Friday, September 21, 2007

Commuter classics

The title of this post, and the picture on left is borrowed from an excellent blog post which I read a couple of months ago.

The post talked about reading while commuting from home to place of work. Well, I have been commuting everyday for about 4 hours for many years. I generally read newspapers or sleep off, if I am lucky to get a place to sit in the train. But reading classics while travelling seemed an excellent option. So inspired by this post, I completed reading two classic books, back to back, recently.

The books were The Woken in White (published in 1860) and The Moonstone (published in 1868), both by Wilkie Collins. And believe me I had such a great time in reading them while commuting that I actually looked forward to commuting. Travelling became a pleasure rather than a pain. I drew quite a lookss from my fellow sufferers, opps commuters, who seemed to be surprised with my nose in a fat book. Is'nt it almost old-fashioned to travel with a book, when almost everyone in the train or in the bus, has a mobile phone or digital music player to flaunt and play with.

Both the books were very very good read. But I liked The Moonstone better. It is considered to be the first detective novel in English, and even seems to have inspired
Arthur Conan Doyle.

The following lines, which appear in Second Period, Chapter 3, describes my own feeling while reading both these books:

Do you feel an uncomfortable heat at the pit of your stomach, sir? and a nasty thumping at the top of your head? Ah! not yet? It will lay hold of at Cobb's Hole, Mr. Franklin. I call it the detective fever; and I first caught it in the company of Sergeant Cuff.'

I too had caught detective fever. I was so engrossed reading these two books, while travelling or at home, that I was most of the time unaware of happenings around me, and got strange looks from my wife and children at home. Both these books were page-turner, one just wanted to know what happened next. My only complaint about both the books is they are bit too long. But it could be understood that both of them had appeared first in serial form first, and maybe the author was paid per word. Hence this accounts for them being long.

I have many classics in my book collection, so I will be commuter with classics henceforth, and rest of the things be damned. Here is looking forward to next classic in my book collection and to commuting ...

Addendum: Could not help saying this --- Chekhovian irony something humdrum and dreary as commuting combined with something uplifting and, shall I say, character building, as reading classic books.

The next classic I am reading while commuting is Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad.

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