Why Did They Make Me Read This in High School? (Feat. Lindsay Ellis) | It’s Lit!

Why Did They Make Me Read This in High School? (Feat. Lindsay Ellis) | It’s Lit!

So let’s say you’re a student taking your
first western literature class, and all is going well and fine until the professor starts
asking you questions about the great dread dinosaurs of literature that maybe you haven’t
gotten around to reading. And you don’t want to admit you haven’t
read these guys. Maybe you know that Captain Ahab from hell’s heart stabs at thee….
and there’s a whale. You know that Les Mis has a popular musical
adaptation where people wave flags. There’s a revolution, but, like, not the guillotine
one. Right? And you that War and Peace…. Well, it’s
long. Hooboy, it’s long. Why is a bear being tied to a policeman…?
And maybe you ask yourself: Why have I not read these books? Has anyone actually read
these books? They are widely agreed to be big, important books, after all. And this begs the question: What makes a book
important? And who even decided what’s “important” in the first place? Literary critics, writers, philosophers, bloggers
— all have tried to tackle where and why and how an author may strike such lightning
in a bottle that their works enter the pantheon of “Classical Literature”. Why this book
is required reading in high school, where other books are lost to history. To try and
sum up this historical process in a humble 6 minute internet video is nigh on impossible. But hey we’re going to try. There are lots of books that are trashed,
unappreciated or simply not read early on in their publication and only come into popularity
years later. Moby Dick is a famous example of this. Author
Herman Melville died in obscurity believing his opus forgotten. But In 1916, a popular
contemporary novelist, Carl Van Doren, sang its praises publically, the novel caught on
with a more appreciative New York literary scene, and a hundred years later we’re still
meme-ing about Moby Dick. Several decades later, another New York literary
trendsetter, Arthur Mizener, championed a little known novel about Awful Rich People
as “a classic of twentieth century American fiction.” Eventually enough English professors
agreed, and now all high school students have to read The Great Gatsby, Great American Novel™. But not all Very Important Books go unappreciated
in their day. Victor Hugo was already a huge celebrity when
he wrote les Miserables, which not only was a sensation upon release, it has never been
out of print. So too with War and Peace, which enjoyed massive
success upon publication and made Tolstoy, according to his contemporary Goncharov, the
“true lion of Russian literature.” What do these books have in common? Note that all of the above examples are heavily
tied to themes of national and cultural identity – be it American, French or Russian. They have also been deemed important by established
writers, critics and scholars–the intellectual elite. Which brings us to the literary canon: In
the eighteenth century, people began to use the term canon to refer informally to famous
writers as a group. But In contrast to the biblical canon and the canon of saints, the
literary canon was never an official list of officially recognized writers. And lest you think these were meant to be
read by the masses, well.. Nah. That’s the thing about canons – who is excluded is
at least as important as who is included. So who decided what is important in the western
literary canon? Well, historically, it’s been old white men, usually authors or academics
at learning institutions that during the 19th century only admitted young white men, and
taught books by … drag queens! Just kidding they were mostly books by white men.
According to University of Michigan professor of English Jan Stryz, “Some scholars assert
that writing has traditionally been seen as “something defined by the dominant culture
as a white male activity.” So in recent decades, there has been more
skepticism around how the western literary canon was constructed. That is not to say
that big, portentous books like War and Peace or Moby Dick are not important or influential,
but that someone had to decide they were important and influential, and everyone else had to
go, “yeah, that sounds legit.” With that said, defenders of the traditional
western canon, like Harold Bloom in his best-selling book “The Western Canon,” arguing that
canon formation takes place as great writers respond in their writing to the work of their
predecessors, and dismissing criticism of the canon as “the School of Resentment” Yikes. Fortunately, more diverse writers are slowly
being added to this canon–writers like Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, and Richard Wright. It goes without saying that the world has
changed immeasurably over the last 50 years, let alone the last three centuries since the
old boy’s club sat down and told us what was worthwhile. Our day-to-day lives, our
technology, our understanding of people outside of our own limited worldviews has changed,
and with that, so to have the types of voices that now get published. This is the Great American Read. And while
it’s not to say that Moby Dick or Les Miserables or War and Peace don’t contain universal
truths or are not worth the time to visit. It is also to say that we are a diverse country
filled with much more diverse literature than you were encouraged to read in high school. So I posit that what is “important” is
less what history tells you it is, but what inspires you want to keep reading in the first
place. So go on, and READ. Lose yourself in something
that speaks to you–whether it’s towards your innate curiosity about a subject, to
your sense of fun that just wants something to go with a beach chair and a red cup of
sangria, or just because, hey, it’s got robots. And robots are okay. PBS Digital Studios is conducting its annual
audience survey. This survey is one of the most important projects we do every year because
it helps us understand who you are and what you like and don’t like. Want more episodes
of It’s Lit? Take the survey and let us know! Twenty five random participants will
receive an awesome PBSDS t-shirt.

100 thoughts on “Why Did They Make Me Read This in High School? (Feat. Lindsay Ellis) | It’s Lit!

  1. I just had to read To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. I recommend it as its a shorter novel than War and Peace and an interesting read to boot.

  2. Better to just let people read them (or not) than risk making them required. I started reading C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was young dispite my two older brothers saying that I was wasting my time as sixth grade required reading so it was wasting time. It was the last fantasy work in my age range at the public library. Fell in love with the world and that summer it was my mission to read every book in the series, learned a lot about inter library loans.
    In sixth grade I tell all my classmates how great it is, except when searching for allegory and motivations you don't get to enjoy the whimsy and fun… It was an entirely different experience.

  3. No one likes books that have robots because robots are okay. People like them because robots are FUCKING AWESOME!

  4. I didn't read Moby Dick until Grad School, but I'm glad I read it. The reason why I liked the book is because I'm into sea monster novels, and also because it reads like an encyclopedic, philosophical, and satirical ramblings of a crazy sailor which mingles with bits of science fiction and fantasy. It takes real stories of encounters which angry sperm whales, and takes it in a different direction. Plus, it's got a giant squid in it: it doesn't do much, but it appears. Anyway, it is kind of funny that Moby Dick is considered a classical academic novel, because at the time it was published, critics thought it was written by a heretical madman. When it comes to books like these, I think students should be encouraged to interpret those stories from new perspectives rather than conventional ones, because it makes the reading and discussion of those kinds of books much more fun. Additionally, sometimes analyzing old novels can provide segues into the discussions of new novels, since many of the best new novels take inspiration from the old.

  5. To try and corrupt a canon that has been carefully curated to represent the best of literary endeavour through history, just so you can feel better about reading mindless airport-fiction, is wrong.

  6. Here's a list of people on Harold Bloom's Western Canon who aren't dead white males:

    >Latin America

    Rubén Dário

    Selected Poetry

    Jorge Luis Borges

    The Aleph and Other Stories

    Dreamtigers (The Maker)



    A Personal Anthology

    Alejo Carpentier

    Explosion in a Cathedral

    The Lost Steps

    Reasons of State

    The Kingdom of This World

    Guillermo Cabrera Infante

    Three Trapped Tigers

    View of Dawn in the Tropics

    Severo Sarduy


    Reinaldo Arenas

    The Ill-Fated Peregrinations of Fray Servando

    Pablo Neruda

    Canto General

    Residence on Earth

    Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

    Fully Empowered

    Selected Poems

    Nicolás Guillén

    Selected Poems

    Octavio Paz

    The Collected Poems

    The Labyrinth of Solitude

    César Vallejo

    Selected Poems

    Spain, Take This Cup from Me

    Miguel Angel Asturias

    Men of Maize

    José Lezama Lima


    José Donoso

    The Obscene Bird of Night

    Julio Cortázar


    All Fires the Fire

    Blow-up and Other Stories

    Gabriel García Márquez

    One Hundred Years of Solitude

    Love in the Time of Cholera

    Mario Vargas Llosa

    The War of the End of the World

    Carlos Fuentes

    A Change of Skin

    Terra Nostra

    Carlos Drummond de Andrade

    Travelling in the Family

    >West Indies

    C. L. R. James

    The Black Jacobins

    The Future in the Present

    V. S. Naipaul

    A Bend in the River

    A House for Mr. Biswas

    Derek Walcott

    Collected Poems

    Wilson Harris

    The Guyana Quartet

    Michael Thelwell

    The Harder They Come

    Aimé Césaire

    Collected Poetry


    Chinua Achebe

    Things Fall Apart

    Arrow of God

    No Longer at Ease

    Wole Basedinka

    A Dance of the Forest

    Amos Tutuola

    The Palm-Wine Drinkard and His Dead Palm-Wine Tapster in the Dead's Town

    Christopher Okigbo

    Labyrinths, with Path of Thunder

    John Pepper Clark (-Bekederemo)

    Casualties: Poems

    Ayi K. Armah

    The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born

    Wa Thiong'o Ngugi

    A Grain of Wheat

    Gabriel Okara

    The Fisherman's Invocation

    Nadine Gordimer

    Collected Stories

    J. M. Coetzee


    Athol Fugard

    A Lesson from Aloes

    Léopold S. Senghor

    Selected Poems

    >India (Asia)
    // Ancient India (Sanskrit)




    >India (in English)

    R. K. Narayan

    The Guide

    Salman Rushdie

    Midnight's Children

    Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

    Heat and Dust

    >African American (four of whom are women)

    Frederick Douglass

    Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

    James Baldwin

    The Price of a Ticket

    Toni Morrison

    Song of Solomon

    Gloria Naylor

    The Women of Brewster Place

    Ishmael Reed

    Mumbo Jumbo

    August Wilson


    Joe Turner's Come and Gone

    Rita Dove

    Selected Poems

    Thylias Moss

    Small Congregations: New and Selected Poems

    Zora Neale Hurston

    Their Eyes Were Watching God


    Oscar Wilde


    The Picture of Dorian Gray

    The Artist as Critic

    Virginia Woolf (Trans themes)

    Orlando: A Biography

    Shakespeare (possibly bi)


    Virginia Woolf

    Mrs. Dalloway

    To the Lighthouse

    The Waves

    Between the Acts

    Edith Wharton

    Collected Short Stories

    The Age of Innocence

    Ethan Frome

    The House of Mirth

    The Custom of the Country

    Willa Cather

    My Ántonia

    The Professor's House

    A Lost Lady

    Gertrude Stein

    Three Lives

    The Geographical History of America

    The Making of Americans

    Tender Buttons

    Elinor Wylie

    Last Poems

    Marianne Moore

    Complete Poems

    Hilda Doolittle (H.D.)

    Selected Poems

    Katherine Anne Porter

    Collected Stories

    Louise Bogan

    The Blue Estuaries: Selected Poems

    Eudora Welty

    Collected Stories

    Delta Wedding

    The Robber Bridegroom

    The Ponder Heart

    Kay Boyle

    Three Short Novels

    Ellen Glasgow

    Barren Ground

    Vein of Iron

    Elizabeth Bishop

    The Complete Poems

    May Swenson

    New & Selected Things Taking Place

    In Other Words

    Flannery O'Connor

    Complete Stories

    The Violent Bear It Away

    Wise Blood

    Ursula K. LeGuin

    The Left Hand of Darkness

    Grace Paley

    The Little Disturbances of Man

    Joyce Carol Oates


    Cynthia Ozick

    Envy, or Yiddish in America

    The Messiah of Stockholm

    Amy Clampitt


    Jane Austen

    Pride and Prejudice


    Mansfield Park


    Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley


    Charlotte Brontë

    Jane Eyre


    Emily Brontë


    Wuthering Heights

    Emily Dickinson

    Complete Poems

    Louisa May Alcott

    Little Women

    Kate Chopin

    The Awakening

    Sarah Orne Jewett

    The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories

    Natalia Ginzburg


    Andrea Zanzotto

    Selected Poetry

    Sophia de Mello Breyner

    Selected Poems

    Simone de Beauvoir

    The Second Sex

    Elizabeth Bowen

    Collected Stories

    Evelyn Waugh

    A Handful of Dust


    Vile Bodies

    Put Out More Flags

    Doris Lessing

    The Golden Notebook

    Mervyn Peake

    The Gormenghast Trilogy

    Jeanette Winterson

    The Passion

    W. H. Auden

    Collected Poems

    The Dyer's Hand

    Elizabeth Jennings

    Selected Poems

    Edna O'Brien

    A Fanatic Heart

    Ingeborg Bachmann

    In the Storm of Roses

    Christa Wolf


    Anna Akhmatova


    Katherine Mansfield

    The Short Stories

    Christina Stead

    The Man Who Loved Children

    Judith Wright

    Selected Poems


    Ivo Andric

    The Bridge on the Drina

    Vasko Popa

    Selected Poems

    Danilo Kis

    A Tomb for Boris Davidovich


    Karel Capek

    War with the Newts


    Vaclav Havel

    Largo Desolato

    Milan Kundera

    The Unbearable Lightness of Being

    Jaroslav Seifert

    Selected Poetry

    Miroslav Holub

    The Fly


    Bruno Schulz

    The Street of Crocodiles

    Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass

    Czeslaw Milosz

    Selected Poems

    Witold Gombrowicz

    Three Novels

    Stanislaw Lem

    The Investigation


    Zbigniew Herbert

    Selected Poems

    Adam Zagajewski



    Attila József

    Perched on Nothing's Branch

    Ferenc Juhasz

    Selected Poems

    Laszlo Németh


  7. I really think going into books with a positive outlook on them helps. Those saying they couldn’t get on board with Moby Dick should seriously try again, I personally loved the book. It’s so well written and the figurative language never stops, the metaphors Melville writes are great. Also, I found it to be pretty humorous too, especially because of Ishmael’s perspective. His internal monologues in certain things can be funny as well as informative.

  8. My favorite book I’ve read for school was Animal Farm. I don’t understand exactly why I liked it.

    My least favorite book was The Great Gatsby. I could rant all day about how much I hated this book but I’ll spare you a rant but it boils down to the characters being completely unlikeable.

  9. You could talk about literature as political propaganda, and whem is okay and whem cam harm the quality and enjoiment of the book

  10. As a white male, I haven’t read Moby Dick or War and Peace. I have read Les Misérables and loved it, and yes the musical inspired me to read it. What I want to say is that most of my high school reading, including works taught in AP literature classes, focused on authors from marginalized groups. Bless Me, Ultima and Their Eyes Were Watching God were my favorites.

  11. A more useful question might be: Why make students read anything? Because regardles of the subject matter or how much your teacher sincerely cares about it or you, the point of formal schooling is not to inform, but to reform. Whether you find the material boring or interesting is beside the point, as it's totally useless to you once exams are over. (If the point were simply to enrich your soul, why have exams at all? Ask yourself whether any novelist pictures a group of random schoolkids who couldn't care less about literature as their ideal audience…exactly.)

    The structure of formal schooling makes the most sense as a way to train you to accept arbitrary tasks imposed by others as a natural and inevitable part of life. That way, once you're out in the world you will be skilled at following directions from your employers without asking too many inconvenient questions, such as "Why am I doing this?". In this way, young people full of creativity, independence, and curiosity are reformed into easily managed workers, soldiers, and clerks, all for the benefit of those who own and control the institutions that employ them.

  12. The failing of Western education is not so much that they encourage students to read one book over another; it's that they turn reading into such a dry and tedious affair that students feel discouraged from reading at all. There are an incredible number of people in this country who haven't read a single book since high school, and that's just sad. It's not so much that new technology or more popular forms of media have come along, it's that books themselves are presented to us as a chore, something we need to do before we can run off and do the things we want to do – like play XBox or watch cat videos. As such, students don't want to approach these "important" works, not just because they're imposing (400+ pages!? WTF!!!!), but because they just feel like work, work they're not even getting paid for. It's as though classical literature can be summed up by this generation in four letters that are no doubt going to be used of this very comment – TL;DR. 😕

  13. The only book I actually appreciated them making me read in secondary school was To Kill a Mockingbird, because it's not only a very important novel it was, ya know actually an interesting book that wasn't a slog to get through.

  14. Who the hell decided "Gulliver's Travels" should be a classic? It is perhaps the driest book I've ever read, and the narrator is an object that just gets pushed around by his surroundings.

  15. I'm seriously beginning to think I was incredibly lucky to not have to read The Great Gatsby in school…
    While some of the stuff I had to read for school was rather droll (prime example: Beowulf *bleh*), other works were quite fun to have discussions about (and while I didn't particularly enjoy Kafka's Metamorphosis when I had to read it my sophomore year, it didn't take long after becoming part of the workforce for me to greatly appreciate Gregor's plight LOL).

  16. The canon seems stuffy and pretentious when you're a kid but actually going through Moby-Dick it does show it's worth. What is great though is the arguing over whether a book deserves that praise I for one cannot stand Gatsby. Find the writing overwrought and message trite along with the obvious metaphors that hit you like a train. But great thing is when you're around lit nerds you get those arguments.

  17. I love the classics, but most of them aren’t meant for teenagers. You need some life experience to connect with many of them.

  18. Virginia Woolf isn't "now being added" to the literary canon, her novels were extremely popular and well regarded when they were first published.

  19. Other cultures have distinct literary canons. China produced The Journey to the West, The Outlaws of the Marsh, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms – all massive works, which the Chinese equivalents of Lindsay Ellis would have busily undermined as being "too male" today, had the Chinese Communist Party not preemptively stigmatized all classical Chinese culture as one of the "Four Olds" – being obscurely written, too difficult, too subtle – not proletarian, dontcha know! All hail lowered standards!

  20. Lindsay is smart but she can't help being a product of her time. She has a media studies degree and humanities today are drenched in postmodernist criticism. So first, everything is a problem. And second, the root of every problem is old white men. Young people are infected with this type of thinking as soon as they walk through the university door. Can't wait for this particular cultural cycle to end.

  21. My mom read Anna Karenina in High School. She had no connection with it. It dealt with mores that were not hers, a situation not hers, and emotional intelligence she did not yet have, nor did she have enough life experience.

  22. All of them White Male? Ha! Stupid SJW. School librarians are also to blame for what books are to be included in libraries and schools. School Librarians are also usually WOMEN! Also, some social clubs have also had a say in what should be read, deemed important, and included in a canon. The social clubs who care so much about literature tend to be WOMEN! If you think Ellis here is the authority, think again. She is a YTer whose credentials are not widely stated. What qualifies her? Also, I am a sociologist who looked into a such a thing when I noticed that while growing up all these great books were basically 80% of the time CHICK LIT!

  23. My biggest problem with the way literature is taught in classrooms, especially Shakespeare, is that they are treated as if you must like them. And if you don't, for whatever reason, it is treated like you are wrong. A lot of these are important works because of their cultural significance, not because they are fun to read or are relatable to modern culture. So saying it's boring to read War And Peace, or you just couldn't get into Hamlet, isn't a criticism of the work itself but it is treated as such.

  24. You couldn't help yourself but insert the "old white men" in there, could you? Think of the societal structure of Russia and France at the time. It HAD no other men but white.

  25. In high school in the early 80s we read Moby Dick, Gatsby, Scarlet Letter, Mice and Men. But we also read Martian Chronicles and Frankenstein. Goes to show that Jesuits are usually ahead of the curve.

  26. I like to add about "War and Peace." If you really want to know what it is so important novel to read then I suggest you read "Natasha's Dance" by Orlando Figes. By in the olden days, of the Russian Tsars, there was absolutely no freedom of the press. What this book I suggest reading, Leo Tolstoy cleverly taught about the ancient culture of Russia before uprooted it and forced the Russian people to live like the rest of Europe. "War and Peace" are much more than that, I am sure, but it is a novel that shows the dead cultural history of Russia.

  27. I never had to read those books. I had to read others. Those books you mentioned I still haven't read. We read Call of the Wild, The Outsiders, That was Then, This is Now, Jonathan Livingston Seagull and other books I can't remember.

  28. Why should I take seriously to a precocious, contrarian, who sounds like an ill-contented fractious white girl? Someday, when you grow up, You'll find that life is not defined by black and white. It's your Ideas that count and not the ones you may have over herd in college. 😀

  29. more schools now are letting kids choose their own books to read for assignments. I remember in 8th grade i chose the great gatsby for a project, and it 9th i read the glass castle and a brave new world. other choices were more modern books, like the hate u give and a long way gone. of course we still read classics, but things are changing. I've never even had an old white man as a highschool english teacher.

  30. In hindsight, I'm really happy that I was raised in diverse, middle/lower class public schools. In college, so many students act elite about the books we read, but in middle school and high school the teachers were always more focused on expanding lessons to include all people. We read stories told from the perspective of a mentally ill person, people who were differently abled, Asians, African Americans, and Latinx as well as all the traditional stories listed in this video. And honestly, it was stories like "Bless Me Ultima" and "The Good Earth" that I think stuck with all of us much more than the old classics like Faulkner and Fitzgerald.

  31. Another relevant factor that determines what books are required reading in high school is standardized testing. English subject standardized tests–like those that determine funding for the school and those that determine college aspirations for the student–are often made to test for literacy of certain "classic" literature. In order to attain the highest scores, then, the school mandates a curriculum that introduces students to these "big important books." The decision of the teachers who assign these readings is more largely influenced by standardized test scores and what books will lend the greatest advantage in answering questions.

  32. Is it weird that I never felt really forced reading a book at school? There was every year one book that everyone was forced to read and they were good books most of the time. Only during the last year of high school we were forced to read three specific books the teacher had chosen. (one was good but the other two were boring) But for the rest of them we were able to choose our own books with only a few requirements. They said you weren't allowed to read a translated book but in reality they didn't really care. The most important thing was that it was a book for your age group and that you made a good creative assignment afterwards. I had so much fun with them back in the days!

  33. To all the people saying she is bashing "old white men": please quote the part of the video where she says their traditionally recognized books are bad, because I can't find it!

  34. Why is The Great Gatsby in the literary canon? It’s a boring book about rich people that only gets even vaguely interesting when someone gets killed in the climax. I recently reread it to try and remember what the big deal was, and I considered giving up halfway through because it was so boring. (It also didn’t help that one of the lead characters in the first chapter was literally spouting the same stuff that the Nazis in Charlottesville were chanting…)

  35. After reading Woolf, you never think of the sentence the same way. After reading Tolstoy, you never think of descriptive chiaroscuro the same way. After reading Nabokov, you never think of polysemy the same way. After reading Twain, you never think of shirking the same way. After reading J. K. Rowling, you never think of gothic pig Latin the same ay-way. That's what makes the greats great.

  36. Have we got the time to read?
    I'm serious: by the time I was 12 I had already read ALL (Ok then: MOST) of the clasics's resumes that were in the UTEHA enciclopedia, that gave me enough spin to read quite a lot of the whole books, and many others (My 13th birthday gift was Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn) but
    … it was the early 70s: I had plenty of time to read, hang around, play in the old yard, go to school, etc.; next birthday presents were Moby Dick and Les Miss.
    I swear russian books are so terribly long because both the writers and the readers had to have something to do in those freaking winters.
    So: reading is a NECESSITY, how can we make the time to read in these ungodly times?

  37. I doubt middle age white guys read much these days other than technical manuals.
    I wrote a whole bunch of novels and published them on Amazon.
    One of them appears to be mysteriosly attracting feminists, lesbians and japanese people.
    I sort of should have seen that coming, but at the same time don't understand.

  38. Moby Dick isn't actually all that long. It's just obtuse as fuck.
    Incidentally, have not read War and Peace, but I did read Moby Dick for a class (will never do again) and I read Les Miserables over one summer back in 9th grade (highly recommend it, but be prepared to set aside a lot of time for it).
    Also, Virginia Woolf was a god-damn rock start (I may be exaggerating slightly). Also highly recommended by me.

  39. They are also way, WAY too long.

    Both Hugo and Tolstoy were paid by the word and therefor padded their works more than old white men pad out their jockstraps.

  40. Great Gatsby is one of the most overrated books I have ever had to read.
    It is one of the most overrated books in general.
    And as with Wuthering Heights, I simply do not understand why women love it so much…

  41. Les miserables was one of the best books I have ever read my life. At the time, I had to sleep on the ground of my family's apartment, while reading it, I felt that the carpet is the best kind of mattress in the world! Only because it explains how being miserable feels that you actualy realize how lucky you are.

  42. You know it would be interesting if Jurassic Park (novel) could be added apart of Western canon. And I am kind of serious. It has all the makings of being a good work to study in school. It really brings up great issues of creating life and the misuse of science. I don't know if it will ever be regarded as that, but it would be fun in a hundred years Jurassic Park could be see as a great literary great.

  43. Its kind of frustrating that students cant really criticize the books when analyzing them. For one the themes in the scarlet letter are great but they oftentimes are hard to pinpoint because of the writing style of the time. No work of art is free from criticism even if it is considered a masterpiece

  44. Can't remember which teacher said this, but basically reading was a luxury. Who had the time to sit down and read? The rich.

  45. I tried to read Moby Dick a few years back. It took me a week to get through the first hundred pages and then I realized that I was basically forcing myself to read that I wasn't enjoying at all for some kind of literary cred. Because it was a 'classic', and I'd get to feel smart and accomplished for having read it.

    I realized that was stupid, put the book down, and never picked it up again. Most boring, dry thing I've ever read.

  46. Personally I much prefer older books and classics to modern books. I would take the Iliad or the Great Gatsby over Ya tripe any day. Even still, while I disagree with thks video, the rest of the series is basically flawless and I cannot get enough of them.

  47. I started with Melville's 'Moby Dick' last year, attempting to read the big Classics for culture and personal knowledge. But I stopped after 150 Pages. It is SO Bad!! Totally overrated. It is not suptle in its religious message but typically American-like blunt, giving actual spoilers by the preacher's sermon in the first chapter. Boring, lifeless ambience descriptions which were depicted much better in other seafaring tales. No convincing character motivations, like Ismael and stereotype Queequeg befriending within seconds for… reason? If Melville and Twain is the best American literature could do, then what about Capote and Hemingway?

  48. I'm grateful Moby Dick was never assigned to me. I read it on my own-and skipped more than half the chapters. I still feel I didn't miss anything and know the basic story.(Thank you, Classics: Illus. comic books.)

  49. I didn’t read the Great Gadsby in High English.

    The education system is a thing not a person. A system fails because of the people not because of the system.

  50. I feel like this video is addressing a problem that doesn’t actually exist. In my experience at least, we weren’t forced to read Moby Dick or Les Mis, we were forced to read books like The Outsiders, To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice and Night, and my school was not progressive in the slightest. I feel like the books that were used as examples in this video were shown because they were written by white males, not because they are representative of the type of book read in a high school class.

  51. I’m a junior in my school’s AP English class, and we just finished reading “The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The story had a good premise, but the outdated writing style made the book a pain to read.

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