Monday, December 27, 2010

lessons I have learned

A few years ago, I blogged about the lessons I have learned from literature, over the years. I was reminded of this recently when a blogging friend, Stacy, re-posted her own version of this meme, and so I thought I'd have another go at this for your edification. These are valuable life lessons, after all. (Some are repeats of last time, most are new. Some contain spoilers):

If something seems too good to be true, distrust it. It is probably run by the Mafia.
John Grisham, The Firm.

If you see your lover holding a baby, do not assume that she went and got pregnant to someone else while you were unavoidably detained. Before you disappear for another forty-odd years, just ask if the baby is hers.
Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

If you are in dire, inescapable financial trouble that could ruin your marriage: dance the tarantella.
Henrik Ibsen, The Doll's House.

In her own words – “I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.”
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey.

Avoid listening to men who tell you spellbinding stories. You will fall in love with them, and then they will probably murder you or drive you to suicide.
Virgil, The Aeneid, and Shakespeare, Othello.

You may, one day, come across a woman sleeping in a room full of garlic with the windows bolted. As stuffy and uncomfortable as this may appear, do not try to help her by airing out the room.
Bram Stoker, Dracula.

Never marry someone without checking up on their family mental history.
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre.

The best way to get rid of writer's block is to get someone to lock you in a tower.
Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle.

If you want a man to fall in love with you and/or want to marry you, be completely helpless and fragile. A fortune wouldn’t go astray, either.
Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White. (To be fair, this is also the lesson of most 19th century novels authored by men.)

If a man smokes cigars, don’t trust him – even if he started out okay. He does not want women to subvert society’s expectations.
Kate Chopin, The Awakening.

Even if it appears to everyone that the good guy has been pushed off a cliff by his nemesis, he is probably still alive somewhere, biding his time.
Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes.

In a similar vein – Never assume the good guy is dead, unless you have actually seen his body.
Homer, The Odyssey.

Scratch that - even if you have seen the body, never assume the good guy is dead.
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Avoid flying places. Especially with small boys.
William Golding, Lord of the Flies.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, this is great!

    You're so right about Woman in White. The unattractive girl was so much more interesting than the pretty and helpless heiress. (Clearly I have no ability to remember character names a few months after reading the book.)