Saturday, August 2, 2008


I finished Jane Eyre. It was pretty good, although I thought I'd finished it about 10 or 15 pages before Charlotte Bronte thought it was finished.

In high school, I didn't read the books I was supposed to read. Dickens or the Brontes or Henry James. I did read Jane Austen. I didn't have the patience or interest to slog through stilted formal writing. Now, I don't have much more patience, but I have the interest.

I think the main thing I take from Jane Eyre is that the world changes in some ways, but the characters are the same. Kindness, bitterness, smugness, arrogance, intolerance, fondness, curiosity.

I think it is interesting that Bronte painted the characters in a much subtler way than an author would now. I kept thinking, "How can she stand that pompous ass?" or whatever, and finally realized that was the point. Some of the characterizations are as ironic as Voltaire or Swift, but it took me longer to get it. About 30 years longer.

Now I'm going to re-read some of the books I did read when I was younger. My viewpoint has shifted, and I wonder how I will see the books I DID like as a teenager. I think they will still be great books, but I think I will be slightly less smug in my reading. One would hope.

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