For August the hosts of The Classics Club have another member question: “Do you read forwards/notes that precede many Classics? Does it help you or hurt you in your enjoyment/understanding of the work?”
As I’m sure you’re aware, if you’ve already answered this question, I do read the forwards and notes for Classics. In the past I did not read them, mostly because they only provided an unwanted delay before I could get to the story, but as part of The Classics Club I decided to make an effort to read the texts in a bit more educational way rather than just for the great stories that they are.
And as I read them I’m glad to further find that they only add to my enjoyments of the novel. The introductions, both by the author and by other academics, provide vital clues of things to look for when I would just blaze through the story and more than likely miss great aspects. I do, however, have a caveat. If it is a story that I am really interested int he story-line and am not familiar with it I am very hesitant about reading the notes and if there is a point at which I feel a major plot point revelation is coming I will stop reading the notes and return to them later, but in general I’ve enjoyed reading the notes and finding out more about the authors, the critical reception of the books, the characters and the many other things covered in introductory notes.