Dombey and Son

. . . the Doctor, leaning back in his chair, with his hand in his breast as usual, held a book from him at arm's length, and read. There was something very awful in this manner of reading. It was such a determined, unimpassioned, inflexible, cold-blooded way of going to work. . . .

What a great line from Charles Dicken's Dombey and Son available free here.

In his Iris Exiled: A Synoptic History of Wonder, Dennis Quinn recommends Dombey and Son as a book about an education in wonder.  So now I'm reading it, via the excellent audio version by Mil Nicholson who does a fantastic job for reading all the voices impeccably.  Dennis Quinn was one of a triumverate, running the Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas, a program so sadly short-lived but so influential and so wonderful.  Here is a great article on this program.

And here is another line from Dombey and Son. . .
Whenever a young gentleman was taken in hand by Doctor Blimber, he might consider himself sure of a pretty tight squeeze. The Doctor only undertook the charge of ten young gentlemen, but he had, always ready, a supply of learning for a hundred, on the lowest estimate; and it was at once the business and delight of his life to gorge the unhappy ten with it.

In fact, Doctor Blimber's establishment was a great hot-house, in which there was a forcing apparatus incessantly at work. All the boys blew before their time. Mental green-peas were produced at Christmas, and intellectual asparagus all the year round. Mathematical gooseberries (very sour ones too) were common at untimely seasons, and from mere sprouts of bushes, under Doctor Blimber's cultivation. Every description of Greek and Latin vegetable was got off the driest twigs of boys, under the frostiest circumstances. Nature was of no consequence at all. No matter what a young gentleman was intended to bear, Doctor Blimber made him bear to pattern, somehow or other.



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