"I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment... and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn." -Thoreau

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Literary Splendor: A Brief Glimpse

Let's talk about books.

In the last few days I have managed to finish two novels, and it struck me that I have yet to profess my love for reading. This must change.

I love reading.

[I will leave it at that for now, for I'm sure this theme will be a recurrent one. But that really needed to be said. Now a bit about those books I read...]

The first book I finished this week was Nabokov's Lolita. For quite a while the intention to read Lolita had lingered in my mind, and I finally resolved to do it.
I'm not sure what exactly I expected when I started the novel. I think I expected something... something very cold and modern, explicit and dark and twisted... fascinating in a terrible sort of way. But the expected feel was detached... cold is really the best term I can use to describe what I anticipated.
But Lolita was quite different. Far from being cold, the book is tender and warm. Tender and warm to the point that you aren't quite certain what the impact upon Lolita is... Humbert adores her... and you are almost willing to grant the possibility that Humbert's little nymphet delights to be in his loving arms. And then you hear her sobs in the night, every night... and you wonder what has been done to the beloved Lolita.
If you haven't read the book, I would recommend it. Lolita is spectacularly, impressively well-written... I still cannot believe that Nabokov's native tongue was Russian- the book feels so very English. At least, I was impressed. It is a very interesting read. If you have read it- thoughts?

The second novel I finished was Anne of Windy Poplars. This summer I have set about re-reading the Anne of Green Gables series, and it has been nothing short of delightful. To quote Mrs. Montgomery herself:
"An old book has something for me which no new book can ever have -- for at every reading the memories and atmosphere of other readings come back and I am reading old years as well as an old book."
Reading about Anne is like revisiting my childhood... No, it's more than that. It is revisiting old, beloved friends in old, beloved homes. Anne holds a very special place in my heart and has become a part of my soul. She has an incredible ability to recognize beauty, and has inspired me to do my best to be a small source of happiness in the world.

I could talk about how awesome Anne Shirley is for hours. From her beginning as a ridiculously talkative, imaginative, dramatic, red-headed orphan continuously getting herself into very amusing scrapes, Anne develops into a kind, graceful, warm woman with a great deal of insight and a healthy sense of humor, all the while retaining a delightful Anne-ness about her... Her love of trees and flowers and brooks... her kindred-spiritedness...
Anne is amazing.
If you haven't already, you should meet her. I think you'd like her.
And if you have, you should consider going for a visit.

Or, perhaps, you would prefer to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with other interesting characters. This is acceptable (though I still recommend adding Lolita and Anne to your list!). I simply encourage you to retreat from earthly chaos in the golden splendor of literary lands, explore strange new worlds, celebrate joys and triumphs or weep over sorrows and injustices.

Immerse yourself in a good book. You won't regret it.

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