists and performers, adventurers and wide-life devotees.

I don’t get the appeal, It’s an awful book about an awful man who does awful things and has an awful job and complains about his awful life. He also blatantly assaults a woman, for NO REASON, like it doesn’t add to the plot, and its never mentioned again? It’s the literary equivalent of a drive by, and there is just random mention of animal cruelty? Bukowski hates women, and reminds me of that creepy guy you always avoid when you see him on the street. It’s one of the worst books I have ever read, and I feel dirty from reading it.

4) Anything Sigmund Freuds wrote, but particularly Studies On Hysteria (1895)

I hate Freud, and as Psychological Science wrote, “[T]here is literally nothing to be said, scientifically or therapeutically, to the advantage of the entire Freudian system or any of its component dogmas.” And I think almost everything he wrote about was profoundly damaging, particularly his theory of the Oedipus complex, and his treatment of sexual abuse victims may have put psychology back a century. Freud, although he has contributed to science, and may have been one of the more compassionate doctors working in the time period, is more problematic than a wolf in a chicken coop. I regret reading his book and consider it one of the biggest wastes of my time ever.

Don’t make the same mistake I did, read something good with your time

Do you agree with me? or do you think these books are actually great? Let me know!

I also tag anyone else who has spicy opinions on books to do this Hot Take! Please tag me in your post so I can see your hot takes

10 thoughts on “Hot Take: The Worst Classics I Have Ever Read

  1. Great post! I love posts such as these where people voice their unpopular opinions. I have not read Charles Bukowski or many books from Ernest Hemingway, but I think I will agree with you these ones. I love Animal Farm, though. I think its lack of subtlety is precisely the point. Many classics can now be criticised from modern standpoints but the truth is they still are products of their time. What Sigmund Freuds told us about the workings of our mind, particularly, the unconscious mind, has been invaluable. He was an early neuroscientist. too.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness will probably be on my list, as well as Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. I tried “to battle” with them a number of times, but was unsuccessful 🙂 Probably not the worst, but the ones I understand the least.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I half agree with you across the board, but enjoyed reading your thoughts 🙂 E.g., I agree about “The Sun Also Rises,” but was then surprised at how great “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was, including arguably one of the strongest women in modernist lit, Pilar. I agree with you on “Animal Farm’s” lack of subtlety but still enjoy reading it 🙂 And I’m not big on Bukowski but the vulgarity doesn’t bother me in the slightest 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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