For book two of our Jane Austen Book Club, my friends and I decided to conquer Emma(Amazon link). It has always been my least favorite of the six and reading Deresiewicz’s A Jane Austen Education both confirmed that and helped me get around this problem. His talking about Emma and it’s belief in the importance of every day trivialities, as well as Margaret Drabble’s excellent introduction led me to think about the book differently.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still boring as anything in most points, but Austen wrote it this way. According tot Drabble, Austen wrote this novel in such excruciating detail in direct response to the detractors of her previously published novel Mansfield Park, which I love. Drabble says, “This is domestic realism almost with a vengeance.” (xix) AND it is! The hyper focus on every detail, the incredibly limited scope of setting, characters and even conversation topics is overwhelmingly mundane. It is an assault on the senses, and as a fellow JABC member said “i’m diagnosing myself with ‘emma-induced narcolepsy.'” (Thanks Dalton!)
My friend Nick gave this to me to read ages ago and I’ve finally gotten around to it. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first, but the further I read the more I enjoyed the story (Amazon link). Coming in at under 200 pages, I was pleasantly surprised at how much Huxley fit into the novel without overwhelming the sense of lackadaisical whimsy of the people.
I am incredibly glad I read the foreword though, because I don’t think I would’ve understood this was a satirical novel of the British upper-class. I probably would’ve happily read it and thought, “wow these people are petty and ridiculous,” and then thought nothing more of it. It reminded me a lot of the various upper-class dioramas I’ve read from Jane Austen to Cécil David-Weill’s The Suitors, which is what Huxley was going for in his social criticism.
Continuing my “Jane-uary” theme, I’ve just finished Northanger Abbey in time for our Jane Austen Book Club (JABC) discussion, which was unfortunately postponed due to a blizzard here in Boston. In addition, this acts as my revitalization of my Classics Club attempt. I apparently only read two books last year. How embarrassing! I’ll read at least six this year with the JABC so that’s a bonus.
Let’s start with I’m ashamed to admit I forgot how absolutely lovable and amazing Henry Tilney is! This is one of the two Austen books I’ve only read once and that is will most definitely change in the future. On the scale of Austen heroes he’s always been lost in the non-Mr. Darcy fray for me. I think he is still behind Darcy, but his bookishness and (what I see as his) disdain for social norms made me laugh on numerous occasions!
Note: This episode is going live early due to the holidays, traveling and the potential delay with iTunes uploading.
Welcome to Episode 3 of Come Read With Me, where my friend Patrick and I dive into Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopia A Handmaid’s Tale. Patrick agreed to be on the podcast before he even knew what the podcast was about and when I called him he was ready. I gave him a really long list of books to choose from and he chose perfectly! (His original choice was Twilight but that was reserved and will be Episode 4). If you’ve never read it you should read it, really just read all Atwood as she’s amazing.
In addition to Atwood we spoke about a wide variety of authors and Patrick’s love of creating Twitter bots. Check Patrick out on Twitter @lightaesthetic and check out his website to see some of the awesome games he’s putting together in his spare time.
With this book, and my previous reading of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, I’m one step closer to finishing my 30×30 list. What better way to start off my response than with Treebeard/Fangorn’s words to Galadriel: “It is sad that we should meet only thus at the ending. For the world is changing: i feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air. I do not think we shall meet again.” (290)
It’s so true though! What a sad, beautiful and perfect ending to this epic novel (apparently it’s counted as one in a lot of lists). I mean I knew it was great and I remembered a lot of it, but nowhere near as much as was included in the book. I even read Appendix A which gave the brief history of the race of men and Gimli’s heritage which was excellent to learn more about them. I didn’t go into the other appendices as they were a bit too technical for my liking, but I did seriously consider buying a few more Tolkien Middle-earth books when I saw them at the used bookstores last weekend and I may yet!