To Be or Not To Be

A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well.
-- Louisa May Alcott.
...........hmmm....that more or less describes my situation !!

~A Wise Man Said~

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle

Monday, May 19, 2003
The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
--H.W. Longfellow

Ever since I left college, it has been hard to find the time and inclination to read; perhaps inclination would be a wrong word, something akin to energy. A day's work and all I feel like doing is hiding my head among the pillows and dozing off. Music does not seem so bad either. The television would have been a good diversion, if the folks at home didn't care so much about the regular goings-on in the Saas-Bahu soaps. Those are quite competent to give you a headache, as I've had the pleasure of experiencing first hand, when I ventured out in hopes of company.

Well! the good news is, things have changed a bit. Now that I have an extra day in a week (saturday) all to myself, I decided to make the best use of it: books!

Joined the British Council Library last week. I had long wished to join it but never so much as now. I had no idea what book I would take up when I went there (except for the Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russel which a dear friend had strictly instructed me to read before anything else) and nor is it a habit with me to go with a pre-planned objective when I visit a library (a departure from the way I usually operate), but once there, maybe it was more than natural that I should gravitate towards the very familiar name of Jane Austen.

I have never felt more sad than with the thought that she should have written so few books in her lifetime; all of which I have read, except for Persuasion. Going through the shelf, my eye was constantly searching for some book I might have fortunately missed (I was told that Persuasion wasn't available). Came upon Jane Austen's Letters. A thick volume indeed. It wasn't a novel proper, but a collection of personal correspondence, compiled together along with additional notes. I do not know if people enjoy reading letters purely for their literary value, but I certainly do; and I had read enough of Jane Austen to expect more than enough of it in them.

Much as I had hoped from the book and warned though I was at the outset that the book was found wanting even by idolaters of Jane Austen, I did not expect it to be disappointing. But so it was. There are several excuses for it and I accept them all. Most of the letters are between the two sisters: Jane and Cassandra. So the letters are filled with daily gossip, mundane details and everyday matters. Nothing to interest, still less to excite. The language used is very casual (how else does one address one's sister?) and most references of names and places are hard to relate (even with the help of foot-notes). Letters written in more formal instances (to publishers, etc) sparkle with the same wit and charm customary of Jane Austen, but these are few and far between.

I was unhappy, true, but it had more to do with the fact that I had thought I had discovered a new gem and again realised there weren't any left. My admiration for her certainly hasn’t dimmed a whit.

Anyway, shall be visiting the library next week now. Intend to find something on poetry. Readers beware, tough times ahead! :p