Sunday, October 22, 2006

Thrown Back Into The Past

I was actually going to make an extremely rare Poetry Friday post Friday night when we lost power for four and a half hours. This was the third or fourth time we've lost power for an extended period of time since June. It always happens in the evening. This time it was a little after six p.m. in October.

Meaning it was getting dark fast.

I kept thinking about Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Really, life must have been miserable back then. Candle power is nothing to cheer about. If any of you saw Bleak House last year, you may have noticed the interior and evening scenes seemed pretty...bleak. They were probably very authentic.

Reading by candle light is a chore, in case you haven't tried it lately. When we finally accepted that the power wasn't coming back any time soon and broke out the gas lanterns, things got only marginally better. I can understand now why you always read about nineteenth century people playing cards at evening social gatherings. It's a whole lot easier to see a few images on a card than it is to see text on a page. I know because after I gave up trying to read The Book Thief Friday night, I lost a number of games of solitaire.

I'm guessing that people didn't read much in the evening pre-Thomas Edison (who should be named a saint, by the way). They must have read during the day when they had better light. So...who read? People who didn't have other things they had to do? Of course, there wasn't universal education back in the day, anyway, and your poorer people didn't know how to read. But they may not have needed to because their work didn't require it, they had no leisure time for pleasure reading when it was light out, and reading was just too difficult after dark.

Try to imagine living in a world lit only by fire, so to speak, and you have no idea things could ever be any different.

I think I'm going to look for a history of reading. Someone has to have written that.

Evidently a large number of my readers live near me because my site stats plummeted Friday night.

2 comments:

Nancy said...

There is something cozy about losing power though.... That is, until you can't see anything, you can't open the fridge, you can't use the microwave, and the house starts to get cold.

gail said...

We had an interesting experience that evening. We have a new hybrid SUV with outlets for things like travel fridges or TVs. (We bought it off the lot and had to take this stuff. We don't actually own any travel appliances.) Anyway, it got to be a little after 8 o'clock and one of my family members jumps up off the couch and says, "I'm watching Battlestar at 9.)

He ran an extension cord from a portable TV to the car, and we ran it off the hybrid's battery. We watched Battlestar Galactica by candlelight. It boggles my little mind.