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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Improving Lectures

Or not.

Last summer, when I was Walking, my husband got me an mp3 player so I could listen to filk as I strolled down Ocean Parkway. (Boogie Knights are *excellent* to walk to, btw. So is Tom Smith.)

But I wanted something else for when I was otherwise busy. So we've been buying lecture series from The Teaching Company, which I listen to mostly while cooking dinner, although they've also been useful for waiting rooms and long bus rides (along with a sock to knit.) The first was a survey of the history of evolution.

The current (and nearly finished) one is "The English Novel." And not only is it fascinating - I took enough English lit classes in college to qualify for a minor along with Education, but not on this particular subject - but it's also encouraged me to read books I'd only heard of before - or books I haven't read in decades. My mother-in-law, who didn't know I was doing this, bought me an omnibus of Thomas Hardy books (reasoning that "Debbie likes Jane Austen. Here's another 19th C English writer."), but as it's too heavy to leave the bedroom, much less the house, I'm saving it for Shabbat reading, where I'm taking cara_chapel's advice and reading Far From the Madding Crowd first. Apparently, he's the anti-Jane Austen, and this is his *least* depressing book.

So. I have a PDA, and there is Project Gutenberg, with its vast collection of out-of-copyright books to download. And, honestly, I've read most of the fanfic on my pda so often I can see it in my head. Monday, I downloaded Wuthering Heights, which I haven't read since college (over two decades) and Vanity Fair, which I haven't read at all.

I just finished WH. And. Wow. Emily makes her sister Charlotte seem, well, light and bright and sparkling. I knew it was gloomy, but I'd forgotten most of it. The layers. The unreliable second and third tier narrators. The petty, small characters and the great, huge ones - and the positive dearth of likeable ones. In fact, the only one I ever really liked was *Hareton*. Wow. (Also. I have a story germinating. We will see.)


Oh yeah, I remember reading that. I was 18, and was very repulsed. "This," I asked myself, "is supposed to great romance? They're both horrible people and thoroughly deserve each other!"

My goodness, but I loathed that book and was horrified when someone compared my writing to it.

I remember having to read it and "The Scarlet Letter" in high school, and generally thinking neither book had anybody that I didn't want to smack for stupidity.

I found Wuthering Heights to be quite gothic, in the angst ridden, woe is me, doom and gloom sort of way. I'm surprised it's not a bigger hit with teenagers, the way Romeo and Juliet is.

I cut my teeth on Hardy with The Return of the Native. He writes some of the best descriptions I've seen, and his sentences are positively baroque - lots of twists and turns of multiple negatives meant to negate each other, but he never gets lost in it.

Until I saw the film adaptation I never realized that people thought Cathy killed Heathcliff because she loved him and wanted to be with him in the afterlife.

I always thought that she killed him because he was planning to interfere with the inheritance of Catherine and Hareton (sp?) to Wuthering Heights. She stops him from eating, drinking and sleeping, but she also apparently interferes with his plans by literally taking away his will to destroy the families. She may have been "with him" as a ghost "under the Nab", but I doubt it was a tender reunion. She probably smacked him and kept smacking him for all eternity.