Reading Fiction: A christmas carol & Heidi

I am re-reading Heidi by Johanna Spryi right now.

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This book was published in 1880. It is about a girl named Adelheid (nicknamed Heidi), who lived in the Alps. It is one of those books which are a great source of national pride and become one of the great timeless monuments of the country. It is therefore a mouthpiece for the swiss culture and has become a swiss icon. There is a great lot of description about the Alpine mountains and air which is clean and fresh, a beautiful snowy landscape painted in every page. And mixed with these elements of freshness and beauty, being in nature’s arms is also the rejoicing of innocence and intrinsic goodness in children. This is, I think, a quasi-autoiographical book which is the trickiest kind for it is a confabulation – a blend of real memories and imagined memories.

 

Although I adore fiction, it makes the grown-up-me uneasy sometimes. Because these wonderful stories are not real, and therefore may be trying to deceive me into believing romanticized codswallop. But atleast, when writing fiction, authors are weaving an entire story- there own principles of what is good and what is evil. Rather than writing non-fiction, where authors are writing their interpretations of a larger story, trying to infer the good and the evil with their own broken pieces of glass.

 

Why do I read fiction?  Let’s see. The last book I read was “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. I can’t believe that a book published in 1843 can make me laugh, think, get scared, become kinder and admire 19th century slangs, wits and customs. The names of the characters in his book are simply a treasure- There is Ebenezer scrooge, himself, the most famous miser in literature. There are the Cratchits, Tiny tim, Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig (eeeep!), the plump sister, Topper, Marley and the other ghosts etc etc.

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Foremost, pure enjoyment

“Bah,” said Scrooge, “Humbug.”

What is more enjoyable than reading about Ebenezer Scrooge and then reciting the story to my sister at night? Both of us enjoyed being whisked into Dickens lovely imagination.

Revelling over clever usage of words and delightful wit -The very first page of the book where Dickens starts with the phrase “as dead as a Door-Nail” and sarcastically speaks about “the wisdom of the ancestors” and how he dare not question it inspite of the fact that, he would rather regard a “Coffin-Nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade”. If you ever saw me clapping my hands with glee, it would have been while reading (over and over again) this page.

Reflecting over how much of a Scrooge I have been.

Understanding myself and the world around me a little better – The same lesson of being good was brought to life in an entirely new and provocative way. I found myself imagining how long an iron chain I am bound by like Marley’s ghost and trying to prevent such evil ends by being kinder. Sometimes real life is so complex, I lose my footing and forget what is important. It’s like staring at one small piece in the puzzle and forgetting the bigger picture of the entire puzzle. And I need these books, to remind me.

A taste of magic and merriness “I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings. “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”

Christmas is brought to life in this book, as magical and merry as it ever was.

Some simple lessons –  “No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused”

Learn new things – Did you know about the long standing myth about the “organ of benevolence” in Phrenology? Well, it was fun to find out! How about the “Dog days?” From July 3 to August 11, when Sirius, the Dog Star, rises and sets with the sun. The hottest days of the year are called the dog days. There was no shortage of clever puns and witty references of the 19th century in this book – for eg. the “Total Abstinence Principle.”
I chuckled so hard at that. The pledge refers to Teetotalers abstaining from alcoholic spirits which Dickens describes as a pun on Scrooge’s total abstinence from (supernatural) spirits.

A magical story, capturing the hearts of people young and old… and through changing times it will always stay that way. This is why fiction may just be stories but nevertheless teach you a thing or two.

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