Wide Sargasso Sea
Jean Rhys's reputation was made upon the publication of this passionate and heartbreaking novel, in which she brings into the light one of fiction's most mysterious characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontė's Jane Eyre.
A sensual and protected young woman, Antoinette Cosway grows up in the lush natural world of the Caribbean. She is sold into marriage to the coldhearted and prideful Rochester, who succumbs to his need for money and his lust. Yet he will make her pay for her ancestors' sins of slaveholding, excessive drinking, and nihilistic despair by enslaving her as a prisoner in his bleak English home.
In this best-selling novel Rhys portrays a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.
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excellent book, very interesting to read.
If I were being generous I would say that Jean Rhys has some interesting and complex themes of race and identity in post-colonial Jamaica that she could have developed into an intriguing novel if she had invented her own plot and characters.
If were being ungenerous I would say Rhys has an axe to grind and cares little for the details or nature of the plot and the characters she has hijacked to sharpen it on. She has focused in on a plot detail of the great classic Jane Eyre, seized upon it, flipped out over it and projected her own issues and post-colonial considerations onto it. This tunnel visioned reaction she has taken and blown up into a 200 page often incoherent rant designed to illustrate...something. That Creole women are singularly put upon, victimized and deliberately driven mad by the cruel and chaotic forces of evil white colonialists and surly black freed slaves? That the fecund forces of tropical nature are maddening? That an obscure modernist writer can shoot to fame by stealing characters and themes from a great novel without creating a whole greater than the sum of its parts?
This novel has launched a thousand forums on "the racism of the Bronte sisters" and other absolute rubbish. It's one thing that some people actually get something out of it literarily, but it's being used as tool in the politicization of literature and that is something I cannot forgive.