Sunday, November 30, 2014

Oliver Twist, Singapore's Year of the Horse, and a Bait of Air

“Everybody knows the story of another experimental philosopher, who had a great theory about a horse being able to live without eating, and who demonstrated it so well, that he got his one horse down to a straw a day and would most unquestionably have rendered him a very spirited and rampacious animal on nothing at all, if he had not died, just four-and-twenty hours before he was to have had his first comfortable bait of air.”  -Dickens, Oliver Twist

I suppose this year was dominated by three stories:  Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream (our play was fantastic, the DVD just released) the musical GREASE, and Dickens' Oliver Twist!
“Some people are nobody’s enemies but their own.”  -Dickens, Oliver Twist

I had no idea that Oliver Twist would affect me so mightily.
“People like us don’t go out at night cause people like them see us for what we are.”  -Dickens, Oliver Twist

I had attempted teaching Dickens before:  A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations and even in honors classes it's difficult to force kids to read those books.  But Twist was different.  I enjoyed it as much as any book I've read or taught in years.  It was a feast.  The rich characters so poor in morality but mighty in catechism...I found myself reading passages aloud over and over and enjoying it so much.
“Dignity, and even holiness too, sometimes, are more questions of coat and waistcoat than some people imagine.” -Dickens, Oliver Twist

I know for many educators it's very challenging to break a new author or narrative into the dusty canon of books they use so brilliantly (and often lethargically) to their students as if we're so starved that we sustain ourselves on only a handful of titles bereft at the chance of falling in love with another.
“It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens down the temper… so cry away.” -Dickens, Oliver Twist

It's nice to be surprised... imagine that, by a book no less!

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