You know what the best thing is about being an English major geek? There is always something new and exciting out there.
Not even necessarily new. The universe of English literature is so huge, so diverse, that even twenty years after you graduate from college (yes, do the math and find out how old I am) it’s still possible to find authors and novels that are new to you, even if they were published one or two hundred years ago.
That is very, very exciting to me.
A couple of years, I “discovered” Elizabeth Gaskell. Her work had never appeared in any of my college courses, and I had never even heard of her. I don’t even remember how I found out about her. I checked Wives and Daughters out of the library and, of course, it was really a profound and deeply-moving book. I am not going to be able to write anything terribly deep about it here, because I read it two years ago and because this is just a little blog entry, not a dissertation. But I will never forget how disappointed I was to find out, near the end, that Elizabeth Gaskell died before she could finish it.
On the up side, though, I still have to read Cranford. And North and South. And Sylvia’s Lovers. All that richness, just out there waiting.
This year, I am reading Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wives’ Tale. I can tell you exactly how I found this one. I am an avid fan of Connie Willis’s work. Have you read any of her books? She writes unbelievably witty and clever science fiction. One of my favorites is Bellwether, a novel about scientific discovery and fads and also library books. The protagonist is in her public library randomly selecting books in honor of the day she’s had. Because she met another scientist named Bennett O’Reilly, she selects The Old Wives’ Tale.
Now, is that not the best way to find a book ever? It’s like getting a personal recommendation from a friend whose writing you already love.
And I am loving The Old Wives’ Tale. And lo and behold, Arnold Bennett wrote many, many other books. I am set for life, even without re-reading Middlemarch or Pride and Prejudice or To Say Nothing Of the Dog just one more time.
English literature. The passion never ends.
Love you & leave you,