Esther Esther's Comments

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Emma (27 new)
Apr 24, 2012 09:51PM

970 Gemma wrote: ""Although the desperate search for a husband in Austen's other books may grate on our modern feminist sensibilities it was a serious problem"

I disagree with this as I think that Austen generally emphasises the importance of marrying for love rather than for security..."

But whether Austen's heroines want to marry for love or wealth the only one of her heroines who even considers not getting married is Emma. This option is only open to Emma because she is independently wealthy. In Austen's time most women had to hope they found love in a 'good provider'.
Lydia married for love, as silly and ridiculous as it was, but her marriage was met with general disapproval and concern because even after the scandal was quieted her husband was unreliable and unable to provide for them. They only survived through the charity of her sisters.
Jul 26, 2010 12:07AM

970 Amanda wrote: "I just read an interesting article from The New York Times about W. Somerset Maugham. He called himself "in the front row of the second rate", and was apparently a very sexually abuse person, in th..."

I have just read this article and I think it requires some background knowledge of the era in which Maugham lived.
The nephew was trying to blackmail Maugham not over abuse or pedophilia but the simple fact that he was homosexual which was illegal in England until the late 196os and punishable by a prison sentence.

The episode with the 16 year old prostitute took place in Cap Ferrat in the South of France. Many English homosexuals 'escaped' to France and Italy where the laws concerning homosexuality were much laxer. And in France prostitution is both legal and well regulated.

Maugham's lover paying the boy seems like good evidence
Evidence for what? The boy was a prostitute, they get paid.
The point of the article is that Maugham let someone else pick up the tab.

There is no doubt in my mind that Maugham was not a pleasant man (I have doubtless been influenced by my Grandmothers servant's-eye-view of London where general opinion was that he treated his wife badly)

But his lack of compassion contributes to the biting humour in his short stories. Unfortunately he is more banal in novels such as OHB.
Jul 25, 2010 10:56PM

970 Amanda wrote: "Well the 16 year old prostitute thing is enough for me since..that would be pedophilia, would it not? The letters from Maugham's friend thanking the prostitute for the lovely time he gave him at Ma..."

Actually no - Maugham was English and in England the age of consent is 16. There many be plenty of other qualms about a 16 year prostitute but it is not pedophilia.

I have read plenty of Maugham and almost all his references to sex and non-standard relationships are subtle, implied rather than directly addressed. And despite his own preferences most of his stories are about hetrosexual relationships.
970 In the past I have read many books by Conrad, Maugham et al so the theme of 'bull-headed missionary among unresponsive natives' did not seem very original to me. But I enjoyed her writing style and characterisations.

Nathan saying, "Sending a girl to college is like pouring water in your shoes. It's hard to say which is worse, seeing it run out and waste the water, or seeing it hold in and wreck the shoes." is appalling but that is Nathan in a nutshell and ,IMHO, excellent writing.

The problem was she ran out of steam. Ruth May's death was a rather clumsy, and totally unnecessary, manipulation tactic to elicit our sympathy and although that should have been the turning point in the story she never managed to draw it to a conclusion.

The book would have been so much better if she had finished as they left the village.
What followed wasn't a story but rather ticking off bullet points on her agenda of 'What I need to tell you about the tragic history of this country'.

Very dissapointing. The Bean Trees is a much better book.
Nov 16, 2009 10:42PM

970 Silver wrote: "But one of the things Fowles was pointing out within the novel was that as a woman living in the Victorian age, she truly did not have a lot of choice. While I do not find some of the things she di..."

Just because you understand someone's motivations doesn't always mean you can empathize with them.
I found Sarah to be wantonly mysterious and aloof which seemed to exacerbate her situation and attraction the least desirable kind of attention.

As I said I read it as a teenager filled with many conflicting emotions maybe as a calmer, more forgiving adult I would like Sarah more.

Nov 16, 2009 10:18PM

970 Silver wrote: "I did not find Sarah to be truly "passive" I think if anything her seeming passivity was really just an act. She manipulated the siutation to acheive what she wanted. "

Making her passive aggressive - one of those personality types that I truly despise :0)

Emma (27 new)
Nov 16, 2009 09:35PM

Everyman wrote: "I've been enjoying this discussion about Emma, which is one of my very favorite books. A few comments.
First, I think we have to look at her in the context of the era in which she was created and in which Austen was writing. She may seen naive compared to modern young women, but I don't see her as naive in the context of the society in which she was raised and lived...."

I would agree with this except that Knightley also seems to think she is being naive and careless.

Emma (27 new)
Nov 16, 2009 09:32PM

970 Emma is one of my least favourite of Austen books. Possibly because there is little peril.
What happens if Emma loses out on love? Nothing much, she is a little sadder and has received a well deserved slap in the face but otherwise she carries on -the spoilt, little rich girl.

Although the desperate search for a husband in Austen's other books may grate on our modern feminist sensibilities it was a serious problem. Austen's heroines faced a life of poverty, living off other people's charity with almost no money for food and shelter unless they found a man who could support them. Even if they had a kind brother providing for them an unmarried woman had no social status and garnered minimal respect.

What did surprise me was while I found Gwenyth Paltrow's Emma irritating and interfering I warmed to the Emma character in Clueless. Although she made the same mistakes she seemed more genuinely caring and less self-centred.

Nov 16, 2009 09:16PM

970 I read this book as a teenager and was annoyed by Sarah's passivity.

I wanted to reread it as an adult so see if I have a different perspective.
Jane Austen (41 new)
Nov 16, 2009 09:15PM

970 My favourite is Pride and Prejudice - Lizzie Bennet is one of my favourite literary characters.
I have worn through my VHS version of the BBC adaptation (thank goodness for DVD) but my husband won't allow me to watch the K. Knightley version again because I spent so much of it yelling at the (TV) screen.

I also have to agree that the delightful Henry Tilney nudges Fitzgerald Darcy off the top spot as favourite hero.
And the new film of NA is very good, although there are some plot changes.

Another favourite adaptation is Persuasion with Ciaran Hinds.

Least favourite book and film is Emma. She is so irritating and Gwenyth Paltrow just made it worse. I haven't seen the Kate Beckingsale version but there is supposed to be a new version in the works starring Romola Garai which looks very promising.
Jan 18, 2009 11:57PM

970 I love TV but as I work at home have a rule for myself of no TV during the day. I rarely break my rule.
But I do want to try a week without TV and computers.
There will have to be exceptions - anything work related for me and the evening news for my hubby.

Everyone except me is out of the house so much I'm wondering if it will make a difference.
Jan 18, 2009 11:47PM

970 I've read 70 but I didn't include those I never finished and some that I'm not sure if I read them in Simplified English (EFL).

Most of the ones from the last 2 decades were the most ponderous, pretentious and occasionally turgid books I have read. Many I never want to read. None of my favourites made the list.
Once I delved further back there were quite a few good choices and several I have on my TBR list.
970 I can't do anything else when I am reading.
OK that is not strictly true I can but I won't because it totally ruins the pleasure of getting 'lost in a good book'.
When I read about the only things I remember to do are breathe and blink. Frequently limbs fall to sleep because I forget to move them. I can miss meals and become dehydrated if my family doesn't make me eat. Frequently I 'surface' from a book to find the whole room smiling in my direction. They have been talking to me and I was totally unaware.

I would love to be able to read while travelling but my most common form of transportation are cars and buses both of which give me chronic travel sickness. However I do read a lot while waiting at bus stops and while waiting in general.

Dec 30, 2008 09:48PM

970 I will definitely have to read this again.
I read it, as a set book, when I was a teenager. Although I didn't particularly like Holden I could identify with what he was going through: the feeling of suffocating under the arbitrary rules that governed my life and the feeling of having no control over my future.

I don't get why so many reviewers complain about books with whiny, angst-ridden, navel-gazing teenagers.
As far as my memory serves that is what being a teenager is about. Adults treat you as a child while expecting you to behave responsibly like an adult and inside your childish brain has little grasp of a long-term future and 1001 conflicting emotions to deal with.

Sure Holden is not pleasant, admirable character but he is real.


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