Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Big Read III: A Tale of Two Cities: Bk 2: Ch 17-20

I was reviewing some things about the latest useful searching tools (more on that later) when I found a great use for Google Notebook. Once you install this tool on your computer, you can highlight any bit of a web page, and either click on the Notebook icon at the bottom of your browser, or right-click, and save that highlighted bit, text or whatever, to your Notebook. The nifty thing about this: you don't have to leave the web page.

I get bogged down with The Big Read when I skim over the reading a second time to find again those pieces I wanted to comment on. I've tried copy/paste while I'm reading, but that kind of slows down the reading, though it does make the writing a little faster. With this post, I will be using the bits that I copied to Google Notebook. It barely made a blip while I was reading; I really liked that. Now I'll see how easy it is to copy it over here.*

Book 2: Chapter 17: One Night

For all her brow-furrowing, Lucie is entirely unconscious of the affect her words could have on her father. So innocent, she expresses her happiness, but oh, the pressure it must put on him.

"But, if my life were not to be still consecrated to you, or if my marriage were so arranged as that it would part us, even by the length of a few of these streets, I should be more unhappy and self-reproachful now than I can tell you. Even as it is--"

The doctor shares his fantasies during his imprisonment about his imagined daughter. One fantasy has her completely unaware of his existence, the other has her honoring him in her household, remembering him, showing him her life, but never able to rescue him. He says,
"My thoughts, when they were wildest, never rose near the happiness that I have known with you, and that we have before us."

Chapter 18: Nine Days

Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross exchange coy banter about his bachelorhood as they attend the marriage of Charles and Lucie. They watch out for their adoptive family.

"Let me kiss my dear girl with an old-fashioned bachelor blessing, before Somebody comes to claim his own." For a moment, he held the fair face from him to look at the well-remembered expression on the forehead, and then laid the bright golden hair against his little brown wig, with a genuine tenderness and delicacy which, if such things be old-fashioned, were as old as Adam.

As I expected, the doctor's reaction to Charles's true identity is not good. It must have taken a great effort of will to hold himself together until the couple left for their honeymoon. He suffers a breakdown which Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross agree to keep from Lucie. He brings out the shoemaker's tools.

He worked, and worked, and worked, in silence, and words fell on him as they would have fallen on an echoless wall, or on the air. The only ray of hope that Mr. Lorry could discover, was, that he sometimes furtively looked up without being asked. In that, there seemed a faint expression of curiosity or perplexity--as though he were trying to reconcile some doubts in his mind.
What enlightened caregivers the bachelor and spinster are. I can't imagine there were any such in the madhouses of the day. They devise a brilliant method of acting normal:

This encouraged Mr. Lorry to have Miss Pross in with her work, several times during the day; at those times, they quietly spoke of Lucie, and of her father then present, precisely in the usual manner, and as if there were nothing amiss. This was done without any demonstrative accompaniment, not long enough, or often enough to harass him

Chapter 19: An Opinion (more)

Mr. Lorry displays more of his ingenius method. He consults the doctor on the doctor's own case as if the doctor were someone else. I'm not too sure I accept the suspension of disbelief that I must do in the face of this. It seems the doctor must know he is talking about himself. Did people in this time really so willfully stifle the emotional maelstroms?

It is the case of a shock from which he has recovered, so completely, as to be a highly intelligent man, capable of close application of mind, and great exertion of body, and of constantly making fresh additions to his stock of knowledge, which was already very large. But, unfortunately, there has been," he paused and took a deep breath--"a slight relapse." The Doctor, in a low voice, asked, "Of how long duration?" "Nine days and nights."

Lorry even goes so far as to divine future treatment, in his businessman's way, of course.

"Excuse me, as a persistent man of business. Assuming for a moment, that he was overworked; it would show itself in some renewal of this disorder?" "I do not think so. I do not think," said Doctor Manette with the firmness of self-conviction, "that anything but the one train of association would renew it."

He even goes so far as to instruct them to get rid of the shoemaker's tools only when he was not around.

Chapter 20: A Plea

The doctor joins his daughter and son-in-law as planned, they return, and Sydney Carton has a favor to ask.
Well! If you could endure to have such a worthless fellow, and a fellow of such indifferent reputation, coming and going at odd times, I should ask that I might be permitted to come and go as a privileged person here; that I might be regarded as an useless (and I would add, if it were not for the resemblance I detected between you and me, an unornamental) piece of furniture, tolerated for its old service, and taken no notice of. I doubt if I should abuse the permission. It is a hundred to one if I should avail myself of it four times in a year. It would satisfy me, I dare say, to know that I had it."

"Will you try?"
Ok, I understand Carton wishes to be able to hang around his angel, and he does so in a self-depracating way. I don't understand Darnay's response. Why "will you try?" Try what? Try to visit? Try to be a piece of furniture? By this question is he saying that Carton has no reason not to? He seems to imply later with the others that he finds Carton's self-effacement just a bit odd.

To which his wife responds:

"I would ask you, dearest, to be very generous with him always, and very lenient on his faults when he is not by. I would ask you to believe that he has a heart he very, very seldom reveals, and that there are deep wounds in it. My dear, I have seen it bleeding." "It is a painful reflection to me," said Charles Darnay, quite astounded, "that I should have done him any wrong. I never thought this of him."
Visit Leila here, and TadMack here, image courtesy of TadMack.

*Well, using Notebook did make the construction of the post easier. It has an export bookmarks feature. Exporting the html to the browser, you can simply copy that and paste into your blogging tool, and links and differences in fonts are retained. Of course, those links aren't exactly where I want them, so there is still some cleanup to do. I didn't this time, but I can also write comments as I save something to Google Notebook. It's conceivable I could have an almost complete blog post by the time I'm done reading something. I may use this more often, blogging more about the many articles I read. There is also a sort feature. I found if I labeled my saves, then sorted by label, I could get the saved excerpts in the right order (rather than reverse order).

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