Gone With the Wind…Still

You guys. Seriously. You guys. I’m still reading this book. And I feel like no matter how many pages I turn, how many times I tap the digital Kindle page, how many times I pick it up, Sherman is still shelling Atlanta and there is still SO MUCH MORE TO GO! I mean, for goodness sakes, Melanie hasn’t even had her baby yet, and then they still have to get to Tara, and then Scarlett will never go hungry again, and then…well, then the entire second half of the movie starts. But, to be honest, I can’t say I’m disliking all of these facts.

I mean, I feel bad, but because I don’t want things here to seem like I’m dragging or things are lacking. I start to feel bad when I come back week after week talking about the same book (and it’s definitely looking like that final intended deadline I set might have to be revised, but that’s a different topic for a different day) and that’s part of the reason that I think maybe things have quieted down the past week or so – because I’ve just been chugging along, reading the same books as the last time I was here! But other than that? I don’t feel bad about how slow I’m getting through Peg’s classic. I mean, the banter between Scarlett and Rhett is delicious, the portrait of the south that Mitchell creates, and the language she uses to create it – I’m, like, basking in it. It’s just too much to take in a whole bunch of in one setting.

I like to think that I’d get along with the Wilkes, if I’m being honest. And while I know that pretty much everyone has their druthers with Miss O’Hara, I’ll say that the thing that I probably like about her the least is how much she despises Melanie (but, then again, I kind of find it cloying how much Melanie defends Scarlett anyway. Like, there’s gracious and then there’s being a doormat. Like, CLEARLY this woman doesn’t really care for you, and after a while I feel like it stops becoming empathy and starts becoming a lack of self worth). I love the Wilkes family, and there is something about the thought of a family who adheres to philosophy, book learning, and art in a land of whiskey and dogs and hunting and joviality. It’s like in creating these two families (the Wilkeses and the O’Haras) Mitchell has found a way to mirror some of the dichotomies I feel/see in my own life – I too love art and music and literature and discussing all those things. But I also love beer from the can and laying in the mud and just being…well, undignified!

The last 100 or so pages that I’ve read have been largely about the battle to, and in, Atlanta. And while I’ve never been in a state of war, and am never planning on being in one, I can imagine that Mitchell only scratches the surface of what it must be like to see your friends, lovers, family, and neighbors marching off bravely and gallantly only to return broken, dirty, and defeated – or to not return at all. And for what? One of the most touching parts so far was Ashley’s letter to Melanie explaining how futile it all seems, how silly the war is and how even those in it could see that dying for a Cause is so seldom actually worth dying for. I loved it. And it made me sad. All at the same time. That’s what a lot of this Gone with the Wind experience has done so far, and it’s not a bad thing. It’s a great thing, actually, and one that reaffirms the boundary-pushing reasons I’m undertaking this project. I’m not even finished yet!

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Finished: The Magician’s Nephew

While I was hammering my way through Middlemarch this past week, I knew I needed a break, and when I really need a break from big heavy reading, nothing quite does it as well as children’s literature! And, looking at my original list of 250 titles, there aren’t very many children’s literature selections. With those perameters in mind, I’m excited to be reading my with through the Narnia books in the background of all the other reading I’ve got going on!

According to the ever-trusty Wikipedia, The Magician’s Nephew was originally published as the sixth book out of the seven that make up the series, although it’s essentially a prequel, as it tells the story of how Narnia came to be. One wet summer in London, Polly Plummer meets her next door neighbor Diggory Kirke and, through a series of adventures, the two end up using magic rings invented by Diggory’s uncle to make their way to the Wood Between the Worlds. From here, they venture through a pool of water in to the destroyed land of Charn, where an evil witch queen named Jadis once destroyed everything while preserving herself in a kind of coma-like state. And, you guessed it, Diggory and Polly wake her from this state and inadvertently bring her back with them to London. All kinds of hijinks ensue, until, in their efforts to return her to her own world, Polly, Diggory, Jadis, Diggory’s uncle Andrew, and an unfortunate horse and cab driver make their way in to a world that is at that moment being created and turned in Narnia by Aslan. As you can probably guess, Jadis goes on to become the White Witch of Narnia in the next book, and we see Aslan again in almost all the books. So this is, truly, the beginning of the story.

So…I don’t really like this book. There. I’ll say it. I mean, yeah, it’s cute. And it’s the first book in a series that, other than this first volume, I absolutely love! But this book is just, well, boring. Most of it is, anyway. Even as a child I can remember not exactly enjoying this book, but I always made myself read it when I was reading the series because, well, I’m Type-A and we’re rules followers, and not reading the first book was basically cheating and meant I couldn’t really say that I’d “re-read the series”. Yep. I was one of those kids.

Anyway, as you probably already know, C.S. Lewis was also a theologian who emphasized work in Christianity. And those of you who have read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (or had to read it as a part of a church youth program like this blogger did) can see that there is quite a bit of Biblical allusion going on here. And let me tell you – boy do you see it in this book too! I mean, come one, the “world” of Narnia has just been born, and already there is an evil “born” in to it by Diggory leading the witch in to the land, where she then escapes her captors. And yes, Aslan goes on to give a speech pretty much exactly like this. As a child, I didn’t necessarily notice, but this time it basically smacked me in the face. And while I’m a Christian and don’t mind allusive or theological-bent literature, BUT DEAR SWEET JESUS (no offense or pun intended). This is ridiculous! It’s basically Genesis told in London, with God played by a giant friendly Lion.

It wasn’t a bad reading experience, I’ll say that at least. I sped through it, and I knew through the reading that I was reading about the creation of one of my favorite fictional/mythical locations. It was fun to see the tie-ins with other works (not just like how the White Queen came to be, but in smaller details that show Lewis’ true skill: for example, when Diggory takes a piece of magic, healing fruit back with him, he plants the seeds and it grows in to a tree, a tree which is then cut down and turned in to a certain well-known wardrobe) as well as to think about why Lewis decided to write this book before finishing the seventh volume, especially when it serves to start the plot rather than further it along. Definitely not my favorite work, but now that it’s out of the way, I’m enjoying it a lot more!