'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

July 11, 2010

Pelmanism


{Same country, different war, but I've always loved this poster.}

I'm three-quarters of the way through The Great Silence, a wonderful book about how the British coped with the two years after World War I. (This is the kind of book that has turned me back to reading history.)  Juliet Nicolson is unflinching about the devastating effects of the war, but she also turns to a whole range of social and cultural changes. It's a fascinating combination and a very readable book.

There was one description (really one of many) that called out to me. In the chapter called 'Hopelessness: Spring 1919,' she writes:

The sense of free-falling chaos prompted by the uncontrollable and persistent grief could sometimes be steadied by a determined control of the mind, and the practice of the highly fashionable mind-training programme of Pelmanism came to be adopted as a solution by some... Its advocates claimed that it could 'soundly strengthen and develop a person's mind and character while removing those barriers that led to inefficiencies and no growth as an individual.'

The Times wrote of the potential benefits the programme could offer to thousands of people who felt themselves overcome by mental lethargy. A suggested schedule of reading and physical exercise before breakfast would set in motion a habit for the day that discouraged the temptation of inertia, over-indulgence and excessive consumption of alcohol.

It's amazing how contemporary this sounds, isn't it?  And I don't mean to trivialize what people in this era were going through, but I'm tempted to substitute 'job worries' for 'grief' and 'chocolate' for 'alcohol' and sign up.  The cure sounds very appealing!

1 comment:

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I love this review! Well done, and I do agree that the passage you selected is very relevant today -- and I'll substitute anything for chocolate, on any day! :)

Thank you for visiting!

Card Catalog

#6barsets #emma200th #maisie #PalliserParty #Woolfalong A.A. Milne Agatha Christie Alexander McCall Smith Amy Lowell Angela Thirkell Ann Bridge Anne Perry Anthony Trollope Anticipation Armchair Travels Art Audiobooks Barbara Pym Biography Bloomsbury Bookish things Boston British Library Crime Classics Cambridge Cathleen Schine Charles Dickens Charlotte Bronte Coffee-table books Cookbooks D.E. Stevenson Deborah Crombie Donna Leon Dorothy L. Sayers E.H. Young E.M. Forster Edith Wharton Elinor Lipman Elizabeth Gaskell Elizabeth Jenkins Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth von Arnim Emily Dickinson Ernest Hemingway Eudora Welty Fiction Films Food from Books Food Writing Found on a Blog George Eliot Georgette Heyer Helen Ashton Henry James History Homes and Haunts Ideas Imogen Robertson Isabella Stewart Gardner Jacqueline Winspear Jane Austen Joanna Trollope Julia Child Language Laurie Colwin Letters Library Books Literature Louise Andrews Kent Louise Penny M.F.K. Fisher Madame Bovary Madame de Sévigné Madame de Staël Margaret Kennedy Margery Sharp Mary Shelley Memoirs Miss Read My Year with Edith Mysteries Nathaniel Hawthorne Nonfiction Nook Only Connect P.D. James Paris in July Persephones Plays Poetry Pride and Prejudice 200 Queen Victoria R.I.P. Reading England 2015 Ruth Rendell Sarah Orne Jewett Short Stories Switzerland Sylvia Beach Team Middlemarch The 1924 Club the Carlyles The Classics Club Thomas Hardy Virago Virginia Woolf Washington Irving Willa Cather William Maxwell Winifred Peck Winifred Watson