Thursday, January 04, 2007


At the end of a women’s studies seminar in 1999, my friend Susan Stone told me that I absolutely should read The Little Princess. It’s not the kind of thing I ever remembered to reserve at the library, but recently, I found a copy at The Strand that I picked up for under two dollars and then couldn’t put down.

The novel is pretty precious--after all it’s by the same Frances Hodgson Burnett who wrote Little Lord Fauntleroy. But there's plenty of dross of a cultural nature that i found extremely interesting--the titular character comes from India (she’s the daughter of a British colonial officer) and there’s an Indian butler, Ram Dass, who has a fair amount of agency in the latter half of the novel.

Also, I guess that I was subconsciously hooked (!SPOILER AHEAD!) to the plight of the motherless child who suddenly loses her beloved and doting father to illness. Because at some point in the night these words emerged:
Now although you may believe that Sara’s father had died and perished in the forests of India, in truth, he was biding his time in order to re-enter his beloved daughter’s life at an opportune moment. Only the contemplation of her jubilance allowed him to rein in his impulse to present himself to her at once.
And so the next day, I continued with the rest of the novel quite optimistically.

Until I reached the end of the book and the child's father, kind of obstinately, stayed dead.

And then I realized that I must have dreamt that buoyant passage.

I wonder how much of my reading I habitually morph into a shape that is more agreeable to me without realizing it at all.

Although my subconscious is continually playing wordy tricks on me, I’m somewhat mollified by the passable imitation of Burnett that it accomplished.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sappy but still sweet.