Sunday, February 7, 2016

Long Story, Short Nights

The nights have turned dark, wet, and cold. Appropriately enough, I have been going through a few Dickens, in keeping with the bleak season. However, unlike expected, I have been enjoying myself immensely. I had forgotten the familiar joys of texts connected with my youth.

I began with A Tale of Two Cities, and I remembered how half our class was half in love with Sydney Carton, the Byronic non-hero of the tale. I loved revisiting the shadows of the London streets, shuddered deliciously at the clacking needles of Mme. Defarge, and despaired over the macabre Carmagnole. I remembered that I loved Dickens for the very reason that he is hated: the extra words. I enjoy those words because of the wealth of detail and humor that reside in them, and this time around, I was in no hurry to finish the book and begin analyzing themes. At the same time, the story remembered me as a young girl. A most wonderful mirror!

The other two, Great Expectations and Hard Times, seem like a reflection of all that is broken in the world of education. Mr. Gradgrind of Hard Times insists on FACTS and children today are taught to the acronym of that very idea, standardized tests. I, too, too often find myself rushing through material because of time constraints, and too often, the enormity of all that needs to be taught just defeats me and I wonder if there is anything wrong with teaching just facts.

These cold days rob me of the wherewithal to do much and I find my sleep rhythms out of sync. My disease bloats me too full at nights so I can barely breathe and I dream through the days, not always sure if I am awake. Through this chthonic time, the old texts of my youth keep anchor and compass, and even if I cannot always remember the state of my wakefulness, I remember the part of the story  that holds me.

I have always known that the written word would save me. Here, in this cold season, I find yet another way to light up my darkened path with it. I shall trust the well-told tales; after all, they are older and wiser.


  1. Thank you for being the light that has led me, too, back to these beloved texts!

    1. It was your idea, remember? I am so glad I have someone who understands my love for English Lit that borders embarrassingly on Anglophilism! I know, I know, no word like that, but it seems to fit.