I pride myself to be a true-blue feminist and this book happens to be on every Feminism platitude there exists. I realise that it’s easy for me to sitI pride myself to be a true-blue feminist and this book happens to be on every Feminism platitude there exists. I realise that it’s easy for me to sit here in the privileges of the 21st Century Modern Womanhood and criticise the accounts of a doubly oppressed character (woman + African – American) but I am afraid to say that this book doesn’t come across as the glorious ode to Feminism as some people make it out to be. And yes, that’s singularly the only reason I wanted to read in the first place. I am sure Zora Neale Hurston in her personal life must have been a true crusader for equality and liberation but this book isn’t the best example for it.
First of all, the book is literally really hard to read for someone who is unacquainted with the African-American vernacular in the Slavery era. Much like “Trainspotting” and “Wuthering Heights” words and phrases are spelt out phonetically and I had to pretty much read aloud most of the dialogue for it to make sense. Not very convenient if you are reading in a public place.
Secondly, the book isn’t very … what’s the word I am looking for …. hmmm, deep? The narrative is simple and straight forward with some lush metaphors and vivid poetry. Except for Janie Price the characters are quite rudimentary and initially I thought that is to set Janie apart from others but even the other main characters like Starks and Tea Cake end up being caricatures. The ending was a bit dramatic but unpredictable so I enjoyed that.
Overall this book falls prey to overhype surrounding it and its author; otherwise by itself it could have been a pleasant read. ...more
Wuthering Heights is a love story full of hate. What? A gothic novel about viciousness, revenge and painful obsessive melodramatic love? Yes Please!!!Wuthering Heights is a love story full of hate. What? A gothic novel about viciousness, revenge and painful obsessive melodramatic love? Yes Please!!! I am such a sucker for dark love stories which don’t have a happy ending. The book is narrated to Mr. Lockwood who is a tenant at Thrushcross Grange by Nelly Dean, the housekeeper who herself is a very dodgy character. This second-hand narration gives the book some extra air of mystery because Nelly proves too prejudiced on more than one occasion.
Catherine and Heathcliff are in love but Catherine’s brother Hindley Earnshaw hates his guts and treats him like a slave. Catherine marries her neighbour Edgar Linton mainly because she is bored most of the time and they have a daughter called Catherine Linton. Heathcliff marries Edgar's sister, Isabelle as an act of revenge on Linton and they have a son called Linton Heathcliff. Meanwhile Hindley Earnshaw has a son called Hareton Earnshaw and although Heathcliff despises Hindley with all the hatred in Heaven and Earth, Hareton is the only human being he can partially stand. After Catherine's death Heathcliff takes vengeance to the next generation and after another round of forced marriages between cousins and death of most of the characters Heathcliff becomes the owner of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. Then one day something changes inside him and the book ends on a happy note.
The only thing that irked me was that characters were named either Catherine, Heathcliff, Linton, Earnshaw or different combinations of the above. Not just that, all characters looked like each other too. I love the fact that it’s so unlike Jane Austen's Victorian society, all pretty and sunny with no real dilemmas; that it is stark and suffocating and completely lacks humour or a moment of respite. For me Heathcliff is the perfect anti-hero; flawed, selfish and arrogant. He is not afraid to be brutal even to the person he loves the most. This rant describes his love so perfectly:
"May she wake in torment! Why, she's a liar to the end! Where is she? Not there - not in heaven - not perished - where? Oh! You said you cared nothing for my sufferings! And I pray one prayer - I repeat it till my tongue stiffens - Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you - haunt me then! the murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe - I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul."
OK, I may sound disturbed, masochistic and odd in the head but this to me is the perfect love. ...more
I know most people read this book in school, but I didn’t and I am glad that I didn’t because I don’t think that I'd been completely able to comprehenI know most people read this book in school, but I didn’t and I am glad that I didn’t because I don’t think that I'd been completely able to comprehend the fragile emotions of the book if had read it at that age. This book is so beautiful, I almost cried. The story is pretty simple but wonderfully executed and I thought it would get more complicated towards the end but it doesn’t. But the writing is other worldly. For e.g.
"On some upland farm, a plough had been left standing in the field. The sun was setting just behind it. Magnified across the distance by the horizontal light, it stood out against the sun, was exactly contained within the circle of the disk; the handles, the tongue, the share- black against the molten red. There it was, heroic in size, a picture writing on the sun."
"There seemed to be nothing to see; no fences, no creeks or trees, no hills or fields. If there was a road, I could not make it out in the faint starlight. There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made. No, there was nothing but land--slightly undulating, I knew, because often our wheels ground against the brake as we went down into a hollow and lurched up again on the other side. I had the feeling that the world was left behind, that we had got over the edge of it, and were outside man's jurisdiction. I had never before looked up at the sky when there was not a familiar mountain ridge against it. But this was the complete dome of heaven, all there was of it. I did not believe that my dead father and mother were watching me from up there; they would still be looking for me at the sheep-fold down by the creek, or along the white road that led to the mountain pastures. I had left even their spirits behind me."
My Antonia is narrated by Jim Burden, a 9-year-old boy sent to live with his grandparents in Nebraska after his parents' death. The main character Antonia Shimerda is a bright, lively 13-year-old bohemian girl who moves to Nebraska with her family. The storyline is pretty much linear and straight forward. Antonia and Jim become fast friends and Jim teaches her English. When Tony's father dies and the family falls on hard time, Jim's grandparents help them through the dire times and the friendship between the two adolescents deepens. Jim's family moves to town and what he misses most about the country is Antonia of course. But his desolation is short lived because after a few years, Tony, who is now all grown-up and beautiful, also moves to the town. During the course of the story the separate again when he going off to college and she gets pregnant out of a wed-lock. But fate has other plans for them and the book ends in a very un-expected but happy note.
Some of the most powerful imagery is when 20 years later, Jim comes back to meet Tony and she is married with many kids and they realize the more the things change, the more they remain the same. Cather's writing is so powerful and lucid that it is as relevant today as it was in the 19th Century. She uses the harshness of the Nebraska Frontier as a metaphor for the harshness in Antonia's life and the landscape becomes a character in itself. The author masterfully explores the themes of friendship that survives despite fate and time, the enduring innocent love, the triumph of an immigrant family in the prairies and ultimately about the bonds made in childhood which never leave you. I can’t wait to read the other two books in the trilogy.