First off, an explanation of this blog’s title:
This past semester in college, I spent six weeks (out of fourteen) reading, discussing, thinking about, and writing a decently long paper about Charles Dickens’s Bleak House. Bleak House is one of those great-sprawling-monster novels—clocking in at about 900 pages—and it is also one of Dickens’s social critiques. This time the target is the legal system, especially how obscure and ruinous it can be. To properly demonstrate the opacity of London’s legal system, Dickens employs the device of two narrators: one being some sort of ominous-nigh-omniscient-implied-Dickens voice, and little Esther Summerson, whose main occupation is SHINING BEACON OF GOODNESS, and secondarily a housekeeper.
For example, a sample from implied-Chuck, the very opening passage of the novel*:
“London. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets, as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn-hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes—gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in the mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas, in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest” (11).
Bleak indeed, yeah? And here is a typical tidbit of Esther’s experience:
“The letter gave me only five days’ notice of my removal. When every minute added to the proofs of love and kindness that were given me in those five days; and when at last the morning came, and when they took me through all the rooms that I might see them for the last time; and when some cried, ‘Esther, dear, say good-bye to me here, at my bedside, where you first spoke so kindly to me!’ and when others asked me only to write their names, ‘With Esther’s love;’ and when they all surrounded me with their parting presents and clung to me weeping, and cried, ‘What shall we do when dear, dear Esther’s gone!’ and when I tried to tell them how forebearing, and how good they had all been to me, and how I blessed, and thanked them every one; what a heart I had!” (36)
In addition to this overwhelming sweetness—with special emphasis on how much others trumpet her remarkable virtues—comes a strange mixture of keen observation and emotional denial. Many of the chapters in which Esther is the narrative are appropriately titled: “Esther’s Narrative.” And here comes the adorable irony of the blog title: it will not be sweet, it will not be withholding, and it will hopefully not be emotionally weird.
So, yeah, basically, like all other blogs, I have thoughts, too! Lots of them! About things! Is it Salon? No. Is it New York Times? No. Am I a genius? No. But whatevs. I have a computer, and so I exercise my God-given right to blog (or is it “write” to blog?–ooh, sorry about that).
Seriously. I’ve thought about this for months. “Esther’s Narrative” is all I got.
*Note: From the Oxford World’s Classics edition of Bleak House.