Reading Literature Classics – Again

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Charles Dickens

What the Dickens have I been missing out on?

So, here’s something I’m thinking of doing. I read a lot of classic literature when I was a kid and a teenager, and although a lot of it was in the original, complete edition (like The Brothers Karamozov  when I was 15), others that I read were (now, I would say unfortunately) in *abridged* editions. Namely, this happened because my parents subscribed to the Reader’s Digest series of Great Books (or whatever it’s title was) that issued a monthly classic (or was it 4 classic titles under one cover?) …in abridged form. And since this reading was on the shelf there, quite handy, naturally I read it.

This is how I absorbed Treasure Island, David Copperfield, and many more Great Books. And life being what it is, I went on to other things, and for the most part never went back and re-read (in the full version) anything I had already read in the abridged form. Until lately, that is.
I’ve started (re)reading 19th century literature, especially English lit of a certain era, related to my research for Queen Victoria’s Transmogrifier. And I realized, as I was getting into Our Mutual Friend, just HOW MUCH of the story (and details of the era, and so on) I have missed by relying on movie versions and abridged versions of such things. And so I have resolved to (re)read the classics I’ve already read, and items closely related to them, and whatever I once read in abridged form I will attempt to remember and now read in the full original. Plus let’s add to this the viewpoint of a much older adult (compared to the young person who first was immersed in such reading), and the education and social history I’ve learned since then, and I expect my reading experience will be qualitatively different.
I anticipate an occasional (or maybe periodic?) blog post on these readings. Maybe I shall blog my way through Dickens, and share my ruminations and witty commentaries, haha, as I go. I don’t know. On the one hand that sounds like a commitment and a lot of work, but on the other hand I’m wondering if I wouldn’t get an additional layer of insight, or at least be able to share some leavening to the reading with others, if I do blog my experience of re-reading classics. We’ll see. My blogs have been uniformly neglected of late and I am reconsidering what I’m doing with some content, so this notion niggles.
Anyway: unabridged classics, for the win!How about you? Have you re-read stuff in full as an adult and gotten more out of it?

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Comments

I know how this works. I read the Seamus Haney translation of Beowulf and it struck me that the version I'd read was adapted for kids.
On another, related note, I've had fun collecting period editions of stuff like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It's the literary equivalent of listening to your Stones albums on scratchy vinyl. (Yeah, natch, I do that, to!)

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