The Changing Impact of Books and Timeless Truths: Thoughts While Reading STATION ELEVEN

3 months ago

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It’s been 8 years since Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel published successful 2014, and I’ve yet work it. The funny rubric and the alluring screen with its dark, starry entity and glowing canvas tents has intrigued maine since I archetypal saw it. Watching the trailer for the caller HBO bid premiere jarred maine into yet picking the publication up. I know, I’m precocious to the party. I was that mode with the amusement Lost, too, though I inactive emotion talking astir it to anyone who volition listen. As with Lost, the satellite of Station Eleven enthralled me. Yet, I besides began reasoning astir however the interaction of Station Eleven has changed with time.

station eleven publication  cover

Station Eleven opens connected a snowy nighttime successful Toronto arsenic a celebrated Hollywood actor, Arthur Leander, dies onstage from a mysterious flu portion performing successful King Lear. Mandel past moves betwixt the aboriginal days of the pandemic and 20 years aboriginal successful a satellite with fewer survivors left. We conscionable a formed of characters who knew Arthur, including a kid histrion named Kirsten. Kirsten aboriginal journeys betwixt the remnants of nine fringing Lake Michigan, performing Shakespeare successful the Traveling Symphony.

As a reader, I americium looking astatine this publication with a antithetic lens than a scholar astatine the clip of the book’s publishing. This is simply a communicative astir a pandemic, and dissimilar the satellite of 2014, we’re 2 years heavy successful a pandemic now.

Jeevan was crushed by a abrupt certainty that this was it, that this unwellness Hua was describing was going to beryllium the disagreement betwixt a earlier and an after, a enactment drawn done his life.

Station Eleven, leafage 20

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That’s however I consciousness astir the satellite earlier 2019. There’s the beingness I knew earlier the COVID-19 pandemic and the beingness after.

The Impact of Books Can Change With Time

Reading Station Eleven has nudged maine to bespeak connected books and their impacts. An writer whitethorn person peculiar impacts successful caput erstwhile penning a book. As clip passes aft work though, these messages and ideas tin impact readers successful antithetic ways. The times we unrecorded successful person the powerfulness to alteration us, nary substance however subtly or, perhaps, not-so-subtly.


While the quotes from Station Eleven mightiness not person seemed retired of the mean successful a pandemic publication for a scholar successful 2014, they deed maine hard erstwhile I work them successful 2021.

  • “The ER’s afloat of caller cases. We’ve got beds parked successful the hallways.” (p. 18)
  • “I’m saying you should permission now. Or if you can’t leave, astatine slightest banal up connected nutrient and enactment successful your apartment.” (p. 20)
  • “For a portion they’d lived successful beforehand of the tv news, debased volume, a murmured litany of nightmares that near them drained and reeling, drifting successful and retired of sleep…Days slipped past and the quality went connected and connected until it began to look abstract, a fearfulness movie that wouldn’t end.” (p. 176)

Every clip I came upon quotes similar these that paralleled our experiences with COVID-19, my bosom gave a small jolt. It’s cathartic and a small scary to work passages from an apocalyptic pandemic publication that you tin subordinate to now. It’s what drew maine to this publication successful the archetypal place. I was seeking the words to marque consciousness of the catastrophe we’ve recovered ourselves in.

Some of the passages successful Station Eleven felt truthful spot connected to what we’re facing now, they came crossed arsenic eerily prophetic. It makes maine wonder, however person different books’ messages changed implicit time? What were authors reasoning their readers would consciousness arsenic they work their words? Could they envision what aboriginal readers would feel?

Yet, Some Truths Within Books Feel Timeless

Station Eleven is simply a publication astir a pandemic, but it is besides a publication astir humanity, our resilience, and the things that marque beingness beauteous and worthy living. Despite however overmuch a book’s interaction tin change, I’d reason determination are inactive truths “universally acknowledged” (as Jane Austen would say) that books tin connection the world.

I came crossed these slices of contented wrong Station Eleven that I deliberation ringing existent nary substance erstwhile a scholar picks up the book. I’ve included a fewer below. Though, arsenic each scholar whitethorn construe a publication differently, you mightiness prime retired antithetic truths.

People Matter

Kirsten slept fitfully, alert each clip she woke of the emptiness of the landscape, the deficiency of radical and animals and caravans astir her. Hell is the lack of the radical you agelong for.”

p. 144

These words struck specified a almighty cord wrong me. It’s being with the radical we emotion that makes beingness worthy living. While this has grown each the much evident amidst the isolation from COVID, I spot it besides arsenic a information of the quality experience.

What is Life Without Meaning?

“All 3 caravans of the Traveling Symphony are labeled arsenic such, THE TRAVELING SYMPHONY lettered successful achromatic connected some sides, but the pb caravan carries an further enactment of text: Because endurance is insufficient.”

p. 58

This line, “survival is insufficient,” is drawn from Star Trek, and its meaning exposes a information not ever acknowledged. Surviving is not the aforesaid arsenic living. What is beingness if we cannot gully meaning from it done art, expression, and purpose? I spot these arsenic cardinal to what makes america human.


Beauty Lives On successful Words and Ideas, Too

Sometimes, the interaction of a publication is not conscionable the cosmopolitan truths it reveals, but the quality successful the ideas it draws to caput and however the words marque you feel. Station Eleven had galore of those moments for me. The words would descend in, and I would consciousness something.

We traveled truthful acold and your relationship meant everything. It was precise difficult, but determination were moments of beauty. Everything ends. I americium not afraid.”

p. 302

After finishing Station Eleven, these words successful peculiar person stuck with me. They are heartbreaking yet hopeful, bittersweet and comforting. Reading this punctuation makes maine consciousness each of those things. It’s fulfilling successful a mode that’s hard to enactment into words. They capable maine up with thing I didn’t recognize I was seeking.

A Few Final Thoughts

It’s absorbing to deliberation astir books and the paradox of their impacts. As clip passes and caller experiences signifier the world, the interaction of books tin change. Yet books besides contiguous truths of the quality acquisition that consciousness applicable nary substance erstwhile they’re read.

I approached speechmaking Station Eleven with a consciousness of awe astatine however overmuch its interaction has changed since 2014. This communicative took clasp of maine successful a mode it could not person had I work it years earlier. If I work it earlier COVID, I would not person been affected truthful powerfully by the gravity of a pandemic. I would not person related to arsenic galore of the situations the characters endured. I mightiness not person seen myself truthful intelligibly successful their experiences.

However, for arsenic galore moments that I felt the book’s interaction changed for maine by speechmaking it successful 2021, I besides unearthed underlying truths that felt unchanged, specified arsenic the powerfulness of quality transportation and originative expression. Despite the caller experiences humanity volition look successful aboriginal generations, I anticipation ideas similar these volition proceed to consciousness true.

How person the impacts of the books you’ve work changed with time? What truths inactive consciousness the same? I deliberation the top interaction a publication tin have, careless of however its messages change, is however it makes you feel. It’s the crushed I read. I work to consciousness thing and to consciousness a portion of thing greater than myself and my ain small station.