Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Times Have Changed

I've gotten bogged down in "The Mill on the Floss", mainly due to traveling for work and not having much time to read this past week. And this book is not so amenable to being read in short bursts. The language and pacing is rather languid. Which I mean in a good way...it's thick, beautiful language, which means it's not conducive to being read a few pages at a time. I think this book is best savored in long sessions, and not chopped up MTV-style into short attention-deficit friendly blocks. The style is quite different from Silas Marner, which I would describe as a page turner. This one definitely is not that. It takes patience to get through, but the patience is rewarded if I let myself just relax and get absorbed in the book.

In my mind the Victorian era was really the height of the novel. I mean seriously, how many of the great novels came out in the 1800s? Lots! And if you think about it, what else did folks have to do then for entertainment? It's hard to fathom, but there was no internet or TV or radio or recorded music. You couldn't talk to friends on the telephone. So what could one do at home at night for entertainment (besides drink oneself into a stupor)? Seems to me like reading and talking and playing a musical instrument were the only possibilities. So it's no wonder that books like "The Mill on the Floss" move at a slower pace, and are so rich and dense. Folks had more time to focus and savor the written word and ruminate about what they were reading, without the distractions of the modern day. Like blogging.

Plot update: Maggie and Tom have grown up, and their father loses the mill, having lost his lawsuit. The winner of the lawsuit buys the mill and lets the family stay on and work for him. Tom has become quite industrious, and is working and saving to help his father pay off his legal debts. Meanwhile, Maggie has reacted to the family's loss by undergoing some kind of spiritual experience, having read a book by the medieval monk Thomas A Kempis. It seems like she decides to live a life focusing on the troubles of others, and not living for her own wants and desires. Yeah, good luck pulling that one off, Maggie. It doesn't seem like her at all. We'll see how it goes. As one of my wife's southern relatives likes to say "You can't keep your nature crouched down".

No comments: