Ah, classic literary fiction. It can be so wonderful, but at times dense, leaving us wishing for a guide of some sort to help us through the precious prose. Enter: Italian artist and writer Francesco D'Isa, who reviews the classics in a candid, tongue-in-cheek (and very short) way. We're happy to bring his column, "Very Short Reviews of Difficult Books," to English language readers! Check back here every Wednesday for three new reviews from Francesco.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The world's epic spirit can be found anywhere: Melville illustrates this by making whaling into a mythical saga. You'll be tempted to skip the explanatory bits on how to grease a harpoon, but then you'd risk missing out on some allegory, so you have to read the whole thing.
Plot: A crippled captain wants revenge, he fails and (almost) everyone dies.
Rating: 99 out of 100.
The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil
The essence, thought and ambiguities of the 1900s, seen through the musings of a bunch of characters. A huge work, inevitably unfinished, able to make the reader 10-40 percent smarter. It's my favorite book.
Plot: A guy torn between Science and Spirit lives in a world torn between Science and Spirit.
Rating: 99 out of 100. (Not more than that, because it’s unfinished and that wouldn't be fair grading.)
The Red Book by Carl Gustav Jung
To all appearances, the work of an exorcist possessed by the devil: theological scrolls and mythological delusions abound in this inspired manuscript, filled with alchemical symbols and mandalas. Left unpublished until 2009, for fear it would ruin Jung's reputation (I don't even know) at last we can enjoy the best graphic novel of all time.
Plot: “Sometimes we accomplish our greatest deeds in dreams." It's true and he proves it.
Rating: 98 out of 100.
Past Very Short Reviews of Difficult Books:
Ready to add some old school titles to your reading list? Check back next week for some more Very Short Reviews of Difficult books, and in the meantime, why not catch up on some lighter fare on our Everything Romance page?