Friday, October 27, 2006

Wuthering Heights

No, you're not getting the text of Wuthering Heights. Well, certainly not for free. Not here. If that's the sort of thing you want, then go to Project Gutenberg. You'll find Wuthering Heights and any number of other out-of-copyright books available to download. Yes. That's right. No longer do you have any excuse for not being well-read. Well, unless you have kids and demanding jobs and that kind of thing. Or, like me, you have an exceedingly temperamental printer and hate reading anything very long on a computer screen. Instead, what you will be getting here is a brief and almost wholly uninformed ramble about the first third of the book.

I was expecting a florid, excess of words, describing in overly great detail the sensitivities and sentiments of the over-sensitive and over-sentimental. I was therefore rather disappointed to find out that it's actually quite readable and hasn't made me shout "Get over yourselves!" even once so far. Still, it's early days. And I'm sure Lockwood will annoy me deeply if he features too often as anything other than a listening ear. But for now, though, yep, I'm really quite liking it. And actually looking forward to picking up the book again. Even though that will require me to bend over. Yes, that's how much I'm liking it.

I'm going to end up hating Heathcliff, though, apparently, or so the current bar talk would have me believe. But at the moment I can't help sympathising with him. He's certainly not had the best start in life, and now he's just disappeared from the house having overheard part of Cathy's chat with Nelly, or Ellen, or whoever she is, about marrying that dull, one-dimensional Edgar person (to be fair, he might be quite fun, but has been badly served by selective editing, like all the most ghastly Big Brother contestants claim; after all if the readers had any real sympathy for him, the thing would be thrown somewhat out of whack); the bit where she says that Heathcliff is beneath her (he adds after an altogether too long and rambling aside). So I'm currently rather intrigued to see how he ends up owning both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange and gets his not entirely undeserved revenge (on the other characters, I mean, rather than Cathy). Hopefully not as easily or conveniently as the way Brontë bumps off Edgar's parents. Although, obviously, that's part of it.

But I'm supposed to be looking at this as a writer, rather than just a reader. So, what are my observations? Well, if you can get away with it, having a character accidentally kill off her future parents-in-law by giving them flu, and devoting no more than a couple of lines to it, might be fun. I mean, surely it would have been in character for Cathy to go through absolute paroxyms of guilt, but apparently not. Apparently she simply returns to Wuthering Heights totally unaffected. Not that it was really her fault, I suppose, but still - plenty of people blame themeselves for things like that. Oh, if only I hadn't been driving instead of in the passenger seat. That sort of thing. But not a bit of it.

That aside, the usual thing of giving away enough information to generate interest, without giving away too much has been done well so far. Plenty of mysterious foreshadowings of later events. And all the characters seem to be pretty believable (the parents-in-law thing aside) and change in a fashion that seems consistent with their characters. Joseph's dialect is a touch impenetrable, though. Not that it really matters. Mind you, I like his dour, religious, you're-all-going-to-Hell character. But, as someone who has the verbal skills of a particularly reclusive wooden post, I find it difficult to accept that even a conveniently gossipy serving woman like Nelly, would rabbit on for that long with barely a pause or interruption. But that might just be me. I mean she's quite engaging, and it's certainly better than having to read any more of Lockwood. Which it looks like I'm going to have to do when I pick the thing up again in a few minutes. I'll probably find myself scan reading his bits again. Or shouting. Or falling asleep. Which, in the latter case, will at least mean I've found something to assist me with the insomnia.

Right, I'm bored of wittering about Wuthering Heights, so I'm off to bed; satisfied in the knowledge that I've succeeded in mentioning Wuthering Heights in the same fetid breath as Big Brother (twice now). Which is a dubious and pointless achievement, I grant you. And nothing to be proud of, perhaps. But, hey - [shrugs] an achievement's an achievement. Such things are not to be sniffed at. Largely, in this case, because of the fetid breath thing, but... hey, whatever.

No comments: