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Amazon Reviewers Take on the Classics

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the eye-of-the-beholder dept.

Books 272

Not everyone is a fan of great literature. In particular, reviewers on Amazon can be quite critical of some of the best loved classics. Jeanette DeMain takes a look at some of the most hated famous books according to some short tempered reviewers. One of my favorites is the review of Charlotte's Web which reads in part, "Absolutely pointless book to read. I felt no feelings towards any of the characters. I really didn't care that Wilbur won first prize. And how in the world does a pig and a spider become friends? It's beyond me. The back of a cereal box has more excitement than this book. I was forced to read it at least five times and have found it grueling. Even as a child I found the plot very far-fetched. It is because of this horrid book that I eat sausage every morning and tell my dad to kill every spider I see ..."

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I got a pig and a spider on my dick! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31735562)

Frothy piss! Stargate forever!

Naked Lunch (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31735600)

I can think of at least two things wrong with that title.

Re:Naked Lunch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31736006)

I can think of at least two things wrong with that title.

So you'll be having the black sausage then?

I can imagine the easily offended pantywaists now. "Black? BLACK? Why's he saying the sausage has to be black? RACIST!"

Everyone Has An Opinion ... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735602)

... and everyone has a particular body part. Did they honestly expect a consensus that everyone thought these classics were, um, classics? If 100 people each read 100 books we'd get a crap load of worthless reviews ... but Amazon would be happy to have sold the 10,000 books to them.

Great Literature != good read for most (5, Insightful)

thepike (1781582) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735656)

Just because a book is regarded as great literature doesn't mean everyone will enjoy it. Same goes for movies; you look at the AFI lists and Citizen Kane is always at the top, but I hate that movie. Doesn't mean it isn't a great movie, just that I don't like it.

Also, a lot of these people might not be the best judges. People who think the Harry Potter and Twilight books are great reads should remember that the classics are on a different level. Don't get me wrong, I like Harry Potter too, but it just isn't the same type of book as Ethan Frome or The Great Gatsby

On another note, the grammar in some of the reviews is terrible. Doesn't give a lot of faith into their abilities as literature reviewers.

Re:Great Literature != good read for most (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31735770)

On that note, I absolutely despised Ethan Frome. Seriously, sledding into a tree is not the best way to commit suicide.

Re:Great Literature != good read for most (4, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736024)

I realized relatively recently that I have two lists in my head: One being the list of the best movies I had ever seen, and another being my favorite movies. What was surprising was how little overlap there was between those two lists. There's even movies on my 'favorites' list that I know are not very good movies, but hey I enjoy them. Personally, I can enjoy both categories, but doubtless there are art buffs who only enjoy the 'good' movies, and doubtless there are schlubs that only enjoy the 'entertaining' movies.

Re:Great Literature != good read for most (2, Insightful)

Reziac (43301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736786)

Definitely the case -- "best" and "favourite" don't necessarily overlap at all. Quintessential film example, that everyone seems to agree on: Hawk the Slayer.

Almost every review says essentially the same thing (and so do I): "This is absolutely the most fascinating utterly terrible movie I've ever seen. It is B-movies incarnate. It's so dreadful it makes my brain smoke and my eyes bleed. I love it and have watched it 50 times."

One thing I did notice about the Amazon reviews, is that the negative reviews seemed to be mostly from non-readers, judging by the grammar and -- well, impatience. They evidently didn't read these books by choice, but rather by coercion (probably school). I've read some of them by choice and a few by coercion (school) but I'm a reader, and that tilts things differently.

Re:Great Literature != good read for most (1)

Smauler (915644) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737958)

The trouble is that Hawk the Slayer is only really bad compared to films that are pretty good, or average. If every film was as bad as Hawk the Slayer, you almost certainly would not like it. For a film to be so bad it's good, there's got to be a decent baseline. An example of this is government info films - Now, they're at a relatively (I use the term loosely) high standard. That's why films like reefer madness, and a whole host of other government produced media, look _so_ stupid now.

Personally, I'm a relatively big reader - However, I generally hate (or at least dislike) Tolkein and Shakespeare, though I do love loads of classic literature. I could go into why I don't like them, but that would take another post. A one word review of both would be "boring", because that's the easiest and quickest way to say that they failed to engage you.

For everyone (not parent) who is claiming kids these days don't have the attention span to watch a slow(er) moving film, you're wrong. Lost in Translation is slow as fuck, and it was pretty successful. Loads of "indie" films are slow paced, and become cult classics after being championed by teenagers and twenty-somethings. One of my favourite films of my youth was Blade Runner, which has vast swathes of dialogue (and silence too :P), and not much happening.

Re:Great Literature != good read for most (3, Interesting)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736114)

you look at the AFI lists and Citizen Kane is always at the top, but I hate that movie

I didn't care for it the first time I saw it, but then I got a chance to watch it with Roger Ebert's in-running commentary (based on the class he taught) and I understood why it is so highly regarded. It's worth watching again if you can find a DVD that includes the commentary.

Re:Great Literature != good read for most (1, Troll)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736812)

If people don't like a work of art, it's not a great work of art!

That goes for Citizen Kane which everyone hates as well as the horribly boring 2001: Space Odessey and Shakespeare.

Re:Great Literature != good read for most (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737378)

2001: A Space Odyssey remains one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made. I'm sorry that it didn't have enough lasers going PEW PEW and ships roaring loudly through space (which is, you know, impossible in a vacuum) to hold your interest.

Shakespeare is over-rated to be sure, but as I've grown older I have begun to realize that it's kind of like the Bible, even if you don't like the corpus it is so foundational to the Western culture that you can't allow yourself to be ignorant of it. Do you know how many phrases [pathguy.com] of Shakespeare you are probably using without realizing it?

I still don't like Shakespeare, but I respect the impact that he and Bacon have had on the fundamentals of English-speaking culture. He is for better or for worse to us what Homer was to the Greeks.

Re:Great Literature != good read for most (2, Insightful)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737704)

If people don't like a work of art, it's not a great work of art!
That goes for Citizen Kane which everyone hates as well as the horribly boring 2001: Space Odessey and Shakespeare.

Evereybody? Really? I like them - they might be dated, but would still be in my top-50 list of their genre.

To make a analogy that people like you might understand: "If not everybody can use an OS, it is not a useful OS." See the fault in the reasoning?

Re:Great Literature != good read for most (3, Insightful)

jefu (53450) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736882)

This is one of those things that many don't seem to realize. A book (or movie or whatever) may be great without you actually liking it. You see this in reviews all the time : "Worst movie evar! I was bored all the way through it." Reviews like these conflate the writers opinion with some kind of consensus opinion that has formed over time and usually built from thoughtful consideration of the subject. We all do it to some extent, but with time and education (good self education counts), we can separate out our personal reaction from a considered critical reaction.

For example, I quite like the movie "Jumping Jack Flash". But I also know that it is far from being a great film. On the other hand, "Rashomon" is a very very good film indeed, but I find it difficult to watch and don't like it all that much, though I can appreciate why it is considered great.

Re:Great Literature != good read for most (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737512)

Then there's always the Emperor's New Clothes phenomenon. All these smart people love the classics, so I have to like them too or I won't be seen as smart. But in reality, so many of the classics survive on reputation alone. The only reason to read them is to be able to say you have read them. What exactly is a person supposed to get from a book like Ethan Frome? I mean besides nauseous.

I'll say it. I don't get fiction. As far as I can tell it serves no purpose besides idle entertainment*. When I express this opinion, I often have people saying that they pity me. That's exactly the response you'd expect from someone who believes in magical invisible robes. I for one am not afraid to point out that the emperor is bare ass naked.

*a short fable (like the Emperor's New Clothes) can be useful to illustrate a point. But please, keep it short and to the point. In most cases you're better off writing an essay or treatise if you want to communicate a point.

Re:Great Literature != good read for most (0, Troll)

daivd (1649297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737932)

I agree, classics are often like celebrities who are famous for being famous. For example, all that drivel that Hemingway wrote.

Greatest Opening to a book review ever: (5, Funny)

quantumplacet (1195335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735696)

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith:

        This book is 3 words over and over again: MY LIFE IS BAD.

Re:Greatest Opening to a book review ever: (5, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735756)

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith:

This book is 3 words over and over again: MY LIFE IS BAD.

I'm assuming you started counting at 'zero'. Once again the halo effect of arrays haunts our daily lives.

Re:Greatest Opening to a book review ever: (1)

oGMo (379) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736156)

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith:

This book is 3 words over and over again: MY LIFE IS BAD.

I'm assuming you started counting at 'zero'. Once again the halo effect of arrays haunts our daily lives.

It wouldn't matter, it still has 4 words. An array counted 0..3 still is said to have four elements, not three. If he'd said "word 3 is BAD", he could have gotten off with this excuse. ;-)

Re:Greatest Opening to a book review ever: (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736234)

Yes, but off by one could mean he started counting elements at position 1 till the end, which would yeild 3.

Re:Greatest Opening to a book review ever: (1)

middlemen (765373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736182)

This book is 3 words over and over again: MY LIFE IS BAD.

Your math is bad!

Re:Greatest Opening to a book review ever: (1)

Jer (18391) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736576)

Not his math, the math of the reviewer he's quoting. Which is quoted in TFA. Which was the point of his posting the line under the subject "Greatest Opening to a book review ever:".

A fucking nasty tree grows in Brooklyn (3, Interesting)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736580)

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith:

        This book is 3 words over and over again: MY LIFE IS BAD.

It's hardly surprising. The tree referenced in the title is Ailanthus altissima [wikipedia.org] - a tree foolishly nicknamed "The Tree of Heaven" (why??) To me, they are known, and always shall be known, as "Accursed Devil Trees". (We have one in the backyard and every now and then more sprout up... We called them "Devil Trees" before we identified them - so imagine our surprise to learn that they're called "Tree of Heaven"...)

So why the hate campaign against the Devil Trees? A couple reasons. First off, they stink. Literally, I mean. They smell bad, especially if you cut them or handle them. Second, they spread like wildfire... Particularly in areas where there's not a lot of established tree growth. One mature or semi-mature devil tree will send out root suckers to start more new devil trees. And once they sprout, they grow quickly. We had one that grew to about ten feet tall in about six months. It doesn't take long for new growth to grow tall and strong. And if you cut them, they only spread themselves more aggressively...

They're basically obnoxious, disgusting, and aggressively invasive. If you look around at the sides of highways and in people's yards and so on, they are very common. Fortunately, this is why we have herbicides.

Re:Greatest Opening to a book review ever: (1)

Alinabi (464689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736666)

I think these guys have a skewed idea of what exactly is a classic. Shakespeare is a classic. Betty Smith is just some lady I never heard of, who, I'm guessing, grew up in Brooklyn.

Re:Greatest Opening to a book review ever: (1)

quantumplacet (1195335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737004)

so apparently your ignorance plays a significant part in determining what is or isn't a classic?

Grapes of Wraith (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735728)

I agree with it.

Yelp (5, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735730)

People have meaningless, petty opinions that drive their review? Wow, this would be news except that Yelp has been demonstrating this for years.

"The soup was great, but the waiter gave me a dirty look the third time I sent it back. 1 star."
"There was gum on the sidewalk outside the bookstore and it stuck to my shoe. 1 star."
"OMG I like totally ran into Tom Cruise at the Wendy's on Third St, 5 stars!"

Re:Yelp (2, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737744)

Pretty much. The article could also have been entitled "People suck - reviews prove it again."

That said, I always find these articles entertaining - and a useful reminder of how petty, small-minded and stupid some people can be. There is no need for everyone to like every classic out there, but people should have at least the cognitive capacity to understand why classics are classics. Sadly, that cognitive capacity is exactly what's missing in these dismissive reviews.

Bible review? (3, Insightful)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735738)

Two points

The Bible "review" looks more like an attempt as a bad joke than an attempt at real review.

Bigger point - I'm not sure that some people realize when they're reading a classic that they may actually be reading something that SEEMS derivative, but may have been pretty innovative for its day. Lots of Victorian novels are like that - boring, plodding reads, but with certain concepts and styles that were original and fleshed out in later works.

The same could be said for early sci-fi. Some of HG Wells' stuff is a yawner.

Re:Bible review? (3, Funny)

eddy the lip (20794) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735914)

Bigger point - I'm not sure that some people realize when they're reading a classic that they may actually be reading something that SEEMS derivative, but may have been pretty innovative for its day.

It entertained me that the review for "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" had this to say:

"It's exactly the same as any other book about a poor family with an irresponsible father and a child who manages to be alright..."

Followed by a list of three books that were written later.

Re:Bible review? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736338)

One man's "bad joke" is another man's "epic troll!" Rarely is making fun of The Holy Bible appropriate, but in this case, it was hilarious.

Re:Bible review? (2, Funny)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736748)

One man's "bad joke" is another man's "epic troll!" Rarely is making fun of The Holy Bible inappropriate, and in this case, it was hilarious.

There, fixed that for you

Diary of Anne Frank (2, Interesting)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735742)

Actually, I remember as a kid writing a particularly scathing review of the Diary of Anne Frank in English class (no Amazon back then). No, I'm not proud of it. But honestly, I do stick by my assertion that it's a boring book to force a teenage boy to read. I just wouldn't use the same spiteful language to express that thought now days.

Re:Diary of Anne Frank (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31735856)

Actually, I remember as a kid writing a particularly scathing review of the Diary of Anne Frank in English class (no Amazon back then). No, I'm not proud of it. But honestly, I do stick by my assertion that it's a boring book to force a teenage boy to read.

Perhaps the teacher should have assigned you a picture book to review instead.

Re:Diary of Anne Frank (1, Flamebait)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736130)

Perhaps they should have assigned you "How to Not be a Pompous Asshole"? Then you'd learn not to insult people's intelligence just because they didn't like a book that you liked.

Re:Diary of Anne Frank (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736186)

I have no doubt that the book was boring, plodding, and pointless to you. Let's face it, it was written by a teenage girl who never expected anyone to read it, 95% of the book is detailing spending time in close confines with her family, locked in a small room and experiencing nothing new and nothing exciting.

The book only becomes interesting if you know and appreciate the 'back-story'. I assume that most people reading it, even those stuck in high school lit or history classes, will at least know the back story. Intellectually, they understand what the book is about and why they're confined and why they must be quiet. But I have my doubts whether the average high school student takes that information into account when actually reading it. It is only through that knowledge that there is any real tension in the book. Saying "We heard the troops downstairs today, it was scary" isn't very good literature, unless you appreciate that while she was writing it, there actually were troops downstairs that would have arrested and eventually killed her and her family. If the voice you hear in your mind when reading it isn't a terrified 13 year old girl, you'll never really understand the book.

Re:Diary of Anne Frank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31736502)

If the voice you hear in your mind when reading it isn't a terrified 13 year old girl, you'll never really understand the book.

You know, I read the book and enjoyed it with the back-story in mind. But I had never considered that aspect of it. Insightful. Thank you.

Re:Diary of Anne Frank (1)

eddy the lip (20794) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736378)

I find books each have their own time. How we read and relate to a book has a lot to do with where we're at when we read it. Unfortunately, when most of us our first exposed to the classics has nothing to do with this. I had a hate on for Stenibeck for years because I had to read "The Red Pony" and "The Blue Pearl" in grade 9. There was nothing I was going to relate to in these at the time, and the subject matter bored me to tears. I got over it, but it took me a while.

Some of the book selections made by the curriculum committees completely dumbfound me, not because they're bad books, but because the kids just aren't going to relate to them at the point they're introduced.

Re:Diary of Anne Frank (2, Interesting)

General Wesc (59919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736388)

It was initially rejected by publishers as 'very dull' and 'a dreary record of typically family bickering, petty annoyances and adolescent emotion' (Source: 'The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives' by Leonard Mlodinow, pp 9-10).

Standards change. (3, Insightful)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735790)

A lot of those books are simple and boring as hell to modern readers, just like music from 1950 will sound simple and cheesy to most modern listeners. Their themes and literary devices may have been super-unique and exciting to people of the time, but we've all read them (or seen them in film, on TV, or Christ in comic books) over and over. Many of those books may get points for doing it first, but in most cases it's been done better since.

In a lot of cases those books are circularly beloved classics. They're classics and people love them because they're...classics, and people think they should love them lest they be labeled philistines.

There are way more "classic books" than there are great, unique, timeless books.

Re:Standards change. (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736072)

I was thinking the same thing. Citizen Cane was revolutionary as well, but boring and slow-paced today.

Re:Standards change. (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736202)

Your superficiality knows no bounds.

'Classics' are examples of many things that you can learn from. One of this is that you don't like the lesson.

Instead, you eschew the lesson, believing current media is ideal. Those that refuse to learn from history are doomed to make its mistakes again.

I get sick and tired of listening to, as an example, The Beatles. Each song has been played for me about 2000 times. Yet I recognize them as classics. So is Monk, REM, Led Zep, Tupak, Prince, Kraftwerk, and a thousand others. Movies are the same ways. And once a year, I play Duke Nukem I, just to remember how fun it was, but how cheezy it is now.

Learn from the classics. That's what they're there for.

Re:Standards change. (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736558)

> Those that refuse to learn from history are doomed to make its mistakes again.

Those that learn from history are doomed to see mistakes repeated over and over again anyway - because the rest don't learn from history ;).

Re:Standards change. (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736690)

While as Pliny the Younger said, "Nullum esse librum tam malum ut non aliqua parte prodesset." ("No book is so bad that no part of it is useful.") That is a terribly low bar for classics.

If you believe as you appear to say that literary mistakes must be read in order to avoid literary mistakes, I suggest you try to teach art from the scribblings of toddlers. Of course when experience presents us with our own mistakes or the observation of others' mistakes in natural course certainly one should try to learn from those, but to seek out mistakes for their own sake? A waste of time, especially since there are scores of mediocre works in every era for each masterpiece.

Re:Standards change. (2, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737060)

You have a silly line of reasoning. Most people eschew the classics because they'd rather do something else. It seems as though it might be torture to learn what Blaise Pascal said, or delve into Vonnegut.

Hemmingway isn't for everyone. Nor is Dante. To blithely avoid classics as boring represents an incredibly dismissive attitude. You don't have to masochistic and expose yourself to needless pain, rather, learn something.

Re:Standards change. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737690)

A lot of those books are simple and boring as hell to modern readers, just like music from 1950 will sound simple and cheesy to most modern listeners.

Music by Charlie Parker or Louis Armstrong sounds as fresh today as it did in the 30s. Why can't literature do the same?

Would Classics become Classics today? (1)

siuengr (625257) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735808)

I think there are many classics that are classics simply because there there were limited availability of source material and reviews. There are so many more books, movies, etc., and opinions about that material today, is there ever going to be a consensus of a modern classic. It has previously been much easier to suppress dissenting opinions of material. Now that everyone has a voice that can be heard, will have modern classic?

Re:Would Classics become Classics today? (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736180)

Now that everyone has a voice that can be heard, will have modern classic?

Of course! Now that everyone can weigh in with their unique point of view, we'll have a truly representative and democratic process for selecting the classics of our time.

And the people have already spoken: the great works being produced now, those that will stand the test of time and will still be read by future generations, are written by Stephenie Meyer and Dan Brown.

(By the way, do you really think that most classics are considered that because of "suppressed dissent"?)

What's the point of this stupid salon article? (0, Flamebait)

s-whs (959229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735842)

Then it dawned on me. Anne Frank's "The Diary of a Young Girl"! Surely, no one could find fault with the poignant and honest writing of a young girl caught up in the evil of the Holocaust, setting down on paper her hopes, longings and yearnings -- a book that has made countless women want to become writers and which has inspired generations of readers to denounce hate and live more compassionate lives. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? But, oh, how wrong I was.

I didn't like this book because it was boring. That's all that needs to be said. It was very very very very very very very very very very very boring. If you have to read this book shoot yourself first.

Can you imagine being this person? It seems like a life completely devoid of any subtlety, introspection, caring or empathy.

What a nutter! Of course someone can find fault with that book. I read part of it and I agree with the reviewer: It's very very boring. I didn't read further into this book for 2 reasons in particular: 1. It's a diary, so personal, so should not be read by anyone but the writer unless he/she authorizes it. 2. It's boring.

That diary has only got well known because the writer died in the war. There are better and more poignant writings from people during WW2 about life during that time. There are many other diaries from that time which are not well known or not published because the writers didn't die... Why should a book be good just because it's a diary of someone who died in a war?

At first I thought this salon article was looking for a problem where there was none, but after reading that bit about the diary (the bit about the bible is also stupid btw.) I find this salon article to nothing more than moronic uninsightful rubbish...

Re:What's the point of this stupid salon article? (4, Insightful)

lbalbalba (526209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736068)

Why should a book be good just because it's a diary of someone who died in a war?

Well, in all fairness, she didn't 'just' die in a war, she is an example of one of the millions of *civilians* that got slaughtered, based solely on religion.

Re:What's the point of this stupid salon article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31736538)

Well, in all fairness, she didn't 'just' die in a war, she is an example of one of the millions of *civilians* that got slaughtered, based solely on religion.

Anne Frank died of typhus, having been sent to a concentration camp because of her religion. Don't confuse her with those who were gassed because of their religion.

Re:What's the point of this stupid salon article? (3, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736944)

Of course, institutionalized, systemic neglect during captivity that was intended to be fatal is so obviously different from direct lethal action. Thanks for pointing it out.

Re:What's the point of this stupid salon article? (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736788)

Well, in all fairness, she didn't 'just' die in a war, she is an example of one of the millions of *civilians* that got slaughtered, based solely on religion.

What manner of deficient and/or revisionist history are you being taught? She and others like her were killed because of race, not religion. Christians and atheists who were ethnically Jewish were killed right along with the orthodox Jews.

Re:What's the point of this stupid salon article? (1)

lbalbalba (526209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737184)

She and others like her were killed because of race, not religion.

Oh Im sorry, I was under the impression that 'Jewism' was a religion, and not a race. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

Re:What's the point of this stupid salon article? (2, Informative)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737590)

The religion is Judaism. The ethnicity is Jewish.

Re:What's the point of this stupid salon article? (1)

lbalbalba (526209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737830)

The religion is Judaism. The ethnicity is Jewish.

Ah. Thank you very much. Guess I need to go and study my English lessons now. :P
(Would mod parent up if I could)

Re:What's the point of this stupid salon article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31737258)

Why was it again that the Jewish race was so abhorred? Surely it had NOTHING to do with ... the main religion of most of Europe for over 1000 years... ::eye roll::

Re:What's the point of this stupid salon article? (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737350)

Which makes it an interesting historical analysis from inside horrible events but not necessarily a good book, even when one evaluates it from a literature perspective and not purely on entertainment value (which is what I suspect most do when they talk about a "good book"). Reading it in history class might make sense, if a teacher has allotted that much time to covering the war; reading it in English class, much less so.

I suppose technically calling it a "classic" is not wrong. It certainly is one of a kind, and I doubt WW2 is going to be fading from our memories any time soon so it will always maintain a sort of impact as being a first-hand account of the terrible events. That said, it's not a classic in typical terms. There is no great literary device, no pioneering approach. The writing is good, but not so good as to be singled out as among the best ever. Even the subject matter is rather mundane, being as it is a diary. Its sole value is in the fact that it was written from inside terrible circumstances.

Great historical document? Yes. Worthy of historical review? Yes. Worthy of great acclaim as literature? Now you've lost me. In that sense I stand with the grandparent post.

Re:What's the point of this stupid salon article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31737598)

I doubt WW2 is going to be fading from our memories any time soon

Well, me being somewhat more cynical than you are, Sir, would like to argue that we have forgotten the atrocities of WW2 already, as can be witnessed by current World events.

Re:What's the point of this stupid salon article? (3, Informative)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737728)

Religion had nothing to do with it. More than 1 Jewish Grandparent in Nazi Germany meant you were Jewish, even if you were Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or whatever.

Classic does not equal exciting (2, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735900)

Innovation is not always the same as entertainment. I had to read Madame Bovary as a college student, and while it is considered both a classic and an example of the great novels of its time, it has all the excitement and interest of being fed a heaping bowl of broken glass, one tiny spoonful at a time.

Re:Classic does not equal exciting (4, Funny)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736406)

it has all the excitement and interest of being fed a heaping bowl of broken glass, one tiny spoonful at a time

Not to nitpick, but that sounds like it would be fairly exciting. It certainly wouldn't be pleasant, but I doubt you'd be bored during that procedure.

LOTR (4, Funny)

CompressedAir (682597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735904)

Why does it take three books for some guys to walk to a volcano?!?

Re:LOTR (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736178)

Why does it take three books for some guys to walk to a volcano?!?

Because they are vertically challenged, you insensitive clod. They don't walk very fast.

Re:LOTR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31736224)

And then they use eagles to fly back. Why couldn't they just use...GAH!!!

Re:LOTR (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736724)

And then they use eagles to fly back. Why couldn't they just use...GAH!!!

I think the 30,000 orcs with bows and arrows, flying ringwraiths, etc. would have shot them down. :)

Re:LOTR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31736898)

Ok, so we give the eagles some under armor for the stray arrow, but for the most part I'd imagine they could fly higher than the average orc fired arrow. Plus they'd have the agility to dodge larger projectiles that take time to aim.

The Nazgul didn't get flying mounts til the elves drowned their horses in the river.

Re:LOTR (4, Insightful)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737440)

Ok, so we give the eagles some under armor for the stray arrow, but for the most part I'd imagine they could fly higher than the average orc fired arrow. Plus they'd have the agility to dodge larger projectiles that take time to aim.

If the sky is filled with a sufficient number of projectiles, there would be no place to dodge to... And they still have to be able to fly, which (ignoring weight issues) means there has to be plenty of clearance for them to move. So on their approach to the mountain (flying low enough to accurately deliver a ring into the lava - not just onto a ledge somewhere) they'd be subject to thousands of arrows, which they couldn't hope to survive. The eagles couldn't make it in safely until Sauron's forces were seriously weakened.

The Nazgul didn't get flying mounts til the elves drowned their horses in the river.

The Nazgul didn't get flying mounts in the beginning because they weren't going into combat. They were moving, to the extent possible, in secret. They didn't need flying lizard things, and if they had set out on flying lizard things in the first place, then everyone within sight of their flight path would have been immediately alerted to their actions.

If Sauron had looked to the Northwest and seen a dozen eagles flying his way, he would have sent out the flying lizard things immediately - and, knowing that a force like that couldn't be a threat to him in a straight fight, he probably would have worked out the enemy's plan, too, and fortified the mountain.

Re:LOTR (1)

Lostlander (1219708) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737892)

They had the mounts available they simply did not use them as the dark lord had not yet prepared his armies and flying ringwraiths would have alerted his enemies.

Re:LOTR (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736262)

Why does it take three books for some guys to walk to a volcano?!?

And its such a rip-off of DnD and pretty much every paper and pen or computer RPG...

Seriously though, I did overhear in a bookstore, one patron telling another, "look, they turned the LOTR movie into a book!". Then again it was 1/2 price books, which is kind of the Walmart of the book world.

Re:LOTR (2, Funny)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737008)

If I had overheard that, they would have turned to find out what the loud smacking sound was... I probably would have facepalmed hard enough to leave a mark. And I don't even like LOTR.

Re:LOTR (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736424)

Obviously, with it's obvious obsession with jewelry, the book's target audience was women.
(My wife didn't care who won the Superbowl until she found out all the members of the winning team get rings!)

Re:LOTR (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737452)

all the members of the winning team get rings

What do the rings enable them to do?

Re:LOTR (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737654)

What do the rings enable them to do? Get laid more times in a week than the average slashdot reader does in their whole life.

Re:LOTR (2, Funny)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736550)

The same reason it will take three or more attempts to get the Extended version out on Blu-Ray

Because there is money in it.

Trolls, go back to your bridge! (4, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735974)

Frankly, bad reviews like that smell a lot like trolling. Someone is trying to make people angry and have them post counter-reviews just because they think its fun. An asshole is still an asshole be it on the Usenet, in the Youtube comments section, or on an Amazon book review.

Re:Trolls, go back to your bridge! (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736396)

Trolling they may be, many of these classics are downright awful anyway.

What? (2, Interesting)

PhasmatisApparatus (1086395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736052)

What world did I wake up in where Charlotte's Web is considered "great literature"?

Re:What? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736462)

I think a 3 word quote would make a much more concise review: "That's some pig!"

"I eat sausage every morning" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31736076)

you sure do!
madam, you have a reputation for being excellent at "sausage eating"

Good pick (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736090)

Another story by samzenpus, for idle section as usual.

But I actually RTFA this time, and was quite amused. Good pick, samzenpus.

I find it reassuring that some hate the classics. (2, Interesting)

bareman (60518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736134)

Poorly articulated angry tirades aside, it's good to see that some vestige of varied opinions might remain despite our overly homogenized wal-mart, mcdonalds, abercrombie & fitch society.

I learned a lesson a while back that just because millions of people like something, it's not necessarily good. "I know what you did last summer" was a horrible awful film and yet millions loved it.

I also find it more valuable to look at the reviews from people who hated a product I'm considering buying to see if their reasons for hating it might be a reason I might not like it.

Re:I find it reassuring that some hate the classic (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736358)

Poorly articulated angry tirades aside, it's good to see that some vestige of varied opinions might remain despite our overly homogenized wal-mart, mcdonalds, abercrombie & fitch society.

I love your optimism, but I'm pretty sure that hating anything that the Ivory Tower Elites try to shove down your throat as "classics" is firmly part of the psyche you describe.

Re:I find it reassuring that some hate the classic (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736610)

Except I've talked to many of those same elites in that tower and many of them find many of the classics just as boring as the plebes do.

This is what people exist for (1)

Deisatru (1605213) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736162)

For some people, hating and bashing things be they foods, books, music etc.. that others like is all they live for. Their own self-loathing is expressed in hating everything others cherish. Its a fact of life. Drawing attention to these people goads them on. Ignoring them may or may not make them go away.

Judging Art Is A Fool's Game (1)

SplicerNYC (1782242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736214)

Especially when an emotional response is evoked. The fact is that the person viewing/hearing/perceiving the art is as important as the art itself. If a person can hear Mozart and think it's beautiful and another person hears the same thing and thinks it's ugly -- who is right? How can they both be right? But they are.

Re:Judging Art Is A Fool's Game (1)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736618)

But that's not our goal at all. You're looking at one tiny aspect, and without detail, of judging art.

There are plenty of criteria for judging art. You can examine, for example: skill and technique, fulfillment of author's intent, uniqueness, meaning, and beauty.

And indeed, beauty is subjective. But there are things to look for: shapes, pattern, and symmetry in art; alliteration, repetition, and metaphor in poetry; plot, fluidity, and symbolism in novels, and so on.

These things you look for when talking about beauty in a review are the things common to most works which are found beautiful by the vast majority of people. The point of a review on Amazon is not that you're reviewing things to tell people your opinion merely for the sake of sharing your opinion, but to give them some idea of how much they would appreciate it for themselves--to see whether they'd be willing to buy this work of art, movie, novel, etc.

Re:Judging Art Is A Fool's Game (2, Funny)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737264)

You can examine, for example: skill and technique, fulfillment of author's intent, uniqueness, meaning, and beauty.

Citizen Kane fulfills all of these criteria (except for beauty) and it's still a crappy movie.

Re:Judging Art Is A Fool's Game (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736662)

So, if the only worth of art is in the perception of an individual, does that mean that skill and talent are completely irrelevant? Or don't exist at all?

Re:Judging Art Is A Fool's Game (1)

Krahar (1655029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737746)

The only worth of anything is the worth that someone finds in it. Worth only exists in the combination of a thing and of someone valuing that thing. Skill and talent are worth something because we find worth in them, and you object to them being worthless precisely because you find worth in them. This does nothing to devalue the things that you love. On the contrary, it liberates you to not worry what everyone or anyone else writes in a review - what matters is the worth you found in a book, a painting or a warm jacket. They are not providing data on the objective worth of what you love, so you do not have to feel threatened. A lesson the writer of this Amazon reviews story has not taken to heart, clearly.

Re:Judging Art Is A Fool's Game (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736974)

To some extent what you say is true - but if one approaches the problem intelligently, a review can still yield useful information. A lot of reactions will be very common across a large portion of the audience - and certain technical matters of how the piece comes together can be judged at a purely objective level. In the context of a book, these technical matters could include the soundness of the plot (i.e. any glaring plot holes) and how well the characters are presented and developed...

But everyone else is doing it! (1)

chinakow (83588) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736350)

Just because it is a, "classic," doesn't mean I have to like it.

Re:But everyone else is doing it! (2, Interesting)

klapaucjusz (1167407) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737566)

Just because it is a, "classic," doesn't mean I have to like it.

No, but you're expected to understand why it's a classic. Not just say "it's got too many pages".

Charlotte's Web Is A Classic? (1)

reallocate (142797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736622)

Hmmm...

5 times? WTF (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736860)

"I was forced to read it at least five times and have found it grueling."

Reviews by somebody who failed the same class four times are probably suspect.

Look at the language used by the reviewers. (1)

greensasquatch (854800) | more than 4 years ago | (#31736938)

I noticed this years ago, that If you look at the language used by the reviewers you can see that they are usually done by children and teenagers. The reviews usually happen during school months, and large blocks of them happen within a few days. It seems like teachers are having students review books online as part of a class project. Most of these books are required reading in many schools. The typical "This book was boring" post is common when you force today's kids with zero attention span to read something that doesn't' involved robots or anime.

Joe Pesci's Review (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737100)

"To be or not to be? What the hell is that, a room number? Text message? Do I look like a texter too you? Here's my texting device [waves gun]. Or is that some of that, what's it called, Boolean logic? Do I look like a logic professor to you? You want logic? The logical question here is to be dead now or to be dead later."

Great Reviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31737206)

...It is twice as worse as 1984. To put it bluntly, DON'T READ ANY GEORGE ORWELL. Your just waisting your time.

These are some quality reviews.

You Can't Please Everyone (1)

Jess (geek-chick) (896411) | more than 4 years ago | (#31737594)

Cynical-C has done a few of these [cynical-c.com] , where he posts one star reviews of commonly accepted "greats". His list includes not only books, but also movies like Jaws, and albums like Revolver. Amusing stuff.
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