How to Bluff English Literature
A handy millennial hack for the perpetually busy. Blag SEVEN classic novels with just THREE minutes reading.
Don’t have time to read literature? Life too busy? Need to work on your side hustle as a writer but can’t commit to reading? Don’t worry. I got your back.
For all those classic novels which are TLDR please accept these tiny summaries. These will get you through the odd dinner party or two without much fuss.
If you get in-depth questions, smile, put your fingers together and say ‘now that is something I need to think about’. Then announce you need to use the bathroom and speed read spark notes.
Great Expectations — Charles Dickens
Annoying orphan named after the centre part of an orange, gets a pile of secret cash. He thinks it’s from some mad old biddy who can’t get changed out of her wedding gear. It isn’t. Twenty years and two failed romances later, it turns out to be the mad old bastard from chapter one.
TOP BLAG TIP: If anyone mentions Estella, roll your eyes and exclaim. Doing feminism before feminism was cool.
Don Quixote — Miguel Cervantes
Man goes mad. Decides he’s a knight and picks fights with landmarks. His servant does his best to keep him safe. A buddy movie cum dementia rom-com set in 17th Century Spain.
TOP BLAG TIP: If the questions keep coming then hum ‘The Impossible Dream’ from the musical Man of La Mancha. That should buy you some time.
Sense and Sensibility- Jane Austen
Two sisters one sensible, one not try hard to find a husband each. The older one is dull as dishwater (sense). The younger one (sensibility) has to choose between an old man and an absolute bastard. After twisting her ankle and getting a cold she chooses the old man.
TOP BLAG TIP: Look into the middle distance and say ‘I really do miss Alan Rickman’. Now refuse to answer any questions because you’re too emotional.
Les Miserables — Victor Hugo
Man steals some bread. Then adopts some random kid out of guilt and tries to live his best life. Bread Police keep finding him. Kid turns into an annoying woman who marries an equally annoying posh student. Then there’s a revolution.
TOP BLAG TIP: Any difficult questions, confidently assert that the musical isn’t a patch on the book. Far too light. Then launch into “Do you hear the People Sing” and change the subject.
Catcher in the Rye — J.D Salinger
A boy walks around for what seems like an eternity, calling everything crummy. Then he goes to see his sister and has a breakdown. He thinks he’s profound, the world thinks he’s an asshat.
TOP BLAG TIP: Announce ‘Holden would have embraced Snapchat, I hope there is an updated version for millennials’ Remind everyone to update their social media.
1984 — George Orwell
A man called Winston gets into trouble for thinking too much. Falls in love with some randomer, writes a diary. Gets betrayed. Goes to room 101 and learns his lesson.
TOP BLAG TIP: Say, ‘If only people knew the origins of Big Brother and Room 101 the world would be a better place.’ Then shake your head sadly and walk away.
Wuthering Heights — Emily Bronté
The main romantic leads are Catherine and Heathcliff. They’re both shitty to each other. She dies in childbirth, he spends the rest of the novel wishing he was dead too. Everyone in the novel is called Linton or Catherine and the whole thing is a clusterfuck of emotional dysfunction.
TOP BLAG TIP: Make an obscure reference to Kate Bush, use this to throw people off track. An alternate tactic is to pretend you have your Catherines or Lintons confused. Ask someone to explain the plot back to you whilst you nod in agreement and say ‘exactly’
There you are. Another day another dinner party. I’ll keep reading these classic novels so you don’t have to. Taking one for team literature.
How do you feel about learning some theatre history?