Friday, September 09, 2011

"Excuses, Excuses," but also, Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Yes, I have been caught in that noncommittal middling period, that to-and-fro indifference of “Do I actually want to have a blog?” “Is it really worth it for me to add my two cents into the internet void?” It all comes down to the fundamental question, “Do I really want to lose valuable reading time by writing?”

This is all mental, just like a commitment to working out. I guess my frustration is that I’m not actually sure why I’m writing these things down. When I work out, I do it because I don’t want to feel or be fat. When I write, well, I suppose I do it to exercise and strengthen my ability to say what I actually mean to say. And, that’s a good thing. But, is a blog the best way to do that anyhow?

I’m not sure. We shall see.

In other news, I have been busy filling in my literary gaps-- those books where I’ve felt somewhat ashamed to own up, “Well, I’ve always meant to read that, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.” So, in the past few weeks, I’ve read Catcher in the Rye, Love in the Time of Cholera, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Oh, and don’t worry, I did indeed finish War and Peace a while ago). Nonetheless, while it would be most proper to write about each of those classics in turn, I’m most interested in discussing the Tess since I just finished it today.

I actually didn’t expect to like it so much.  All my reading life, for no apparent reason, I assumed I wouldn’t care for Thomas Hardy. Of course, I’ve always meant to fill in the Tess gap, but entered into it with the expectation of drudgery and despair. All I knew was that it was sad.

And the book certainly is very sad. I told Jon that my heart felt it was being perptually butterflied, raw-chicken-breast-style, the entire time (this rather nasty simile makes me wonder if I spend too much time in the kitchen). Nonetheless, that Thomas Hardy-- he certainly knew how to create some characters.  Tess is captivating; her vitality and trueness exhibit those deep down things that we feel about being human. This morning, as I was praying, I almost started praying for Tess in her horrible plight. Then I had to remind myself that she’s not really, well, real. You could infer several things from this slightly embarrassing confession (i.e. that Amanda is crazy because she prays for literary characters; but honest, it’s the first time; I’m almost sure!) but the main thing to conclude is that Hardy, in creating Tess Durbeyfield, brought to life someone who so breathes of reality that the impressionable reader will find himself or herself wanting to pray for her. And that’s the end of that!

1 comment:

  1. Writing is never a waste! Well, unless you're Ayn Rand.

    And your praying for a literary character reminds me of an essay by Umberto Eco. "On The Ontology of Fictional Characters: A Semiotic Approach". He says that characters in fiction are, from the reader's perspective, as real or even more real than nonfictional characters. Pretty interesting stuff.