“Man delights not me—no, nor woman neither…”

My brain doesn’t work. My reading brain, that is.

I can make coffee, change diapers, and play with my son and his Thomas the Train set. But that’s about it. It’s a bloody shame, too, as I’m “reading,” or doing something that resembles staring at words, The Age of Innocence at the moment.

All those angels and paragon of animals wasted on me!

So I went to the doctor. She knows me well. What’s up, she asked.

I don’t feel myself, I said. Malaise.

Fever, she asked, and touched my forehead.

No.

No, she agreed.

Appetite?

Shot.

Energy, she asked.

Gone.

Sex, she asked.

I paused. Yeah, right, I said, with mock condescension.

Hmm, likely a cold or maybe even influenza. Nothing to worry about though.

I can’t read, I sighed.

She sprang into action. You just bought yourself a comprehensive blood panel, she said.

So there you have it: the sign of malady par excellence.

Any doctor whose hierarchy of symptoms reaches its apex at the loss of reading passion is a doctor worth her weight in Hippocratic gold.

Lastly, even if you’re a Blooming stud at Shakespeare, the allusion of the post’s title will probably miss the mark. That’s my bad. So here’s the passage that provides context and, I hope, keeps this excessively lame effort of mine on the side of literary respectability.

What a piece of work is a man!
How noble in reason, how infinite in faculties,
in form and moving how express and admirable,
in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!
And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man
delights not me—no, nor woman neither….

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8 Responses to “Man delights not me—no, nor woman neither…”

  1. Anthony says:

    That’s an acute malady, Kevin; time to read is the only compensation for illness. An illness that precludes reading does not bear contemplation.

  2. Fiona Bell says:

    “Some books should be tossed aside lightly and some should be thrown with force”, but that is not the case with Wharton’s “Age of Innocence” (even though the title turned me off reading it for a time). It is a delightful book with some beautiful layers and frustrations. I hope you are well enough to be reading again soon. From time to time I burn myself out between reading for pleasure and reading for uni and then I just have to have a little break, give myself something good to read as a reward, and then get back to the pile of uni stuff that is waiting for me when the words stop just floating about senselessly on the page.

  3. Dear Kevin,

    To reply to Shakespeare with Shakespeare–this is rough, quoted from memory–the beginning of “The Merchant of Venice.”

    In sooth, I know not why I am so sad,
    It wearied me, you say it wearied you,
    And such a want-wit sadness it makes of me,
    I have much ado to know myself.”

    I know the feeling you describe and hope and pray that you will soon be over it.

    Shalom,

    Steven

  4. Dear Kevin,

    One more try. . .

    It wearies me, you say it wearies you,
    But how I caught it, came by it, what the stuff
    Is made of, whereof ’tis born, I am to learn,
    And such a want wit sadness it makes of me,
    I have much ado to know myself.

    Shalom,

    Steven

  5. Colleen says:

    My, that IS a good doctor.

    I really hope you feel better.

    May I suggest, as a different kind of doctor, one who’s suffered your current malady in the recent past, that you give yourself permission to read sillier and/or easier books than what Wharton has to offer? It helped me.

  6. @ Anthony — True.

    @ Fiona — To whom is the quote attributable? I don’t recognize it. Yes, burned out, a very apt description. Burned out from worry, I suppose. All self-imposed, of course. The worst kind. Enough. Thanks for the kind advice.

    @ Steven — Thank you for both quotes, especially the first one. A quote from memory is often as good, or better, than the original.

    @ Colleen — You say you gave up coffee. How did that help? Good sound advice: I’ll read Whitman, the great restorer of health!

  7. Fiona Bell says:

    Hi Kevin,

    It was a mis-quotation of the witty Dorothy Parker. The correct quote is actually: This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

    Best of luck!

  8. Now is the winter of our discontent – NOT, I hope.

    Seriously though, work combined with a young family can be very draining – but, to broaden our allusions, this too shall pass!

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