My ‘Classical’ Love Affair

Posted on August 3, 2010. Filed under: Essay | Tags: , , , , , , , , |


Summer vacations were going on. I must have been 9 or 10 years old. That one glorious year, we were living on the 5th floor in a building just beside a comparatively secluded part of Juhu beach. Everybody at home was asleep. Somehow I was awake. I still remember the day quite vividly. I was listlessly moving around from one room to another looking for something to do. For some unbeknownst reason, I opened one of the rusting Godrej cupboards and began rummaging through it. And there it was – a veritable treasure trove. No it was not a gateway to Narnia, but to another world that I discovered.  Abridged versions of English classics! They had been textbooks of my dad and aunt and had been stowed away for so many years.  At that instant, I was unaware that my love affair with classics had begun.

I took the Count of Monte Cristo and began reading. I read with horror as Dantes was wrongly accused of treason and carted off to Chateau D’If.  The book took me to France and Italy, amidst rocky seas and grim prison islands, to beautiful women and treacherous men. I devoured it all up in one sitting. Probably since it was a kiddie book it ended as a happy ending. Edmond escapes from the prison, gets his treasure and is reunited with Mercedez. I lived in this ignorance caused bliss. I did not read the revenge saga until I became an adult.

Of course, this post would be incomplete without the mention of Pride and Prejudice. There is something about Mr. Darcy.  All my friends who have read this book are still in love with him. Something about his haughty demeanor yet kind heart. Maybe psychologists and psychoanalysts may have something to say about women’s fixation for Mr. Darcy. A must read for all girls of all ages.

Many years have now passed after that summer. My fervor in books has lessened because of the pressures of making a living. I am less adventurous now, when I choose authors. But with most classics I have never gone wrong.

I dove into To Kill a Mocking bird with a clean frame of mind. I did not know its story, but I knew that it was a Pulitzer winning book. I was not disappointed. Every page I turned, I found myself being enthralled more and more.  The escapades of Scout and Jem, reminded me of my own misadventures with my sisters. The unfortunate events by which they ‘come of age’ filled me with sorrow, but at the end I felt optimistic about the inherent goodness of human beings.  I would definitely recommend it to someone who wants to begin reading, because it is a great story written in a lucid way. (I tried it on #win, but he has not yet read it to my dismay.)

Another delightful classic is Catch 22. I remember clutching my sides and laughing while I was reading it. But the next instant I would realize the grief that the comedy tries to veil, albeit thinly. An example is this guy who strives to make his life boring because being bored gives you an illusion of time having slowed down, and time slowing down makes your impending death seem farther (it is a story of disillusioned aircraft pilots, fighting a futile war). A long-ish book, but each and every page is a delight.

Another classic with a ‘catch’ is A Catcher in the Rye. I had a hard time reading it because of its strange prose style. Probably because of this staccato style, the effect on the reader is so great. I remember being disturbed for days on end after reading it.  This story of an angst ridden teenager struck a chord really close to my heart.  I would not want to read it again, but I am sure everyone will find a piece of themselves in that book.

So, what is on my reading list now? Ulysses, Lolita, The Grapes of Wrath, 1984, A Brave New World, Howard’s End… If you have read any or all of these, do let me know your opinions. Happy reading!

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12 Responses to “My ‘Classical’ Love Affair”

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Pride & Prejudice is one of my favourite novels, possibly even the top one.

But Eliza Bennet is absolutley hands down my favourite literary character.

I get the appeal of Darcy – god knows I’ve had fantasies about him myself (especially in his Colin Firth incarnation) – but my heart belongs to Elizabeth.

I can’t think of another heroine like her. She is neither the “damsel in distress”, nor the “virginal innocent of pure heart taking on the wild world”. She isn’t the “man-hating independent woman”. She’s not the “fiesty redhead”, nor the “bookish loner”. She isn’t the “woman who finally finds her One True Love and is willing to sacrifice anything to be with him”.

She’s Elizabeth.

She defies stereotypes of *all* kinds, ancient and modern. She’s normal. Sometimes witty and sometimes not, often cheerful but sometimes crabby. When she’s in lust, she embraces it rather than bury it inside (Wickham), when in love she’s pragmatic even at her most desperate. She accepts the reality of her time and her situation with grace, even while remaining idealistic in all the ways that matter.

I seem to be in danger of writing very effusive and somewhat embarrasing love poems here and it’s not even my own blog… 🙂 So I’ll close with ELIZABETH ROCKS! YEAH! YEAH! *WITH POM-POMS*

Yes I love Elizabeth too, however I feel since Darcy turned out to be the good guy, it was convenient for her. Interesting it wouldve been had instead of Lydia, Eliza had eloped with Wickham. That would have been a true test of Darcy’s character and would have made Eliza a little more vulnerable.

Tchah, that would never happen. Elizabeth is much too level-headed to elope. Which is what I like about her! Here is ONE romance novel heroine who would never throw away her whole life and world just for the man she loves. She *isn’t* vulnerable – not in this way. 🙂

typical chick flicks

except pride n prejudice none of them can be called chicklit

typical functionally illiterate male.

typical condescending functionally illiterate male.

I know! Illiterate 😀

completely agree wid u….classics have such a great impact on you…I still read P.G.Wodehouse and enjoy it….its an addiction:)

oh yes Wodehouse is one of my eternal favorites! always uplifts my mood.

Love Mr. Darcy. He had to give up his pride, Elizabeth her prejudice which led her into believing Wickham’s lies. I really love BBC’s version of this.

To Kill A Mocking Bird, once again prejudice leading to dire consequences. I love this book, the flow of it; its message of a man needing to do the right thing. His daughter witnessing and living it and letting us know in narrative fashion that didn’t bore me.

A Catcher in the Rye. We’re all searching for something aren’t we? Trying to define ourselves, being molded and shaped by events and people that surround us.

1984 is 2010.

I saw a comparison between 1984 and Huxley’s brave new world. Was hilarious! I guess we are dying more from over information rather than over censorship 🙂


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