Sunday, January 24, 2010

Today I woke up and all of the snow was gone, removed by a late night wind carrying us into the high 40's and leaving only a few colonies of old snow around the herb garden and in other inexplicably persistent patches around the yard. But tonight it is supposed to snow again, so the breeze has been heavy all day I assume to bring in another front that will take us back down to the 30's. There is no name that I know for this weather. There must be a poem somewhere that serves to name it, but I don't remember reading it.

Trying to decide whether to try reading the introduction to a book of Rilke's selected. It reads well so far, but is about 43 pages long and I don't know if I have time for that. The roman numeral "l" is fifty, I now know, because the introduction ends on page xliii.

Gosh but I love Mill on the Floss. Most of the time the narrator's voice stays well on the side of sympathy toward the characters, so tender, really--not mocking or condescending at all, even while it nudges occasionally. One of my favorite parts so far is how she lingers on one of Tom's rough boyhood friends who has just thrown away a jackknife that had been given to him as a gift by Tom, thrown it away as a symbol of defiance and independence but the symbol goes unnoticed by Tom and the narrator lingers to present the friend's sad consideration of the knife in the dust until he decides to pocket it again.

There is something very modern about this scene. If it were a film, it would come across as a very modern disruption of the narrative to pull away from Tom and consider things from the perspective of this scorned kid. If Dickens were writing his, I would know that he'd be back in the narrative in the last 50 pages and so it would all be a part of an overall logic, but I don't think that is happening here.


Dawn Potter said...

I love hearing you talk about "Mill." It is a book that moves me so deeply that I am unable to write about it.

Mr. Hill said...

Oh thanks, Dawn. It's so nice I want to read it slowly. Maybe "slow reading" can be a counterpart to the slow cooking thing going on right now.