Home Book Review Should I wait until I’m smarter to read difficult novels?
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Should I wait until I’m smarter to read difficult novels?

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Question from a polite chap

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Comment(41)

  1. I really appreciate this. One day I decided to attack gravity's rainbow( a novel I still feel that I am not smart enough to comprehend) and have since completed it twice. I still feel like I am drowning fighting to keep my head above the rapids that is a sea of furious text. Yet i am so very glad that I have remain ignorant to my own beliefs. I love that novel, I may miss 90% of what it talks about but something about it keeps causing me to come back to it. I say jump in and don't be scared to drown. Also please do a review of Gravity's Rainbow, maybe you can help my understand why I love it so much because at times I am honestly not sure why I do.

  2. Hello, my name is Pedro, from Chile. I think that your channel it is very interesting and useful. Congratulations. And i was very surprised that someone have readed Bolaños 2666. Bolaño it is a great autor, but it is not well known in Chile (altought it is Chilean), a lot of people think that he is Mexican. It will be very nice if you could make a review of the savage detectives.
    Have a nice day, cheers.

  3. Sometimes I feel the same way about some lyrics in albums by artists like Swans or a few metal bands.it's difficult to figure out exactly what a person is trying to convey in words, when whatever they are trying to convey is some kind of odd state of mind or philosophical epiphany that makes no sense to anyone but themselves.
    I mean I could probably write some things like that and then forget the meaning myself a few years later

  4. Recently discoverd I love philoshophy.Now reading Schopenhauer and NIetsche.
    About 80% is well understood and I'm quite happy with that.

  5. Love this! I did the same thing with Shakespeare, got the versions that came with modern text alongside the original text. Greatly improved my enjoyment… and understanding!

  6. You always manage to out shine yourself. Great review totally riveting. Will read and dream. It sure is a pity if you have people in your life who don't read. It is such a complete pleasure to hear your reviews!Absolutely great !

  7. you're literally so coool! i love u! thanks for spreading the love of reading! 🙂

  8. Arrrrg, must stop binging your book reviews and start reading more (you haven't quite taken my appetite for food away, but keep trying…) Reviews are really great due to your charismatic and personal delivery. Moving to Lisbon soon, so Pessoa should perhaps be the first author I should get my hands on this summer. If you know of any other Portuguese authors or books that are somewhat related to Portugal that you´ve read, please let me know! And thanks again for breathing some of that in demand mint-like fresh air into youtube´s "book reviewer community"- All the best

  9. There's a 200+ and on-going playlist "Half-hour Hegel" that does a couple sections of Phenomenology of Spirit in a half hour and discusses them, by my favourite philosophy channel on youtube.

  10. Well spoken sir! I read Ulysys for the first time when I was 17. Didn't understand much of it but I liked to watch the words march over the pages while the beer marched down my throat. Looked damn cool while doing it! Learning is very cool if your drinking beer.
    I love difficult books, from Capital to the Koran, the thicker the better! It is a bit of masochism on my part I guess. I like to suffer intellectually. Look at ''Beelzebub's tales to his grandson'' by Gurdjieff. It looks and presents itself as a challenge. Nine hundred incomprehensible pages dressed in the Devils red. The writer asks of you to read it three times in the different ways that he prescribes, and only then can one understand it fully. I am reading it for the second time now, out loud, as is the point. The challenge has been taken mister Gurdjieff! Trow it at me motherfucker! I can take it!
    And for those unfortunate creatures that left ''Capital'' on the shelf because it looked just to intimidating, well, sticks and stones might brake your bones but…
    Yes, mister ''Better than food'' is right! You have nothing to fear my dear friends who aspire literacy! Words will not harm you, and will not make you stupid, they will just show you that you are.
    Thank you for the suggestions by the way, they are on my list. But I hardly doubt that any other book than ''Justine'' by Marques du Sade can make me cry, laugh and masturbate at the same time. Better to look at the Disney channel when I want to do that.

  11. My honest opinion is that truly great works of literature work on many levels and do not require the reader to be widely read to "understand" the work in some way. I'm 20 and not very widely read and I thought Virginia Woolf, Elena Ferrante and Thomas Mann are/were brilliant authors AND very readable. I'm sure I'll revisit these books in a few decades and see so much then that I don't see now – but I know that at the same time, I see things now that I will cease to see in the future. Every age and level of education have their advantages and disadvantages, and great authors will be with you on everyone of those levels.

  12. I had the exact same problem with Ulysses, but i stopped at page 10. Props for holding out so long.

  13. I have a general question about reading. reading is a learnt skill, it
    continuous to develop as one reads and reads. To assimilate what you are
    reading matters when one reads, as there are many variables within what
    is being read, one has to keep track of changes, events, characters,
    etc………….
    It can be a challenging skill to keep focused and enjoy the read with
    better understanding. At other times one can read and read and there
    brain cannot chain the connections. What are your thoughts on this and
    can you address the challenges please.

  14. I was reading greek mythology, everytime I read these works, I failed to grasp these works
    Then:
    but because I repeated reading them a few times, I have grown to include greek mythoology in my reading list.

  15. This discussion has made a lasting mark on my life. I now read whatever I want, as opposed to whatever I felt safe behind, or capable of understanding fully. What's happened is that I've started learning more and more about who I am and how I think…because if a book cannot fill me (through comprehension) then I end up filling it. I fill these philosophical masterpieces with my own flawed observations. Then – astoundingly – I'm sometimes allowed, through reflection and continued reading, to see my thoughts for what they are: failures to understand the complexity that surrounds me. These books open my eyes unto myself (my inadequacies) and to the world simultaneously. This is a fantastic tool by which I continue to be sanctified. I owe you a great debt, Mr. Sargent. May the hair on your toes never fall out!

  16. Hey man just subscribed. Found your channel after reading Blood Meridian for about the 50th time and deciding to do exactly what you suggest here, having a look for references, other opinion. I found out some cool things – the whole reference to Paradise Lost in the ex-Priest's story, for example, that being a book I have never read. There's an entire University course out there discussing this and other "allusions" in the work. I went to school for ages but never took an English course so at the very least it was interesting to see what those nuts were up to while I was doing my thing. But I would echo the comment below from Mariella (I actually just noticed it; really) that I've always felt the same way – the books that have truly appealed to and inspired me have done that regardless of whether I "got them" on some other level. Good lord I've read and re-read passages in Blood Meridian countless times, including the gunpowder story and had to put the book down because it hit me so hard; knowing that he was inspired by or is alluding to something else is interesting, but I wonder if knowing that will make it even harder hitting the next time I read it? I remember putting The History of the Siege of Lisbon down 100 pages in the first time, I was so frustrated; then picking it up 5 or 10, I don't know, years later and reading it to the end in a few days and "what was I thinking?!?" So I agree with you, the important thing is to just read, don't NOT read something because you think it's "beyond" you. Unfortunately if I take my own advice that means I'll have to try Pynchon again and I have no idea what the hell that sh*t is all about.

    Anyway, I love to read and often have a hard time deciding what to read next so I look forward to trying out some of the other stuff you've reviewed which I am not familiar with (before watching your reviews of course). If I can make a suggestion – The War of the End of the World, it's a big big awesome book. Thanks.

  17. I am facing that I don't understand most of the things that you said 'cos I speak spanish, but the things that I can understand from you are so cool and good, is too important to stay humble, I got that felinig of stupidity when I staring to read Cioran, but now I can't stop reading him =)

  18. I watched this video atleast 3 times to gain confidence at tackling difficult books and gain courage to face my own stupidity and beat it. Or reassure myself that even if I fathomed less than half of the content of one book, it's fine. Merci beaucoup, tu es une source de support très bénéfique pour tout aspirants intellectuels, je souhaite seulement que ta chaine grandit d'avantage. 🙂

  19. Another thing about reading books you don't fully understand: You can go back and re-read them at a later point of you feel you missed out on anything.

  20. Hi there, I have a question and would love to hear what your thoughts are – have you read any of the Robert Pirsig books (or any of the two books that he wrote), and if so, what is your opinion about his writing and views? I hope you find the time to answer my question 🙂

  21. YES! I LIVE for annotations and critical analysis. They are my friends. We have coffee. And they don't talk about how stupid I really am behind my back.

  22. >Finished Infinite Jest
    >self-esteem destroyed
    >30 pages into Gravity's Rainbow
    >feels like an utter idiot that isn't ready for postmodern shit

    Thank you for this video

  23. The most difficult work I've read so far would definitely fall to either Suttree or Blood Meridian. When I'm sitting there getting rock-hard admiring the language of some beautiful passage, I can never help but wonder what I might be missing.

    But that is certainly what has scared me away from Joyce. Thanks for pointing us toward Re:joyce, I'll be looking into that particular podcast.

  24. Gravity's Rainbow kicked my ass the first time I read it, and yet so far it has been the ONLY book that seriously tempted me to start re-reading it right after I finished the last page.

  25. I find it to be comparable with learning a New language. The more of the language you learn, the more you understand. I experienced the same with arthouse films. they are really hard to read until you have watched a lot of them, but then the intruguing part becomes films you still cant understand.

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