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Wide Sargasso Sea
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message 1: by Sarah (last edited Jan 30, 2008 01:37PM) (new) - added it

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
General discussion for Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys goes here.

Is there anyone who'd be willing to lead the discussion?




Alison I just started this. Anyone? I'm about 25 pages in, but it's only 112 pages. Nothing like Jane Eyre so far. Pretty interesting. My copy has like a zillion footnotes, and it's bugging me. There are some things I'd rather not know.


Tiffany I have this book and I'm going to read it when I finish the Eyre Affair. Is your copy the Critical Edition too Alison? It was the only one they had at my Borders.


Alison Yes, Tiffany! I had to search for the actual text. There was another one at my Borders, but this one was cheaper! I doubt I'll get through all the critical analyses. I just want to know the story.


Tiffany Me too! I'm just interested in the actual WSS, not all of the essays and stuff. Although once I actually start reading it I may be curious about all the other writings. We'll see.


Tiffany Spoilers:




I'm into Part Two right now and I like it. At this point it sounds like a pretty idyllic honeymoon (minus the arranged marriage part); a secluded, tropical locale, the scent of flowers in the air, fireflies, lounging on verandas and in bed... not too bad.

But - I get a sense of apprehension from Antoinette/Bertha. It could stem from a couple different things I know (her childhood, her arranged marriage to a stranger) but it also feels like maybe she's hinting at something in the future. Did anyone else get that impression? It just feels like she's subtly implying that there might be trouble for her ahead. Or I could just be projecting because of what I know will happen in JE.



Tiffany I finished this last night and even though I already knew Bertha's fate it was still an interesting book.


Alison I'm going to have to start over on this one. I've had a crazy week, and I don't even remember what I've read. Maybe I can read it quickly. :)


message 9: by Alison (last edited Feb 18, 2008 03:05AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alison Spoilers:

I read it pretty quickly. My copy was only 109 pages, and rather breezy. I thought this was interesting and engaging. It stands alone as a beautiful, mystical piece of literature, but it's even more fun if you've just read Jane Eyre. You just get this feel, when reading books like this and The Eyre Affair, these characters are so real to us...it's like they've drawn new breath...

Part III is the best...when the reader is experiencing Bertha's point of view from Mr. Rochester's attic, as she slips in and out of mental clarity. When she passes the tiny, pale little Jane in the hallway at night...you'll never look at Jane, Mr. Rochester, or Bertha the same. It's good to see Bertha get the story treatment she deserved.

Tiffany: I'm thinking back to the whole honeymoon part. Their happiness was so short-lived. You know, I don't think Bertha ever really let herself be happy...she had experienced so much disapointment with her mother, her home, her brother. She was such a sullen creature.

All of the descriptions of the sea, the flowers, the scents, the people were the essence of this to me. I guess this was Rhys's way of honoring her homeland and telling her story as well. The style was very different from Bronte, though.

So, why do we think it took Rhys more than 20 years to write this short book?




Tiffany I agree Alison, Bertha definitely held back and didn't allow herself to be completely happy. With her background though it’s understandable why she was so reluctant to let go of her inhibitions.

I love what you said about Rhys honoring her homeland with this book because to me the islands felt like a separate character. The way she wrote about the setting was so well developed that you could almost feel the humidity and hear the birds and smell all the lush flowers.

In the preface of the book Rhys' editor recalled that Rhys wasn't happy with the version of WSS that had been published because, to her, "it wasn't finished," because "of two unnecessary words. One was 'then,' the other 'quite.'" Rhys apparently was quite the perfectionist.



Alison Yes, to say the least! You would think it would have been a 900 page epic with all of the deliberation that went into it!

I skimmed a little of the commentaries from my "critical edition." Interesting what this says about women and marriage...how Mr. Rochester changed her name in order to control her...and took away her money, then drove her from her home, the only thing she ever loved. Men suck! (Haha--just kidding). Bertha had the chance to run, but she didn't. I'm sure her race and her lack of money in those times made it impossible.


Arielle | 5 comments I read this in a hurry, so I might be fuzzy on some details. What exactly was her race? I recall the racial slurs that people used against her, but for some reason I thought she was the same race as Rochester, maybe just a little more exotic looking.


message 13: by Alison (last edited Mar 04, 2008 08:46AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alison Arielle: I'm copying this from another post...here's what I could come up with...

"Mr. Rochester met Bertha while he was in the West Indies. She was the daughter of a wealthy businessman there, and his father and brother set him up to marry her so that he could gain her wealth...I understand that she is the daughter of a white slave owner and a woman from Martinique...a French colony in Jamacia. Her race is said to be "white creole" which means she doesn't fit in with the white culture of Jamacia or the black culture there."

My guess is that she was not Caucasian (fair-skinned), but with a lighter skin tone than the other Jamacian women. What do you think?



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