I have been reading a lot lately, even though I haven’t been blogging/reviewing what I have read. This is mostly due to the material that I’ve been enjoying; more classic books. It’s difficult to find new themes, subplots, feelings, ideas when these books have been reviewed and critiqued so extensively. But I do want to share with everyone what has been on my table.
I picked up Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte again after first reading it in high school ages ago. For those who are Pat Benatar fans, I read the book when she covered the song Wuthering Heights. Does that give anyone a clue how long ago that was? Anyway, I was still enthralled by the passions on overdrive. The highs and lows that Cathy and Heathcliff put each other through are the stuff of Greek mythology. Their’s was truly a bad romance, but Cathy Linton and Hareton Earnshaw have the opportunity to put all that angst and drama behind and have a truly deep and abiding relationship. While this is nothing like Jane Austen’s stories, it does illustrate that all great relationships are not all sunshine and roses.
Next on the nightstand was Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger. Can you believe I had never read this book before. While it is a very readable story of a young man’s struggles with life, it’s also a very sophisticated portrait of what the reader is experiencing at the time. When I was part way through the book, I asked Poncho what his take was on the story as I was having some difficulty pinning down Holden Caulfield. Poncho recalled it was a story of a young man who was disillusioned and did not want to grow up. This was the complete opposite view of what I was getting. As I continued to read I came to the understanding that while there was a main theme of teenage angst, there were many other elements happening too, and depending on the reader’s mood would determine which elements became important. It’s sort of a Rorschach Test; what you are feeling and experiencing at the time will be reflected in what themes you pick up in the story.
With it being October, I decided it was high time to indulge in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein once again. Here is another novel that I had read many years ago. This is an in your face story about human hubris and the consequences of thoughtless arrogance. Two questions kept running through my mind as I read this story: what is humanity and what is it to be human? While Shelley did not elaborate how Frankenstein created his creature, I understood that it was not just human parts that were utilized. Does this make the creature less human? And do his thoughts and feelings count less because of his extra-human make-up? In reality, the creature is more accurately super-human because of his strength, agility, and ability to thrive in harsh environments with little to no sustenance. I think a whole lot of cans of worms could be opened with regards to ethics if this book were studied in detail in the health professions.
Finally I read Arthur Miller’s The Crucible for the first time. This was a mind-blowing dramatization of the Salem witch trials of the late 17th century. When Mr. Miller wrote this play he was also dealing with this own persecution brought on by Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Red Scare in the United States. Amazingly, many of the same fears that precipitated both of these witch hunts is present today; the vilifying of whistleblowers such as Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Cpl. Bradley Manning. When status, fear of losing authority, land disputes, and all other manner of creating in-groups and out-groups gets out of control, people are capable of the most atrocious acts of violence. Here is another book that really needs to be taught in school but probably isn’t because it shines a light on humans behaving badly.
Well, there you have it. My reading material for the month of October. I think I am going to look into some more light hearted reading for awhile. These wonderful tombs gave me way too much to think about.