Monday, November 18, 2013

Spinning in Literature

"People speak of the way in which harp-playing sets off a graceful figure; spinning is almost as becoming an employment. A woman stands at the great wool-wheel, one arm extended, the other holding the thread, her head thrown back to take in all the scope of her occupation; or if it is the lesser spinning wheel for flax (and it was this that Sylvia moved forwards to-night) the pretty sound of the buzzing, whirring motion, the attitude of the spinner, foot and hand alike engaged in the business - the bunch of gay coloured ribbon that ties the bundle of flax on the rock - all make it into a picturesque piece of domestic business that may rival harp-playing any day for the amount of softness and grace which it calls out."

~Excerpt taken from Sylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell.

I have always enjoyed reading through the classics. Elizabeth C. Gaskell's more popular works such as Wives & Daughters, North and South, & Cranford, are all particular favorites of mine. I have also enjoyed the BBC screen adaptations of the above named novels. In comparison to Jane Austen I find that E. Gaskell is not always as well known as an author. Often Jane Austen is raved about in particular circles while Mrs. Gaskell is almost virtually unknown. I find Jane Austen novels intersting, but nothing in comparison to E. Gaskell. Jane Austen had a very keen insight into the character and emotions of people in everyday circumstances. Her characters are very believable because they are so relatable, even to those of us in a completely different time period. 
However, much like Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell tackled problems of the day and culture in which she wrote. There is a depth to her books and they give you something to bite into and chew over for awhile, making for a fascinating reading experience. 
After being familiarly acquainted with the three novels I have mentioned, I recently decided to read some of Mrs. Gaskell's lesser know works. I read Ruth recently, and am still formulating my thoughts on that one. It's a different style then her other books I had read and I wasn't sure how I felt about it. I'm hoping someone of my acquaintances will read it and then we can have a jolly discussion about it. I'm still working up a book review for that one.
Having finished Ruth I moved on to Sylvia's Lovers. I was hesitant about starting it, based on the name. It sounded a bit absurd and not my cup of tea at all. But it was a free kindle download so I took a chance. During the week I don't have a lotnof time for reading, normally I squeeze it in during my lunchtime. Right now I'm 37% through Sylvia's Lovers and I am enjoying it. The first part moves slowly, there is a great deal of whaling talk as it is set in and around a whaling town & community. But it reads much like Mrs. Gaskell's more popular works and thus far I have found it quaint and enjoyable. Probably one of the reasons I like it so much is the fact that there is so much spinning and knitting mentioned. It's not often that I come across fiber arts in reading, so when I do I am thrilled. I'll be sure to share some more snippets on future posts. 

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