Posted by: beansai | June 8, 2008

Journal Entry #1: North and South

    Perhaps it is a subconscious pull that draws me toward texts that involve the lives of orphaned children, daughters, sons… I admit though, that I knew nothing of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel North and South until I began reading it one day. I hadn’t even read a synopsis of it or anything. It was basically a blind reading, diving head-long without the slightest idea of what I was committing to. I wasn’t disappointed.

    My initial attraction to Gaskell as an author was the fact that she wrote a biography of Charlotte Bronte just after Charlotte had passed away. Naturally, being a bit of a Bronte fanatic, I felt that it was worth a shot reading the works of those that had been considered friends of her’s during her lifetime. Well, I have the biography Gaskell wrote, and I haven’t managed to read it. I’ve started it a few times, but meh… I even have another novel by Gaskell that I tried starting once or twice and it just didn’t seem to come to anything. Then the other day, while bored to death at work, I remembered I had used Readdle to upload a few books and North and South was one of the books on there. And that happened to be the only one that seemed able of holding my attention for the time, but I was rather disposed to think my effort wouldn’t last. I was pleasantly sursprised to find that I was quickly engrossed in the book. But I’ve gone off topic…

    I had intended to make the point that there was absolutely no way I could have known that this novel would deal with a woman that suffers the losses of both parents. So I don’t have some pre-disposed tendency toward these types of books before anything is known of their content. So then it obviously has to be a conscious inclination toward these type of books. Yes, I think that makes much more sense. Especially considering that I am fully aware of this as I am writing at the moment. But it has all been a bit of a revelation today really. I came to a point in the novel where the poor Margaret’s losses did not seem capable of increasing and my empathy for her was probably at it’s height.

    At this point I (semi-reluctantly) got up off my ass and went for a lengthy walk with Princess. It was during this walk that I was thinking about the character and how part of me felt her loss so keenly and part of me understood so sincerely that striking moment of realization that she is left alone. The rational part of me says that it is ridiculous for me to understand this circumstance so thoroughly, considering (thankfully) both my parents are still alive. I haven’t suffered severe losses of friends or family in my lifetime, not to something so permanent as death anyway. And then there is that little voice in my head that doesn’t really need to remind me of my own beginnings. Because somehow those beginnings are always my foundation. It is an inverted foundation, negative space, and my life has been to fill the void as promptly. But it is a hungry beast that accompanies such a beginning. I find that I am drawn to texts about loss, especially of parents/guardians, because it is something that I have never really had the opportunity to express in my own lifetime, but have suffered from. I feel like a bag of contradictions here. But I also know that I have haunting feelings of abandonment thanks to my infancy. I think this feeling of contradiction is why I have never been able to properly mourn the loss of my biological parents… How can I possibly mourn them when I have my adoptive parents that are living and have worked hard to provide me with a good life (which would likely not have happened had I remained in the care of the bios)? It is the mixture of guilt for natural emotions that pushes me to read novels like North and South and any of Charlotte Bronte’s novels and a number of others that I thoroughly enjoy. I read them with relish, because in this strict literature setting, I am allowed to grieve and release my twenty-some-odd-years repressed emotions of loss…of helplessness…of loneliness…of abandonment. Because isn’t death the ultimate form of abandonment? Heaven or not, those that die are not coming back… Is all this morbid? Perhaps it is.

    As I begin to realize some of the feelings and motives behind my taste in books, I also begin to understand why I like books like the Harry Potter series. It’s the same basic principal of an orphaned child struggling to cope with the sense of loss that stems from an event beyond conscious memory. Maybe some people would argue here that the basic principal of the series is good versus evil. Yeah, not so much from my point of view. I have to admit that this is a bit of an obsession for me…these shrouded beginnings, swelling with a foggy sense of memory that has no real context to it, just feelings… Is there anyone who wouldn’t be obsessed? I’m I losing it? It’s not as though I allow these emotions to get in my way of day to day life. Anyway, enough rambling…. I’ll have to come back to all of this and maybe I’ll talk more about the actual book in the next journal entry.


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