I haven’t had much chance to catch up on what I’ve been reading lately. Between kids, work, school, and being severely sick I can hardly focus on more than one thing at a time! I’m surprised I’ve even been able to get any reading done, but somehow, I have. Four things I’ve read were for my literary theory class and even though I didn’t have a choice but to read them, they still count as my winter reading because I couldn’t just skim through them (not going to lie, I did try!): The Beast in the Jungle by Henry James Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, 1984 by George Orwell, and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
Henry James is a hard read for me because I’m not a fan of his writing style. The first thing I ever read by him was The Turn of the Screw and by the end, I did like it and was glad I stuck through it. The Beast in the Jungle was no different as far as having a hard time reading it. If you’ve never read it before, it follows a narrator who believes something big is going to happen in his life, but he doesn’t know what or when. He spends his life waiting for it with a companion and only at the end does he begin to realize that maybe this big event has already happened, and he’s wasted a life he could have spent differently. While I’m not a fan of his writing style, I did enjoy the story and the meaning he was trying to get across in this story. If you enjoy life lesson stories, this is definitely a must-read class short story.
I despised Heart of Darkness. The pace is slow, and I easily got distracted because of the drawn-out paragraphs. This novella is narrated by the character Charles Marlow who talks about a voyage he took up the Congo River into the heart of Africa. If this wasn’t required reading I needed for two assignments, I would have stopped reading after five pages. I’m interested in hearing opinions on this novella from others who have read it and liked it because I couldn’t find anything I liked about it. Not the writing style, the themes, the plot, or even the overall message.
This is the second time in my life that I’ve read George Orwell’s 1984 and I had the same feelings about it that I did in high school. I like the overall message and themes, but I am not a fan of the writing for this particular book because it seems slow. I’ve read multiple works by Orwell and this is by far one of my least favorites as far as readability. This was the only book on my preapproved booklist for the class that interested me though, so I reread it. I am glad I did though because I’m analyzing specific passages through both Marxist and psychoanalytical theories which are providing more into the story that I didn’t comprehend fully in high school.
The Yellow Wallpaper is one of my favorite short stories and I enjoy picking at it through a feminist theory perspective which I’ve never done before. I’ve done essays on themes and messages, but I never focused on the ways in which a feminist lens could analyze the story. Especially regarding gender and marital roles. My favorite thing about this story is the writing style. The first time I ever read it I felt pulled in, compelled almost, and in the end, I felt like I too had gone crazy like the narrator. I’m not sure if I would have the same love for Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s writing that I do if I had read any of her other works first. Any time I’m asked about a classic female author (which happens a lot because I’m the only English major in my group of friends), Perkins is always in my top five.
– Chelsea ❤