Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The pleasures of growing older

Please pardon Pretty Lady's relative reticence, this week. She fears she will not be good for much until she has finished Middlemarch. She attempted Middlemarch sometime around the age of twenty, and gave it up in extreme boredom; now she is so enthralled that she actually plans to add all two pounds of it to the weight of her backpack, climb another mountain, and read on a rock all afternoon.

Fie on all this encouraging of precocious children to snarf down the classics, as soon as they understand the structure of subordinate clauses. Pretty Lady had people throwing Dickens at her head by the time she was eight; notwithstanding, she did not come to love him until twenty. Jane Austen was juicy at eight, and seventeen, and twenty-three, and thirty-two, but for entirely different reasons upon each occasion. George Eliot should be reserved strictly for adults over thirty-five, in the manner of the U.S. presidency.

There is a vast gap between cognitive capacity and experience. The former we are born with; the latter is the only thing which truly limns the mind's dimensions.


The Aardvark said...

Yup....I tried Tolkien's work when I was in Jr. High.

No dice.

College was just right, thank you very much.Some things you just have to grow into.

Dearly loved Silas Marner in my early teens. I must pick Eliot up again. Thanks for the reminder!

Anonymous said...

But, even if Pretty Lady drinks more from the cup of experience, does she not remain timeless, ageless -- an intangible creature of elusive feminine beauty?

Pretty Lady said...


Anonymous said...

Right the crap on. I had a third-grade teacher who, exhasperated by my addiction to Stephen King, promised to let me read whatever I wanted in her class as long as I read one tragedy and one comedy by the Bard. I did, absorbed *nothing* but the impression that Shakespeare was the most boring swill on earth, and got my way. It was well into college before I discovered just how wonderfully the man played with the language, and I felt cheated :P
Still can't stomach Dickens sober, though.

BoysMom said...

Mitizibel, my mom did something similar in High School!! (I was home schooled.)
I had to read one 'classic' for every sci-fi/fantasy book I read. She'd probably have done better to let me alone with what I liked: I still ran through what the local library had and what I could afford to buy long before I left for college, and I might have been more open to sampling something she approved of if she had, instead of figuring I'd hate it all just as much as the forced liturature. (Dad, on the other hand, actively aided my sci-fi interests. Now I return the favor.)
I thought (and still think) The Scarlet Pimpernel was the most stupid plot ever and that the characters were all idiots. The Scarlet Letter, by contrast, has improved greatly over the years. I did like The Grapes of Wrath even then.
Mom read Tale of Two Cities aloud to me around eight . . . I did like that. I suppose she thought I needed something more literary than Nancy Drew.
She still tries to get me to read 'modern liturature'. Perhaps it'll appeal more in another twenty years.

Pretty Lady said...

Mitzibel, you don't know Shakespeare until you've acted Shakespeare. Then suddenly all the lines are apropos to any situation in which you find yourself.

Anonymous said...

That's how I came back to him, milady. You can only imagine how insufferable I was at eighteen ;0