Didn’t go in to work today, because I was actually sick. This is thankfully a fairly rare occurrence. Worn out, yes, freaking out, sure, but generally my mind is of the sort that staves off illness until vacation time. When I take an extended break of a week or so (we get single days we can take off here and there, which count as breaks, though not extended) you can bet that somewhere in the middle there I’m going to get sick — headcold, chestcold, fever, you name it. The last holiday in New York City but one (my husband the theatre director needs at least an annual Broadway fix, and I try to go with him, otherwise I get very jealous) I came down with a bitch of a chest cold. I had no idea how bad it was until I got home and couldn’t breathe without coughing, and my mother ordered me to the doctor. A course of antibiotics and a couple of weeks later, I was better. Still; I’d discovered the miraculous properties of Tylanol Cold in stopping coughing fits in crowded theatres.
But that’s not what I’m thinking about.
What I’m thinking about are the joys (and no, I’m not being sarcastic) of teaching literature. There’s nothing like teaching a play/poem/novel to get one intimate with it (you have to plan your lessons, after all, and to do so you have to read the works in some depth and detail). And after you teach something, you’re often far more appreciative of it than you were before.
Some cases in point include the following novels:
In the Castle of My Skin, George Lamming
Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys — really good taught alongside
Jane Eyre, Chrlotte Bronte
Miguel Street, V. S. Naipaul
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
Of these, Gatsby and Solomon stand out as books I’ve read for fun but which gained incredible depth and colour when I was teaching them, while Jean Rhys’ retelling of Bronte’s classic will never allow me to look at Jane Rochester the same way again.