Wednesday, 27 June 2012
The chariot that bears a human soul
Today's quotation is actually part of the Emily Dickinson poem "There is no frigate like a book." I've never used poetry as a title before, so I guess today's a little something new. As you may be aware, I'm a student of English literature, so the times when I am NOT reading something or other are pretty rare. My love for the written word extends back beyond the bounds of my own memory. When I was a little girl, my mom bought me a book of poetry from each of Robert Browning, Edgar Allen Poe, and the aforementioned Emily Dickinson; the poem I've quoted was in fact my favourite of the collection (despite initially have no idea whatsoever what a frigate was).
Given my past and present attachment to literature of all shapes and forms, it won't come as a surprise that today I'm grasping yet another opportunity to talk about some of my favourite printed art. I am an avid follower of the blog Sprinkle of Glitter. I find that Louise's cheerful tone and colourful subject matter always bring a smile to my face. Today, I'm extremely pleased to be able to join her in her Wednesday LOTD: Book.
My favourite novel is Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife, which I finished reading (for the 3rd time) yesterday. To me, this is an absolutely breathtaking novel. There is honestly something in this story for everyone. Niffenegger tackles the subject of time travel in a very approachable way for us readers; she doesn't make light of it as a fantastical ability but instead transfigures it into a tangible (when the character isn't travelling!) genetic disease, the implications of which constantly shape and reshape the lives of Clare Abshire and Henry DeTamble.
The heart of this tale is the unconventional love story of Henry and Clare. We watch them struggle through coping with loss, separation, joy, uncertainty, and a truly incredible amount of devotion. Even if the time travelling aspect doesn't hook you, you MUST READ THIS NOVEL if for the love story alone; it is the most powerful I have ever read, and that is saying something. The Time Traveler's Wife is also appealing on a psychological level as it battles the issue of free will. Henry's voyages back and forth through time may at first seem magical and exciting, but he is also constantly reminded of the fact that outside of his present (when he's not travelling), he has no agency. He frequently meets with events he wants to change, but lacks the ability to do so. Nothing can be altered because in Henry's past (which is where he mainly ends up), everything has already happened. Things will go the way they will go because they have already done so. Confused yet? It's understandable if you are. The novel explains all of this better than I can, plus each section lets you know what the date is and Henry's age (or ages, sometimes he exists twice in the same trip) at the time.
The bottom line is, this is an astoundingly beautiful story of the steadfast constancy of love through both space and time.