Friday, April 29, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
- Charlotte Bronte is a master at creating characters who exhibit the depth and complexity of real people. Lucy Snowe was a mess of contradictions-- independent yet needy, courageous and interesting yet insipid. At times, it was almost painful to eavesdrop on Lucy's thoughts and witness her interactions, but isn't that how life is. The supporting characters were also finally drawn, though because Lucy narrated throughout, we never got much of a glimpse into their inner lives. To me, this is sad.
- Bronte was quite clearly ahead of her time. Villette has a distinctly modern feel (not the language and style, they are solidly Victorian)-- so much so that many critics railed against the book when it was first published. While this may disappoint some readers who approach the novel expecting/wanting a reworked Jane Eyre, I appreciated Bronte's willingness to push the envelope.
- I also really enjoyed the way Bronte tied up the various storylines by including amusing anecdotes about the characters' futures. In addition, I think the resolution to Lucy's storyline was rather perfect.
- The novel did manage to hold my attention and there were parts that I enjoyed a great deal, but I never felt the impulse to read more than my read-a-long "assignment." This may not be a fair way to judge a book, but I find that my desire to read is a fairly reliable indicator of how much I like a book.
- As great a character as I think Lucy is, I am not really sure that I liked her. My feeling towards her, if anything, are strangely familial. I cared about her fate and I was on her side in all matters, but I don't think I would really have wanted to spend anytime with her.
- While accurately reflecting Lucy's experience, the action in the novel is very restrained. At times, it really felt like nothing was happening.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Oh, the revelations! Dr. John loves Paulina (not that we didn’t know, but the declaration is new), M. Paul is giving and charitable and wants Lucy’s good will and good graces, Lucy is overjoyed at the prospect of Paul’s, however chaste, affections, and—maybe—we now have a name for the mysterious nun appearing before our fumbling lovers!
With so many interesting tidbits in the reading, it's scary to realize that I almost missed this week's deadline. I made the mistake of opening a favorite book for a reread only to find that the book’s addictive powers did not diminish on the second go-round. I couldn’t pick anything up until I finished. Luckily, this section of Villette was short and engaging, so I was able to finish the chapters last night.
Overall, I am quite content with the direction Bronte is taking the story. Lucy has finally begun to know herself and the people around her, though she does continue to flounder at times—running away from Paul, being one example. I am delighted to see that the Graham/Paulina relationship may be reaching a resolution, though I would like to see Ginevra Fanshawe re-enter the narrative. I don’t feel that her story has yet played out satisfactorily. I am also excited to see that M. Paul and Lucy are moving toward greater intimacy, though the presentation of such intimacy remains almost painfully awkward.
I do wonder, though, if the story is becoming increasingly predictable. Does everyone else suspect that some incident will release M. Paul of his burdens and, through some auspice of fate Lucy will be required to enter his esteem more fully—a situation that will eventually lead to matrimony? This isn’t a complaint, as I would hardly mind it the story played out in such a fashion, but I do wonder what, if any, surprises Bronte has in store. And, of course, I wonder WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THE NUN?
Happy reading! Can you believe that we are so near the end?
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
- Just like in The Fountainhead (in fact these two books have so much in common that you can just assume that the things I'm saying about Atlas Shrugged apply to it as well), Rand's heroes are well-drawn and likable. I want Dagny, Henry, and Francisco (does anyone really believe that he has become a ne'er-do-well?) to succeed. I feel their pain as the whole world seems to conspire against the ideals they believe in.
- I am finding myself drawn into the book's central mystery even though I know how it is going to play out. I mean, I know who John Galt is (after reading the Burn's book)-- but I can't wait to see how the threads Rand has laid (the disappearing industrialists for example) resolve themselves.
- I am also always impressed when someone can write such a tome in a second language. Nabokov similarly impresses me.
- Rand once again shows a propensity for tearing down straw men. While people predisposed to agree with her philosophical positions may not mind that most of her heroes' enemies are flatly drawn and border on the ridiculous, I am not convinced that this is a good strategy for gaining converts. Rand would only have strengthened her arguments if she had allowed her characters to spar with worthy opponents.
- Similarly, one of the guiding principles of persuasive writing is gaining trust by proving, at least implicitly, that you understand the arguments and positions of others-- after that, you are welcome to dismantle and demolish those arguments. But that isn't what happens here. A book and third into the Randian canon, I remain unconvinced that Rand considers any ideas but her own. Of course, Rand still has my attention for about 700 more pages, so we'll see if she can change my mind.