I was out of school for over a week; first, I was sick with the flu and then laryngitis and a sinus infection. Since I don’t have internet at home, I have not been able to blog. I seriously doubt I would have done any writing anyway, since there were times I could barely hold my head up. But I’m back in school now, and although I still don’t feel completely better, I am much better than I was last week at this time.
While I was out, I did quite a bit of reading. I greatly enjoyed G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who was Thursday. If I tried to explain the plot, it would thoroughly confuse you, so I won’t try. But the book is well worth the read. I read an annotated version by Ignatius Press which has a very helpful introduction. I love Chesterton’s style–he uses a lot of alliteration, even in prose.
I also read Condi: The Condoleeza Rice Story. I was already interested in her because of what I had seen of her on TV, and I came away with an even stronger admiration for her. She is a fascinating lady. Before deciding to study Russian history and language, she was a Piano Performance major and had considered a career as a concert pianist. When she was my age, she was finishing up her doctorate in International Studies at the University of Denver and then started teaching at Stanford. She served on the National Security Council during the George H. Bush administration and then returned to Stanford to become the provost. Now she is the National Security Adviser. The White House has a concise bio of Dr. Rice, but I encourage you to read the book for a more complete picture of this talented lady.
I took a break from the more serious reading to read the second and third books in the Mitford Series: A Light in the Window and These High, Green Hills. I actually read both books in one day–almost 800 pages! The books are from the perspective of an Episcopal priest, Father Tim, in the small village of Mitford, North Carolina. I love the characters in these light, easy-to-read novels. I appreciate Father Tim’s realistic, often humorous, responses to the situations and people he meets. I’m going to check books four and five out of the library to read this weekend.
I just finished Theodore Dreiser’s Jennie Gerhardt this morning. I do not recommend this book unless you want to be seriously depressed. Dreiser’s deterministic pessimism is overbearing and leads to a very unsatisfactory conclusion. This is the sort of book I’d like to write a paper about because of the nature imagery and philosophy, but I don’t know if I could stand re-reading it so closely. I read Dreiser’s Sister Carrie in grad school and rather liked it (in a weird academic way); I don’t remember the philosophy as being so in-your-face pessimistic.
My roommate asked me why I read books like Jennie Gerhardt. I am trying to expand the breadth of novels I read to include more of the classics but also lesser known works by important authors. I didn’t want to end my study of serious literature with my graduation from graduate school. In fact, I think I have an even greater desire to read more now that I teach literature. Sometimes I am familiar with only one work by an author which I studied in high school or college (sometimes even twice in college), but I have read little else by the major authors. I am trying to read more by the authors I teach so I can have a greater understanding of and appreciation for the works that I teach. For example, I teach “The White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett, but that is the only story I have ever read by her. The next book on my reading list is Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs.