Conrad's Reviews > Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
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Nov 19, 2009

bookshelves: to-read, abandoned

I read Wuthering Heights when I was going through a crippling bout with severe clinical depression in my early 20s. Don't know if that was the best time to be reading such a messed up book, but that's what happened. At the time, it echoed so strongly in my brain that I literally couldn't bear to think about it too much - I ended up taking an incomplete grade for the class rather than finishing a four-page paper on the novel.

After listening to the Kate Bush song for the first time last week, I was telling my wife how much I loved the novel, how Emily just takes all the conventions of 19th century domestic fiction and sort of sets them on fire; how creepy Catherine is, how Heathcliff is both attractive and genuinely repellant; how subtly the novel makes way for the metaphysical towards the end; how masterful the handling of perspective is. In telling her about it, I started to want to reread it - after all, as Roland Barthes said, those who read books only once see them everywhere.

As is sometimes the case with spouses, though, Kate's hogging our nice new copy. So instead, I picked up the copy of the new Jane Eyre a friend gave her the other day, read the first couple pages, and was absolutely entranced. Can't put it down. I don't know if I'll finish it, but I hope I manage to.

My tastes in 19th century literature are completely arbitrary. I like Dickens, the Brontes and Mary Shelley but not Austen, Eliot, or James (if I'm completely honest); Browning, Keats and Coleridge but not Percy Shelley, Tennyson or Wordsworth. I don't know why. For some reason, the Brontes just seem to compel me to keep reading in the same way that Jane Austen makes me want to put the book down and take a nap.
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Reading Progress

11/24/2009 page 110
21.11% "It's stunning how thoroughly Rowling ransacked this novel when writing HP. Less subtle than Wuthering, but still moving. Astonishing so far."
12/04/2009 page 210
40.31% "Can't hate Rochester - he reminds me of myself a little bit." 2 comments

Comments (showing 1-17)

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message 17: by Jason (new)

Jason no Shelley. tsk tsk.

message 16: by Conrad (new) - added it

Conrad I guess he's a borderline case. I like some of his shorter poetry, but reading The Masque of Anarchy and Prometheus Unbound really put me off him.

Kelly Speaking of Charlotte, have you read Villette? I love Jane Eyre, but Villette is in another league. Definitely Charlotte's masterpiece.

message 14: by Kate (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kate Maybe you'd enjoy Austen more if you finished one of her novels.

Persuasion doesn't count.

-the wife

message 13: by Conrad (new) - added it

Conrad Look, if you only ever watched the Phantom Menace, would you be raring to tackle Empire?

message 12: by Kate (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kate If I can be convinced to read Gravity's Rainbow, I'm pretty sure you can handle Pride and Prejudice.

message 11: by Conrad (new) - added it

Conrad Oh, I'm sorry, have my renewed efforts to work my way through the vag lit canon not been sufficient to earn a little credit? ;)

message 10: by Kate (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kate Ok cheeky, maybe I hold Cryptonomicon hostage while you work up the effort to tackle Jane?

message 9: by Conrad (new) - added it

Conrad So five years of dragging your feet isn't enough?

Kate I guess I need to bring up Gravity's Rainbow again?

message 7: by Conrad (new) - added it

Conrad Hm. You never had any interest in getting me to read Austen until just now that Cryptonomicon is on the table. How do I know this isn't just some tit-for-tat thing that'll go on forever?

Kate You don't. Love you!

Nicole Only because I just read Jane Eyre so this is top of the movie, The Proposal with Sandra Bullock (okay, I know I don't even know all of you beyond Goodreads so just go with me on this one...), she says she likes to read Wuthering Heights every Christmas. I thought that was just bad script writing and that the screen writer did not know what they were talking about. I always felt this wasn't a "feel good" type of book, but given Conrad's review I may have to re-read. Thanks for keeping goodreads fun...especially when I can get random access at work.

message 4: by Conrad (new) - added it

Conrad Nicole, I think you're right - Wuthering Heights isn't feelgood at all.

*spoiler* The idea that your most terminally fucked up, life-sapping relationships follow you into the grave, I mean, who thinks that's comforting? Who thinks that's likely to enhance anyone's Christmas cheer?!

Nicole Heathcliff was just a monster. Reminds me of a guy I used to date who had major anger management problems. Talk about life sapping...Even Mr. Rochester who gives the impression of a good guy - let's not forget about that poor lady in the attic who tried to burn him in his sleep. Though I think Jane Eyre is a much more feel good novel than WH.

Nicole Sorry about the Spoiler!!!! Hope it didn't reveal too much. I didn't realize it until after I wrote that you are only on page 110 or hopefully beyond.

message 1: by Rey (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rey Walker Definitely give Villette a read. Also, if The Wife has demands of Austen in exchange for the hostage, try Northanger Abbey. It bridges the Gothic to Romance eras much like Wuthering Heights. A side note: Tom Hardy’s Heathcliff in the 2009 movie version is totally bad-boy hot. (-:

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