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  • Re - reading old favourites
    by Kristian at 20:31 on 04 September 2008
    Have you ever re-read an old favourite, only to be disapointed?

    I ask as I read Stephen King's Carrie last week, having not read it in almost twenty years. Happilly it was better than I had remembered, I'd forgotten the neat way he breaks up the action with survivor interviews and police incident reports, but it got me thinking, what if I'd hated it?

    I think I may have been a bit upset, King got me interested in reading in the first place.

    Anyone experienced this?

  • Re: Re - reading old favourites
    by NMott at 20:11 on 05 September 2008
    I've tried re-reading my old Willard Price novels - which I loved as a Teen - but found them too slow and dry, which surprised me. Conversly, I read the Brer Rabbit stories to the kids and fell in love with them all over again.

    - NaomiM
  • Re: Re - reading old favourites
    by EmmaD at 20:31 on 05 September 2008
    You're most at risk with something which you loved when you were at a different stage in your reading life, I suspect. I love the Golden Age detective writers - Sayers, Christie, Allingham - and used to love Ngaio Marsh. Most of them have at least a whiff of the anti-semitism and other racisms of their time, and of course plenty of sexism. But Marsh also has a really nasty homophobic streak (surprising, if we're talking stereotypes, since her main career was in the theatre) which makes some of her books completely unreadable now.

    More seriously, if you like, I adored the children's writer Antonia Forest well into my teens, and I went back to her as an adult. She writes extraordinarily well, with a subtlety and sophistication about human relationships which is very unusual. There is a conservative strand in the books, which as a child I'd logged and moved on from. As an adult I also just thought, 'Well, she was born in 1915 and this was written in 1956, so what do you expect?' and moved on. And then the republishings had forewords from her, and all her deep-dyed conservative reasons for writing what she had suddenly became part of her agenda. I still think they're extraordinarily good, but in a technical way. It's a bit melodramatic to say I feel betrayed, but...

    I still count myself a fan, though, and did a piece on her for Vulpes Libris:


  • Re: Re - reading old favourites
    by snowbell at 11:22 on 07 September 2008
    Are those forewords on the internet anywhere, Emma? I'd be interested to see them?
  • Re: Re - reading old favourites
    by EmmaD at 11:38 on 07 September 2008
    I don't think they are. Specifically, the one which bothered me is in the Girls Gone By edition of Falconer's Lure. There's also one in their reprint of The Player's Boy, but that's much more straightforwardly about writing hist fic, and about writing Shakespeare in particular. I haven't seen the GBB editions of the others, so I don't know if they've got the same, or different ones.

    GBB are also publishing a study of Forest, by the friend who is her literary executor, and I credited at the end of my VL piece.

  • Re: Re - reading old favourites
    by Account Closed at 20:34 on 07 September 2008
    I'm about to re read Nights at the Circus, by Angela Carter. I read it about twenty years ago...
  • Re: Re - reading old favourites
    by di2 at 23:51 on 07 September 2008
    I've just re-read "The English Patient" by Michael Ondaadtje and I've nearly finished re-reading "The Snow Leopard" by Peter Mathiesson. I read very little as a child. These books were not so much "old favourites" as there were strangely put aside and kept. I must have known I wasn't ready for them yet.

    Re-reading is something I rarely do but recently my decision to re-read these books has made me realise that reading is like learning a musical instrument. The more you do it the more accomplished you become. It's like I've got a reading muscle that has gathered strength over recent years. In particular I felt that new strength while reading "The English Patient". I was able to enjoy its wonderful prose at a level I hadn't experienced when I read it the first time.

    I'm keen now to revisit several other books gathering dust on my bookshelves, waiting for me to return to them now that I'm ready.


  • Re: Re - reading old favourites
    by Kristian at 19:45 on 09 September 2008
    When I was a boy I used to re-read, (almost as soon as I'd finished) the tie in movie adaptations.

    While clearing the loft recently I found a bag of the well thumbed paperbacks. I had loads, all the Star Wars novelisations, The Goonies, Young Sherlock Holmes, the Indy movies - all ghost written, and all pretty badly as it turns out.

    They will never be read again, but I can't throw them out, too many memories of reading by torchlight under the covers - okay I never did that, but you get the idea. Favourites of my youth, but sometimes it is best not to go back...
  • Re: Re - reading old favourites
    by RJH at 15:13 on 10 September 2008
    On impulse I bought a copy of Stig of the Dump a few days ago, which I have fond memories of. Haven't dared open it yet - I wonder how it will seem 25-30 years on?

    I also enjoyed Willard Price's books as a child, but wouldn't dare look at them now. I seem to recall they were pretty heavy on marine biology, which I found fascinating at the time but since I'm now basically brain dead would probably no longer appeal.
  • Re: Re - reading old favourites
    by EmmaD at 15:30 on 10 September 2008
    I just took Penelope Lively's Moon Tiger down off the shelf, to give as an example of a character-narrator shifting between 'now' and 'then', and realised I didn't actually want to open the book, because it blew me away when I first read it a couple of decades ago, and I really, really don't want to discover that now it doesn't.

    Whereas I read Angela Carter's Wise Children at about the same time. It, too, stunned me, but there's something so playful about it, as well as serious, that I feel much happier about re-reading it. In fact I keep being tempted to pick it up when I should actually be working...

  • Re: Re - reading old favourites
    by Steerpike`s sister at 20:27 on 16 September 2008
    I was disappointed when I re-read Stephen King, sadly.