Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Vicar of Wakefield - I tried...

Sometimes when you visit a website, it loads too slowly. Maybe there's a blue bar on the browser (like on Safari) that strains forward by millimeters and after a certain point doesn't move anymore. You refresh the page, it starts loading again, and still, no progress.

That was my experience with The Vicar of Wakefield. It isn't a good sign when reading a book feels like staring at a slowly loading website. After a couple of attempts, I put it aside. Because I chose it for the Classics Club Challenge, I feel obligated to say something about it here.

The vicar likes to shake his head over his family's follies. Maybe he regrets his own follies too, but it's his family's weaknesses that cause him to moralize. He sighs and chides them a little, but he seems to have little effect on anything around him. That's about as far as I got with him - his family falls on some hard times, they run into one man who doesn't seem to have money and another man who does. I flipped to the last pages - I'll admit I was curious enough to do that - and things seem to get tied up neatly, more or less.

I chose this book after hearing it recommended by people who found it witty and entertaining. You may get more out of it than I did.


Brian Joseph said...

I love your analogy between a slow loading web page and this book :)

I have not read this. I have come to appreciate slow moving narratives if a book has other virtues such as good writing, interesting characters, creativity, etc. So I am not sure what I would think of the novel.

HKatz said...

Thanks, Brian. I also like many slow-moving narratives. I don't think it was that, though. I think it was the narrative voice that kept making me want to put the book down.

Roderick Robinson said...

As a disinterested spectator I'd say Wakefield was - and is - a long way from New York. But not as far as it is from Folkestone, Kent, GB. How can this be? you ask. I refer you to late 1959 when I, born a handful of miles from Wakefield but working in London, took my new fiancée north to meet my family. Folkestone where she was born is prettily located on the shores of the English Channel, a demure sort of place. Not a bit like the railway approach to dirty old Wakefield with its satanic slagheaps. Later she told me she would have liked to avert her eyes but didn't want to offend me. Worse was to come. In a round of visits the following day she was repeatedly offered slices of pork pie which she detests but heroically ate. We were married a year later which was a very long time go. Wakefield remains a yardstick when we seek to rate other towns that radiate gloom and hopelessness. Butler, Pa, I seem to recall runs Wakefield fairly close.