Archive for May, 2011

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Doesn’t Even Begin

May 26, 2011

You thought that I thought that you had forgotten that you were reading Villette?!  Oh no!  I thought much worse than that.  I’ve been sitting here in my home waiting for your next post stewing over worst case scenarios.

Scenario #1:  Amnesia

Justin has encountered a blow to the head that has completely wiped his memory clean.  He not only doesn’t remember that he’s reading Villette he’s forgotten who he is.  He may be wandering the streets of Bostonat this very moment, searching for things that will trigger memories of his identity.  Perhaps he’s stopping in front of a shop window right now, staring at his half-visible reflection muttering progressively louder, “Who are you?!  Who ARE you?!  WHO ARE YOU?!” and finally breaking down into despondent tears.

Scenario #2  The Cult

Justin has encountered a charming and iniquitously manipulative svengali who has convinced him that the path to happiness and glory can only be followed by casting aside all of his books.  At this moment Justin is wrapping himself in a bright green robe and holding a cleansing “book removal” ceremony in which he rips out each page of every book while intoning “This typeface shall shackle my soul no more.  This typeface shall shackle my soul no more.”

(As you can see when I start worrying you start speaking only in repetition).

Scenario #3  Lost Book

Justin misplaced his copy of Villette.  (No!  No!)

But nope–you’re just lazy.  Well that’s a relief.

I’m heading off on vacation and I’m taking Villette with me.  When I return I imagine I’ll have all sorts of intriguing insights to share!

Jon

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Convenient, I Say, Convenient

May 23, 2011

Whoa–I bet you forgot that I was reading this book. (Full disclosure: I briefly forgot I was reading this book.) But, I don’t want you think its because I am lukewarm on our internet-based tete-a-tete. It’s actually that I just sort of hate this book.

Okay, hate is a strong word, and honestly Lucy Snowe and her cavalcade of forgettable characters hasn’t quite reached that level, but I am also not feeling any real strong desire to pick the book up when I have something more compelling to read (The New Yorker, Pulse: Stories by Julian Barnes, Yahoo News, the backs of cereal boxes–you get the picture.) But today, I found myself fresh out of reading material, so I dutifully picked the book back up.

And lo and behold, you’re right the re-emergence of Dr. John!

Now, is it just me or is it just a bit, shall we say, convenient, that Lucy Snowe is a British woman living and working in France only to be working in a house of a French family that demands that their family speak English, who happens to cross paths with the only English-speaking doctor in the area?

Convenient, isn’t it. Maybe just a bit too convenient.

Oh sure it lightens the francophone load for you, me, and the rest of Charlotte Bronte’s largely English speaking/reading audience, but is it realistic? Où est la vraisemblance, Charlotte Bronte*?

Well, I may have spoken to soon about being unmotivated to continue reading. I just finished Chapter 12 only to find that Chapter 13 is provocatively titled: A Sneeze Out of Season. Now, I ask you, how can I not read on?

Justin

*I do not speak French. This French is brought to you by Google translate.

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Philoprogenitiveness

May 18, 2011

In my last post I mused about how excited I was that Bronte reintroduced a character that had appeared earlier in the novel, ending her nonstop cavalcade of cameos of supporting characters. Well Currer really appears to have mended her old hit-and-run ways.  That’s right another character from earlier in the book returns in Chapter X.

I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you (note that the chapter heading has no such qualms–you’ve been warned!)….so I’ll give you some hints.  One:  He’s helpful with travel.  Two: He’s a dish.

That’s right Twinner I think we’ve finally got ourselves a narrative developing (after 100 pages).

In other Villette news I came across this post’s title in my reading this afternoon and felt compelled to note it.  Its a honey of a syllable train.  Here’s the full sentence context:

The Labassecouriens must have had a large organ of philoprogenitiveness:  at least the indulgence of offspring is carried by them to excessive lengths; the law of most households being the children’s will.

Anyway that sounded confusing…so I looked it up.  According to Merriam Webster philoprogenitiveness means:

1. tending to produce offspring: prolific

2. of, relating to, or characterized by love of offspring

So surprising boring, that sentence.

Just thought I’d share.

Jon

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Lucy Snowe, Tiger Mother

May 5, 2011

Haha…I also loved it when Lucy Snowe ripped that assignment up in front of the class!  Her dramatic illustration to the girls of how their soft French education was going to make them weak additions to the world marketplace reminded me of Amy Chua’s lightning rod of a book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (which I, oddly, found very funny).  Actually Chua describes how she was easier on her students than she was on her children…and there was no abandonment in closets (you’re right…where is Delores?!)…oh well the overall comparison doesn’t really hold water.  But when she ripped up that assignment I thought of that other book.

Disclaimer here:  I have been having a socially awkward day, and I fear it’s seeping into my blog writing as well.  It’s one of those days where you see someone you know and you think “I should say hi” and then you see that they’re walking with purpose and they have their headphones on so you’ll just let them pass by and then they do say hi like at the last minute as you’re passing by and you turn around to say hi back but they’ve already walked past and you’re like “…Hi!” to their back.  It’s been one of those kind of days.

I think that that last paragraph itself is indicative of the awkwardness I’m feeling vis-a-vis communication today.

End of Disclaimer.

I also liked how a little later on the narrator asks, “Has the reader forgotten Miss Genevra Fanshawe?”  I, for one, responded, “Yes, yes I have.”  But then again I was taken aback that Bronte planned to bring back any character who made an earlier appearance in the book.  As of yet, she’s introduced ancillary characters and then just as quickly cast them aside…making her sort of the Sam Malones of Victorian novelists.

So let’s unpack that last sentence I wrote…what I was hoping to get at was an allusion to someone who “loves ’em and leaves ’em”.  All I could think of was Sam Malone –which is odd, because I haven’t seen an episode of Cheers in years.  I guess that makes me the anti-Norm of Cheers (because he goes there everyday, get it?–and btw, poor Vera).  So this might make a fun blog game! Fill in the blank!

“…making her sort of the {blank for insertion} of Victorian novelists.”

Remember: love ’em and leave ’em.

Look at how the blog is getting all interactive.  I’m taking the lemons that are the metaphor for my inability to communicate cohesively and turning them into lemon bars of Web 2.0 user generated content!

I’ll be back when my brain is working better,

Jon