Friday, 9 November 2007

Booking through Thursday

Today's question:
Would you say that you read about the same amount now as when you were younger? More? Less? Why?
I read heaps more now, by choice, than when I was younger. And I owe it all to D.H. Lawrence and Australia.
As a kid in England in the early 1960s, I had a teacher who forbade us to read Enid Blyton, not because of the gollywog wars or Noddy's closet homosexuality, but because he said she was formulaic and snobby. Anyway, I did as I was told, and have very fond memories of The Borrowers, and Frances Hodgson-Burnett's two wonderful tales, The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, all of which I read with my mum.

High school had an incredible workload, and one or two hours' homework every night was normal. My first high school books, in Upper IIIE, were John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (what?!) and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Heavy stuff for a ten-year-old, but a grand start, in hindsight.
From then on, we picked up speed and galloped through lots and lots of required reading. I can't remember all of it, but there was the usual line-up: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Goldsmith, Sheridan, Bunyan, Milton et al. Then there were French plays and novels, read and discussed in French, and Virgil's Aeneid and Caesar's Invasion of Britain in Latin.
I remember my friends reading plenty, but for me, there simply wasn't enough time for recreational reading. Plus all these books belonged to the school, so you never got to live with them for very long.
Epiphany came in Australia, in 1970, when my parents were shocked to discover they had to buy all our school textbooks and stationery when we enrolled at the local high school. So I came home with a fabulous pile of books and just started reading: Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence. This was 4th year high school and the theme of all the Eng.Lit. reading was childhood. So there were wonderful novels like Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The Man Who Loved Children, Catcher in the Rye and The Go-between, and a heap of poems and short stories.
And there was a reprieve in French. In England we'd been studying Camus and Descartes; in Australia we read Asterix comics and Le Petit Prince. Piece of cake.

I had much more reading time, now, and Lawrence, I thought, was the most wonderful, wonderful, insightful, sensitive, best author in the whole world.
I've had my head in a book ever since.


Virginie said...

Well I can believe you when you say that Le Petit Prince and Asterix are a piece of cake after Descartes or Camus;o) Being french, I can tell that most of french students don't really enjoy studying Descartes either. It is also complicated for us, so for foreigner I don't want to imagine. But Camus is really easy to read, well when you're french at least because he wrote more in a speaking language...

Florinda said...

Pilgrim's Progress? I think you're the first person I've known of who has actually read it. I really only know it from the prominent role it occupies in Little Women.

Thank you for stopping by my blog today!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Gosh you had an impressive reading list at an early age. Wish I'd got such a good start, though I'm making up for it now!

gautami tripathy said...

You sure started early on Shakespeare! In India too, a lot of emphasis was on English lit. Hence my interest in reading started from when I was around 8 years old. I devoured anything I could lay my hands on!