“In any really good subject, one has only to probe
deep enough to come to tears.”
“The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing.”
One of the most delightful gifts of writing is the chance to commune with fellow book lovers. I’ve just encountered one on line: Claire. She’s a kindred spirit whom I’ve just met virtually via some comments she was kind enough to leave for me.
When I visited Claire’s blog (clairemca.wordpress.com), her most recent post on Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton caught my eye. She’s an Edith enthusiast like me (see Read To). So much so, that she came up with a fabulous idea that I wanted to share. Since this year marks the 150th anniversary of Edith’s birth (January 24, 1862), in homage to her, Claire has decided to dedicate some of her precious reading time to reading Edith’s novels over the next 12 months.
I just love the idea of declaring your own personal Year of Celebration for an author you admire and want to get to know more intimately. Total immersion is wonderful when it comes to writing; it’s equally wonderful when it comes to reading. Some time ago, after visiting Edith’s beautiful mansion, The Mount, I actually went on a Wharton jag and read a series of her books one after another.
What an experience! First and foremost, this approach lets you savor an author’s style fully. In Wharton’s case, it was amazing to see her shift from the spare, harsh atmosphere of Ethan Frome to the lush, desperation-papered drawing rooms of The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence, the book which won Edith the 1920 Pulitzer Prize for literature (the first ever awarded to a woman). Second, reading an author intensively allows you to see their themes, ideas, and language evolve and ripen. Lucky Alex! Right now, he’s studying the novels and filmsof Graham Greene in a winter study course — and thoroughly enjoying it. Bravo, Claire, for an inspiring author adventure!