Monday, May 6, 2013

Kate Chopin-Shmate Shmopin.

I know what you're thinking.

What an immature post!  She has no appreciation for good literature! 

Yeah, well......'re probably right.  I was so reluctant to read Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," because I distinctly remember hating The Awakening.  So depressing.  So slow.

However!  I had this thought occur to me while I was reading the short story: "You only hate her writing because of its excessive descriptiveness."  And indeed, that thought was right.  I'm one of those people whom connoisseurs of literature and good books look down upon.  If the author goes into wordy fits about the blueness of the sky, and the greenness of the fresh, springy grass, my eyes glaze over. One of my favorite books is The Hobbit, but I habitually skip the descriptive text while reading it.  Eh.

Should I feel bad?  Probably.  The description gives the reader an awareness of the setting.  That's fine.  When it starts to deter from the story and makes me forget what is happening in the plot, then I start gritting my teeth.  I'll develop a love for the "quivering leaves and baby-soft grass" one day, but for now I prefer raw plot and character development.  Ernest Hemingway is the king of flushing fluff down the toilet.  Short, journalistic sentences.

Don't WORRY.  I've taken the first step: I recognize my ignorance.

Next step:  Any suggestions?  Medium-to-overly descriptive books I can start with?


  1. When I got to the part in your post about the "wordy fits" my first thought was, "She would not like the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings." But your very next sentence proved me wrong (although I don't know if you have read the Lord of the Rings,which I think has even more "wordy fits").
    My youngest son did the same thing--skipped over a lot of the overly descriptive stuff in both the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings but loved the books.
    One that you might like that uses descriptive language but not over done is The Scarlet Pimpernel. It has a great plot with many twists and turns, lots of intrigue and a wonderful love story.

    1. Yes! I loved the play, so perhaps the book would be a good idea. I've read all the LOTR books. Love 'em.

  2. YES! Love the Hemingway bit. His prose mimics reality and i love reading it. Honestly, who spends five minutes thinking about, as you said, the quivering leaves and baby-soft grass? Hemingway just gets to the point and does it in a mature way that somehow possesses more depth than a fourth grader's book report. Anything from the Modernist period is sure to do the same.

  3. Edith Wharton was born 12 years after Chopin; you might enjoy her works more. She can describe a ball, a gown, or an archery match with the best of them, but there is always a deeper symbolism to her work. She straddles 19th-century romanticism and 20th-century realism.

    Southern writers are ever-popular in writing courses, but I have a hard time getting into them. The culture is so foreign. I much prefer Yankee terseness or Western vistas.

  4. You've given me something to consider with writing styles, which is good. When I think of the time an author puts in to come up with their descriptions, I figure it is there for a reason. I agree if there is no purpose for the "fluff," then it should not be there. It's all in the way the author uses it. I love a story where an author has used description that enhances and has value.