Heading into full exams-reading mode as I finish up my last seminar (Technoromanticism). The exams-reading process reminds me of other reading sprints I’ve done–I discovered in college that there was something special about not just reading most of a favorite author, but attempting to read all of her available writing (at least in a given form). This led to reading all of Shakespeare’s plays and poetry during the months after graduation (favorites: Richard III and the crazynuts Titus Andronicus), all of Hemingway’s short stories (hard to track down!), and all of Charles Dickens’ novels (even Barnaby Rudge).
A favorite morsel from Dickens’ The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club:
“I shall go as a Bandit,” interrupted Mr. Tupman.
“What!” said Mr. Pickwick, with a sudden start.
“As a bandit,” repeated Mr. Tupman, mildly.
“You don’t mean to say,” said Mr. Pickwick, gazing with solemn sternness at his friend, “You don’t man to say, Mr. Tupman, that it is your intention to put yourself into a green velvet jacket, with a two-inch tail?”
“Such IS my intention, sir,” replied Mr. Tupman warmly. “And why not, sir?”
“Because, sir,” said Mr. Pickwick, considerably excited. “Because you are too old, sir.”
“Too old!” exclaimed Mr. Tupman.
“And if any further ground of objection be wanting,” continued Mr. Pickwick, “you are too fat, sir.”
“Sir,” said Mr. Tupman, his face suffused with a crimson glow. “This is an insult.”
“Sir,” replied Mr. Pickwick in the same tone, “It is not half the insult to you, that your appearance in my presence in a green velvet jacket, with a two-inch tail, would be to me.”
“Sir,” said Mr. Tupman, “you’re a fellow.”
“Sir,” said Mr. Pickwick, “you’re another!”
Mr. Tupman advanced a step or two, and glared at Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Pickwick returned the glare, concentrated into a focus by means of his spectacles, and breathed a bold defiance. Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle looked on, petrified at beholding such a scene between two such men.
“Sir,” said Mr. Tupman, after a short pause, speaking in a low, deep voice, “you have called me old.”
“I have,” said Mr. Pickwick.
“I reiterate the charge.”
“And a fellow.”
“So you are!”
There was a fearful pause.
“My attachment to your person, sir,” said Mr. Tupman, speaking in a voice tremulous with emotion, and tucking up his wristbands meanwhile, “is great–very great–but upon that person, I must take summary vengeance.”