Reflections on Rereading

I rarely reread novels these days because there are so many books I want to “visit” for the first time. I’m getting older and this blog needs to be fed, so it’s mostly in with the new (to me) and out with the old (to me).

But there was a time when I reread some favorites fairly often, and found many benefits to that. They included the sheer enjoyment of again experiencing great literary works, and the chance to perhaps better appreciate a novel the next time around because I was more mature and ready for it — certainly the case when I returned to such classics as Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter many years after I first read them.

Of course we know what will happen in a novel when we reread it (if we haven’t forgotten everything in the book). That predictability is a drawback — much of the thrill of discovery is gone, especially with genres such as mysteries. But that’s replaced by a certain comfort, and not having to figure out from scratch what the author is doing. 

When it comes to series, there’s also the potential of experiencing a group of novels somewhat differently. For instance, I read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books one at a time as they were published — waiting until each was written and released. Then I consecutively reread all seven within a couple months, and felt a greater admiration for the foreshadowing, how the books were tied together, Rowling’s depiction of the young characters at different ages, etc. Yes, one can see things with new eyes when rereading.

Which novels have I reread the most? Number one is Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, which I’ve enjoyed a half-dozen times — not surprising given that it’s my favorite book. I’ve read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings five times (I think). John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, Ms. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle, Albert Payson Terhune’s His Dog, and Darryl Brock’s If I Never Get Back? Three times apiece. The last book is not widely known, but it’s a page-turner with a ridiculously entertaining time-travel/19th-century-baseball theme. His Dog is a bit over-sentimental, yet extremely heartwarming as we see the effect an amazing canine has on an unhappy farmer.

There are also many novels I’ve reread once. To name just a few: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, George Orwell’s 1984, Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

Also, The Pickwick Papers — by no means Charles Dickens’ best book, but his funniest. Sometimes that’s how rereading rolls; it can just be for sheer delight. Or rereading can mean again plumbing the depths of profound novels such as Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov — both of which I’ve immersed myself in twice.

Getting back to my opening paragraph, a major reason why there are so many novels I want to read for the first time is because of the great recommendations from commenters here. πŸ™‚ Thank you!

Which novels have you reread the most? Your thoughts on rereading?

My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the 2003-started/award-winning “Montclairvoyant” local topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest weekly piece — about a seriously real referendum and some silly fictional referenda — is here.

141 thoughts on “Reflections on Rereading

  1. It will not come as a surprise, since I keep nagging about it, that I reread Hunger (Sult) by pre WWII Nobel Prize for Literature laureate Knut Hamsun (pseud. of Knud Pedersen) literally a dozen of times, in five languages, but not the language it was originally written in, Norwegian, which I don’t have command of. It is a novel that brooks endless rereading because, plotless, concise, written in naturalistic, feverish fashion, it renders the particular and the individualistic the condition humaine’s only universal truth. Sult should be mandatory reading for everyone born after it was first published in 1890. Another novel (if it can be called that) that I read more than once is Histoire d’O by Pauline RΓ©age (pseud. of Anne Desclos). It is a strangely detached, pornographically graphic recount of a young woman passively journeying into masochism. It is rather extreme even for my taste. It is written by a woman. I would not bother turning a page had the author been male. Histoire d’O was first published in 1954.

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    • Thank you, Dingenom Potter!

      Wow — rereading a book about a dozen times! (And in different languages, too.) That’s about as high a recommendation as can be! I appreciate your excellent thumbnail description “Hunger.” It’s still on my to-read list. πŸ™‚

      As for “Histoire d’O,” I’d also very much hesitate to read a book like that if it were written by a male. (Though I still don’t plan to read it. πŸ™‚ )

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      • I agree, Dave. Histoire d’O is not really worth reading even once. It’s more of a curiosum. Its literary quality is mainly in its unadorned directness and in the creation of a protagonist from the meticulous description of everything that she has no say or active part in, similar to subjects appearing in a photo negative. Otherwise it’s completely meaningless from a literary perspective.

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  2. Ah…I’m comment #121!
    A brilliant position to be in.

    I understand about why we would reread a novel.
    I’ve read Gone With The Wind many times. I lost track. Though, I was young.
    At some point design became a passion. This is why I slowed down on reading. Still read, have always read, but it became a matter of time. As you want to feed your blog, I want to feed mine, which is my designs & capturing street art. So I get it!
    I went through a writing phase. I wrote 2 books and 5 screenplays.
    Then once that creativity was out of me, it was back to designing, mostly.
    I’m sure we both agree; there’s not enough time!
    We can’t do 2 things at once, usually.
    Multitasking, yes, but simultaneous doing is another thing.
    I tried audio books, but I lose my focus on the job at hand.

    There were a few trash novels in my mom’s secret cupboard that I read more than once. I was a teen, and titillation was on the menu.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Resa!

      Ha — 121 is a nice number. Rather symmetrical in its way. πŸ™‚

      I totally hear you about time. Your (wonderful) design work and your photographing of street art are undoubtedly very time-consuming, and something has to give. I know I’d never give up reading novels amid my busy life, but mostly giving up rereading novels seems a reasonable thing.

      But I have reread your always-memorable blog posts. πŸ™‚

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      • Aww… shuckers! Red faced.
        Thank you for reading my posts, at least the memorable ones, more than once.
        I agree giving up reading a novel twice is a reasonable idea, at this point
        HA! The day could come when there’s a novel that tempts you to the beyond, you give up and read it again. Could happen!

        If you are ever hankering to read a novel that was supposed to be as serious as trying to remove a brad, but then humour takes hold, possibly an angel’s touch of trash; https://graffitiluxandmurals.com/artists/
        IF IF no big deal.

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        • I agree that there are always possible exceptions. Sometimes one just HAS to reread a book. πŸ™‚

          Belated congratulations on writing YOUR book!!! It sounds really interesting!

          A number of bloggers I follow and converse with have written novels, published poetry collections, etc. I feel guilty not reading those works, but feel if I read one blogger’s book I should try to read a book by each blogger I’m virtually acquainted with — in addition to the novels I already read. Haven’t solved that time-crunch conundrum yet…

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          • Do not feel guilty!
            It all makes sense. Since self publishing, there are 1,670 new Kindle ebooks published daily. That’s just on Kindle.
            I do read some of my blog pals books. I keep it down to a dull roar. I’d rather that than popular novels. However…. I’m flexible.
            It’s just me. I enjoy being on the fringe.

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            • Sounds like you have an excellent reading approach, Resa!

              Over the years, I HAVE read and posted online reviews of quite a few books (mostly self-published or small-press nonfiction) written by people I know personally/have met in person — relatives, friends, colleagues from the column-writing side of my life, etc. Not always easy because I have little time for nonfiction books, but happy to do it. Choices, choices, choices… πŸ™‚ 😦

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  3. I love to reread books-those that stood out to me in the past as memorable and gems. I am rereading Wuthering Heights now. I have a new edition of Jane Eyre to read. I’ve read both books at least 3 times a piece.

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    • Thank you, Annette!

      Being a fan of the Bronte sisters’ work is a great place to be. πŸ™‚ “Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights” are superb novels, well worth reading three or more times apiece. πŸ™‚

      Like

  4. As you may recall, I am tasked annually with composing a poem for a friend’s birthday. Having not the discipline of a professional, I am subject to the whims of my mopey muse.

    In hopes my dark humor might entertain some on site, I offer:

    Elasticity’s the state
    Normality must accommodate
    Realities which fluctuate
    While being sorted up to date
    Sometimes take on unpleasing shapes
    Of things to come of late
    Wise heads could not anticipate

    Despite the predilection for prediction
    Prognostication’s merely fiction
    Unless the foreseen comes to be
    Yet even then who truly sees
    Would think the new normality
    The same as ever was because
    Although in truth it would be nice
    No man steps in same river twice
    What is, once was, can never be
    Flux is all: reality.

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  5. Hi Dave,

    I’m slowly making my way through some of the random books on my shelves in alphabetical order. I’m up to J and last week I pondered whether I would re-read Jane Eyre. In the end, I decided if it was good enough to be on the top of your list, then it was good enough for me to read at least twice πŸ™‚

    I wish I had more time for re-reading. As much as I love discovering new delights, I also love knowing exactly what to expect. Maybe planning my weekend around it because I know my favourite part is coming up!

    When I get to the end of my random alphabetised list, I plan on going back and re-reading a few faves which have since been added to my shelves. Starting with Rebecca which I’ve only read once, and really hope is as good as I remember.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Susan!

      Yes, there’s a push-and-pull between the comfort of rereading and the thrill of enjoying novels for the first time.

      I love the idea of scanning one’s bookshelves, whether alphabetically or not, to see what we might reread. If you do reread “Jane Eyre,” I think you wouldn’t regret it — but, then again, I’m ridiculously biased in favor of that novel. πŸ™‚

      Good luck with the “Rebecca” reread!

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  6. Wonderful post with interesting comments. I’m definitely a re-reader, always was too. When I moved to Finland I took only the books that I may want te re-read with me, and gave the rest to charity. My favourite re-reads include also the Harry Potter series, A Christmas Carol, Jane Austen’s novels and of course my favourite Russian books, such as War and Peace and Eugene Onegin. It’s a great talent to write a classic that can be enjoyed over and over again!

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    • Thank you, Elisabeth!

      I definitely agree about the comments — wonderful as always. πŸ™‚

      I can see that when one moves and takes a relatively limited number of books, those books are clearly rereading material. You named GREAT novels. I want to reread “Eugene Onegin” at some point; given that I have a copy at home, that wouldn’t be hard to do. πŸ™‚

      Yes, authors who write classics that people want to reread (and re-reread) have accomplished something magnificent!

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  7. My favourite book, and one I definitely reread was “Gone With The Wind”. I loved that book but was a bit turned off it by the movie. Rhett and Scarlett were not as I had imagined them. 😏Another book that I love is “I’ll Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. I bought it for each of my children when they became parents and I have a copy to read to my grandchildren when they visit. I still get choked up every time I read it.

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  8. To know a book really well– to anything really well– would require re-readings and re-assessments. I have lately wished I had spent more time on fewer books, so as to acquire thorough acquaintance, but for most of my life, rather than follow such a course, I have read whatever looked interesting next.

    Still, I have reread a few books along my haphazard way:

    “Red Harvest” and “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett
    “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville
    “The Charterhouse of Parma” by Stendahl
    “A Hero for Our Time” by Mikhail Lermontov
    “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    “The Leopard” by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

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    • Thank you, jhNY!

      “To know a book really well…would require re-readings and re-assessments” — a lot of truth to that, but with all the time that would take, and with less time to read novels for the first time, it’s not the trade-off many of us would make.

      You’ve reread some excellent works! (I’ve gotten to five of the seven.)

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  9. I tend to re-read the long ones. I have recently re-read Don Quixote and Moby Dick. I admire your willingness to venture into new novels, but I find that there is so much to explore in the classic literature, books I never read or books that I need to read again. I have attention deficit disorder and reading for the second time for me maybe like reading for the first time for other people. I miss so much as my mind wonders!

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  10. I used to re-read novels all the time when I was younger – you are right in there’s a sense of comfort when you do that, you can enjoy the writing without the heart palpitations of waiting to see how the plot resolves. Like you, I have gotten away from that as I got older and especially when I took up writing as a career. There’s too many books to keep up with to re-read. However, I have been reading a lot of heavy novels lately and find myself in need of a break. So guess what I did? I bought the collector’s edition of the LOTR series including the Hobbit, and I intend to enjoy a nice re-read of a classic over the holidays! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I feel like Middle Earth, although fraught with its own dangers, will be a nice escape for awhile.

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    • Thank you, M.B.!

      Well said, and I agree — re rereading less than before and why.

      But, yes, a reread of beloved works such as “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” can be such a refreshing/comforting/satisfying break — even when the works have some scary elements, as you note.

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  11. Many of your mentioned books, Dave, would certainly be most worthwhile rereading, such a the Count of Montecristo or Jane Eyre for me. After your last week’s topic of small novels I prepared Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”, because the few pages I reread really touched me. My pile of books I have prepared in the meantime in order to tackle again is, however much longer! I would like to reread Reading Lolita in Teheran, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, the English Patient and some more, but I don’t know when!
    I really think that we should more often reread books and maybe also realized how our standpoints have changed. Many thanks for your always challenging ideas:)

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    • Thank you, Martina!

      “Jane Eyre” and “The Count of Monte Cristo” are among the novels very well worth rereading. There’s a REALLY strong vicarious/wish-fulfillment element to Edmond Dantes’ intricate plans for splendid revenge after he was so grievously wronged.

      I totally hear you about how it’s hard to find enough time to reread (and read) novels. A big reason why I’ve mostly given up rereading, at least for the time being. But, yes, we might look at novels differently as we age and as our views possibly evolve, and that’s a big reason why rereading can be worthwhile.

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      • I ask myself especially, whether I would still have the same opinion, for example, concerning Dante’s vengence and above all the same emotions- which I remember best- about the various situations in these books!
        In this sense, I wish you and all of “us” to have some time to reexperience.

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        • Are you saying that maybe Dantes should have forgone the revenge and just tried to live his life, or perhaps should have approached the revenge differently? If so, that’s a very intriguing thought, Martina! But I guess Dumas and forgiveness are not in the same dictionary. πŸ™‚

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  12. Hi Dave, it is interesting you should mention re-reads as its something I was thinking about recently. I don’t re-read many books, they have to hold greater charm for me to revisit them. Part of this is that I have an [unusually – I’ve been told this] good memory so I can remember the plots and even details form books I read many years ago. For example, I could remember the sailor dying in the VAT of oil being heated up like a frog in a pot in Shogun and many other bits from this story that I read when I was 17. I have re-read a lot of my favourite children’s books because I read them aloud to both my boys. The list is long and includes all the Roald Dahl books, many Enid Blyton books, Fattifpuffs and Thinifers [the first book about segregation I ever read], I am David, E Nesbit, and many others. I have re-read some of King’s books, including, IT, The Shining, The Stand, Pet Semetary, and a few others as well as many classics including my favourite Bronte sisters, Bram Stoker and The Phantom of the Opera (in English).

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    • Thank you, Robbie!

      Rereading sparingly sounds like a good way to go. πŸ™‚

      I’m really impressed with your memory of the details in books! I remember a good deal from my very favorite novels, but things blur for me a few weeks or months after finishing a lot of other books. Wikipedia is a great help in refreshing my memory when I mention such novels in my blog posts. πŸ™‚

      “Shogun” certainly had some ultra-memorable scenes!

      For some reason, I’ve never revisited any of the 15 or so Stephen King novels I’ve read. Maybe that would involve too much “Misery”? (Bad joke. πŸ™‚ )

      And so glad you mentioned children’s books! I also reread a number of them when introducing them to my younger daughter after my older daughter had enjoyed them.

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      • Stephen King’s books are dark but for some reason IT, The Stand and The Shining completely captivated me. I first read them in my 11th year [behind the couch, of course]. Sometimes if feels as if Mr King has a second sight if you think of The Stand and our current pandemic and Dead Zone and a certain past US president. Chilling!

        I do seem to have an unusual memory as I remember a lot of things. I can remember the details of every transaction I’ve ever worked on, much to the surprise of my colleagues. That was actually how I found out that others don’t remember in the same way I do.

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  13. Hi Dave, and thanks for another fun post. I reread A Christmas Carol very year. I lovingly pack it away with the holiday decorations, and β€œfind” it as I unpack every December. It’s not just the work itself, but the feelings I had when as a child I used to lie under the Christmas tree looking at the beautiful blinking colors and listen to the book on tape. We had a perfectly read version, and when I reread it I can β€œhear” the recorded voices making it even richer.

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    • Thank you, Donna!

      “A Christmas Carol” is a GREAT novel to reread. πŸ™‚ A wonderful annual Christmas-time treat! I very much enjoyed the heartwarming way you described the way that Dickens classic evokes memories for you. πŸ™‚

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  14. This is the second time around for me, Dave. You had me thinking all day long on my reading journey. Do I read books again? That is a most excellent question. I read them again when I know that I did not give them respect on my first read. Wuthering Heights comes to mind. If I do go back, I read passages but not the full book. Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Jamaica Inn and Frenchman Creek would be in this category as is JRR Tolkien’s LOTRs and C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series. Even though I know the endings, there is that feeling of comfort that your describe so eloquently. I still cry when we come to the ending of Tolkien’s Fellowship.

    Books are my oldest friends and are a part of who I have become. They continue to influence my choices and my life experiences. W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage, was one of the most influential books I read when I was in high school. To this day, I remember these words: β€œThe important thing was to love rather than to be loved.” Wasn’t it Oscar Wilde that said: β€œIf one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”

    Another wonderful post, Dave – one that I will give me many hours of reflection in the coming year.

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    • HI Rebecca, I found your comment interesting because I also re-read books if I think I might have missed something during the course of my first reading. The Bronte sisters stand out for me as re-reads as do classics like A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe, The Scarlett Letter, and other high school reads that are better appreciated as an adult.

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    • Thank you, Rebecca!

      Many things to respond to in your heartfelt comment. πŸ™‚

      Excellent point about rereading some passages in novels rather than, or in addition to, rereading the whole book. One of my favorite experiences with literature was rereading some of the more dramatic passages in George Eliot’s sublime “Daniel Deronda.” Hopefully I’ll reread the whole novel someday.

      Yes, the ending of “The Lord of the Rings” fellowship is a tearjerker. 😦 I also cried at that each time I reread Tolkien’s trilogy.

      I totally agree that there’s so much in “Of Human Bondage,” which I first read much later than you did — about five years ago. Wish I hadn’t waited so long. πŸ™‚

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  15. In 1973, as a child, I read a large, “coffee table” styled biography on Michelangelo that I had checked out from the Isla Vista, California library. There’ve been more publications about the life of Michelangelo since, but, that original one, I would read again. If it were in a library in Uruguay, that is.

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  16. I’ve read a number of novels more than once: As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, Great Expectations, Wuthering Heights, To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, and The Catcher in the Rye come immediately to mind. I’ve read Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlow novels and stories many times over just to enjoy the language of the hardboiled detective. The biggest difference in reader response was to Hamlet. When I first read it in the ninth grade, I fell in love with this tortured young man. When I read it in college, I had no patience for him. For the love of Heaven, man, just quit perseverating and make a decision already!!

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  17. I particularly loved rereading The Waves by Woolf – her prose just lends itself to a sort of daydreaming state which is almost addictive! I think it was CS Lewis who said that for every new book he read he made sure to reread an old one – don’t think I’ve quite mastered that habit yet, as like you said: brilliant new books and suggestions just seem to crop up everywhere!

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    • Thank you, cammanley1!

      I can totally understand rereading Virginia Woolf — her writing is definitely interesting enough for a second look.

      Yes, rereading one book for every book read for the first time sounds a bit extreme. I wonder if C.S. Lewis was exaggerating a bit. πŸ™‚

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  18. I’m sure this post is going to get people reaching for their favourite comfort read!

    I get to read a handful of books several times over with each new year group of students. Last year, with one, we read Jekyll and Hyde out loud, sharing the reading over a period of a few weeks. It was a luxury I don’t often get and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I think I’ve been able to appreciate the craft of some authors more so for rereading – Charles Dickens springs immediately to mind!

    Away from work β€˜Alice in Wonderland’ has always been a joy – albeit a somewhat disturbing one – to reread.

    As a rule I don’t go back to books as a story remembered so fondly may not translate so well several years later. β€˜Mansfield Park’ is a case in point. I loved it the first time found and on rereading couldn’t understand what I enjoyed about it. When I was younger I loved the Swallows and Amazons books by Arthur Ransome. Occasionally I feel tempted to go back to them but I resist that pull! Although last year I reread the Molesworth books which probably made me laugh more now than when I first read them.

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    • Thank you, Sarah!

      I like the term “comfort read.” πŸ™‚

      Ah, being a teacher makes rereading some books almost a requirement!

      One can definitely appreciate a writer’s craft more when rereading. In many cases, we race through a novel on first reading — caught up in the plot, etc. A rereading might feel slower, as we perhaps notice more details and see the “puppet strings” the author has used to depict characters.

      I’ve never reread Lewis Carroll’s Alice books — that must be quite interesting.

      As for “Mansfield Park,” which I’ve read just once, I like it but like three Jane Austen novels more — “Persuasion,” “Pride and Prejudice,” and “Sense and Sensibility.”

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      • Rereading…repeatedly…does allow for a certain appreciation of an author to develop!

        I think ‘Alice…’ is perhaps the only story that can get away with the ‘and it was all a dream’ ending! I’m sure there must be others but there’s something quite masterful about Carroll’s novel.

        It’s interesting that, often, an author is unable to recreate the success of their first novel, however, Austen just seemed to get better and better (allowing for the fact that publication date doesn’t reflect completion date…and with the exception of ‘Mansfield Park’ – I still can’t quite forgive her the creation of Fanny Price!). I think that ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is very well crafted and I like that there is more equal weight given to both the male and female perspective – perhaps more so than some of her other novels.

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        • Sarah, I agree with what you said about the Alice book(s)! One of those cases where a fictional work(s) can be enjoyed almost equally by children and adults. I suppose “Anne of Green Gables,” “Gulliver’s Travels,” the Harry Potter books, and some others are also in that great-for-all-ages category.

          Yes, some novelists can’t repeat their initial success while others just get better and better. “Pride and Prejudice” is indeed a terrific novel (it’s my second favorite of Austen’s after “Persuasion,” though “P&P” is obviously a more complex work). As for Fanny Price, she was allegedly Jane Austen’s favorite “heroine” of all the women she created, but she’s definitely more timid and less interesting than most of those other characters. Fanny is a very nice person, however, so that’s something…

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          • Those are all great novels you’ve mentioned there. Yes, why should the younger generation get to keep all the good stuff for themselves πŸ˜‰
            I’ve heard that Fanny Price was a favourite of Austen’s. Maybe she was influenced by ‘Belinda’??!

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    • A lovely comment, Sarah. I love Alice in Wonderland, it is one of my favourite children’s books and I’ve also re-read it many times. Great Expections is my favourite Dickens, there is something so creepy about that old lady in her wedding gown and the preserved bridal feast.

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      • Thank you! Yes, ‘Alice In Wonderland’ really does appeal!
        I love the depiction of Miss Havisham! It’s wonderfully creepy and, whether or not Dickens realised, he created a great character who is keen to get her revenge on men through how she raises Stella. Quite radical!

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        • Hi Sarah, I think Dickens was very intelligent and aimed to stir up society with his writings, even when they were not as obviously to the point. Even his names are a real poke at Victorian society. I have a photograph of his signature in the glass at Shakespeare’s house in the UK from when I made my ‘pilgrimage’ there in 2017.

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          • Dickens certainly had a powerful platform and he used it for good at a time when so many people chose to look the other way.
            What a lovely souvenir to have of your trip to Stratford! I’ve never visited Shakespeare’s home, although I have been to The Globe several times. I am constantly surrounded by reminders of Dickens though!

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  19. I had to read “Jane Eyre” for English class in the 9th grade and I found it was boring except for the scene where the first Mrs. Rochester confronts the defenseless Jane as she was waking up. I read it again several years ago on the web which wasn’t as good a reading experience and found that I actually enjoyed this novel. I guess I wasn’t mature enough the first time I read it to appreciate it.

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    • Thank you, Tony!

      Glad you liked “Jane Eyre” better the second time around. That can definitely happen with some novels.

      I personally loved Charlotte Bronte’s novel from the first time I read it, but we all react differently to different literary works. πŸ™‚

      Like you, I’m not a fan of reading fiction online, but sometimes that’s convenient!

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      • One thing that I found on rereading “Jane Eyre” as an older adult is that Rochester’s behavior in that novel is even worse than I remembered. The way he plays with Jane’s affections, tries to trick her into an illegal bigamous marriage, and wants to make her his mistress makes him come across as almost a villain.

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        • That’s an excellent point about Rochester, Tony. We kind of partially forgive him because he’s unhappy and wants/loves Jane so much, but he definitely did not act honorably in many ways.

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  20. Hi, Dave! I reread a couple only because the language was too difficult when I was in high school and/or wasn’t paying attention. πŸ™‚ “David Copperfield,” and the plays, “Julius Caesar” and “MacBeth.” The only modern novel I plan to reread is “Infinite Jest.” And you’re right, there are always so many good recommendations on this literary blog!

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    • Thank you, Mary Jo!

      Very ambitious to want to reread “Infinite Jest.” πŸ™‚ Because of its length, I haven’t been able to bring myself to read it for the first time — though, as I’ve mentioned before, I was certainly impressed with the David Foster Wallace nonfiction I’ve read.

      Your mention of two plays reminds me that we can “reread” them in a way if we read them and then see them on stage, or vice versa.

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  21. Great post Dave. As with all things re-doing something means you often see different things about it. And depending where you are in life, can think…. ‘Did i really like that?’ I’ve reread a quite a few books and they’ve dropped into both these categories. I’ve reread Wuthering Heights twice and the first time I reread it, I thought… I don’t really like this but then I reread it a few years back and found myself totally in awe of the world bronte created, her prose, the story etc, when she was quite young really. I re read some Du Maurier and couldn’t see what I had found first time round. Same with I Capture the Castle. But I have reread and loved Mildred Pierce and Pin to See the Peepshow and nevr tired of them.

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    • Thank you, Shehanne!

      Terrific point that rereading a novel can also mean not liking it as much the second time. Even to the point of “What was I thinking?,” as you note.

      “Mildred Pierce” and “Pin to See the Peepshow” remain on my to-read list. πŸ™‚

      I’ve read several Daphne du Maurier works and found them pretty compelling, but have never reread her.

      Yes, “Wuthering Heights,” while imperfect, is an astounding novel — especially for one written by an author still in her 20s.

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      • I was just struck I guess re Bronte. the first time I knew she had died young but like that I still thought it wa sold. Then in my thirties I thought, this is teenage nonsense. But reading it afew years ago I thought she was so young and okay Haworth which we had been to by this point, wasn’t anything like the tiny place I had always imagined but even so, it would ahve been kind of end of the earth at that time. I have read all Du Maurier and I loved her but the few I read again last year, I just couldn’t get in to. I think I might still like My Cousin Rachel, I must dig that one back out.

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        • Someone in their late 20s can seem old to a teen. πŸ™‚

          “My Cousin Rachel” is definitely an interesting, enigmatic novel. For many pages, one doesn’t quite know what to make of Rachel — is she a villain or not?

          One lesser-known du Maurier work I like a lot is “The House on the Strand.” Then again, it’s hard for me not to like most time-travel novels. πŸ™‚

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              • Written in first-person, the ambiguity is probably more pronounced than some readers will take into account, given the natural sympathy one habitually affords the teller of the tale. History is written by those who live to tell.

                Seems to me that in this case, Du Maurier is working through a plot by way of a kind of ‘untrustworthy narrator’– another conceptual twist away from “Rebecca”, her more famous novel, in which the reader is never meant to doubt the voice of the narrator, and to which “My Cousin Rachel” is most often compared.

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                • Those are excellent observations, jhNY. I hadn’t thought of “My Cousin Rachel” that way until seeing your comment. Thank you! Du Maurier was definitely a complex and subtle writer — as well as an entertaining one.

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                  • As was her granddaddy George– who wrote “Trilby” and gave the world Svengali– which in turn inspired Gaston Leroux’s novel, “The Phantom of the Opera.”

                    I had always assumed that Svengali had been inspired into existence by the real life-character Cagliostro, but wikipedia tells me 1) that the Trilby-Svengali relationship was modeled on that of composer Nicholas- Charles Bochsa and singer Anna Bishop.

                    And 2) that in its earliest edition, the ‘thinly-disguised portrait’ of James McNeill Whistler caused him, characteristically, to threaten a libel lawsuit. Without admitting the validity of his claim, the book was accordingly revised.

                    3) Lastly, the trilby hat was named after the staged version, because a character in the production wore such a hat.

                    My father gave my grandmother a copy of “Trilby” for Christmas in 1934 when he was 8– I still have it.

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                    • Impressive literary connections there!

                      And fascinating to think of where authors get their inspirations for characters and other things. It seems relatively rare when those inspirations are created whole cloth from authors’ imaginations.

                      Last but not least, that “Trilby” copy from 87 years ago is a wonderful keepsake! I’ve yet to read “Trilby,” but would like to at some point.

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