Booking Through Thursday: Abridge it?

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Today’s questions were suggested by Xine.

  1. Are abridgements a good introduction to long, boring classics, or a blight on literature?

    I hate to sound like a literary snob but yes, yes, and yes! Abridged books are the blight of literature.
    Let me explain my rather strong opinion. I feel that when someone other than the author shortens and “simplifies” a piece of writing, the spirit of the original writing is irrevocably lost. An abridged work may maintain the central plot of the original but literature is much more than “what happens next.” It's the actual words that carry the narrative and build the work into more than a series of events. The writing, however extraneous it may seem to the abridger, is a carefully constructed structure that houses the intent of the author. Each paragraph and passage builds upon one another to give the reader a sense of place, a palette of emotions…layers and dimensions. Take away bits and pieces and the whole thing crumbles into a dry laundry list of happenings.
    Honestly, if you find the book a long and boring read (or already have a firm belief it will be such), don’t bother reading it. I’ll spare you my rant on making oneself read “classics” for the sake of self-edification. Suffice it to say that if you hate the book but make yourself trudge through it anyway, you probably are not going to gain anything from it in the end except a dim memory of drudgery and misery. So spare yourself and read something you enjoy.

  2. If abridgements have their place, what is it?

    Abridgements serve neither the purpose of those looking for a quick summary of a book nor the purpose of those actually interested in the work. If you are just looking to know the gist of what happens in a book without the bother of reading the whole thing, go thumb through the Cliff Notes version. If you actually want to experience the writing, go read the work in its entirety. Abridged versions are neither short enough to make for a quick read nor complete to give the full effect of what the author intended.

  3. Have you read any abridgements, or will you read any? Why or why not?

    Well, you can probably guess my answer to this one.


Anonymous francoise said...

I agree with you completely. I must confess I never understood the point of abridged books.

2:07 AM  
Blogger Budd said...

I agree completely and posted as so. I wasn't as nice though.

7:48 AM  
Blogger DianeM said...

I hate abridged books too. I listen to a lot of talking books while I knit :-) and refuse to buy any that are abridged (which is a large proportion of those available.

8:31 PM  
Blogger allisonmariecat said...

Abridging is a crime that should be punished by papercuts.

10:36 AM  

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