Welcome back to The Literary Life this week and the continuation of our series on Hard Times by Charles Dickens. After some autumnal chit-chat, our hosts Angelina, Cindy, and Thomas dive into the plot of the end of Book 2. They open discussing Stephen’s fate and Tom Gradgrind’s destructive, devouring nature. They highlight Mrs. Sparsit and her similarities to a harpy and other imagery surrounding her denoting evil. Some other ideas discussed are good intentions with bad results, the concept of the fallen woman in Victorian times, Louisa’s homecoming and confession, and the failure of a formula in imparting virtue.
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Beware of the superficial knowledge of cold facts. Beware of sinful ratiocination, for it kills the heart, and when heart and mind have died in a man, there art cannot dwell.Caspar David Friedrich
I don’t think they are noticeably worse at reading or writing than they were all those decades ago, though they’re less likely to have a lot of experience with the standard academic essay (introduction, three major points, conclusion) — which I do not see as a major deficiency. That kind of essay was never more than a highly imperfect tool for teaching students how to read carefully and write about what they have read, and, frankly, I believe that over the years I have come up with some better ones.Alan Jacobs, from Snakes and Ladders
The hours of unsponsored, uninspected, perhaps even forbidden, reading, the ramblings, and the “long, long thoughts” in which those of luckier generations first discovered literature and nature and themselves are a thing of the past.C. S. Lewis, from “Lilies that Fester”
A Daughter of Eve
by Christina Rossetti
A fool I was to sleep at noon,
And wake when night is chilly
Beneath the comfortless cold moon;
A fool to pluck my rose too soon,
A fool to snap my lily.
My garden-plot I have not kept;
Faded and all-forsaken,
I weep as I have never wept:
Oh it was summer when I slept,
It’s winter now I waken.
Talk what you please of future spring
And sun-warm’d sweet to-morrow:—
Stripp’d bare of hope and everything,
No more to laugh, no more to sing,
I sit alone with sorrow.
The World’s Last Night: and Other Essays by C. S. Lewis
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Esther Waters by George Moore
Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
Pictures from Italy by Charles Dickens
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