onsdag 19 oktober 2011

Comfort book(s)

"Ten cents a bunch"

I don’t think I was meant to live a modern life with computers, cameras and cars. Not that I dislike those things — it’s rather the other way around, they dislike me. The computer I like to use is indisposed — nothing serious (I hope) but I don’t have the much needed energy to tackle the problems, so I’ve simply put the computer out of sight and mind. In the meantime I’m using another computer, a tiny thing where my fingers get lost and where I don’t have half of the information I gathered during the years. What I miss most is my e-mail account — if you intend to write me (yes do!) you have to use the yahoo address that you find somewhere to the right here!
So while I wait for everybody to write me, the computer to miraculously heal and my energy to return, I roam around at Gutenberg. Choosing easily chewed books.
For the moment I’m reading ”Hope Benham” from 1864 by Nora Perry.
Hope has such a noble character — but is still likable — she is intelligent and well educated, although she comes from a rather poor family.
Mr. Benham's salary was only fifteen hundred dollars a year, and it took every cent of this to keep up that simple little home…
(What cost $1500 in 1894 would cost $37307.24 in 2010.)

The author is pointing out, several times, how unimportant class is. Maybe it wasn’t as uncontroversial in 1864, as it is today.
He did not think that the poor were always in the right, and the rich always in the wrong in their relations with each other, as a good many working-people do. No; he was too intelligent for that. But what he did think, what he knew was, that the rich were not hampered and hindered by the daily struggle for existence, for the means to procure food and clothing and shelter from week to week. He knew that his own abilities were hindered and hampered by the necessity that compelled him to work almost incessantly for the necessaries of life.
Mr. Benham, Hope’s father, managed, through hard work earn quite a lot of money and is able to send Hope to a good boarding school. It is fascinating to read about the school’s New Years party:
…which, according to Kate Van der Berg, was the best fun of the year.

"But what do you do, what is the fun?" inquired Dolly Dering, who was present when Kate made the above statement.

"What do we do?" answered Kate. "Well, in the first place, on New Year's eve, we have a jolly little party of just ourselves,—we girls in the house, none of the outside girls, the day pupils,—and we play games, sing songs, tell stories, do anything, in fact, that we want to do, and at half-past ten there is a little light supper served, such as ices, and the most delicious frosted sponge-cakes, and seed-cakes, and then there is bread and butter, and hot cocoa for those that want it. After this we feel as fresh and rested as possible, and all ready to sit the old year out and the new year in."

"Oh, you don't do that?" cried Dolly, delightedly, for to sit up late was one of her ideas of happiness.

"We do just that"

"Well, and then?"

"Then," went on Kate, laughing, "we begin to grow a little quieter. We tell stories in lower voices; we watch the clock, and as it strikes twelve, we jump to our feet and all break out singing a New Year's song or hymn. Sometimes it is one thing and sometimes it is another. Last year it was Tennyson's
"Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky:
The year is dying; let him die."

I’m not so sure that fifteen year old girls of today would call that ”the best fun of the year”.
I meant to tell you of other books I’ve read, but I’m afraid I became a bit too verbose here — so I’ll be back another day to let you know what other edifying books I’ve read.

8 kommentarer:

  1. låter intressant, jag springer genast över till herr gutenberg!

  2. Debbie,
    Spring, spring!!
    Du blir inte besviken.

  3. har redan börjat läsa, nu får jag inget annat gjort.

  4. Berätta vad du tycker när du läst ut den.

  5. 'Comfort books' what a lovely title and a lovely idea..We are enjoying some comfort read alouds at bedtime...I'm reading from their old picture books and fairy tales..when the Winter starts to approach and school days can be long it can be fun to share books that you remember from when you were very little..I find it calming and relaxing too
    We send you best wishes for a well computer and a nice supply of energy for you too :0)

  6. Val,
    The best things with books are that you never run out of comfort.

  7. You are such a kindred spirit, Margaretha. I love old books. I have my own shelf of comfort reading, but in our cottage at Lake Chautauqua which was built in 1879, I've tried to collect books from the early years of the house's life. I'm about to have knee replacement surgery in December and am gathering a stack of books to help me through the time. I'm always fascinated by the things you find at Gutenburg.

    BTW, the bird you thought was a nuthatch was indeed a red-breasted nuthatch. When I lived in Hungary I noticed the great difference in birds in Europe and there is a funny story about that I may blog about someday.

    What is the archipelago of your childhood?

  8. Kristi,
    For people like you and me, Gutenberg is a real gold mine! If you run out of real books after the surgery, I’m sure you can find plenty to help you over the convalescence. But I do hope you don’t need all those books, that you soon can take walks in your lovely neighborhood!
    When I was eleven days old, my parents brought me to their summerhouse on an island in the Stockholm archipelago - I still have the cottage, unfortunately I can’t go there very often though, we spent every summer holiday there and also weekends.

    Europe and America hardly have any birds in common - there are some that are related, like the nuthatch, but very often the American birds have stronger colors (just like the people?).

    Take care!