[DWJ] Re: Wuthering Heights (was Book recommendations)

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Fri Nov 17 06:58:00 EST 2006

>>> My  totally non-expert theory as to why _Wuthering Heights_ is still
>>> around  after all this time:
>>> English professors [...] want something that is easy for students  to read
>>> and comprehend
 (Mark Allums)

>> Easy to read and comprehend??? Are we talking about the same  book?
 (Helen Schinske)

>Well, yes.  Compared with, for example, Ulysses, I would say that
>Wuthering Heights is easy.
  (Mark Allums)

Maybe even compared with Pride and Prejudice.  :-)

Wuthering Heights rushes along being fairly clear-cut, with no particularly
complicated emotions -- hatred, lust, jealousy, fury, envy, pride, folly
and despair are all writ large and obvious[1] -- and no need to worry too
much about hidden motivations, because the people in it mostly do whatever
occurs to them at any given moment as the impulse takes them.
Superficially it's pretty simple stuff.  You can just go where the author
takes you and accept what she tells you has happened, and so long as you
don't start wondering "why!?" or muttering "what an *idiot*" or "I don't
BELIEVE it!" it's an easy read.  Stuff Happens all the time.  It's teeming
with event.  In many ways it's a much more "modern" book than P&P, for all
it has longer sentences than we now tend to find in books on the station
bookstall, and so it might well be more accessible to a still-just-teenage
student.  (This explains its being Popular, but not its being regarded as a
Classic, which is the bit that puzzles me.)

It's certainly a doddle compared with Tristram Shandy!  I once encountered
an extremely intelligent twenty-year-old weeping over TS because she was so
befogged and bogged down by it.  She had romped through WH with no
difficulty at all, but her tutor told her that TS is *funny*, and that
threw her completely.


[1] gosh, isn't that the Seven Deadly Sins?  No: Pride, Wrath, Envy, Lust,
Gluttony, Avarice and Sloth, according to Brewer.  Sorry.  But I'm sure
sloth is in WH too, or at least indolence: people not bothering to do
something about a problem until it's too late.  And overindulgence in booze
is gluttony, really.

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