I realize that I am kind of off the track with this challenge but so far I don’t feel any pressure to complete it as soon as possible. I still have a little bit more than three years left, and with the English Literature degree that I will be starting in October, I’ll be more immersed in classics than ever.
I also have to say, I’ve got this reading-ten-books-at-the-same-time thing going on. So here is an overview of the classics I’ve begun but not finished:
1. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert; progress: 32 out of 288 pages
2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien; progress: 274 out of 398 pages
3. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell; progress: 66 out of 585 pages
4. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell; progress: 61 out of 403 pages
So I finished A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf back in March. Then I watched the BBC adaptation of Wives and Daughters (really good, by the way) and started reading the book. I lost interest when all the personal drama stuff came up but I’d recently picked it up again and was enjoying it immensely… until I watched the North & South adaptation starring Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage and my system kinda gave out. Oh holy moly. I kind of became obsessed with their story? I was swimming in my head-place, totally content with just existing and only vaguely remembering reality. So of course I had to know what happened in the original = book. I set out, armed with highlighters and a pencil, determined to find out all I could about Margaret Hale and John Thornton.
I covered the 61 pages in less than two days but I haven’t been able to go farther because I’m currently sharing my flat with a roommate and it’s sort of impossible to concentrate. And I want to taste and linger over every word in a state of total concentration, so I will continue in – gasp! – August, I suppose.
The BBC adaptation of N & S concentrates mainly on the Hales in Milton. The series starts with the family in the train, heading north. It’s only thanks to the brief flashbacks that we know a little bit of Helstone and Harley Street. In the book, the Hales have just arrived in Milton, and it’s already Chapter 8. I can now understand why Elizabeth Gaskell wanted to call the book Margaret Hale instead of North and South. In a typical fashion of today’s novels, Gaskell focuses on one character and follows her movements and shows the readers the changes the heroine goes through. I feel like I am meeting Margaret for the first time, and following her story from Harley Street to Helstone to Milton feels like an adventure. Oh, and also, Margaret and John’s first meeting is quite different in book and TV series, too. The difference of the first impressions!
But can you believe that Margaret is only 18? I somehow have a hard time wrapping my head ’round that fact.