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Hardest english book?


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For me, almost all old English books written a long time ago is very hard to read.  :grin:

Not proud of it but when I tried reading "The Prince and the Pauper" by Mark Twain to help my daughter out in her school project - it made me checked the dictionary a lot of times.  :confused:

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's the opposite for me. I couldn't ever read anything from Shakespeare. I always have a hard time with ye olde english; somehow all the extra letters throw me "off-balance" if that makes any sense. I enjoy the plays though, I don't mind listening to Shakespearean plays since I can't hear the extra letters I see in text form.

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  • 8 months later...

I know it's a pretty old topic. But I'm compelled to reply as I saw the post. Primarily because reading books come easily to me. But the one I'm currently reading - well, i'm just stumped. I can't continue reading without hurting my brains, hehe... What's ironic is it's just a super thin book, and I'm on my second week reading it. I kept going back. I don't know, perhaps that part of my brain responsible for comprehension is just on break.

Anyway, I'm currently reading The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis. It's by far the hardest book I've come across.

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Mine would probably be A Clockwork Orange.

If it's just a matter of it composed of too much purple prose, I can slog through that even if it might irritate me. Old English is no problem either since I can pretty much figure things out through context or by reading a modern version before reading the older one. And I love most of the doorstops I've read, so length is never a problem for me.

But A Clockwork Orange relied too much on the slang created by the main character that it was hard to read at first. You figure out the context as you go along, of course, and that became part of the entertainment later on. But when I first read it (and the several rereads later, in case I missed stuff), it was suuuuch a pain. I love the book but it was definitely a hard read for me at first.

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  • 7 months later...

Aside from Shakespeare's works, one of the hardest English books I have read and finished is probably "The English Patient" by Michael Ondaatje. I don't know why, but the whole novel was sort of difficult to understand.

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I was able to read Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre back in my teens. I felt a sense of accomplishment having read those classical works at an early age. Not everyone has the patience or interest to read them through to the end. I was also able to read Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth and Herman Hesse' Siddhartha since they were required readings and my teacher wanted us to submit a book critique for each. There were a few Shakespearean plays thrown into the mix (Hamlet, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra and the heavier selections not included) but my favorite, I have to say, was and will always be Twelfth Night. It's the first Shakespearean play that featured gender-bending and a funny love square.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco. It was a challenge from a friend. Halfway through the book, I just quit. The plot didn't seem to go anywhere and characters' development floated around like they meant nothing. The book was essentially a hellish esotericism.

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I am proud to have read some parts of Ulysses but unfortunately, I cannot for the life of me tell you what it had been about. :laugh: I'm just completely stumped and I admire people who have actually finished and understood the book in some way.

I've read a lot of Shakespeare (Hamlet, R + J, Macbeth) and can now brag to have read him.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've never finished a difficult book, in English or in my mother tongue. I just couldn't bring myself to do it no matter how hard I try. I did a book report on Anna Karenina without getting past the third chapter. I couldn't even finish Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Great Expectations - all those much lauded Victorian novels that any self-respecting lover of literature is supposed to have read and loved. I did read Thus Spake Zarathustra by Nietzsche, although I can't say I understood it. :)

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Shakespeare is really hard, even for native speakers. The older the book, the more difficult the English. Geoffrey Chaucer, for example, was writing in the 14th century using Middle English, and most native speakers cannot understand it (I sure didn't!). Still, these books can be very beneficial to learning English, and everyone who finishes them should be very proud!

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