Classics for Babies: on reading Wuthering Heights to your 3-month-old

I reread Gatsby while Charlie was in utero and was pleasantly surprised by the results: I must not have been paying very much attention the first time around, and I enjoyed myself more than I was expecting to.  While traversing the cool and foggy Welsh countryside last month I was inspired to pull up a new classic on my kindle.  This time, as my daughter is out in the world, she got to hear the better part of Wuthering Heights.  

Reading on the kindle is great for travelers, perfect for nursing moms (someone alert Jeff Bezos to this new market!), and lovely for the ease of looking up archaic Scottish colloquialisms at a moments notice and with only one free hand.  They say that children who have been read to, even from a very young age (infancy?) tend to have better vocabularies, and although I doubt very much that Charlie will remember the definitions of such gems as “cant”, “obdurate” or “pule”, she does seem to greatly enjoy their recitation.

When you think about it, however, Wuthering Heights is a very appropriate book for a young girl.  It has it all!  Beautiful landscapes, star-crossed lovers, childhood soul mates, ghosts and strife and even a happy ending.  The characters are almost all equally silly and deplorable, and their dialogue and narrations end up rather hilarious as a result.  Who wouldn’t laugh at Mr. Lockwood’s self-satisfaction, or Nelly Dean’s continuous blundering of her patrons’ affairs?  And why anyone would fall for either Catherine or her daughter is beyond me, although they do seem to be able to put their menfolk all in a tizzy.  It’s like a perfect Hollywood romantic comedy (tragedy?), set in Yorkshire.

I find it hard to believe that the creature before me, grinning (her gums in all their glory), completely unable to roll over let alone sit on her own volition, will ever become a full and complete adult person.  (Truthfully, I find it hard to believe she will ever become a 2-year-old, but I’m working on that one.)  For the moment she is just as tickled by the Flaming Lips as Raffi, and just as enamored with the Brontes as she is with Dr. Seuss.   In fact, she seems much more interested in listening to my furrowed-brow impressions of Heathcliff than reading from any of the gorgeous picture books that grace her shelves.  I am taking full advantage of all of this, obviously.  Perhaps it is my one misguided attempt to keep a tenuous grasp on adulthood while reveling in everything childish.  Or maybe this is a childish as it gets.

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