Frank Wilson writes about a publishing company who have abridged some of the great works of the past. He begins:
The last commandment in Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing (Morrow, $14.95) declares that an author should “try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” The people at Phoenix Press think a number of classic authors were negligent in observing this rule. Anna Karenina, for instance, weighs in at a whopping 800-plus pages. Who can possibly hope to read that and still have time to watch Dancing With the Stars? . . . And there’s the rub, as Hamlet might not say, if a Phoenix editor thought better of it. There is nothing inherently wrong with what Somerset Maugham called “the useful art of skipping.” Maugham himself in fact helped produce a series of abridged classics in 1948 called “Great Novelists and Their Novels.”
How much skipping do you do in your reading? I have a hard time with it, but I have done it. I remember skipping chapter 13 of The Silmarillion.