I’ve noticed that in many pieces of classic literature, the authors tend to go off on long tangents and/or repeat things far too often.
Moby Dick has entire chapters that go off on tangents, i.e. chapter 24, “The Advocate” (Ishmael makes his very long case for being a whale-hunter) and chapter 25, “Postscript” (Ishmael continues to make his case for being a whale-hunter). None of this really forwards the story, although it provides insight into his choice of profession, and it could be done in a much shorter amount of time. This is only one (short) example of a pedantic tangent. Chapter 9, “The Sermon”, is far worse.
Atlas Shrugged has long, repetitive speeches from characters which explain their philosophies three times over, just in case you didn’t get it in the first sentence…or paragraph…or chapter. It also has long, boring descriptions which tend to repeat what has already been said.
Dracula has too many repetitive mentions of people crossing themselves and bad omens, and I’ve only read up to page 20.
While I am massively in favor of descriptions which lend themselves to symbolism, in-depth analysis, and greater, deeper understanding of the work as a whole (or even the author), sometimes there’s simply too much unnecessary description.
Do you think that in most cases, the author is too caught up in trying to make the reader understand his/her point and drive it home? Or do you think this type of description is indeed necessary so that every type of person can grasp the author’s intentions?