January 20, 2008
What is it about classics that we tend to romanticize? I always envision myself curled up beneath a warm blanket in front of a glowing fire with a cup of herbal tea at hand. Kristen at Delightfully Dawgmatic got me thinking about this with her wonderful post about reading Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. She found her romantic vision of the book shattered when she actually sat down to read it. I must admit to a similar experience.
I picked up Great Expectations to read for My Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge (being hosted by the women of Estella’s Revenge). I looked forward to becoming entrenched in the book, my husband unable to pull me from its clutches. But, reality is that I’m struggling. I find my eyes drooping after only a few pages. I’m constantly doing the math to see how many more pages I must read to get me to the end. I re-read the same paragraph over and over with the dull realization I’ve stopped paying attention.
I want to love this book – it’s a classic! It’s Dicken’s, for goodness sake. Who doesn’t love Dickens? I remembering reading and loving A Tale of Two Cities in high school. Why can’t I remember reading Great Expectations way back then? Is it possible it was entirely forgettable?
Perhaps I am just not in the mood for Victorian era fiction; maybe if I read this six months from now it would fascinate and bowl me over. Maybe not.
Lest you think I just can’t stomach a good classic – let me share with you a book I read earlier in the week. So Big, by Edna Ferber (read my review) is one of those classics that I adored. Rich characterization, a strong lead female character, beautiful setting, and a story that will never grow old. Now that’s a classic I can recommend!