Virginia Woolf is absolutely brilliant and A Room of One's Own became an instant all-time favourite. A book I meant to read slowly, highlight and takeVirginia Woolf is absolutely brilliant and A Room of One's Own became an instant all-time favourite. A book I meant to read slowly, highlight and take notes on, the engrossing writing demanded I plough through to find out what wisdom Woolf would be delivering next. As far as I'm concerned, this is scripture. Looking forward to a re-read!...more
I laughed so hard while reading this Richard asked me if it was the funniest book I've ever read; I simply couldn't contain my cackling. I've seen forI laughed so hard while reading this Richard asked me if it was the funniest book I've ever read; I simply couldn't contain my cackling. I've seen forced copies on friends and family members. It's that delightful. ...more
I feel quite lucky to have unearthed another new favorite. I stayed up until eight in the morning to finish this book, I became so engrossed with theI feel quite lucky to have unearthed another new favorite. I stayed up until eight in the morning to finish this book, I became so engrossed with the storyline. I must also admit to giving way to an excess of tears while reading one particular scene. I know I am truly connecting with a novel when I make comments about it out loud - to myself (embarassing, I know). It was something I found myself doing fairly often as I frantically highlighted line after line of memorable writing.
Anne is, in terms of reader popularity, the least esteemed of the Bronte sisters. After familiarizing myself with one of her two novels, I am also of the opinion that she is unbelievably undervalued. Her prose is often beautifully written, and 'Wildfell Hall' also brings to light several important issues of the time period: the impotence and limitations placed upon women in marriage (both legal and cultural), the abuse unjustifiably imposed upon them, male versus female education, nature versus nurture, experience versus vacarious knowledge, reason versus passion, the role of religion in one's life. It's amazing how much this text contains. Despite the fact that Bronte addressed key Victorian debates, I found many themes to be accessible and applicable to the modern reader. Many academicians have criticized Anne for the format she employs here (the plot is divulged through letters and journal entries). But I, as a general rule, enjoy epistolary narratives, and 'Wildfell Hall' was no exception.
'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall' reminded me of the eldest Bronte's eminent novel 'Jane Eyre.' Along with a few similar plot points, both highlight the internal battle waging between sense and sensibility (so prevalent in novels of the 1790s). In both novels, it is, I believe, the woman who exhibits self-control that puts her male counterparts to shame. Like Jane, Helen is a strong-minded, progressive woman. Many critics have labelled her a proto-feminist, and it was easy for me to love her. I enjoyed witnessing the progression of her character as she evolves from a naive girl to an autonomous woman with a firm sense of self. She insists upon the right to speak her mind and does so - even if it damages her in others' eyes. I also admired her ability to uphold and cling to her values in spite of the effort and cost involved. There is a plethora of information for the critical nut to devour; but above all, 'Wildfell Hall' is a romantic tale tracing one woman's struggle to attain what she deserves.
A note on this edition: the editor's notes are superb, providing explanatory, background, and analytical information. I found myself underlining the notes as much as Bronte's writing. However, the critical introduction was, at best, average. Its analysis was generally vague and superficial. I would have liked to see something more in-depth. This was particularly the case regarding Helen (and by extension Anne Bronte) and women's politics, a subject that was merely grazed upon.
I can't believe that I, as an English major and self-professed Victorian nut, have waited so long to read this classic. I should be ashamed of myself.I can't believe that I, as an English major and self-professed Victorian nut, have waited so long to read this classic. I should be ashamed of myself. Nevertheless, I wholly benefited from my inexcusable delay, as I was better equipped to absorb the beauty of Bronte's prose than I would have been had I read it in high school. Although dark and surprisingly violent for a novel of this era, the writing is exquisite.
I recently had an interesting conversation with Ashley, in which we discussed the propensity some women have to label fictional characters as 'perfect' while secretly longing for their existent relationships to emulate these illusory ideals. However, I doubt one would hear a woman complain that her significant other isn't more like Heathcliff. He, and nearly every other character in the text, exhibit excessively deplorable behaviour. At one point, I wondered if Bronte's objective was to lay bare the underlying selfishness of human nature. But perhaps this is the point. Whatever one may say about them, Heathcliff and Cathy are passionately in love. Near the close of the novel he asks, 'what is not connected with her to me? and what does not recall her? I cannot look down to this floor, but her features are shaped in the flags! In every cloud, in every tree, - filling the air at night, and caught by glimpses in every object by day - I am surrounded with her image!' Despite the fact that both are deeply flawed and display these deficiencies at the slightest provocation, they continue to love each other. Isn't that something we all long for - to be loved unconditionally in spite (or because) of our inherent weaknesses and inability to avoid mistakes? In this way, Heathcliff and Catherine were more appealing to me than those so-called 'perfect couples' one inevitably stumbles across in many books these days. Consequently, I believe I will be haunted for some time by this book, just as Heathcliff was perpetually haunted by Catherine's memory....more
The bulk of Dickens's work has, thus far, remained unread by me, and so I began 'A Tale of Two Cities' with an open mind. I found that its plot progreThe bulk of Dickens's work has, thus far, remained unread by me, and so I began 'A Tale of Two Cities' with an open mind. I found that its plot progressed quickly, contained some intriguing characters (Madame Defarge anyone?), and Dickens's retelling of the French Revolution is simultaneously grotesque and fascinating. However, the final fifty pages of the novel sealed the deal for me. Not only was I utterly absorbed and unable to put the damn thing down, I was moved and even shed a few tears at the tragic climax. With its comparitive brevity (next to his epic-length longer books) and compelling storyline, 'A Tale of Two Cities' is a fantastic introduction to one of literature's most celebrated novelists. ...more
Shakespeare is fabulous; we all know this. I believe there is an unwritten rule that English students are not allowed to dislike Shakespeare. It's almShakespeare is fabulous; we all know this. I believe there is an unwritten rule that English students are not allowed to dislike Shakespeare. It's almost as if he is the iconic author all must appreciate in order to appear learned and cultured. 'Much Ado' is, debatably, my favourite of all his plays. I particularly love the moment in 4.1. when Beatrice laments the decided limitations and disadvantages that befall all members of the 'weaker sex.' 'Oh, that I were a man...but I cannot be a man with wishing, and so I will die a woman with grieving'...or something along those lines. I would highly recommend reading it, or better yet, go and see it. However, I would urge people to exercise caution where the purchase of theatre tickets is concerned. Watching a bad production of Shakespeare is nearly unendurably dull...particuarly when one is subjected to an outdoor production on a cold and rainy night. But with a talented cast, the wit of Shakespeare's comedies is brought to life in a way that is both entertaining and memorable. ...more