Friday, July 14, 2006

Hawthorne and Bronte

English books are decidedly more expensive here. I'm thus
sticking to the "Penguin Popular Classics" series. It's
shocking how few I've read. I read the Scarlet Letter
(1850) and Jane Eyre (1847) on my trip to Spain.
The Hawthorne was much better than I remembered it. The
writing is enchanting, if somewhat moralizing. The
situations are a bit ridiculous (dying on the scaffold?),
but I guess that was the norm in those days. Some nice

"The heat that had formerly pervaded his nature, and which
was not yet extinct, was never of the kind that flashes and
flickers in a blaze; but, rather, a deep, red glow, as of
iron in a furnace."

"It is a good lesson--though it may often be a hard one--for
a man who has dreamed of literary fame, and of making for
himself a rank among the world's dignitaries by such means,
to step aside of of the narrow circle in which his claims
are recognized, and to find how utterly devoid of
significance, beyond that circle, is all that he achieves
and all he aims at."

"It must have been a work of vast ability in the somniferous
school of literature."

The contrast was remarkable, given the fact that they were
only written 3 years apart. Eyre reads much like my
favorite book, David Copperfield, but Eyre is a bit too
perfect for my taste. I delight in the peccadillos of
Dickens' protagonists, while she had none but naivete. The
writing is beautiful though, with none of the melodrama
of Hawthorne:

"No sooner did I see that his attention was riveted on
them, and that I might gaze without being observed, than my
eyes were drawn involuntarily to his face; I could not keep
their lids under control: they would rise, and the irids
would fix on him. I looked, and had an acute pleasure in
looking - a precious yet poignant pleasure; pure gold, with
a steely point of agony: ..."

I'm on to Pride and Prejudice now...

No comments:

Post a Comment