Julia Miele Rodas's Reviews > Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
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's review
Jun 14, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: bcc-reading-challenge

Immediately after finishing The Good Earth, I started listening to another borrowed audiobook, du Maurier's Rebecca, initally recommended to me by Diana Beechener (Alkire) (a student in one of my Nineteenth-century Fiction seminars at Sarah Lawrence). This is a romantic thriller with the barest patina of respectability, gained only, I think, from the fact that it was written in the 1930s and has therefore acquired some limited reputation as "literature," broadly defined. Diana recommended it to me, I'm sure, because it so evidently evokes Jane Eyre (1847)--the mousey innocent heroine, the older once-married love interest, the grand English estate, the problematic first wife, the criminal misbehavior of the put-upon husband. du Maurier does an amazing job making the story her own, but I dare anyone to read it without thinking of Bronte's book the whole time.

I'm already deeply committed to reading this way and my mind is buzzing with the potential for my students, many of whom have difficulty reading (or, reading enough) because of their fluency as readers or just because of time constraints. Even were that not the case, I'm sure that audio reading is tickling another part of the brain than conventional reading and this might be an opportunty for some students to engage as readers in a deeper or more meaningful way. Readily accessible audiobooks are already changing my life, but . . . soothing away my daily drudgeries with doses of fiction is also somewhat problematic. Once upon a time, audiobooks (what we used to call Talking Books) were essential to my most significant social relationship. My brother and I spent hours reading together and our friendship was infused with fiction; we would talk books and pretend that we were the characters; our conversation was peppered with literary allusions and book-based jokes. Now, audio reading is occupying other territory entirely; rather than establishing a platform for social connection, it's enabling me to tune out. I walk and read, listening to my book rather than to the voices and noises around me; I'm so addicted that I'm reading all the time, often while the kids are around (if I'm occupied with household chores) and I should probably be overhearing their revealing little snippets of talk or keeping open the opportunity for them to interact with me. There's a big question for me here between my desire for amusement and stimulation and my responsibility to being an integrated part of the world, a question that echoes against the backdrop of Facebook (and book blogs) and the changing faces of digital connection and social network in our cultural moment.

6 June 2012

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