Sunday, March 20, 2016

Two centuries' institutionalization

Back in second grade I borrowed Jules Verne's Deux ans de vacances from my school's library and never returned it. It haunts me to this day.

First, this being one of Verne's less known works, think of it as a rather tame thematic precursor to Lord of the Flies: a group of boys stranded on a Pacific island struggle against nature and each other. If you haven't heard of it, seems it's big in Japan.

Second, never underestimate what may set off a neurotic personality. I loved the damn book and as eight-year-olds are wont to do fantasized about Mary-Sue-ing myself into the action. Given the protagonists' age ranging from eight to fourteen, I imagined myself as the youngest yet of course smartest and bravest, amazing one and all with my precociousness. Then I re-read the book a year later and realized that at the grim old age of nine I was already over the hill!

Finally, I'm reminded of the oldest boy in the story and de facto leader, Gordon, the only American in the group, whose maturity, will and especially Yankee practicality not only hold their ad-hoc society together but provide the leadership necessary for the group of British and French boys to secure food and shelter and of course fight murderous pirates in finest tween adventure novel fashion.
Wow. 1888, huh?
Yankee practicality. Wonder what happened to that.

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