"... that I felt as if my life were breaking from me." (Charles Dickens; Bleak House)
We just finished reading Bleak House in Victorian Novel a couple of weeks ago. At first, I looked at the size of the book, and I couldn't believe my eyes. I mean, yes, of course I read the Harry Potter books that were longer than BH, but still, it was Dickens, for the love of all that's holy. I mean, really. Just Dickens.
The first 300 hundred pages killed me. Literally. I was lucky if I got the readings done before class started; it was all I could do to keep my eyes open. Then, something happened. It was just like reading Pride and Prejudice, (only about 4 times the length) I was sucked into the story of Esther, the wards in Jarndyce, Mr. Woodcourt, and the ever-annoying, ever-adorable Mr. Guppy.
In the end, the novel was just like anything else I've ever read: despite the fact that it was written AGES ago (1852-1853), it was incredibly informing on my current life. And my past life. And the things I'll do in the future.
1. Being self-deprecating is not beneficial to one's well-being. And annoying. And will make people hate you. (Case in point: Esther Summerson/Woodcourt.)
2. Getting sucked up in affairs that have no bearing on your current lifestyle will destroy you. Pay attention to the things that matter now. (I.E. Richard and Ada Carstone.)
3. Be proud of the life you live. Everyone makes mistakes. Trying to hide them will only cause trouble. The people that really love you will never leave you. (The Sweet Sir Leister and Lady Dedlock.)
I suppose that the big lightbulb that classical literature is begging me to turn on is this:
Just because a novel is long, and old, and potentially mind-numbing doesn't mean that I shouldn't give it a chance. Even if it took him almost 1,000 pages, a bajillion characters, and 2 separate narrators, Dickens had some pretty cool stuff to say.
- sigh - It's just another day in the life of an English major.