Blank, lovely eyes. Mad eyes. A mad girl: Reviewing Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Hello everybody! I’m back with another novel that I am reading in class but this one will be a full review since it fits into my area of studies. I am currently doing a critical history of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre for my grad school portfolio. As much as I love the British Romantics, it is important to acknowledge where it is problematic. Trust me, it is rather problematic. That is why I am glad to hear and read new angles about these classics that everybody has loved in one dimension for so long. So let’s talk about Jean Rhys’ take on Bronte’s “madwoman in the attic.”

Before she was Bertha Mason, Antionette Cosway was a young girl struggling to survive in Jamaica. After the Emancipation Act, her mother is driven to madness and her father to drink. When she reaches adulthood, Antoinette is then sold into marriage to an Mr. Rochester. As more of the past comes to light, Antionette finds herself in a downward spiral that threatens her dreams of moving to England.

This novel, though short, is incredibly compelling in its feminist and anti-colonial narrative. I have always liked the “other side of the story” genre. I am not sure what else to call it but I am talking about novels that re-tell a story from the perspective of another character. Anyways, Rhys delivers a powerful look at a character who has been written off for so many years. The novel is has beautiful visuals that pair with a unique story that is not explored often. Post colonial novels have only come to light in recent years and Rhys offers one that anyone who has read Jane Eyre should read. Now, this isn’t meant to bash Charlotte Bronte. It is meant to give a more in depth-look at the feminist critiques that lie within Jane Eyre and other novels of the time. This is a short read, but there is so much to talk about. I would recommend this to any fan of Charlotte Bronte or those who are a fan of period pieces but are tired of the marriage and/or manner novels.

Mini Double Review: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and Passing by Nella Larsen

Hello everybody! While I work on finishing up the first novel in The Witcher series, I thought I would do a review of some of the novels I have just finished for two of my classes this semester. I am only on week two but these novels (or novellas, rather) are worth me sharing my opinion on as there are some classics that others might be interested in. Now these novels aren’t really related to each other but they both just so happen to be short enough to include in a single post. Let me give you my brief in put on Conrad and Larsen.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad: Conrad’s most famous and controversial novel explores the bloody colonization process in the Congo. This novel follows Charlie Marlow as he follows the charismatic and ruthless Kurtz through the jungles, while trying to understand what the British really want out of Africa. This novel is certainly shocking and graphic. It is definitely not a casual read by any means, but it is worth a read. The subject matter is important when getting into the field of colonial and post-colonial literature. I would recommend it if you want a complicated but brief novel. It is ideal for analyzing, if that is what your interest is. There is a lot to uncover when reading Heart of Darkness that no one can really answer and that is what makes it so intriguing.

Passing by Nella Larsen: Larsen’s sophomore novel follows the struggle of Irene Redfield, a black woman who is able to “pass” as white. When Irene reunites with a childhood friend, Clare Kendry, she must face the reality of her situation and come to terms with her insecurities that she had worked so hard to hide. This novella was particularly compelling in its subject matter. It also offers a look at a complicated subject with Larsen’s eloquent writing highlighting the social minefield that Irene must navigate. I enjoyed this one more as far as just reading it goes but the analyses is just as interesting too.

Between the two, I would say I actually enjoyed Passing more even though it still dealt with darker subject. Larsen has more tact whereas Conrad is very ambiguous and hard to truly understand. Both are equally important in their respective literary fields so it is worth discussing both.