"Somebody who reads only newspapers and at best the books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely nearsighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. And what a person thinks on his own without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of other people is even in the best case rather paltry and monotonous.
There are only a few enlightened people with a lucid mind and style and with good taste within a century. What has been preserved of their work belongs among the most precious possessions of mankind.
Nothing is more needed than to overcome the modernist’s snobbishness."
-- Albert Einstein
The whole point of my journey through literature is to read a great variety of books from different authors, genres, and eras in order to gain understanding, and therefor grow as a person and an intellectual. To read nothing but the classics would be as foolish as completely ignoring them. The aim is to combine the wisdom of the past with the innovation of the future, as the two are inextricably linked. This week I chose to read my second classic, Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte's only novel. It is the recounting of a tragic love story, and of happiness redeemed through the next generation. It's a fantastic, un-Victorian and imaginative work that is embedded in English folk-tradition and literature.
Wuthering Heights, is a harrowing tale of destructive passion and tragedy. This gothic book entwines romantic and eerie threads to unfold a story of relationships, set in the rustic northern English moors, a place of unpredictable weather and countryside. This story is narrated by Mr. Lockwood, a gentleman visiting the Yorkshire moors where the novel is set, and of Mrs. Dean, housekeeper to the Earnshaw family, who had been witness to the interlocked destinies of the original owners of the Heights. In a series of flashbacks and time shifts, Bronte draws a powerful picture of the enigmatic Heathcliff, who is brought to the Heights from the streets of Liverpool by Mr Earnshaw. Heathcliff grew up with, but remained socially beneath the other inhabitants of Wuthering Heights, forming complex and emotional relationships with the father and his own children, Catherine and Hinton. Heathcliff and Catherine become passionate, headstrong, and unpredictable soulmates, who remain separated by pride and social class, and after the death of Catherine, Heathcliff becomes increasingly isolated and alienated from daily life, experiences visions as he longs for the death that will reunite him with Catherine. It is only when Catherine's daughter, Cathy, and Hindley Earnshaw's son, Hareton, finally join happily in a loving relationship, that the winter of Wuthering Heights becomes the spring of Thrushcross Grange.
Unlike most novels, Wuthering Heights' protagonists are anti-heroes; the very antithesis of what a hero is supposed to be. Instead of compassionate and heroic, Heathcliff and Catherine are selfish and petty. Instead of being blissfully in love, Catherine marries someone else and breaks Heathcliff's heart. Too proud to tell each other their true feelings, they fight, storm and rage against each other, destroying themselves in the process. Most people dislike this novel, for its gloomy perspective, tragic outcome and psychological drama. However, Catherine and Heathcliff are perhaps more realistic than most other novel characters claim to be. They not only make mistakes, they cause debacles, completely devastate both people and places and ruin it all by blaming solely themselves.