Click here to read my first post to FIKA, the excellent intellectual community blog I recently joined. Sneak preview:
I recently finished reading Wuthering Heights, the moody, mysterious classic by Emily Brontë. It wasn’t one of my favorite books, but as a student of literature I felt obliged to read it, and by the end I’d realized a few things that did make me like it more. First of all, it really is like one long, strange, obsessive dream, and I think that going into it with that kind of mentality would have helped me to be a bit more open-minded to its peculiar (but undeniably powerful) tone and pace. It was like being lead down a long, shadowy, winding road. You can’t see around the next bend, and it’s hard to remember what you’ve already passed by, because everything you’ve seen has been so odd, so unexpected–and there’s simply been so much of it (400 pages’ worth). At the end of the road is a glimpse of a dramatic and quite beautiful view, and so the long walk is worth it: you just need to have the faith to follow where you’re led. And if I’d thought of the novel as a dream–or at least a conscious creation stemming from the deep subconscious–I would have been more apt to trust, and to let myself be led.
Along these same lines, I realized something else about the novel: I think it’s best read in as few sittings as possible. I broke up my reading far too much, because I hadn’t grasped the tale’s dreamlike quality; and everyone knows that when you’re awakened from a dream, it’s almost impossible to fall back asleep and return to the dream. By breaking up my reading, I was continually jolted out of Brontë’s world, and thus was unable to sink into it, to let it absorb me, to play by its rules and believe its strange reality. Really, in a perfect world, I think most books (maybe all books) should be read in one sitting; this is definitely one of them. Wuthering Heights is famous for the parallel it draws between dark, brooding, stormy human emotions, and the dark, brooding, stormy Yorkshire landscape where it is set. Brontë’s characters are at the mercy of their own stormy passions, just as all humans are, finally, helpless in the face of nature’s power. Just as we feel these characters are being blown forward by some fierce, wild, unstoppable wind, so must we give into the book’s power, and let ourselves be blown.