Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Revisiting old loves

Do you still love the same literary heroes and heroines that you used to? Helena Frith Powell does--but I'm not at all sure I do. She still loves Heathcliff, for example--but since I never really did, I'm not sure that comparison is fair. And while I do, still, love Darcy, I find it harder and harder, over the years, to forgive him breaking up Jane and Mr. Bingley, or misreading Elizabeth. He never learns!

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, Gone with the Wind was an embarrassingly important book to me in my early teens. I have to confess, I've been afraid to read it again recently, for fear 1) that it would no longer matter to me or 2) that it would. So that's another test case out the window, even if I were willing to admit I loved Rhett, which I'm not. I did love Lord Peter and still do, though I think he might annoy me a bit in person.

This is harder than I thought. Perhaps the real issue is that, when I think about the books I loved as a teenager or in my twenties, I think less about whom I loved than whom I wanted to be--not Scarlett or Catherine but, yes, perhaps Harriet or Elizabeth. I wanted to be Jo, which made Professor Bhaer more appealing to me than he should have been (but then Gabriel Byrne played him and all was well).

Who were your literary crushes? Are they still the same?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post! I had the experience of finding my mental shenanigans for making Mr. Rochester out to be a lovely romantic hero no longer worked at all, when I studied Jane Eyre as an old (whatever about 'mature') university student. Mr. Darcy didn't sink at all, on the other hand, as he admits that he badly needed to learn from Elizabeth, and I've always got a lot of time for people who admit their weaknesses and are willing to try to change them.

    I like your point about wanting to be the heroine - certainly that's a lot of the appeal with Jane, isn't it? Without the dreadful childhood, of course! Hmmm, must ponder and possibly go on at more length on my own space.