6 Great Novels that Were Hated in Their Time

Raise your hand if you ever had to read a classic novel in school, only to come away hating it. And keep your hand up if at some point an adult turned up their nose at you for failing to recognize genius when you saw it.

Well, here's their dirty little secret: Many, if not most, of the books you were handed in high school as required reading were hated by critics and readers alike when they first hit shelves.

#6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The Story You Know:

It's Aldous Huxley's chilling 1932 tale about a future centered upon sex, drug, and assembly-line worship, depicting humanity caught in an endless cycle of buying gizmos, working trivial jobs and taking drugs to make the depression go away.

Unfortunately, its main characters do not look this awesome.

How Poorly it Was Received:

Critical reaction to Brave New World was "largely chilly," which is the short way of saying that it did to the literary world what Willy Wonka's boat ride did to your childhood.

Gaze into the face of madness.

The result was an outright panic of literary criticism which resulted in the book getting universally panned, and ultimately selling only a few thousand copies upon its release in the U.S. Why? Everybody hated Huxley's vision of the future.

Even fellow futurists like H.G. Wells were shocked by the book's dystopian landscape. Despite being the same man who wrote War of the Worlds, Wells describe Brave New World's bleak future as "a betrayal." As for the book's more forgettable critics, i.e. everyone else, responses ranged from dismissal to childish name-calling.

Sources tell us that Mr. Huxley has cooties.

After all, he's talking about a future where mankind is pacified, not by a totalitarian dictator, but by infinite distractions, trivial entertainment and bullshit? Ridiculous!


However, it can truly be said that Aldous Huxley got the last laugh. Brave New World has gone on to become one of the most celebrated and influential works of the 20th century, and its author one of the most equally respected/creepy intellectuals on the planet. After redeeming both his and his World State's reputation, Huxley died on November 22, 1963--the same date as C.S. Lewis and the Kennedy assassination--just so he could mess with us one last time.

Thirty-seven years later, he would be awarded the ultimate achievement for a work of literature: having an Iron Maiden album named after it.

#5. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Story You Know:

The definitive American story about the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and how hard life sucks if you're anyone in a Henry Fonda movie.

Henry Fonda.

Also, there's a famous scene in the story where a young woman breastfeeds a dying old man, which we're totally not going to make fun of because it's seriously that beautiful.

How Poorly it Was Received:

Imagine if Inglourious Basterds was released in 1929. Something like that.

"A new talkie from Q. J. Tarantino."

Despite boasting what was clearly the classiest case for lactivism since Ancient Rome died, The Grapes of Wrath received less than a warm welcome when it was released.

Since "Fuck the Poor" had pretty much been America's policy all the way from the Gilded Age to the Roaring Twenties, Steinbeck's devastating depictions of American poverty, plight and migrant camps came off as "depressing" to most readers, and by depressing we mean part of a communist/socialist conspiracy.

Get off our streets you Red Commie bastard!

The Grapes of Wrath was denounced as a "pack of lies" and "a libel" from both the left and right wing of the political spectrum. The book was censored, banned and even burned in towns across the United States including Steinbeck's own hometown.

Note how they couldn't afford gas or even matches
because they were seriously that fucking poor.

Despite the treatment The Grapes of Wrath received, Steinbeck eventually benefited from the support of Eleanor Roosevelt, filmmaker John Ford and reality, once people found out that most of the book was based on true events. In fact, Steinbeck had actually downplayed the horrific conditions of the Dust Bowl--which included an explosion in black widow and tarantula populations...

As evidenced by David Arquette's unflinchingly accurate Dust Bowl docudrama.

...because he was more interested in telling a story than scaring the nation into a communist frenzy.

Sure enough, the book ended up becoming really important and helped Steinbeck win the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature, which at the time actually kind of meant something.

#4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

The Story You Know:

It's what you get if you combine the first season of Survivor, Swiss Family Robinson and Saw. Also, for extra fun, the whole book starred children.

Something tells us it's a good thing there were no girls on the island.

How Poorly it Was Received:

William Golding's brilliant work of social commentary and symbolism was a complete commercial failure when it was released, but the truth is Golding was lucky that the book even made it that far. More than 20 publishers passed on the Lord of the Flies, no doubt due to the "excessive violence and bad language" Golding smacked his audience with like a blackjack upside the head.


The book sold less than 3,000 copies before going out of print in the 50s. In other words, there's probably a hobo making copies of his manifesto on the Xerox machine at a public library who has sold more copies. We can't imagine why. After all, the book was just showing a complete collapse of faith, philosophy and society. With children.

This also happened.

However, in what we notice had become a trend in 20th century literature The Lord of the Flies, despite its unpopularity, had all the workings of a Nobel Prize winner. The book was eventually reprinted, assigned in classrooms throughout the United States and Golding was dubbed a Nobel Prize Laureate, then a freaking knight.

Though, he probably wasn't invited to speak at any Boy Scout ceremonies.

So keep that in mind should your first dabble in science-fiction/fantasy not go over so well when you post it on your LiveJournal. You're just a few years from a Nobel Prize in Literature, so start planning now what to do with your millions of dollars and your new knighthood, baby!

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