Lisa's Reviews > Exodus

Exodus by Leon Uris
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Aug 12, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction-historical
Read in January, 1969

I was of older gradeschool age, and after exhausting all the Nancy Drew's my mother's younger sister passed down to me, I went to my parents meager book shelf. I read Exodus, by Leon Uris. The boldface on the book jacket demanding to be read like a hollywood movie demanding to be seen. I had no idea that it already was a movie. From that book forward I was hungry for literature. I tried other books on this parental shelf: this Steinbeck (Winter of our Discontent)--I liked but could not say why; Dale Carnegie--false; Victoria Holt--fake drama; Day of the Jackal--almost, gets the tension; Michener--almost,has drama. Then the 3 shelves had been read.

Fortunately, our township had become a city in the intervening years and built a library (1972) less than a half-mile from my house. Unfortunately, the librarians kept escorting me from the adult section to the kid section of which they were so proud. Doubly unfortunately, being an obedient child (my downfall in multiple areas of life) I obeyed. I read little in middle school, because nothing caught my interest.

Fortunately, in high school I had teacher who liked to irritate and shake the ground beneath his students. He threw us into Heart of Darkness, by Conrad laughing under his breath. I took every english class I could with wicked-humored Dane. When he despised my pollyanna-ish, he gave me My Last Duchess, by Browning in a poetry class of the great classic English Poets. In this class we read Pope and lots of Pope. Our final exam were these poems he assigned like medicine to cure a weakness he saw in each of us. We needed to memorize it, analyze it, and defend our presentation of it. Going into this exam, I finally had an "A" in one of his classes--until he asked "Why was she wearing a ribbon about her neck?" Well, I could not bring into my consciousness that malevolent shadow following me whenever I was inside this poem. Pollyanna-ish won and I got a "C".

Fortunately, I was of an age I was no longer escorted out of the adult section in the library, so I read more dead poets and more dead novelists so I could scale this danish wall in the classroom that divided the worthy and unworthy. This Dane often mocked all underclassmen, asserting that we did not have enough life lived to write anything worthy, much less have anything meaningful to say about great literature.

Yes, that may have been true, but it was in literature I found a reflection and a source of light to kindle my own. I am glad to have discovered since that time that an author does not have to be dead to have written something great.

Bsck then--and I am thankful today, that the mystery and magnetism this teacher created around literature was a party I crashed. I read Don Quioxte, because Mr. Rasmussen's idea of school musical was Man of La Mancha. He was banned from doing musicals and plays thereafter. Too bad parents have so little faith and administrators so little courage, Mr. Rasmussen might have shaken the ground beneath our feet, but the opened earth revealed a bigger world we could go forth and master.
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