Author: Jean Rhys (1890-1979)
First Published: 1966
My Edition: Norton Paperback Fiction (No images of my version were available)
Other Works Include: Voyage in the Dark (1934), Sleep it Off Lady (1976)
I had a roommate in college who was originally an English major (she later switched to Criminal Justice). She took a class on Post-Colonial Lit (it wouldn't fit in my class schedule), and we had long conversations about the things she was reading in class.
I can remember the conversation where this title came up. We were talking about the canon and why we read it, which was all related back to her class. They were in the middle of reading this, but since I had never read Jane Eyre, I didn't want a lot of details about it.
I figured that now is as good a time as any to dive into this one. Coming right out of Jane Eyre, why not read the "prequel?" All I do know about this one is that it gives details about the life of the mad-woman in the attic before any of the events in Jane Eyre take place. I have a feeling that I am either going to love or hate this one, but who knows. I'm a little worried it is going to ruin my feelings about Bronte's novel, but since this one is so highly regarded, I know it won't be a mash up.
How many of you have read this one? What did you think about it?
My thoughts on this book: I like it as long as I don't link it with Jane Eyre in my mind. If I link it, it seems sloppy and poorly written, with factual and descriptive errors that outright contradict the book. Things like the number of siblings Bertha has or how many years a person spent in a certain place or someone's age. Things that shouldn't be wrong even if you're looking at the story from a different perspective. Those things ruined the idea of it being connected with JE, but as a standalone, it's very good.ReplyDelete
Two thoughts from the review I wrote when I read it:ReplyDelete
1. It works better as a commentary about Creole culture during the time of colonization and as a feminist statement about women's rights than it does as a prequel to "Jane Eyre."
2. The writing style was awkward, the sentence structure was often clunky, and the characters weren't developed in a way that enabled me to feel connected with them.
Hope you enjoy it more than I did!
It took me a few pages to get into it, but I remember appreciating the book and being glad I read it in the end.ReplyDelete
I really didn't like it just because I loved Jane Eyre so much. I think it would be interesting to read about Rhys' reasons for writing it and motivation for interpreting some things the way that she did. Bottom line for me, though, was how she presented Rochester. I just couldn't reconcile it with Bronte's original.ReplyDelete
Curious about this one. I do plan to read it at some point.ReplyDelete
I haven't read this one but it is on my TBR list. I'm always a little skeptical when a new author adds onto a new story.ReplyDelete
I read this one without ever reading Jane Eyre, and I liked it, but wasn't crazy about it. I didn't feel you had to read Jane Eyre to follow the story. It's a pretty dark story, actually. Here is the review I did for my blog if you want to check out my thoughts.ReplyDelete
Absolutely loved it - as a stand-alone novel and as a much-needed "fill in the history" for Bertha, one of the most talked about but least known female characters in literary history. If you're reading this one and haven't yet read the critical theory piece, The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert & Susan Gubar, I highly recommend that as well.ReplyDelete
I have this on the wish list, but I keep waffling on whether or not to actually get my hands on it.ReplyDelete
I had issues with the book, so it was easy not to let it affect how I felt about JE. If anything, it's the other way around. JE is the first book, and a classic, so Wide Sargasso Sea ends up being the impostor, so to speak.ReplyDelete
I agree with what most people have been saying; it works very well as a post-colonial piece, but I didn't particularly like it as a prequel. Overall I didn't care for it.ReplyDelete
I totally loved this book-both as a prequel and as a stand alone book-I think prose is beautiful and some of the imagery is amazing-ReplyDelete
I haven't read this one yet, although I definitely want to, perhaps in conjunction with Jane Eyre as you are. The idea of a response to the earlier book really intrigues me.ReplyDelete
I read it in college for a 20th Century British Lit class (probably similar to Postcolonial Lit). We actually ended up reading Jane Eyre so that the story would make sense. I remember really liking it but I hadn't reread either of them since college. I did reread JE recently (well, audio) and I still love it, but I don't know how I'll feel about WSS. I do want to read it again and see how it measures up.ReplyDelete
There's actually a pretty good film adaptation starring the dishy Nathaniel Parker (also known as Inspector Lynley) as Mr. Rochester.
I think part of the reason I loved it so much is that I, like Karen, read it in college. The course was a "Writing Back to Empire" (very Star Wars-esque) class, AKA post-Colonial. Some of the other material included Midnight's Children, by Salman Rushdie; White Teeth by Zadie Smith; and Jack Maggs by Peter Carey (all brilliant, in my opinion). Part of why I think I enjoyed WSS and Jack Maggs so much, though, was learning about the colonial cultures of the Carribean and Australia, and how they have evolved since breaking from England. A lot of the history and politcs of the cultures themselves - what the writers had to say about their nations' place in time and the world- went into the books, with the added benefit that Jack Maggs and WSS in particular were also "re-tellings" of important but under-explained characters from their counterparts (Great Expectations and Jane Eyre).ReplyDelete
This one has been on my list since fricking high school, I haven't read a classic in years, but I need to buckle down and get this one done at some point, and then read Jane Eyre either right before or right after to compare notes...ReplyDelete
I'll be curious to hear what you think of this one. I haven't read it yet.ReplyDelete