Sunday, July 3, 2011

in the case of jarndyce and jarndyce

the unemployment rate is 9.1%, our deficit over 14 trillion dollars and i’m always broke.  the only medicine to cure this kind of financial depression is a trip back in time to the 1800s Occident.  
last week I went to the tenement museum for the first time. the LES has meant little more to me than gourmet donuts, authentic japanese and herds of NYU students, but our visit helped me develop a new perspective.  afterwards i couldn’t stop thinking about one of my favorite non-fiction books, the italian boy by historian sarah wise.  i’m a little scared to ask myself why i so enjoyed immersing myself in memories of victorian suffering, but i think it’s a little like wanting to see the freakshow at coney island.  to keep the mood alive, i went home and watched the pbs documentary, “triangle fire.” highly recommended if you want more fuel to fight the man.
starting with the italian boy, i’ve developed an interest in victorian england/1800s us where once i despised it. yesterday i walked to the strand in search of new victorian focused history books (settling for a sarah vowell instead), and i’ve nearly finished watching the bbc miniseries bleak house in 3 days.  this led me to another revelation:
just one of those things that slipped by in grade school and i’ve never pursued.  do you have any favorites? do you even like dickens? my dad just read great expectations for the first time and loved it—maybe i’ll just try that again?


  1. Wow, no Dickens? We read Great Expectations (expurgated version) and Tale of Two Cities when I was in school. And though I enjoyed ToTC (we mananged to get the entire class to read it cuz those of us actually reading it were enjoying it), I didn't become a Dickens fan until a few years ago. A Christmas Carol is still my favorite (doesn't hurt that it's short), but I loved Oliver Twist a lot too. Always loved Dickens' interesting characters (Miss Havesham, Madame LeFarge , Aunt Betsy, etc) even when I was in high school.

  2. Tale of Two Cities was one of my favorite works in 6th grade. Why shouldn't the French Revolution bring a 6th grader to tears? I was obsessed with French urban society and colonialism for years afterward.

  3. In the May VF Proust Q, when Tina Fey is asked to name her fictional hero, she says: “Veruca Salt, Francie Nolan, Miss Havisham. That’s me in a nutshell, actually.” I’m not sure that you really can believe that Tina, or anyone, could be an amalgam of three so disparate characters, but if she’s just a tiny bit like Dickens’ emotionally damaged, vindictive, manipulating, terminally miserable Miss Havisham from Great Expectations, then I may need to reexamine my opinion of her.

  4. @trinalin - mrs. collier is probably going to destroy me for saying that. we kiiiind of read great expectations in class, but like you, we were forced to read the g rated version so i never really thought it counted.
    @dave - of course you cried! i can see you now. so sweet and so smart :)
    @dad - i don't think miss havisham would admit she was remotely havishamy. anyone likening themselves to miss havisham is nothing like miss havisham.

  5. Last night I saw the 1946 David Lean film version of GE for the first time. Bottom line: if you do watch it, and I'm not saying you shouldn't, do yourself a favor and turn it off five minutes before the end. Even acknowledging that it was released only a year after the end of the Great War, the final scene rips the heart from the novel.