Monday, August 6, 2012

To Abridge or Not to Abridge

I have never in my life sought out or purposely read an abridged version of a book.  As soon as I was old enough to understand those children's classics on my bookshelf were abridged I went to my mom's bookshelves and found the "real" ones. But now I'm considering it. I need to give MOBY DICK another try. I've started it twice and put it down twice.  I want to read this book.  I feel it's a part of my literary education, but I just can't get through those long chapters about whale history and classification. Third times the charm right? 

It's killing me that I'm even considering reading an abridged version.  Plus, The Engineer is mocking me.  He says if I can read WAR AND PEACE and ULYSSES then I should be able to handle a little whale. And he's right.  Of course, WAR AND PEACE was interesting and fabulous and ULYSSES was required to graduate so I was a little bit motivated. 

I know not every book is for every person and there are lots of classics I'm ok not reading.   HEART OF DARKNESS anyone?  But I really feel I need to read this book. 

Has anyone read MOBY DICK?  Which version did you read and what did you think?  I can probably read the unabridged version if I skim (skip) the whale chapters but maybe that's what the abridged version is.  Does anyone know? 

What about you?  Do you study the classics?  Do your read abridged books?

25 comments:

  1. They're abridged????? I didn't know that.

    I haven't read MD, and I've heard enough about it to know I won't. And it doesn't matter if it's abridged or not.

    The only classics I've read are those by Jane Austen. And I did devour Jane Eyre.

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    1. Which? The children's classics? There are some series put out that are abridged. You have to look at them carefully.

      I adore Jane Eyre. It's one I have to reread every now and again.

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  2. This is tough because it seems to me that your greatest motivation to read certain books is to get a well-rounded literary background -- quite obviously not because of any raging desire for the book itself.

    I say leave it for a few years. You can't step in the same river twice because either the river has changed, or you have. Well, the whale isn't going to change. It's now immutable. But you might. Later, the unabridged version may hold the appeal of not only adding a classic to your repertoire but being something you actually wish to read. Perhaps not, but perhaps so. One opinion.

    (Btw, since you asked, I barely made it through 'Bartleby, the Scrivener' in college. I preferred Hawthorne to Melville and never looked back. Maybe it's time ...)

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    1. Well, there is that. I think there is a lot to learn from classics and I do want to be well rounded, which is why I read classics and most genres. But there are classics I don't feel an urge to read. The story of MD has a hold on me, which is why I've tried it twice and am still thinking about it instead of moving on. I need to read it to see if It's what I think it is.

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    2. 'The story of MD has a hold on me,'

      That sounds delicious. I say plow through, S. I think there's something for you at the end of the journey.

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  3. I've not read it and I'm not going to. ; ) Some classics just aren't for everyone. If I had to for a class, I'd do it, but I'm 30+ years past reading assigned books and I'm thrilled. My reading time is for what I want to read, not what I think I should read.

    Good luck with this one, Sarah.

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    1. It's true some classics aren't for everyone. I keep thinking I want to read MD but I keep failing. Hmmm, maybe I just don't like failing.

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  4. I plowed through Moby Dick, the unabridged version, determined to read EVERY last boring word. The only interesting parts were the beginning and the end. It was a long time ago though and I don't know if maturity would help my perspective. Would I read it again to see? No :)

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  5. I was disappointed too when I found out some of the classics I had read were abridged versions. LOL. I have not read Moby Dick, and I probably never will. If I can't get into a book, I won't read it. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner is just one example of such book. :)

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    1. I haven't read As I Lay Dying. It's on the list somewhere. Probably languishing at the bottom with all the other things I'm not likely to get to.

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  6. I feel obligated to read anything Captain Jean-Luc Picard quotes from (as he did Moby Dick in one of the movies) but I've yet to read MD. Let us know what you decide, and if you do read it, share the experience. :)

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    1. I don't remember the Moby Dick quote. I'll let everyone know what happens. :)

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  7. When I listen to audio books I choose the abridged version, but when I'm actually reading the book I go whith the whole she-bang. :)

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    1. Really? I've, accidentally, listened to a few abridged versions and didn't like it. They all felt very choppy.

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  8. I *wish* I had studied the classics, now that I'm a writer ;) I regret not being a better student way back when! ;)

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    1. I do believe there are things to learn from many of the classics. I also believe that many of the classics shouldn't be there. I also believe there are a lot of good books out there today that will be classics in the future. So you're just doing your reading ahead of the game.

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  9. I finally read War and Peace, and loved it! What a book! I read To Kill a Mockingbird years ago, unabridged. Excellent. I read Mobi Dick, unabridged. That was back in the 70s, and I found it hard to get through because it was dark and sad. I can't remember ever reading an abridged copy of anything. But I used to read Reader's Digest, so I must have.

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    1. I love To Kill a Mockingbird. It's taken on a whole new meaning after living in the south though.

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  10. I've had three goes at Moby Dick so I totally understand where you're at.

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  11. I'm with you, I can't abide abridge versions! I made it through Ulysses but I still have never read War and Peace or Moby Dick. But I suffered through Heart of Darkness. I'm sure Moby Dick must be better than that??

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    1. Yea, I'm not even going to attempt Heart of Darkness.

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  12. I've never read Moby Dick but did read 20000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne and I liked it. My goal is to read the French version at some point. I'm not sure if I'll ever attempt to read Moby Dick. So many good books out there it's hard to prioritize.

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