For my English Lit class this week, I had to read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. With all the reading I've done over the years, this was one of the classics I'd never even picked up. I saw the movie. I know what happened. I am dumb.
I should know by now that Hollywood movies back in the 30's didn't stick to the story line AT ALL. I really should know this. But, I was pleasantly surprised to find a well-written, interesting literary story that was a completely new discovery.
I am not quite finished, but I got to read the monster-y part while the wind blew, lightning flew, and thunder crashed around me. We are having a big storm and today I stayed in my jammies, made hot chocolate (with marshmallows), got out the blankets, sat on the couch in front of the fire, called the dog up onto the couch with me, and read a good story. To know me is to know that this was a little slice of heaven.
One of the things I like about older novels is the minutia and detail about daily life they include. Jane Austen does this, Proust does it to a degree that maddens most people, and if I'm not in the mood to be slowed waaaaaay down, to read about life in slow motion as it seems the 'olden days' were, then I too get bored easily. The weather and the dry and comfy house set the mood for me today, and I enjoyed hearing about what the character did each day.
I think that is one thing missing from literature being written today. We live faster. The pace is just different. So to write about what I did for two hours when I wasn't doing anything is boring. We are now in a culture that demands stimulation, progress, entertainment on a scale never seen before. I don't necessarily dislike it, but it comes in to sharp focus when I read something written two hundred years ago. Proust wrote pages and pages about the few minutes right when you are falling asleep. I think it is very interesting, but now many people can't slow to that timelessness of contemplation.
Frankenstein was written by a very young woman in response to a friendly challenge. What could I write if I had to live the way they did in 1818? If the power goes off, I can't quit hitting the light switch every time I go in to a room, so I don't think I'd be inspired. I'd be annoyed to have to live without the modern conveniences. I do think that time spent doing nothing but listening, taking things in, instead of always spewing things out would do wonders for our culture. Slow down, just a little. Think before you say something. Really listen to the world around you. Shelley noticed some interesting things. I think those things might still be there, if we just paid attention.