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Friday, January 11, 2008

On Gabaldon and Outlander

The comments on this post about Outlander brought back a memory of my first exposure to the novel. Recommended to me by a student about 12 years ago, I had every intention of reading it, but it didn't grab me, and busy grading a set of essays, I eventually let it slide.

However, I still remember E., with her head bent over that book and my surprise and pleasure because E., an athlete not a scholar, had shown little interest in books at all. But there she was reading that huge tome, day after day, with such pleasure. (I always gave credit for books of choice and often some class time for reading.)

I've no doubt that she has followed the series religiously. Whether or not I actually read Outlander this time and whether or not I like it, I cannot fail to be impressed by the fact that Gabaldon has created dedicated readers of many people who never enjoyed reading before. Her fans are amazingly loyal and unfailingly enthusiastic -- heady praise for an author.

These memories of students, and the different aspects of literature and the different novels that caught their attention, remain as moments of pleasure. The ones that loved Siddhartha and those who hated it-- and Wuthering Heights and Hamlet (well, most of them loved Hamlet) and Pride and Prejudice and The Mayor of Casterbridge and Mary Higgins Clark and Jane Austen and Stephen King and Walker Percy and Tolkien and Gabaldon and mysteries and fantasy and science fiction and Gothic tales...


  1. I was very surprised the first time I heard her name spoken. It's nothing like what I'd been pronouncing!

  2. Oh dear, how do you say her name? I look forward to your take on her books. I've only read two . . . they are enormous. But I liked them.

  3. I've never read any of the Outlander books either, but I'd like to.

    Great post Jenclair!! I was one of those students that was always bent over a book at school. (but I was an athlete too, so I guess that makes me a little weird.) School was such a breeze for me, I always had time to read. Truthfully, I was the one carrying around Stephen King, but my English teacher (Mr. Cook) was the one who introduced me to To Kill a Mockingbird, which has become my all-time favorite book.

  4. Ladytink - It's funny how many authors with whom you feel so familiar actually have names you've never heard pronounced. I've no idea how to pronounce Gabaldon, although I'd instinctively put emphasis on the second syllable and "a" as in father. Let me know the correct pronunciation.

    Framed -- Ha, ha! You, too? I think I need an list of authors names with pronunciation symbols. The size is why I keep putting that big ol' book to the bottom of the pile...

    Stephanie -- I was an athlete and reader, too, and taught many students who were both. This student, however, had little use for books until Outlander, and it definitely changed her attitude.

    My uncle introduced me to To Kill a Mockingbird -- one of my all-time favorites as well!

  5. I'd been pronouncing it Ga-ball-dun and she pronounces it Gabble-dun

  6. Thanks, Ladytink. I was pronouncing it (in my head) exactly as you were. Now, I'm practicing (in my head) of saying it correctly!

  7. I think I must have read the first three books in the series before I fizzled out. The first couple were really very good (at least I thought so at the time). No doubt I would enjoy the rest as well, but I've just never gotten around to reading them.

  8. Danielle -- I'm enjoying Outlander tremendously. Great entertainment, but there are a lot in the series and they are long...and there are so many books out there to read.

  9. Sewmail - Wow! What a wonderful experience that must have been! I've been to Scotland twice and have an abiding sense of association with the country and the history. Culloden Moor had a huge effect on me, and I can hear or read the words and feel grief.

    I've also a fondness for Burns and amazed at all of the connections your trip made.