Monday, February 28, 2011

With luck, this will be my last George Eliot post for awhile. Managed to complete Adam Bede this weekend in a torrid session of reading during a rare extended period of silence at home. And the thing is so dang good. Reader, I cried. I'm not sure I was quite ready for the turn the plot takes after Hetty's fate is resolved, but it's still done so beautifully you just don't care. And to drag out the suspense a little Eliot even parades the whole cast of the Poyser farm out for one last ensemble piece at a dinner; we get to meet the bit players in mini-portraits at the table. I had been wondering why we hadn't seen more of the common laborers on the farm, since Eliot seems to love training the lens on them so much. I wish she didn't wait so long to do it here. But at least this last supper scene lets us savor for one last time the phenomenon that is Mrs. Poyser, who might be, of all the Eliot characters I can remember, the one with the quickest, most biting, most creative wit. And then there is a wedding and then it is done.

I'm in that rosy period where you remember the book and the characters and you can think about it actively and productively and even authoritatively if you are in such a mood. It won't be long, though, before the particulars will fade and I will remember only broad outlines of things and then I will forget even that and only remember that I loved the experience of reading the book. It will turn into pure feeling. Hopefully, I will have room in my life for a re-read by then.

The last couple of days, I've been easing my way through the Patti Smith memoir of her life with Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids, on recommendation of Sarah Jane, and it's a fun glimpse into 70's NYC. My favorite moments are the scattered impressions she provides of fellow residents at the Chelsea Hotel. Harry Smith, in particular. It reminds me of my days living in the dorms at IU, to be honest.

My other first impression is that Smith got taken for a ride by Mapplethorpe, who feigned an emotional connection to her until he could find a male lover with more money. She just seems so naive that it's hard to believe she made it at all there. But she did.


sarahjane said...

I think Patti Smith seems so innocent, as well.

I saw some interviews where people spoke unkindly about Mapplethorpe--saying he was manipulative. I wasn't as convinced as you seem to be!

Maureen said...

I've read "Just Kids" and heard Patti Smith speak about her relationship with Mapplethorpe, and I came away with an impression of how deeply she loved him. I tend to think they were quite open with each other and accepting, even if reluctantly. I don't look on their relationship at all cynically. And I don't regard her as naive or innocent. A romantic, yes; but certainly not "taken for a ride".

Mr. Hill said...

Interesting. I don't really feel so harshly toward Robert as thought at first. He seems to have been as much of a mystery to himself as he was to Patti and is to us, so any manipulation on his part was probably unwitting, probably a natural consequence of growing up in an environment that didn't prepare him for or even give a name to the kind of sexual and artistic identity he developed.

sarahjane said...

I think that's how I felt about him--that he was such a mystery to himself. I felt a little sad for his younger self.