The reason I hesitate to blog these days is that my mind swarms with a million and one little things… I don’t know that I can put them all into one coherent blog post. And in a way I’m not sure I can express them well; I seem to turn a perfectly good thought into something half-hearted and nonsensical.
A while ago I blogged that Middlemarch by George Eliot was one of the classics I felt guilty about not reading, so I made a point of starting it one day. I only got halfway through. But it wasn’t because I didn’t like it; I was quite curious about what going to happen next. The problem was this: I looked at the condition of the paperback itself (an old second-hand one)… and didn’t want to touch it any more!
That was several months ago.
My sister gave me a Kindle e-reader for Christmas, and it hasn’t left my side! I love it. I have downloaded a lot of old ‘freebie’ classics, and also bought 99p bargains from the 12-day Kindle Sale on Amazon (over now). I finished Little Lord Fauntleroy today, and was about to start one of the others… then I thought “what about Middlemarch?” I downloaded that free from Amazon and have begun again from the beginning.
It has American spellings, but I can live with that for now… at least I am able to highlight things. I have got so used to highlighting all the bits I like that I find myself reaching for the ‘highlight’ button even when I’m not on the Kindle! If you say something pithy in an email, I want to highlight it and keep if forever in my clippings. (Not that I can — I don’t get emails on the Kindle!)
I have no previous experience of George Eliot, as I have read absolutely nothing else of hers… and in a way I wasn’t expecting much. I figured the books might be very dry, and possibly a bit depressing, and that’s about it. But the highlight button got into top gear from the first page of Middlemarch. Some of it seems to express how I feel… the blundering through life, unable to turn your ideas (or ideals) into any kind of material shape. Perhaps this is how women in particular felt back then, but it’s a feeling that hasn’t gone away.
Sometimes when there’s a lot going on inside my head, my blog seems the place to visit, but I worry that would be a mistake. You wonder why anyone would want to know what you think about things. If they have the same ideas already, they will not be impressed; if they have different ideas, it might be because they know better. Though I love to see my ideas out here, already expressed by others… that makes me feel that we are all the same underneath. Even if, in general, you can’t make people out, it is reassuring to discover (through some medium or other) that they have the same experiences and concerns.
It turns life into a Comedy of Errors, I think… if we are so cut off from each other that we think we are the only ones to feel stupid or scared, make mistakes or come across the wrong way, life swings towards Tragedy. Nothing is more frightening than aloneness.
This is why we like books; we can make contact…. get a glimpse of someone else’s thoughts without being kept at arm’s length by all the “hello, nice day!” stuff. Small chat can be draining in a way that a good pithy book is not.
The concept of ‘following’ another person’s Kindle highlights and notes bemused me… but after thinking about the above, it makes some sense. After completing a book, I look to see if others have highlighted the same bits that I did. I got the feeling that a lot of people, after an enthusiastic start, went to sleep in the middle of Diary of a Nobody… but they woke up towards the end.