Monday, January 24, 2005

Evidence of readerly ADD

Last night I began my intended reading of Smollett's first three chapters of Don Quixote to compare with last Sunday's three chapters of Grossman, but abandoned my project at the end of chapter one. Henceforth I will be a Grossman gal. And "henceforth" is the operative word there, since I read no more Don Quixote for the evening.

I did read two chapters in Price's Love and Hate in Jamestown. Once John Smith was stripped of control and suffered a severe powder burn in his thigh and shipped back to England, once the colony lost most of its members during "the starving time" and those who remained were saved from abandoning the colony once and for all by the arrival of the Sea Venture and its former Bermuda castaways (the ones that gave Shakespeare the idea behind The Tempest), Sir Thomas Dale ruled the colony with authoritarian zeal--whippings, hangings, burnings at the stake, court-martials for the most inconsequental of offenses. Under his reign Samuel Argall devised a way to kidnap Pocahantas, who had not returned to Jamestown since being told Smith had died four years earlier.

Powhatan released seven English captives and sent a canoe filled with corn and some broken guns and tools back to Jamestown. Not good enough, Powhatan was told; where's the rest of the guns? Powhatan promised another 500 bushels of corn when Pocahantas was released; he claimed he had no more weapons to release. Stalemate.

In the meantime, Pocahantas was taught to be a Christian lady. By the time the English took her to see her father the following spring, in an effort to get the remaining weapons the following March, Pocahantas had decided to take matters into her own hands. She had fallen in love with former Bermuda castaway John Rolfe and wanted to marry him and remain at the Henricus settlement where she'd been taken after being captured. She was baptised, given the name Rebecca, and married Rolfe in April. She died later in England, probably due to pnuemonia or TB, and Rolfe abandoned their sick son to return to Jamestown. He never saw the son again.

I also read the first chapter to Franklin's autobiography and Katherine Mansfield's story "Psychology" last night. Earlier in the weekend I read the three "Juliet" stories in Munro's Runaway and one by Welty. I'm now up to date in my efforts to read 365 stories this year.

I haven't mentioned anything about reading True Grit yet--I was hoping I'd be able to report that it was just as big a hit in my own family as it was in Donna Tartt's. Unfortunately, S. bailed shortly after making it through the court transcription section (I'd thought if he made it past that he'd begin to get caught up in the story) although after watching bits and pieces of the movie this weekend he did say he might read some more. Yeah, right. L. wasn't interested in watching the movie, and I can't imagine my sister, with her Glen Campbell issues, having anything to do with it either. My dad would have liked both the book and the movie, though, and I certainly did.

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