Saturday, December 26, 2009

To Sir With Love

I recently read the classic novel "To Sir With Love". I had read it when I was in the 12th standard. I remember loving it for the language as well as the structure of the book. After many a summer, I felt like revisiting the book.

My original copy was nowhere to be found in the house, so I picked up a new copy. I managed to finish it in 3-4 sittings. And I was disappointed!

It is really strange how an old favorite book or novel does not seem to stir the same emotions within you at a later date. I recollect vividly the heart-wrenching feeling and overwhelming emotions after watching "The Roman Holiday" when I was 14. I watched the same movie again around 2 years back. Though I yet felt it to be a nice movie, it did not quite overwhelm me to that extent and I, somehow, felt sad and betrayed by myself. This book seemed to have the same feeling in me.

The language was still fascinating - lucid and free flowing. It was a typical British English - the classical "Queen's language" with the occasional tongue-in-cheek humor. One reads with a smile and occasionally has to nod ones head in silent appreciation of the expressions. The book, however, did not move beyond this.

The sentiments and emotions in the books seemed 'slightly' sterile, the philosophy 'slightly" simplistic and the overall approach 'slightly' copybook. Something did not quite ring true - or rather seemed quite naive. The hero seemed too much of a 'good guy' with the honesty of an exaggerated simpleton. It seemed to lack a real depth of understanding - an actual feeling of the pulse of the fellow human beings.

One is inclined to compare it with "To Kill a Mocking Bird" - which is also on similar themes. "To Kill a Mocking Bird", even after so many years still unfailingly brings tears to my eyes. It is written through the eyes of a 10 year old girl and the author has been able to bring out the most profound thoughts about life in rather simple words and actions.

With the passage of time, we indeed tend to become more casual and unfeeling. This is our natural defense against the real world and in some degree or the other, all of us experience this. Only the books or movies which are able break the shell of our self-chosen cocoon merits to be called a "Classic".

"To Sir With Love" could not break this shell. It did not make me cry this time.