Jean Rhys Reading Week discussion

Jean Rhys : Life and Work
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Jean Rhys' Life

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message 1: by Eric (new)

Eric Anderson (lonesomereader) | 26 comments Mod
Discuss Jean Rhys' unfinished autobiography Smile Please, The Letters 1931–1966, the biography Jean Rhys by Carol Angier, The Blue Hour: A Portrait of Jean Rhys by Lilian Pizzichini and any other material or aspect about Jean Rhys' life.


message 2: by Eric (new)

Eric Anderson (lonesomereader) | 26 comments Mod
Here are my thoughts on Jean Rhys' unfinished autobiography Smile Please - a fascinating insight into the writer's real life after revisiting her fiction!


Ruth (canonette) | 6 comments I'm 137 pages into Carole Angier's 700+ page monster of a biography. Jean Rhys had such an interesting, glamorous and bohemian lifestyle in her 20s and 30s. She was surrounded by artists and musicians in Bloomsbury, Paris, Vienna, Budapest. I really wish she'd written more about those times in her novels, but she seemed more motivated to write about the sorrows in her life. Has anyone else read it? Angier refers to Rhys' unpublished novel Triple Sec a great deal - I wish I could get hold of a copy!


message 4: by Eric (new)

Eric Anderson (lonesomereader) | 26 comments Mod
Hi Ruth! I started reading this biography many years ago but got distracted (because it is so long) and I didn't have time to read it for this reading week. It's interesting that Rhys did choose to focus so much on her own life rather than represent these other locations and people more in her fiction. Perhaps she felt like her own experience was the only kind she could give justice to in her fiction?


Ruth (canonette) | 6 comments Angier is less kind: she says that Jean Rhys is very vague about some periods because of the criminal activity her husband was involved in. This is particularly true of Vienna - they were on the run for some of the time.


message 6: by Margaret (new)

Margaret (sorefoot) | 4 comments I read the Angier biography a long time ago and became quite obsessed with it, seeing aspects of my own life in hers. I was torn between wanting to read Rhys's work objectively, without always seeing her life in it and going in the opposite directon to reading the fiction as her life with the names changed. Angier was criticised for equating, at times, the art with the life but it is difficult not to. Rhys began writing with the object of getting "it all" down, getting it "right." If she was trying to justify her anxiety and alcoholism by making her characters victims of circumstances, I think she partly succeeded. By making them intelligent and attractive, I think she made them targets for the exasperated reader, who wants them to make an effort. It's great to have the biographies--they sort out some of the complexity of her relationships and experiences. What they show us of her mystery only adds to the difficulty, the complexity of reading her.


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