Some quick thoughts today for a discussion! Last month I read a fun young adult book called Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee. It tells the story of Tash who is in love with a young Leo Tolstoy. She writes a web series based on his book Anna Karenina and suddenly the series gets super famous and the story takes off from there.
As I was reading this book, I was wanting more and more to read the Tolstoy classic but then the story was completely spoiled as a BIG part of the ending of Anna Karenina was talked about in the book. I mean, I know that Tolstoy’s books are classics and loads of people have read them and spoilers aren’t exactly unavoidable, but it made me wonder if spoilers like this are necessary in books, or if there should be some kind of spoiler alert in the book. It made me think of this one episode of The Big Bang Theory I watched a few years back, where parts of Harry Potter were spoiled – namely, the death of a certain character. I remember reading comments from people saying that it was wrong for the show to spoil Harry Potter, whereas other people said that the books and movies for Harry Potter have been out for a long time and you can’t keep spoilers away forever.
I was also reading a biography by Jane Dunn on Daphne du Maurier and her sisters. I enjoyed the book very much, but came across a few parts where Dunn talked about books that du Maurier had written and would give a brief synopsis on the book followed by “and ultimately, the story ended …” giving away the ending of whatever book she was talking about. I would skim over these parts in the biography because I have a huge pile of du Maurier books that I want to read and I don’t want to be spoiled on the endings. But in that case, should there be some kind of spoiler alert? Is it necessary?
ALSO, can we talk about book introductions? This isn’t something you’d usually find in more modern books, but I’ve found with reading classics that there tends to be introductions by other authors and that they INEVITABLY CONTAIN SPOILERS! For example, I was reading a short story collection by Daphne du Maurier, and the first sentence of the introduction talks about the ending of the second story. WHAT?? Why are these even introductions? Do publishers think that people reading these books will of course know to skip these until after reading the story? Why not put these at the end of the book so the reader can get more insight afterwards? I’m all for people talking about the book I’m about to read but for god’s sake, don’t ruin it for people before they get to enjoy the story!
Now obviously I’m not losing sleep over this, but part of me thinks that had I known there would be spoilers for Anna Karenina in Tash Hearts Tolstoy, that maybe I would’ve read the classic first. Or should it have been a given that a person reading a book about a love of Tolstoy would inevitably talk about the classic and ultimately ruin the ending?
I’d love to know your thoughts! Should we assume that if we read a book on a certain author, or a book based on another book, that we’ll ultimately be spoiled if we haven’t consumed the books that are talked about? Do you think it’s totally necessary to spoil classics in modern fiction, non-fiction, or in TV shows – or are classics fair game since they’ve been out forever?