Audible tells me that the audiobook version of this short story lasted only seventy-five minutes but it felt like soooo much longer than that.
I listened politely to the entire thing, waiting attentively for something that would make this two-hundred-year-old story worth listening to. I waited in vain.
If humour is in the ear of the listener, then all I heard was smug disdain, delivered in over-worked prose that had neither comic timing nor dramatic pacing.
This was a story that seemed to be saying to the reader, ‘Look how quaint and odd these country folk are! Look particularly at this poorly favoured teacher and join me in laughing at his greed for food, his delusional assessment of his marital prospects, his absurd physical appearance, and his gullibility.‘
I’ll pass, thanks.
The main thing I’ll take away from reading this short story is the image of American Lit courses as ventilators keeping fiction alive that ought to have been allowed to die a dignified natural death long ago.