It’s common now to come across the phrase “caution – spoilers ahead” in discussions of books and movies.  People want to avoid having their experience ruined  by reading a review that reveals the end, the surprise, the mystery, etc.  Personally, I don’t care.

Were people upset that they knew the ending of the Illiad when they heard it for the 100th time?  Everyone has favorite films or books that they see or read again and again.  The best works don’t depend on surprise.  That is, the suspense depends on the characters’ not knowing what’s ahead.  Some of them, Greek tragedies for example, assume that we already know the whole story.

I know it may be snobbish, but this is why I have no interest in reading mysteries – I can’t abide a book that depends for its appeal on hiding an aspect of the plot.  In a movie, it can be fun, and if it’s a good one, knowing the secret really doesn’t matter, but in a book, it’s just tedious for me.

2 Responses to Surprise!

  1. Man of Roma says:

    I agree with you, it is a question of personal taste. You might not like them, but there are films or novels which are *just* plot, in the sense that their being good or not resides in the intricacy, in the mechanism etc., of which the end is often the most important element. In such cases foreknowledge of the end can spoil the pleasure.

  2. I think there are mysteries worth reading and mysteries that are pure tripe. It depends.

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