"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

THE YEARLING...an update on progress, themes, artwork, hunting, you name it.

The Yearling, illustration by Edward Shenton
Tonight when I stood to make dinner, having put next to no thought into the meal prior to standing up, I retrieved some frozen chicken from the freezer, where I also found some frozen vegetables. In the pantry I found some instant rice and a can of creamed soup. I was in business. 45 minutes later dinner was on the table. From frozen to edible in under an hour. Maybe it wasn't the healthiest dinner, but it sure was convenient. While the chicken was cooking my thoughts trailed back to my Classics  Club selection for the month, The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings. This classic book was written by Rawlings in 1938 but it was set in the scrub lands of Florida in the late 1800s, some time after the Civil War. Jody, an only child, and his parents eek out an existence on a farm they call Baxter Island, a little refuge surrounded by the shrub. If they want to eat they have to grow it and harvest it and prepare it or they have to hunt it, haul it home, deal with it before they can get around to cooking it. No convenient meal for them.

The Yearling is not an easy book to read. First off all the dialogue is written in vernacular. I can usually tell what is being said, but not always. I sometimes figure out what a word is by context. "The Forresters is bent on pizenin' em." Means, "The Forresters want to poison them." Pizen had me confused for several pages. But by and large the dialect and speech patterns have me enchanted. This is a cute exchange between Jody and Father about his pet deer getting into the potatoes, which are an important source of food for the people.
"Don't get yourself in a swivet, boy. We'll work this out, one way or t'other. Now the 'taters in near about the only thing he'll bother, do you keep him outen the house. They ought to be under kiver, anyway..."
The Yearling is also a very difficult book to read because of all killing. Jody and his father mainly kill animals just for food but their neighbors kill animals for sport and because predators, like panthers and wolves, are all bad. It is so disgusting to think people used to think of predators as disposable animals. I've had to speed read through several sections, I was just so disgusted. And when I say "speed read" I really mean, skip words and paragraphs because I cannot actually read this book fast. No way.

Now here is a non sequitur. I am completely charmed by the artwork that accompanies the story. Edward Shenton was the original artist who created the block prints in the 1st edition. The Reader's Digest edition I am reading has added colorized versions. NC Wyeth is more famous for the artwork in subsequent editions. But I am completely delighted with these.

Jody in The Yearling, illustration by Edward Shenton
Tied up bear cubs; illustrations from The Yearling by Edward Stenton
Progress: 74%. Progress is slow. but I am plodding along.

1 comment:

  1. It seems you are doing a good job getting thru this classic. The dialect seems tough! And all the killing -- that would bother me too. Did NC Wyeth really do the illustrations after the first edition? How interesting. It seems a pretty bleak story of a family trying to make it in the outback. The movie killed me I think, so sad! It's been a long time. Why did she write this story? was it her own family? cheers.


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