So, for the last reading assignment for class, I’m supposed to read Jane Austin’s Mansfield Park and respond to it by this morning at 9AM. I’ve had the book for a while, and started reading it on Sunday, thinking that between Sunday afternoon, Monday at work, Monday afternoon, and Tuesday at work (I start work every day at 5AM this week), I should be able to read the nearly 400 pages & respond. Wrong.
Let me give a little background before I say the next bit: I am not the sort of person who usually falls asleep reading books. In fact, I can only think of one book, before I started this summer course, that I fell asleep reading, and that was Interview with the Vampire, the first 30 pages of which managed to put me to sleep two nights in a row. Since that time, I have had no trouble maintaining interest in a book to stay awake, even at night when I should be sleeping. This is not to say that when book reading interfered with normal sleeping I didn’t get tired; I was just able to recognise this and set the book down consciously before falling asleep.
As I said, I started reading Mansfield Park on Sunday. Right after sleeping some 13 hours, and not having gone to bed any extra late. I felt awake and alive and if not for the assignment, would have gone out and trimmed the tree that blocks my driveway and mowed the yards and poisoned them and maybe even washed the dishes. I definitely had to start laundry, so I did that, and then I set down with Mansfield Park. Except Mansfield Park is the work of a devil. I don’t mean to imply that Jane Austin is any important sort of devil, such as satan or beelzebub, but more like some minor devil of sleep inducement. I would estimate that for every page or two of Mansfield Park that I read, I sleep half an hour. On Sunday, and this is only because I kept setting alarms to go off every half hour, I managed to read about 6 pages in three hours before giving up and reading some material for the paper I’m working on for class. I would estimate that i have had an extra 6 or 8 hours of sleep in the last few days (another hour and a half this afternoon, plus I almost fell asleep at my desk at work twice today trying to read it) just getting through about 35 pages. It’s ridiculous.
I can’t be THAT sleep deprived, can I?
So, everyone else around me (and by everyone, I mean women) seems to love Jane Austin’s writing, and everyone in my class (that is, 14 women, 3 men) seemed to really enjoy it. They even mentioned, while talking about the storylines in the book, something that I can tie into the paper I’m working on about Jonathan Swift (this is the only encouraging thing about trying to get the reading done right away, right now). They started class by talking a lot about the differences in the movie version, and that was fine, and then we had an interlude where a couple of people gave their oral presentations, which was fine, and then we started in on analysis of the book, and I swear, just hearing people reading quotes and excerpts from the book, I was on the verge of falling asleep in class. Which I have never in my life done, and hope I never do.
I think I’ve found a profound tool to help me if ever insomnia strikes again; Mansfield parkk, the work of a devil, puts me right to sleep. Not in 100 pages, not in 20 pages. In one page. I can read any one page of this book and pass out. It’s amazing. Too bad it doesn’t work for everyone, or I’d market it somehow.