Unless you happen to be friendly with Queen Elizabeth II, it’s a good bet that you will be getting news of the Royal Baby the same as the rest of us plebes – through news reports. So, as the waiting continues and the good wishes pour in for Kate Middleton and Prince William, sate yourself with some of literature's finest birth scenes.
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy: To my mind, the very finest birth scene in literature, though certainly not the easiest. As Kitty suffers through labor, her husband Levin suddenly discovers faith in God and realizes his own shortcomings. “All the ordinary conditions of life, without which it is impossible to take cognizance of anything, ceased to exist for Levin,” Tolstoy writes. Told entirely from Levin’s perspective, the scene is the emotional pinnacle of the novel, easily dimming Anna’s own travails.
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood: Atwood specializes in bleak worlds where all aspects of humanity have been perverted, so it’s not surprising that birth, here, has been reduced to mere breeding. As the novelist Alison Mercer wrote in The Guardian, “Atwood's mix of poetry and sharply observed social detail is devastating, and purposeful, too: a stark warning of what waits in the wings when a quasi-religious government has power over women's bodies.”