Sunday, December 11, 2011

Deep Sea

When I first read Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, quite some years ago, I remember thinking that I didn't really grasp the novel in the way I felt I should. But I also felt its power.

Fast forward a few years, and my response is eerily similar. Somehow I don't quite get the central story. Antoinette remains a mystery to me. Possibly necessarily so? I feel this is another one of those novels I'm failing to live up to.

Though I could not help but wonder if Ms Rhys was completely in control of her material. The initial shifting of perspective in the Rochester section (back to Antoinette) seems ungainly somehow. And Rochester's voice is never that of a nineteenth century gentleman, depite the general strength and insight of the characterisation here. But this is to split hairs over a novel that transcends any limitations (real or imaginary) it might have through the truth at its core.

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