19

Back To The Future

 
Wuthering Heights by Emile Bronte, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte are two of my favorite classic books. My current read is The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. This is the first I've read of her novels, and as I normally find with books from this time period, it starts out pretty slow. It's always a bit jarring to get into the rhythm of a classic after reading so many contemporary novels. Sometimes I want to scream "Get to the point already!"

For example:

"If you think you have wronged me by giving me your friendship, and occasionally admitting me to the enjoyment of your company and conversation, when all hopes of closer intimacy were vain - as indeed you always gave me to understand - if you think you have wronged me by this, you are mistaken; for such favours, in themselves alone, are not only delightful to my heart, but purifying, exalting, ennobling to my soul; and I would rather have your friendship than the love of any other woman in the world!"

Romantic? Yes. Swoon-worthy? Maybe. Long-winded? Definitely.

We all know literature reflects the time in which it's written. If a time traveler on a maiden voyage to our planet compared a novel published in the 19th century to a novel on the shelves today would she think we've all dumbed down, or at the very least become lazy? Or would the literature of her time be so different that both would be unrecognizable?

Perhaps, like my clothes from the 80s, the language of literature will come full circle and all books will again be written like the above tidbit. What do you think? Inquiring minds want to know.

19 comments:

Michael Di Gesu said...

I love classic literature, Lisa. And the books you've mentioned are some of my all time favorites.

The writing is magnificent. If only we could show so much eloquence in our writing. I certainly try. That is why I am so hung up on imagery. I make a point to embellish it. And you know every blogger that reads my posts comments on that. So I must be doing something right.

I agree at times it can certainly bog down the plot, but plot was as important back then, the chemistry between man and woman was and the social ramifications of their interaction. Fascinating.

Trisha said...

Jane Eyre in particular is my favourite of those ;) But I haven't read Anne's work either.

Rogue Mutt said...

There are still some writers today who can be about that long-winded.

Lynda R Young said...

We can learn so much from classic literature, but I don't think language will turn full circle and go back to the way it was. Langauge is always evolving. I believe novels will get shorter and words will become more and more clipped.

Madeleine said...

I think Tenant of Wildfell is better than Wuthering Heights, but that's just me.
BTW There's an award for you under yesterday's post at my blog :O)

Old Kitty said...

Oh but this sample makes me swoon and luxuriate in the words! I love it!! More please!!!

Take care
x

Gina said...

It's so funny you should mention Jane Eyre. I didn't like it at all the first time I read it, but I was enthralled with its prequel, the Wide Sargasso Sea. I'm currently re-reading both to see if my opinion has changed. And all I've been thinking so far is "Holy crap, how did Charlotte's editor let her get away with this?!"

Cally Jackson said...

I have to admit, I've never read a single book by any of the Brontes or Jane Austen either. They're on my list, but I'm like you - I find books from that era a bit long-winded. (Says the girl who's just finished writing a 175K manuscript!)

Hart Johnson said...

I love Whuthering Heights. Jane eyre? Not so much. And I'm not an Austen fan. It's not the pace though. I am not a romance fan, and I REALLY don't care about anyone upper class in ANY generation. If Pride and Prejudice was from the PoV of a gossiping servant, I'd probably think it was good fun. I just find the concerns of the genry DULL. That said, I ADORE much of Dickens, Hugo, Tolstoy, Dumas... the more adventurous or tortured books from the 19th century--even if War and Peace would NEVER find publication today, I think it's the best book EVER.

And I do think we've dumbed down quite a bit. But I ALSO think we've done some things to improve--in the 19th century, how many drafts do you think a book got? My bet is 2. the handwritten and the type set... More drafts DOES improve stuff...

Lisa Potts said...

I've tried to read Austin and I just haven't been able to do it. I'll probably try again sometime.

Stephen Tremp said...

As long as women, like, do not speak like Valley Girl, we'll be oaky. i mean, gag me with a spoon. Totally.

Lisa Potts said...

Oh, PLEASE, anything but that, Stephen.

T.D. McFrost said...

Hi Lisa!

Thanks for stopping by and saying hey. I am in LOVE with your blog design - so much so that I followed. :D

I'll be here often, so look out for me.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful weekend.

Tyson.

Amie Kaufman said...

I love the classics, but I do find I need to slooooow dooooown when I read them. In a way, it's kind of relaxing.

Jen said...

I can honestly say I don't have the patience to sit down and read the classics. I've tried, but haven't been successful. That being said, I wonder what it would be like if we did go back to writing that way. How many people could write books that length and make them that good? Was it the times or was it the writer? Very thought provoking post, thanks!

Lisa Potts said...

T.D., love your blog design too. Thanks for dropping by.

Amie and Jen, I agree with your points exactly. I think with our
current fast food mindset, it's difficult to slow down for anything.

Angela Scott said...

I think classics are classic for a reason. Can we ever duplicate it? My gut says no. We can come close (if people so desire and there are readers to support it), but I think our time of true classics is over. Don't hate me for saying that. I could be wrong, and most often times I am, but this is what my gut is telling me.

Humans are a changing lot. Fads and times come and go--though I did see stirrup pants for sell in a mall (remember those from the 80's)--those nasty suckers--so who knows. Maybe beautiful rambling prose will make a comeback. But even so, it won't be the same.

~Angela

Madeleine said...

LOL! Thanks for the chuckle. Yes things were done differently in those days. The pace has increased so much that we forget how slow life and swooning obviously had been! 'O)

kelworthfiles said...

I don't think literature and language will ever come around in a circle, but it might do a spiral, or loop around and cross itself for a moment. ;)

I'm starting up a 'Critiquing Crusaders' program, where participants in the Second Crusade can find other writers to exchange critiques with or form critiquing circles. If you're interested, come by The Kelworth Files to check it out!

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