Literary fiction can provide a rewarding challenge

Literary Blog Hop
Literary fiction is too difficult to try, right? Wrong.

Firstly, what is it? I cannot define it. You will read everywhere the same thing: literary fiction is difficult to define but it is generally accepted as literature with unique content and aesthetic merit.  I agree with this, but I can't help but feel there is something more to it.. something deeper that I can't get a grasp on. That definition is too easy - it doesn't really get at the commone essence of literary fiction.

So I will stop attempting to define it and get on with explaining what I like about it.

I acknowledge that literary fiction is more challenging than other forms of fiction, such as popular fiction or young adult. Having said that, my experience is this - some literary fiction is easy to read (Margaret Atwood for example) and some is more challenging (Salman Rushdie comes to mind).

That is on of the things that I love about literary fiction - the challenge. I get true satisfaction reading books that are written in unique and challenging language. I like that I have to work a bit harder for the ultimate reward.

You might have noticed a theme here - I don't like to think of literary fiction as difficult - rather as providing a rewarding challenge.

The question today is this - what piece of literary fiction have you found most difficult or challenging to read and why?

My answer would have to be Tess of the D'Urberville's by Thomas Hardy.

This is by far the most challenging book that I have ever read - the reason being Hardy's language. This book is not only literary; it is also a classic. The challenges posed by both genre's combined really put me to the test in this one. I felt like I had to beat my way through the dense and old-fashioned language to find the story, and I am afraid that I was not very successful. At times I felt as though I barely understood what I was reading. 

The other barrier was my dislike of the main character, Tess D'Urberville. Normally I am able to keep at bay my own dislike of particular characters by justifying their behaviour in terms of the time in which the book is set or the characters cultural background. As much as I tried to justify Tess's own behaviour in this book with reference to the historical period and her class and sex - but I just couldn't. She was such a sap. I wanted to see strength when I saw weakness and sense when I saw silliness.

In my own defence, I attempted to read this one while I was in high school, and perhaps if I were to read it as an adult I might find it a little less challenging than I did the first time around.

There are some literary authors that I expected to find exceedingly difficult to read and was pleasantly surprised when I didn't find them half as intimidating as I expected - Franz Kafka being one example. 

If this is the sort of discussion that you enjoy you might want to check out my post: Have you ever really enjoyed a book by an author you were too intimidated to try?

Thanks for stopping by Page Turners and reading my rambles on my favourite genre.


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