Kimberly (kimberly_a) wrote,

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Fireless Farenheit 451

Tons of housework and household organizational stuff today, and now I'm wiped out. One of the things I did today was get rid of about a dozen textbooks from the lit and psychology classes I took as an undergrad ... back in 1987-1991. I finally decided that they weren't going to come in useful anytime soon -- I wasn't going to read them for fun, just out of interest, for example -- and so it was silly to keep them, especially after 20 years! Some of them were oversized paperbacks, but others were hardcover, and Berkeley's curbside recycling doesn't accept hardcover books (and The Prisoners Literature Project doesn't take textbooks of any kind or hardcovers of any kind, so that wasn't an option either), so I spent quite a while this evening tearing recyclable pages out of hardcover books while I watched "Top Chef: Masters." The only one that bothered me, really, was the Riverside Chaucer, because it's a fabulous, amazing, and quite expensive scholarly book, and I adored my Middle English Lit and Chaucer classes back in the day. But the Riverside Chaucer is entirely in Middle English ... and it's been 20 years since I studied Middle English, so it's nigh unto gibberish when I try to read it now. Why keep a book I can't read, and will most likely never be able to read again, just because I once loved it dearly? It's gargantuan, and we could use the bookshelf space. Still, actually laying hands on it and tearing out pages was intellectually and emotionally a bit painful. It felt like sacrilege!

I mean, tearing up books seems horrible, all by itself, but Chaucer? The Riverside Chaucer?

But, you know, if I want to read Chaucer again, I think I can bite the bullet and read a modern translation, even if it is less literarily authentic. I mean, I read Homer and Umberto Eco and José Saramago and Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Victor Hugo and Edmond Rostand and Banana Yoshimoto in translation -- not to mention subtitled films like those by Hayao Miyazaki and Tom Tykwer -- so what's the biggie?

The lingering lit nerd in me is difficult to convince.

ETA (the next morning): I woke up a few times during the night, regretting tearing up my Riverside Chaucer. Surely I could have found a good home for it! Somewhere out there, some unhappy, Middle English-speaking person will continue to live a Riverside-Chaucerless life because of my rash actions. Alas!
Tags: books, college, language, movies

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