Ben-Hur = Slow Going

Ben-Hur was a tough read for me.

I enjoyed the story. I liked Wallace’s attention to detail and his meticulous descriptions. I appreciated his tenacious adhering to religious and historical facts. I really liked how he smoothly inserted his characters into the biblical Gospel narrative. The actual plot of Ben-Hur was pretty good.

The heir to the fortune and legacy of the princely Hur family, Judah (who is rarely actually called that) accidentally almost kills a Roman official. This begins his exile and return journey home. Ben-Hur is pretty much an adventure/quest novel about Ben-Hur’s coming of age. As he grows and makes connections, he learns to accept his legacy and figures out how he fits into the picture of his God’s plan for the Earth. As his life crosses paths with someone he (and others around him) believe to be the King of the Jews, Ben-Hur must act to fulfill his destiny and regain his (and his family’s) good name.

I even liked a lot of the theological points. I was willing to devote time and energy to deciphering dense passages about Judaism and theology and philosophy, because that stuff interests me.

What I didn’t have patience for was all the description. I realize that it’s how people wrote in the American Victorian period (is that what it’s called? That’s what I’m gonna call it), but it still bugs me. Wallace’s descriptions got too long-winded too much of the time. I know what a chariot is. You can tell me that it’s gold and fancy and I can get the rest for myself. I REALLY don’t need to read a 2-page description of all the intricate details. I guess some people might enjoy that sort of thing, but I don’t.

I suppose, knowing when the book was written, I should have realized what I was getting into when I started it, but I somehow didn’t expect it. It wasn’t that the book was too hard. It was thought-provoking at times, but never so challenging that it took a lot of time to decipher (so, not like anything by Henry James. I can never figure out what that guy’s saying). It was just slow.

I had to be in a certain mood to read it. Some days I tried to force myself to sit and read, but I just couldn’t. I suppose it maybe didn’t help that it was my first week off of work and I’d discovered that the show Psych is on Netflix instant view, so I had to watch a whole season in like 2 days. But still. Ben-Hur. I enjoyed it when I was in the right mood to read it. But if I wasn’t in EXACTLY the right word, it was tough to get through.

Maybe I’ll have more intelligent things to say about Ben-Hur later. It’s just that I finished it two days ago and I really don’t want to think about it right now.

This ends the decade. I’ll maybe make some sort of summary post or something soon. I haven’t quite decided how I want to do that.

In the meantime, if you’re interested, I’m continuing the religion theme and reading Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. It. Is. Marvelous.

Rating: ****
Up Next: Life of Pi


One response to this post.

  1. Ben-Hur is the best movie ever – in my opinion. But, I have not read the book.


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