Friday, December 30, 2011

Reading Through the Centuries Project: Black Beauty

So y'alls, guess what? A year late...I met my goal of reading Black Beauty! Hoo boy, that's right, it only takes me a year to finish reading a book normally assigned to school children.

Goals: I meet them.

Now I can watch the movie that I got "for the family" last Christmas- I told myself I wouldn't watch it until I finished the book. Clearly it wasn't enough motivation to get the thing finished quickly. I will give a report on how the movie is. Hopefully it won't take me a year to watch.

My verdict on the book- worth reading. It's a really interesting historical lesson in the living conditions of people and horses in different social circumstances in the middle of the nineteenth century. I think it definitely served Anna Sewell's purpose of informing her contemporaries about things they might not have realized were cruel or inhumane- and might have made people think about the way they treated the animals they used on a daily basis. For example, the popular custom of making carriage horses wear 'bearing reins'.

These reins, which by themselves are not necessarily cruel, but when over-tightened- which was the fashion during this era- forced horses to carry their heads unnaturally high- cutting off the horses' breath and placing serious strain on their neck muscles. Sewell devoted a lot of the book to mentioning these reins and describing their effects on the horses- they went out of style in her lifetime, I wonder how much affect Black Beauty had on that- the book was very successful at the time it was published.

It's a really quick read- not that you'd know it from my pace, but the chapters are short and easy to read. If you're looking for something to read, try it- it's free on most e-readers too! Score!

Anna Sewell- ca. 1878

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