November’s Literary Life

Literature isn’t kind to November.  As Tom Nissley reminds us in his Reader’s Book of Days when Ishmael leaves Manhattan for New Bedford and the sea in Moby-Dick, it may be December on the calendar, but he’s driven there, to the openness of oceans, by “a damp, drizzly November in my soul.” And where else could Dickens’s Bleak House begin but, bleakly, in “implacable November,” with dogs and horses mired in mud, pedestrians “jostling one another’s umbrellas in a general infection of ill-temper” (not unlike Ishmael “deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off”), and, of course, the English fog. Jane Eyre begins on a “drear November day,” with a “pale blank of mist and cloud” and “ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.” And it’s on a “dreary night in November,” as “rain pattered dismally against the panes,” that Victor Frankenstein, blindly engrossed in his profane labors as the seasons have passed by outside, first sees the spark of life in the watery eyes of his creation. Is it any wonder that Meg in Little Women thinks that “November is the most disagreeable month in the whole year”?

Here on Literary Life, we have a more cheerful view.  The month before Advent is a beautiful occasion to give thanks as we look forward to the annual gatherings of family and friends to commence the holiday season.  Literary Life is a nod to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria which poet and priest Malcolm Guite describes as “…an eclectic mix of autobiography, philosophical history, literary criticism, rambling anecdote, and radical new theology, all held together and threaded through with a constant witness to the power of the Logos, to the great analogy of language. At its heart is the idea that the cosmos is spoken into being by Mind, that nature is itself a kind of language, and that our own use of language is, therefore, a series of clues as to the meaning of both mind and cosmos. So the literary criticism and the theology are not separate and disparate parts of the book; they are the same thing.”

In this gathering of readers from around the world, thanks will indeed be given. In addition to this site, our closest friends from over 130 countries meet in our Facebook discussion group, which you can join by clicking HERE.

Come.  Read with us as you live your Literary Life.

 

 

 

Rick Wilcox | Editor in Chief

Contact:Rick@LiteraryLife.org 

However little he may be fitted to teach others, he wishes to share his thoughts with those whom he feels congenial, but who are scattered far and wide in the world. By this means, he wishes to reestablish his relation with his old friends, to continue it with new ones, and to gain in the younger generation still others for the remainder of his life. He wishes to spare youth the circuitous paths upon which he himself went astray, and while observing and utilizing the advantages of the present, to maintain the memory of his praiseworthy earlier efforts.
With this serious view, a small society has been brought together; may cheerfulness attend our undertakings, and time may show whither we are bound.
~Goethe

Look With Compassion

In this portion of her prayer, Jane asks God to “look with compassion” on those who are “afflicted,” experiencing the “pangs of disease,” or who are “broken in spirit.” In Jane’s novels, when someone is ill or distressed, their friends and family provide tangible help and comfort. In the same way, Jane and Cassandra frequently nursed family members when they were ill.

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Morning Dawns And Evening Fades

Jane experienced a season in her life that was marked by loss and change. In 1797, Cassandra’s fiancé died in the West Indies. In 1801, Jane’s father retired and moved their family to Bath, away from her beloved Hampshire. Then in 1806, while in Bath, her dear father died suddenly and without warning. Jane didn’t write as much during her years in Bath, which some attribute to a lack of inspiration or a dislike of the town itself. However, it may be that Jane was affected most by who and what she lost while living there.

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Blessed Beyond Deserving

Austen’s novels are littered with characters who perhaps end up with better than they deserve. Edmund, after following Miss Crawford around like a lovesick puppy and giving up ground on many moral issues, still ends up with kind Fanny; Emma is forgiven her many failings and faults and marries generous Mr. Knightley; and Edward Ferrars, after making a foolish secret engagement with Lucy Steele, marries sensible Elinor. Grace is given and lessons are learned.

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