It would seem that if I am to share with you my journey to catch up to my reading challenge, that I must share with you my most shameful secret as a student of literature… I simply cannot bear to read more than one classic novel in succession.
To be fair there are two basic definitions of ‘classic’ in regards to literature: first the piece of such an age that is copyright is no longer valid. We all know the sort, Dickens, Austen, the Brontes. And second the cult classics, known as often for the title as the author. Potter (Rowling), Slaughterhouse 5 (Vonnegut).
It is important to know that I’m talking about mostly the former, but a tiny bit the latter. If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll know that I have been reading those poor oft neglected volumes that reside on my bookshelves, and alphabetically. So I’m up to B. And I’m still reading Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, every few chapters or so I pick up a Kindle novel of approximately 250 pages and decimate it in 2 or 3 hours. The Mists falls into the cult classic range, but right after it on my shelf are two classics, each by a Bronte sister… Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Classics by virtue of age are known to be almost physically painful to read, because of the formality of their colloquial language, and yet they ensure because we love the stories. When I do read them I adore them as if it were the first time I read it, but to read two of them back to back is physically painful.
Now take into account that I’ll be reading them after The Mists, which is very long (my edition has 1009 pages), mimics ancient speech, and is written in the style of an ancient Arthurian legend. Don’t forget, this Arthurian legend is only four years older than I. With my bookshelf’s proclivity for such sense reading in the letter B, I’m afraid that I’m just going to have to accept a minor variation on my strict alphabetical reading. Because the is no way that I can jump right out of Bradley and into Bronte, no matter how much I love it. So it would seem that the next piece after the Bradley, is A Little Princess – an almost invisibly thin volume aimed at very young girls nestled between the bulk of my classics and a Mills and Boone.
But as a serious literature student I’m not supposed to admit to finding reading classics to be like wading through knee deep water, while my collection of contemporary literature is like slipping into a warm bath at the end of the day (a phrase I can’t even take credit for!). I am as much a part of the instant gratification culture as anyone. I shall however continue to wade as well as float, I’m not the type to give up a much beloved story just because I have to work for it.
Just, maybe we could keep this literary ‘failure’ between you and I. I don’t much think that my lecturers would appreciate what I’ve said on this topic.