Thursday, November 08, 2007

While I was On Hiatus, I read Great Expectations. You know, the one we all had to read in junior high-- Pip, Estella, Miss Havisham, the wedding cake covered with spiderwebs. I remembered the basics (I thought), and I remembered that I often didn't understand what I was reading. I was probably 13 at the time, and had no patience for Victorian English. And Miss Kimbrough, my 9th grade english teacher, the one who wore two different shoes for most of the day without even realizing it until one of her students pointed it out to her during 4th period, wasn't exactly a genius at explicating it for witless adolescents.

But what I discovered upon re-reading it surprised me. First of all, either I bagged on the novel halfway through, or we were only required to read half of it. I had no memory whatsoever of anything that happened after Pip discovered that Miss Havisham was not his benefactor. In fact, in my memory, that was where the novel ended. I was also surprised by how funny it is. Not in a Jim Carrey kind of way, of course, but in a subtler way. And further, I found myself truly moved by Pip. He undergoes a transformation from an arrogant young man to a humble, contented adult that is quite profound-- but also quite clearly planned by Dickens. There's no missing the moral to the story, although it's proof of Dickens genius that the lesson doesn't overpower the story. It's not a quick read, or at least not for me: Victorian english is slow going. I spread it out over the entire seven weeks. But highly recommended.

But BEST OF ALL: early on in the book, Dickens ends a sentence with a dangling preposition. And that settles it. If no less a writer than Charles Dickens can publish a book with a dangling preposition in it, who am I to worry? No more apologies for bad grammar. Or at least, not as many.

I'm trying to think of a witty way to end this post with a dangling preposition but of course not a single thing is coming to mind.


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