August’s update could have happened sooner, but I was frantically knitting on the Ugly Socks and then I was falling ill. I managed something rather amazing in August; I doubled up. In both socks and books, I had two qualifications. Made me feel quite capable and useful, really.
Socks: I don’t have pictures of the first socks I knit in August, as they were promptly worn and tossed into the wash. I’ll snap those soon. I knit Rainer a pair of November Socks, a free pattern on Ravelry that is absolutely my kind of pattern: simple for 90% of the time, but with regular rows of something interesting to mark your progress.
After knitting that pair – grey and navy – I thought orange would be the way to go in terms of colour contrast. We all know what happened with the Ugly Socks, and I won’t repost photos.
Connection: Grandparents phoned and letters written. Oma sounds lonely when we talk. It makes me regret that this country is so blasted huge. We’re not even at opposite ends of it (not by half) and it’s still a 23 hour drive.
Books: As well as the light and diverting reading I did this month (The Hero and The Crown, Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, Fairest), I finished two heavy-weights: How to Read a Book and Wuthering Heights. If you haven’t read How to Read a Book, do check it out, especially if you are hoping to shepherd kids through their high school reading. A thorough explanation of how to make a good book your mentor, how to approach it, learn from it, and then master it.
“If you are wondering how to get students to read Newton, you are asking the wrong question. The question is, have you read Newton?” Van deMille
I particularly appreciated that the ideas were broken into clear steps to take, as well as the fact that different subjects and genres were given explicit treatment (poetry, philosophy, and mathematics needing somewhat separate approaches, after all). It’s practical and motivating, and it’s been in print since the 40’s.
Wuthering Heights, now, that was a bit like the old cliche about car crashes. I couldn’t look away. Grim and horrid in subject matter, yet with a sense that you needed to see the end. Taking the advice from How to Read a Book on novels, I read it quickly and with as few breaks as possible, submerging myself in the world as though I was newly arrived in a neighbourhood.
I know I’ve read it in the last 5 years, but I couldn’t remember the resolution at all and I felt compelled to go on even when I worried it would only get worse. Of course, it was worth the journey. Two things struck me particularly: how startlingly local England (and the rest of the world) was; and how differently the revenge motif was handled. By local, I mean that the people in this book lived such a restricted life. These few people. This one landscape. Those few books. It made me both thankful that our horizons are expanded and regretful that we’re homogenizing so much.
As for the revenge, what a different feeling Heathcliff gives it! Most novels treat revenge like a knife slipped between the shoulder blades in a dark corner. Not here. This is like a millstone grinding, grinding. grinding away. Such a ponderous weight, slowly moving without course alteration. I was horrified at the number of lives he treated as expendable, the way he felt they were property.
I’m still not certain what I feel about the book and what I’ve learned from it. It was like a storm – fearsome and stirring and leaving me breathing great lungfuls of air once it was over. Have you any thoughts on it?