Monday, September 24, 2007

Bertha meets Heathcliff

Eloise Millar writes a very interesting post about Jean Rhys in the Book Blog of The Guardian:

Rhys is a bit of a strange creature. Her last novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, is her best-known. A prequel to Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea recounts the story of the marriage and honeymoon of Rochester and his first wife, Bertha. Told in odd, dreamlike prose, the narrative drifts through shabby mansions and overgrown gardens, where ferns grow as big as trees and over-scented flowers bloom (like truth) just out of reach, and where, inevitably, a few weeks of bliss tumble into tragedy and madness.

Published in 1966 (after a 27-year silence), Rhys saw Wide Sargasso Sea as her rescue job on the madwoman in the attic and a deconstruction of the race and gender relations in Jane Eyre that nobody else seemed to question. By 1966 she was also something of a madwoman in the attic herself, and it could be said that Wide Sargasso Sea rescued not one but two people. Living a long way from her Dominican birthplace in a squalid bungalow in a Devonshire village, hounded by her neighbours as a thief and a witch (one woman accused her of impersonating the "dead author, Jean Rhys"), Wide Sargasso Sea plucked Rhys out of poverty and won her long-overdue recognition.

The Times instructs us about how to be chivalrous without being sexist. Heathcliff wouldn't be a model...
Rough and ready Heathcliff types were fine as a teenage fantasy; in the adult world, however, they are an embarrassing liability. (Extracted from Manners for Men: What Women Really Want by E. Jane Dickson published by Debrett’s)
Be My Guest! discovers another Brontëite in writer Hazel Statham:
It was at this point that I discovered Bronte's 'Jane Eyre'. I adored the brooding, angst-ridden hero, Edward Fairfax Rochester and although I didn't try to recreate him in my writing, he none-the-less left a lasting impression
In other news: Hà Hng publishes an article about Jane Eyre in Vietnamese. Salomes Bücher reviews in German Sabine Klaus's Sturmherz (more information on these old posts of ours). The Rake's blog comments briefly on the Guthrie's performances of Jane Eyre.

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