The worlds most difficult books


Reading site The Millions picked the 10 books

…that are hard to read for their length, or their syntax and style, or their structural and generic strangeness, or their odd experimental techniques, or their abstraction

I felt ashamed to say that I’ve read none of them, so immediately went to iBooks on my phone and found Clarissa, or, The History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson, which, to date, has been reasonably pleasant reading – albeit quite wordy and with some interesting grammatical constructs.

One thing which keeps coming to mind while reading Richardson’s opus has been the extent to which the written word, especially sentence structure, has become rather simpler and less descriptive than hitherto. There are probably many reasons for this, I’m interested in your thoughts on why.

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2 thoughts on “The worlds most difficult books

  1. It’s not scientific, but I’ve thought about this myself. Here’s what I came up with:

    When the pace of life was slower there was more time to ponder in general and to think about what was said or written. Or to use a geeky analogy, people’s available bandwidth wasn’t crowded with so many other incoming signals.

    That slower pace also meant people were more patient in general and in less of a rush to get the meaning.

    • Hi Bill, no doubt you’re right. Also the number of “lettered” people were fewer and probably most of the authors came mostly from an idle class with fewer other distractions and plenty of financial support. We benefit from their endeavours, and I’m thankful for that. These days those same folks are out crashing Maseratis and partying in the Bahamas or elsewhere.

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