Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Reading makes time on the treadmill or stationary bike less of a bore and so - that is what I do. Over the past year or so I have been rediscovering classic books that I have not read since high school or college. Lately it has been Great Expectations (Dickens).

I was caught by a portion of Pip's narrative. After being spurned by Estella he is brought to tears, and this is his recollection of the nature he had adopted in his childhood.

"My sister's bringing up had made me sensitive. In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, I am convinced there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice. It may be only a small injustice that the child can be exposed to; but the child is small, and its world is small, and its rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale as a big-boned Irish hunter. Within myself I had sustained from my babyhood a perpetual conflict with injustice. I had known from the time when I could speak that my sister, in her capricious and violent coercion, was unjust to me. I had cherished a profound conviction that her bringing me up by hand gave her  no right to bring me up by jerks. Through all my punishments, disgraces, fasts, and vigils, and other penitential performances, I had nursed this assurance; and to my communing so much with it, in a solitary and unprotected way, I, in great part, refer the fact that I was morally timid and very sensitive."

I had to read this a few times, as it was so familiar, what he is describing.  Somewhat of a roadmap, I am sure, of my own childhood nature. I recall my mother saying I was very sensitive, and my brother, of course.  I suppose it is no wonder, then. As Dickens infers, children are highly sensitive to injustice, and when one's childhood is full of it, there is no doubt that the outcome is an adult that is also highly sensitive.

Some of us are more sensitive than others, and are made to feel things much more deeply than others. That is easy to see in our house, where one sister is quiet, gentle and sensitive while the other is boisterous, self-assertive and persistent. No doubt my sensitive child will feel injustice. Hopefully, my boisterous child will learn to be aware of it as well.

No doubt, Dickens was a sensitive child, and as an adult he was very aware of injustices in the society he was part of.  No doubt that writers are often sensitive people as well, I know all of my favorites are. Perhaps it is a  gift.
I'll have to come back to that. : )

Good night, all.


  1. Good post. :) This is something I was thinking about the other day. I was also that sensitive child. I was punished with the belt and my brother was not. It definitely made me much more sensitive to... well... everything. A double edged sword that I have learned to love.
    Thanks so the reminder that our children are sooooo in tune to what is just and right. And we have no right to sully that.

  2. I am working my way through the 100 free classics that came on my Kobo. It's fun to do.

    I love the name Pip. And I recently read A Christmas Carol for the first time. Recently being Christmas.

    It's all relative.

  3. What I love about Victorian era literature are the ornate descriptions and overextending personal monologues. Its funny because that is the sort of thing that is frowned upon by modern publishers. I know its not for everyone. Neither is Greek food, but hey. Bring on the souvlaki.

    I have been reading (periodically) a long and cumbersome biography of Dickens. I am not what you would call a big fan, but I have a respectful appreciation for his work. Reading this biography gave me a great deal more respect for him. I didn't know much about him before, honestly. He was strongly liberal, and fought for women's and children's rights. He was strongly against execution. He rallied to many human rights causes.
    Eventually I plan to post another blog about this subject, and I have a good deal of that biography to get through.