Excellent novel; I wasn't initially impressed when I finished reading it but after reading several works after it in my class on postcolonial literatu...moreExcellent novel; I wasn't initially impressed when I finished reading it but after reading several works after it in my class on postcolonial literature, I've realized that a) PoCo fiction is a difficult genre in which to write; b) Kate Grenville does it better than lots of other people. The Secret River is sensitive to its own unavoidable hyprocrisies (Grenville is a white Australian writer, a Pakeha writing in part about injustices to Aboriginal peoples). At the same time it backs down before those hypocrisies, at times, not always willing to face as brutal a truth as might be faced. Will and his family are protagonists, and by the structure of the novel – starting off in England, where we see the lifelong marginalization of the poor – we are obliged to feel sympathy for them and keep rooting for them, even when they begin to commit atrocities themselves. If this book illustrates anything, it's that we allow ourselves to be corrupted and blinded by power because it feels good. It feels better than the alternative of NOT having power. The end is perhaps unexpectedly chilling, and the epilogue a minor masterpiece, in my opinion. There's a great deal to be said about the treatment of female characters in this story (which I think is one of the strongest critical elements here), but I finished it last month and I'd want to reread it before going into the issue.(less)
I can't pretend I'm terribly impressed with Young's attempt to give a micro-introduction to PoCo. Very little information is given clearly; too many e...moreI can't pretend I'm terribly impressed with Young's attempt to give a micro-introduction to PoCo. Very little information is given clearly; too many examples and not nearly enough theory is presented. My overall impression is that the author is both so knowledgable and so emotionally drawn into the metanarratives of postcolonial thought that he can't take a step back and write from a clear, less-biased vantage point. Rather ironic, this, given the entire point of postcolonialism, but sometimes that's academia for you, isn't it? I read this for a class on PoCo literature but it was scarcely helpful. Will not be holding onto it.(less)
This is my favourite play so far from my Modern Canadian Drama course's reading list. It's sardonic and "meta" without being overwhelmingly, pretentio...moreThis is my favourite play so far from my Modern Canadian Drama course's reading list. It's sardonic and "meta" without being overwhelmingly, pretentiously so; it's serious without being didactic; it's moving without collapsing upon the exhausted bedsprings of melodrama. I could see the whole thing in my head, the teepee made of light, the bleeding moon, the sickening-funny-parodic vaudeville.
Perhaps this is more obvious to others, but it took me a little while to realize: both the first and second Acts are episodic, in their own ways - and as such they both are interpretations, showing mere "highlights" interlocked in a narrative fashion. We, white audiences, read our own expectations and conventions for dramatic structure into this play when really those conventions may not be there, or only their shadows may be. Daniel David Moses, a First Nations playwright himself, has playfully and masterfully written this play so that the storytelling tradition of his own culture is evident, yet in our dominant-culture ignorance we tend to mask it for ourselves. When I saw how this works, I could appreciate the complexity of this deceptively simple story much more fully.
I also love the idea of whiteface. Some of my classmates felt it was racist, and from a very objective perspective I suppose it is. I looked on it, though, more as an appropriation of colonial methods of appropriation. Metappropriation, huzzah! I jest. But seriously, there are so many more resonances to the whiteface than merely reversing the direction of racism (for example, the idea that Ghost and Interlocutor are actually ghosts).
Wish I could say more, but a) I have to think about it some more; b) I have another class to get to (for which I totally didn't do the assigned Faulkner reading; f*** that shit). I have no doubt this is a play I'll return to read, and hopefully one day SEE, many many times.(less)
I enjoyed this, my first Pynchon, quite a lot. It was like reading a really, really extended Woody Allen essay. Huzzah for that rare species, the inte...moreI enjoyed this, my first Pynchon, quite a lot. It was like reading a really, really extended Woody Allen essay. Huzzah for that rare species, the intelligent modern satire. I wasn't so fussy - brilliant though they may be - about the dragging, convoluted passages concerning the history of the Trystero, the entire outline of The Courier's Tragedy, and such. I suppose they were necessary, but I can't say I soaked up all their information. I read this over the Christmas break for study during winter term, and when I have to revisit it for class I will probably expand my thoughts on it. For now, I feel the whole book is best summarized by the (sardonically near to blank verse) opening of the third chapter: "Things then did not delay in turning curious."(less)
**spoiler alert** "Dammit, well that's Jane Eyre wrecked for me."
Or so probably every one of this book's readers has said upon closing it at the end...more**spoiler alert** "Dammit, well that's Jane Eyre wrecked for me."
Or so probably every one of this book's readers has said upon closing it at the end. (Or the ones who've read Eyre already and were fans ... so not every single one. I digress.) I stopped saying it myself after giving the book a little time to digest, because I realized that Rhys's novel deeply enriches Bronte's. It is a darkly poetic masterpiece on its own, and improves still more as a commentary on Jane Eyre. Feminists, as most of us intelligent people are these days - in attitude, if not in name - will squirm at their former unawareness, carelessness about the crazy woman in the attic. Of course, awareness or not, the Antoinettes of the world still suffered, still suffer. Unlike Bronte's, Rhys's book remains relevant to us, I think.
A beautiful, beautiful work of denied history and resurfacing spirit.(less)
This excellent novel deserves a much longer review than I can currently give it. What I will say is that I know a lot of Will Kennedys, and Sean Stewa...moreThis excellent novel deserves a much longer review than I can currently give it. What I will say is that I know a lot of Will Kennedys, and Sean Stewart creates in this character the most likeable, saddening, real YET hopeful figure I have encountered in months of my reading. The relationship between Will and Megan is heartrending. That between Will and AJ is chilling (hey, this is a 'ghost story'). I'd read more of Stewart any time. (less)
*braces self* *opens book* Me: What the HELL is even happening? Me: Oh, nothing's happening. I get it now. Me: Lulz, oh eighteenth century. You are somewh...more*braces self* *opens book* Me: What the HELL is even happening? Me: Oh, nothing's happening. I get it now. Me: Lulz, oh eighteenth century. You are somewhat amusing. [a while later] Me: No, this does NOT count as writing! [still later] Me: This STILL doesn't count as writing .... [finally!] *tosses book across room* Me: Hahahahaha, TAKE THAT Sterne. I only had to read the first two books of this for my class. Just long enough to remind me that I have better things to do than indulge your stupid pre-postmodernism which even to this day, I fully expect, leads exactly nowhere. So long, suckah. (less)
Oft-hilarious but neverending plot; unquenchable narrator. A little too unquenchable, IMHO. Just remembering this novel (and I read it nearly a year a...moreOft-hilarious but neverending plot; unquenchable narrator. A little too unquenchable, IMHO. Just remembering this novel (and I read it nearly a year ago) drains my head of words. Fielding's ego must have been truly elephantine to write Tom Jones in its existing, exhausting incarnation. I can sum it up, luckily, in five words: Incredible Classic, Too Fucking Long. (less)
I can only conclude that Behn wrote this fine little novel in a similar spirit as that in which bored females today write fanfiction.
It's worth your...moreI can only conclude that Behn wrote this fine little novel in a similar spirit as that in which bored females today write fanfiction.
It's worth your while for several reasons:
1) It's easy to get through - being short and fairly action-packed; don't mind that every other paragraph is a description of Isabella's latest emotional state.
2) Hilarity will ensue - this tale's what-the-fuck factor really kicks up near the end and then, if you *were* finding it dull thus far, you won't any longer.
3) Overused capitals and archaic spellings are funny - yeah, they just are. "... for, suppose I should tell the fair Isabella, you dye for her, what can it avail you? What hope can any Man have, to move the Heart of a Virgin, so averse to Love? …"
4) Nothing is sacred - You will find the moralizing potential of this story left satisfyingly in the dust (or thrown into the River, if you please). I had the sensation of having met in Isabella a female, Restoration-period Oedipus: one whose character is so generally good and whose luck is so astoundingly bad that the pragmatic reader's left with no choice but to despair in the very concept of divine justice [deep breath] and at that rate, it oughtta be hakuna matata, baby, no point in putting yourself through the pain of … anything much. Certainly not Piety, Devotion, or other capital-V Virtues.
Aphra Behn is a writer ahead of her time, and she's good fun besides. Enjoy.(less)