Eccentric Musings (jakaEM)

"I have undergone sharp discipline which has taught me wisdom; and then, I have read more than you would fancy." Emily Brontë


still figuring this place out - Jen W

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Friend of My Youth
Alice Munro
Progress: 115/288 pages
Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature
Margaret Atwood
Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys What I liked best was the amazing voice - it reminded me a little of [b:Heart of Darkness|4900|Heart of Darkness |Joseph Conrad||2877220], or what I remember of it, anyway: that sense of oppressive, humid doom; the vegetal, dangerous, organic descent into madness. A little voodoo on the side; themes of social injustice - slavery, colonial oppression - framing the personal injustice (the reframing of women's sexuality by the patriarchy as madness, to name one).

I love how the story built towards increasing levels of delusion brought on by spells and potions exotic and more mundane (100-year old rum), and by the heat and the gradual realization, from Rochester's and Antoinette's separate and then converging perspectives, of manipulation and entrapment (there is a comment here to be made on the institution of marriage, and I refer back to [b:The Awakening|58345|The Awakening|Kate Chopin||1970518]: another sultry setting with a heroine raging, ultimately in futility, against the institution and role she is forced to play in it).

I love too how Rhys wields POV as a tool, blending Rochester's and Antoinette's voices together so we don't know who is telling the story, or who to believe, and so we are caught in the swirling, discombobulating events as they are told to us.

All of it stands on its own strengths, without a real need to have as backdrop the knowledge of what becomes of Antoinette. Although, that backdrop lends a depth and richness to the story, certainly.

I have no trouble believing Rochester a cad; bound by a surface, externally-imposed morality but bereft of any real moral core - he showed that in [b:Jane Eyre|10210|Jane Eyre|Charlotte Brontë||2977639]. I never could understand what she (Jane) saw in him, and why she went back to him anyway. He got far better than he deserved, in Jane; and Antoinette/Bertha, she gets at least her say here, thanks to Rhys.