It was a difficult journey, but I'm glad to have stuck with this one. I'm also really happy I was able to read this for pleasure and not through schooIt was a difficult journey, but I'm glad to have stuck with this one. I'm also really happy I was able to read this for pleasure and not through school, as I can certainly see the myriad points at which this novel can be discussed, dissected, and theorized upon. But it was nice to be able to read the often - but not always - tragic familial love story and to lose myself in the more theoretical wanderings that deviate from the plot.
I think this is one I will read again, but not for a long time, and I'm not sure how I'll approach it the second time around. ...more
(full disclosure: this review is copy & pasted from an email I sent to my friend/reading challenge partner. I don't think I can find it within mys(full disclosure: this review is copy & pasted from an email I sent to my friend/reading challenge partner. I don't think I can find it within myself to draw up more eloquent thoughts about this book, which drove me slightly crazy with amusement/rage/boredom.)
I... really, really, really wanted to like this book. I LOVED the first part, the Oxford part. I thought the first 1/2 of the second part was interesting but dear god, from there on it was a CHORE to finish. I wish this book had been called THE MATEY ADVENTURES OF SEBASTIAN FLYTE AND ANOTHONY BLANCHE WITH OCCASIONAL COMMENTARY BY LORD MARCHMAIN, because they were the best parts in my opinion. Was it just me, or was Lord Marchmain generally HILARIOUS (up until he started dieing in earnest)?
I did really enjoy the tone by the end of the book, the whole "oh the things that have happened here" aspect and Charles's indefinite sadness. I can't decide whether the book was anti-all religion or strangely pro-Catholicism. There is certainly enough evidence to suggest that Charles would have been happier had he been religious. It's very Victorian in that sense, of the whole "I am a man left to my own devices, I see others laboring under religion and all I can see in them is their ignorance, but also I wish I had that sometimes because they seem so happy and I cannot seem to shake this depression that comes with my awakening."
Also, SEBASTIAN. COME TO ME. Come to my arms. I will let you lick tiny drops of whiskey off of my fingers....more
Oh, Henry James. The man of many commas. This was my second time reading, first time finishing (the first time I started reading was for a college litOh, Henry James. The man of many commas. This was my second time reading, first time finishing (the first time I started reading was for a college lit class and other readings overwhelmed me before I could finish). It's hard to talk about the plot without giving anything away, as the details of the book are essentially the plot, which is in itself intentionally vague to the point where James actually relies on the reader having an inner sense of inherent wrongness to fill in the blanks of his own fiction.
This is, of course, a ghost story. A ghost story involving children, which is laid claim to be the most frightening kind. To the modern reader it is hardly terrifying, but with reflection over certain scenes I did find it to be chilling. I have a habit of imagining books as films as I read them, and I can't say this would transfer well while still remaining true to the book. It would have to be a very loose adaptation in order to come across as a horror film, as most of the terror of the book comes in quick gusts, allowing the reader to meditate on them obsessively as the governess does. That is where the real suspense of the book comes in, in the quoted "tightening of the screw" that continues to do up the narrator and add yet another pressure point on the vice of the novel.
Henry James has never been for everyone, but if you are predisposed to liking Victorian literature this one is certainly something fun to try out. Just, whatever you do, put on a goddamn hat. What kind of gentleman are you? Oh... oh, you're a ghost. I see....more