A Melville-Mitford Monday Mash-Up

Posted on November 26, 2013

Call me Bibliophile. Some hours ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and no patience left with the incompetent and oblivious people I encountered in a long day of shopping, I thought I would travel about a little and revisit Mitford. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily becoming hypercritical and impatient, and bringing up the rear of the slowest-moving line in every store; and especially whenever my crankiness gets such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the aisle, and methodically knocking people’s carts over—then, I account it high time to get to Mitford as soon as I can. This is my substitute for psychotherapy. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the novel. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all readers in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the books with me.

Here in Mississippi, it’s been unseasonably cold for November, and a near-freezing, persistent rain has fallen all day. Not an ideal day to run about to 11 different stores for Thanksgiving groceries, office supplies, pet supplies, etc. I’ve been irrationally cranky all day, mentally overreacting to the traffic and the crowds and the S.L.O.W. cashiers.

Last week I had assigned bits of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick to my homeschool co-op literature class, so the opening paragraph was in my mind. Ishmael’s “damp, drizzly November” was both literal and figurative for me today.

As I drove from store to store, however, I listened to John McDonough’s wonderful reading of Out to Canaan, the fourth book in Jan Karon’s delightful Mitford series, and it soothed my soul.

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I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read the Mitford books. Jan Karon’s invitation in The Mitford Bedside Companion rings so true:

Just as we visit loved ones again and again, so you may go again and again to Mitford. Sometimes for refreshment. Often for peace. And always for hope.

Have you visited Mitford? If you haven’t, I invite you to experience its beauty and balm right away.

Enjoy!

P.S. – For your reference, here’s the opening paragraph of Moby-Dick that inspired my Melville-Mitford Mash-Up on this cold, drizzly Monday:

“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.”

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Comments

3 Responses to “A Melville-Mitford Monday Mash-Up”

  1. Maggie Hogan says:

    Completely, totally, unarguably Brilliant!

  2. Trina says:

    I am a long-time fan of Jan Karon. I just finished In the Company of Others this week, concluding a back to back reading of all the Mitford/Fr. Tim novels. It has done my soul a world of good! I can hardly wait for the next book to be released. Despite what Ms. Karon said in the past about other novels she wanted to write, Fr. Tim and Co. will not let her go – she is writing “one more” Mitford novel. It should be out next fall. Everyone should read this wonderful series.

  3. andrea says:

    From someone rereading SHEPHERDS ABIDING for the umptieth time…:-)

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