Going from Jane Austen to Thomas Hardy is disorienting. I finished Emma and started Far from the Maddening Crowd yesterday. Austen and Hardy’s works were only separated from each other by about 40 years, but that period introduced considerable changes to British culture. Plus, Austen’s witty dialog is a stark contrast to Hardy’s brooding characters and lush context descriptions. In Austen’s work the transformation engine is love, whereas Hardy’s is suffering. Dropping one book and immediately picking up the other was a challenge.
Concurrently, I have been reading The Count of Monte Cristo for four months. FOUR MONTHS. The things that I don’t appreciate about this book are legion. It was written in French, and like Crime and Punishment, I’m not appreciating all the translation choices. There is quite a bit of repetition. Like many novels from that time period, it was published serially in a periodical; Dumas might have reiterated significant plot points to remind readers. To top it off, the plot feels like a soap opera. Seriously, this book is Guiding Light set in the nineteenth century.
All that challenging reading explains why I was so pleased to pick up Goodnight, Mister Tom. Young Adult Fiction was exactly what my wearied brain needed. Anyone want to place bets that I will finish Goodnight, Mister Tom before I finish The Count of Monte Cristo? Don’t bother. Gambling implies that there is reasonable possibility of either happening. Lets be honest, there isn’t.
I haven’t said anything about Emma. It was pleasant. I found Emma and her father obnoxious. And given that I am on Jane Austen book number 3 in this list, I am chafing a bit at the bright, sunny endings that her books have. Those criticisms aside, her dialog and wit save the day. But I guess in keeping with most romance books, it didn’t tell me anything about life or relationships that I didn’t already know. It was a pleasant diversion and not much else.
I need to wrap this up and get back to The Count of Monte Cristo. I’m on renew number five with the library, and I just can’t bring myself to do another.
I just got a new camera. This means you will all suffer through my learning journey with it.
March 26, 2014 at 8:49 pm
Emma was my first read of a Jane Austen novel and so far remains my favourite of her books. Although the main character Emma does seem obnoxious, I enjoy seeing her knocked down a couple of notches when her friends do not follow her advice but go with their own instincts. Emma reminds me of a male friend who likes to give advice to other men but only he himself fail in getting the girl he’s obsessed with.
March 26, 2014 at 9:35 pm
Yeah, I am surprised at how well I like Austen. I like her sense of humor, and I am sure I am missing many jokes being American and not living in the 19th century.