I used to make a point of always finishing a book I started, but then decided that life was too short. The bestselling acknowledged masterpiece that finally decided me that not finishing a book wasn’t an actual sin was One hundred years of solitude (I tried it in French I think) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Apparently, some people have the feel for (in my view weird) Latin American stuff. Clearly, I don’t.
Since then, I have merrily abandoned several books I just couldn’t get into: Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, L’île du jour d’avant by Umberto Ecco, … And it’s good fun talking to others about what books they couldn’t get through. Sooner or later, someone will say “What? You didn’t like x? I adored it, it changed my life, best book ever.”I like to keep an open mind, though. I gave Macchiavelli’s The Prince several tries in an English translation and really couldn’t get into it. But I lapped up a French version of it. Possibly, the English translation was a bit dated, or perhaps I needed the French side of me to understand Macchiavelli properly (I don’t mean that by the way). I hated Marguerite Duras’s L’amant, but found La douleur , which I picked up following an enthusiastic recommendation very reluctantly after my first experience, much more to my liking. I hardly gave Mrs Dalloway a chance, I only read a few pages, so am willing to have a go at another Virginia Woolf novel. Any suggestions? Ditto James Joyce.
I have already been persuaded that I simply MUST do Proust. Mmmmm, time for another go, maybe?