One-Star Reviews of the Hundred Greatest Novels, #50-26

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. Actually, it ends next week, but this week merely continues the countdown of brutal one-star reviews on The Novel 100: A Ranking of the Greatest Novels All Time (by Daniel S. Burt). We groaned our way from 100 to 76, wept bitter years from 75 to 51, now we’re rounding the bend for the home stretch with numbers 50 to 26.

Once again, these are all real one-star reviews from real readers, culled from a popular reading site. I am not saying I agree or disagree with any or all of them, and I am not doing this solely to elicit gasps or chuckles. My only goal is to remind my fellow scribblers that for every single book ever written, there are readers who feel they are absolute drek. Take solace in that whenever you get a less than stellar review yourself, and know that you will. Unless, of course, you think you are oh so much better than every writer on this list, in which case you are delusional and there is just no helping you.

(reviews not edited for grammar)

50 Dream of the Red Chamber (1791) Cao Xueqin

“Turgid prose that goes on and on and on and on…”

49 Clarissa (1747-48) Samuel Richardson

“There’s a reason why this book has been lost by history.”

48 The Golden Notebook (1962) Doris Lessing

“Maybe I’m not clever enough, not feminist enough, or even just not woman enough…frankly I don’t care what you think of me as long as you never make me read this book again.”

47 Lolita (1955) Vladimir Nabokov

“f###ing c###tease.”

46 An American Tragedy (1925) Theodore Dreiser

“Aptly named.”

45 Beloved (1987) Toni Morrison

“(I)t definitely embodies all the things that make me hate books.”

44 Nostromo (1904) Joseph Conrad

“What the hell is happening here?”

43 Fathers and Sons (1862) Ivan Turgenev

“The subtleties of Russian literature and nihilism are lost on me.”

42 The Scarlet Letter (1850) Nathaniel Hawthorne

“I hate this book and I hate Nathaniel Hawthorne for writing it.”

41 Pride and Prejudice (1813) Jane Austen

“The moral of the story seems to be that enough money can make even the most abrasive and obnoxious jerk seem like prince charming.”

40 Molloy; Malone Dies; The Unnamable (1951-53) Samuel Beckett

“1. Life is miserable. 2. I can’t go on. 3. I must go on. There, now you don’t have to read it.”

39 The Tin Drum (1959) Gunter Grass

“His style of writing is the most horrid and unreadable I’ve ever forced myself through and to this day I have not the slightest idea how I actually endured this whole book.”

38 Wuthering Heights (1847) Emily Bronte

“I never expected this book to be as flagrantly, unforgivably bad as it was.”

37 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) James Joyce

“This book is a very dry, written version of the Dead Poet’s Society without Robin Williams.”

36 Le Pere Goriot (1835) Honore de Balzac

“If you like to read depressing things you might like this book.”

35 Buddenbrooks: the Decline of a Family (1901) Thomas Mann

“I hated all of this family.”

34 Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891) Thomas Hardy

“…one of the most chauvinistic books I’ve ever read… This book made me want to tear my hair out and just bitch slap the hell out of everybody.”

33 Dead Souls (1842) Nikolai Gogol

“Gogol himself must have gone at one point ‘Eh, screw this’ and left it unfinished and the reader utterly confused and weirded out and SAD and grossed out by the unfinished product and by humankind in general…”

32 Tristram Shandy (1760-67) Laurence Sterne

“I guess I’m not smart enough to ‘get it’.”

31 The Red and the Black (1830) Stendhal

“Maybe I just don’t get the French.”

30 Women in Love (1920) D. H. Lawrence

“I liked nothing about it, not the characters, not his style (very repetitive), not his use of words to convey thoughts or ideas…NOTHING!”

29 The Portrait of a Lady (1881) Henry James

“Henry James seemed to have a thing against paragraphs.”

28 Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) Thomas Pynchon

“…leaves you as if a crew had come in to take out your recently passed away Grandma’s belongings from her 50 year old apartment and just dump 7 truckloads of it in your frontyard.”

27 The Man Without Qualities (1930-43) Robert Musil

“Tedious and hopelessly intellectual without any sympathetic characters (I know, that’s the point).”

26 Finnegan’s Wake (1939) James Joyce

“The book is meaningless dribble; a joke Joyce pulled on Literature critics to make a point that the majority are over-analysing fools.”

(To Be Concluded)

Novels 25-1

And, of course, the article which started it all: Everyone is a (one) Star

Author: M. Edward McNally

Epic fantasy author M. Edward McNally is a North Carolinian of Irish/Mexican extraction. He has a Masters in English Lit from ISU and Russian/East European History from ASU. He grew up mostly in the Midwest along I-35 northbound (KS, IA, MN), and now resides in the scrub brush surrounding Phoenix AZ, where the scorpions and javelinas play. Learn more about Ed at his blog, and his Amazon author page.

16 thoughts on “One-Star Reviews of the Hundred Greatest Novels, #50-26”

  1. I've been enjoying this series of yours, but this is the funniest yet. Thank you so much for the many laughs this morning. Darn that James Joyce for not considering Robin Williams in his writing!!

  2. I love this! I always think negative reviews about something most people love are amazing. It makes me want to learn more about it, or read the book, to find out where the author of the 1 star review is coming from.

  3. Thanks for another breathtaking installment, Ed.

    This series should be put on constant re-run here, for the sake of everyone who will see a one star review eventually. You've prepared us to face the fire when someone hauls off and hates our book, and hates us for writing it (or vice-versa.)

  4. I like Gravity's Rainbow, although I can understand someone absolutely hating it, but that description of how that particular reader felt after reading it isn't half bad.

  5. Wow, this one I can only find a couple I disagree with.

    Maybe it's not readers who are wrong, but the profs and critics and whoever decides what a "classics"?

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