the plural of anecdote is data

But this isn’t a post about data– it’s a post about an anecdote! Cue the sigh of relief.

From Ch. 37 of Nicholas Nickleby:

“There was not a bird of such methodical and business-like habits in all the world, as the blind blackbird, who dreamed and dozed away his days in a large snug cage, and had lost his voice, from old age, years before Tim first bought him. There was not such an eventful story in the whole range of anecdote as Tim could tell concerning the acquisition of that very bird; how, compassionating his starved and suffering condition, he had purchased him, with the view of humanely terminating his wretched life; how, he determined to wait three days and see whether the bird revived; how, before half the time was out the bird did revive; and how he went on reviving and picking up his appetite and good looks until he gradually became what– ‘what you see him now, sir!’– Tim would say, glancing proudly at the cage. And with that, Tim would utter a melodious chirrup, and cry ‘Dick;’ and Dick, who, for any sign of life he had previously given, might have been a wooden or stuffed representation of a blackbird indifferently executed, would come to the side of the cage in three small jumps, and, thrusting his bill between the bars, would turn his sightless head towards his old master– and at that moment it would be very difficult to determine who of the two was the happier, the bird or Tim Linkinwater.”

portrait for the cover of the first Nicholas N edition, indeed

portrait for the cover of the first nicholas n edition, indeed

I’m in the happy, second half of Nicholas N, having followed the protagonist through a bit of bad luck and then a bit of indifferent luck. Now we have the reunion with the mother and sister and some genuine good luck. The structure reminds me a bit of Jane Eyre, which I haven’t read in years, but which I remember making me feel depressed in the first half but tolerably happy in the second half. The depressing part in both books takes place in horrid schools. I would bet the depressing part in most people’s lives takes place in horrid schools, too. Now isn’t that interesting?


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