After all these weeks of slogging through the history of biography, reading the likes of heavy hitters like Plutarch, Suetonious, John Aubrey, Samuel Johnson, and Edith Gaskell, the way is brightening. I found a book in the list of secondary readings (not that I've read all of the primary readings yet!) - Father and Son by Edmund Gosse. It's a very funny book and was exactly what I needed to pull me out of the doldrums. Gosse's father was a rabid evangelist during the high Victorian period and the younger Gosse never quite believed the teachings that rained down on him day after day, sometimes all day. He mentions having to go around the village with his father, who was committed to bringing people into his particular evangelical Protestant sect. Gosse describes his father taking him into the homes of the poor, which he found really smelly and disgusting. He says, "One had to run over the whole gamut of odours, some so faint that they embraced the nostril with a fairy kiss, others bluntly gross of the 'knock-you-down' order; some sweet, with a dreadful sourness; some bitter, with a smack of rancid hair-oil." I must remember to recite that sometime at an appropriate moment: "I've detected a scent so faint it has embraced my nostril with a fairy kiss!"
This week the classes went really well, and yesterday I was given an encouraging response to my review of Poe's biography. Made me realize that this is exactly why I'm here, in case I'd forgotten. I have to write 2500 words for a workshop on December 14th, but feel confident about it. As a group too, we're starting to coalesce, and there's a real feeling of camaraderie - essential when it comes to having your work critiqued.