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Bitch In a Bonnet: Reclaiming Jane Austen From the Stiffs, the Snobs, the Simps and the Saps (Volume 1) (English Edition)
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Bitch In a Bonnet: Reclaiming Jane Austen From the Stiffs, the Snobs, the Simps and the Saps (Volume 1) (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Robert Rodi

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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

Novelist Rodi (Fag Hag, The Sugarman Bootlegs) launches a broadside against the depiction of Jane Austen as a “a woman’s writer…quaint and darling, doe-eyed and demure, parochial if not pastoral, and dizzily, swooningly romantic — the inventor and mother goddess of ‘chick lit.’” Instead he sees her as “a sly subversive, a clear-eyed social Darwinist, and the most unsparing satirist of her century… She takes sharp, swift swipes at the social structure and leaves it, not lethally wounded, but shorn of it prettifying garb, its flabby flesh exposed in all its naked grossness. And then she laughs.” In this volume, which collects and amplifies two-and-a-half years’ worth of blog entries, he combs through the first three novels in Austen’s canon — Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park — with the aim of charting her growth as both a novelist and a humorist, and of shattering the notion that she’s a romantic of any kind (“Weddings bore her, and the unrelenting vulgarity of our modern wedding industry — which strives to turn each marriage ceremony into the kind of blockbuster apotheosis that makes grand opera look like a campfire sing along — would appall her into derisive laughter”).

“Hilarious…Rodi’s title is a tribute. He’s angry that the Austen craze has defanged a novelist who’s ‘wicked, arch, and utterly merciless. She skewers the pompous, the pious, and the libidinous with the animal glee of a natural-born sadist’…Like Rodi, I believe Austen deserves to join the grand pantheon of gadflies: Voltaire and Swift, Twain and Mencken.” Lev Raphael, The Huffington Post

Biographie de l'auteur

Robert Rodi is the author of eight novels and two memoirs; he’s also an accomplished monologist and musician. He lives in Chicago with his partner Jeffrey Smith and a constantly shifting number of dogs. For additional information visit his website,

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73 internautes sur 79 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Mixed feelings 24 mars 2013
Par Sinuhe - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This litcrit is well-written and funny, but here's the trouble: I spy a wee thread of sexism.

Rodi is right - there is a "Jane Austen" that is not the same as Jane Austen, a tamed version that lives in people's minds and is associated primarily with romance, and the impulse to push the real Austen forward at the people who can only gush over her ~*~heroes~*~ and their associated most dramatic moments (or wet shirt scenes. To go off on a tangent, it seems immeasurably hypocritical that nobody these days says anything against Colin Firth in a wet shirt, but all hints of eroticism in newer adaptions get pooh-poohed as pandering). However, he presents himself as the sole voice of reason when there are many people in Jane Austen's fandom, mostly women, who are well aware that she was primarily writing comedies of manners, satires on human behavior. And at the same time, when he rails against romance novels and films

("... and Austen, the supposed progenitor of "Regency romance", the patron saint of "chick lit", the inspiration for who even knows how many craptacular costume dramas with dewy close-ups of heaving bazooms and quivering lips ...")

I detect even more revulsion for the people (again, primarily women) who enjoy them. What is it that makes these costume dramas craptacular? Apparently, nothing except their focus on a dramatic romantic storyline.

I cannot speak for everyone who discusses Austen's place in the ancestry of the romance novel, but it seems to me that there *is* a general understanding out there that she did not single-handedly give birth to the genre. Her female-character-centric novels partly inspired Georgette Heyer and other writers to write the original "traditional" Regency romances, which then led to the more dramatic and far more erotic romance novels of today. She was not writing romance novels herself, but she did help to set the stage for the romance novel down the line. You can complain about the connection if you wish, but you're simply off the rails if you think Austen's got nothing to do with romance novels just because she was also writing satirically - and if part of your reasoning is that the romance genre is wholly sub-standard, then there are even more issues.

The text itself was a great read, sort of like sitting down with a sharp-witted friend to discuss the novels, with the occasional typo (eg, "Willoughy" for "Willoughby") or accidental factual error (eg, calling Marianne Mrs. Dashwood's youngest daughter). There's just this recurring feeling that he's telling the ladies to sit down and listen that makes me unable to give more than three stars.

ETA: At the time I wrote the above review, I had only read the first third of the book, on Sense & Sensibility, and I assumed I would feel the same about the rest. I was incorrect.

Re: Pride & Prejudice's section: Rodi's enthusiasm and love for the book shined through. However, his overblown, hysterical reactions and the way he keeps saying that various characters are feeling tempted to commit violence made me start to think Austen could have written him as one of her caricatures. Something along the lines of Isabella Thorpe, only with the addition of the repeated "look how manly I am/my reading is" strain.

Re: Mansfield Park's section: My feelings here are no longer mixed at all. In fact, they've gone from "I wouldn't recommend it but I wouldn't dissuade anyone from reading it" to "NO", and the rating lost a star. The main problem is that, in verbally demolishing Fanny Price, Rodi has a) demolished his own premise that Jane Austen was not writing "chick-lit" or romance and b) failed to take Austen's society into account. By this point, he has invented his own Austen brand to compete with the supposedly overwhelmingly prevalent "romance novelist Austen" one, and appears upset that in Mansfield Park the real Austen does not line up with his brand. Perhaps the most striking instance of this was the assertion that Austen wrote MP as penance, deliberately suffering to atone for writing the super-sparkly-awesome Elizabeth Bennet, closely followed by the rather shocking idea that the reader is meant to hate Mary Crawford as the rival. Really? Because the idea that a rival must be hateful simply for being different from the heroine seems like one that's pervasive in romance novels and chick-lit, to me. Same as the desire to see two differing personalities who have tension together end up married.

Fanny Price is a difficult girl to love. She's not the stuff of which heroines are made; a lot of them start out small and downtrodden, but these days it's well-known that an oppressed girl needs to burst from her shell and shock everyone with her vibrant true self. Fanny doesn't, which automatically makes her worthwhile for looking deeper as something of an anomaly. Rodi maintains that the narration is lying, and that Fanny is in fact a big old hypocrite who enjoys ruining people's fun. The fact is, Fanny's behavior has been molded by years of emotional abuse. She gets fluttery at the thought of attention being paid to her and carriages being summoned for her because she's been trained by just about every member of her family to think that she doesn't deserve that, and that if she gets it it will be accompanied by criticism and slights (and probably Aunt Norris's screeching). Not to mention that she seems to have a decent helping of social anxiety, which doesn't appear to cross Rodi's mind. Fanny gets lambasted for her trepidation at approaching the door to her uncle's study - but I have to say that I've felt much the same thing when I come to a closed door that I know I have to knock on in order to have a nerve-wracking interview (or to make a phone call that I'm dreading - Fanny, be thankful you haven't one of those). Now, maybe I really am the cringing worm Fanny's made out to be here - or maybe Rodi is being extraordinarily self-centered.

And my last point, regarding the social mores that Rodi completely overlooks. In Austen's day, acting was extremely improper, especially for women. It was all right to do staged readings of Shakespeare within your own family or close friends, but memorizing lines? Getting costumes and scenery together? Inviting strangers to participate? Fanny is completely in the right for opposing it; she'll give in far enough to help out and can even take pleasure in listening to the others (Austen herself liked amateur theatricals in her family circle), but the fact that she won't give in all the way is actually a testament to her integrity. Likewise, it was extremely improper for a young man to give a gift to a young woman outside of an engagement. Mary sneaking the chain into Fanny's hands was wrong. It seems priggish to the modern reader, but there it is. Mary comes off as a strikingly modern character and it's tough to find any visceral reaction to her being ready to perform a love scene with Edmund, speaking slightingly of her brother-in-law and the clergy and admirals (and making sodomy puns), tricking Fanny - yet these are things that, according to the society the characters and author lived in, would be seen as character flaws, even when they went with an extremely charming personality. You don't have to like it, but you can't pretend to address the author's intentions without considering that.
24 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Rodi to the rescue! 3 janvier 2012
Par Mae Stroshane - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
I adore Jane Austen's novels, but confess that my partiality has been helped along greatly by that "wet shirt" scene in the Colin Firth BBC version of "Pride & Prejudice." I started reading P & P "sequels," only to find many of them mainly an excuse to peep into Elizabeth and Darcy's bedroom. Some do more than peep, they crawl right under the covers. I like Mr. Darcy, but he's more than just a boytoy in (and out of) tight breeches.
So I was thrilled to come across Mr. Rodi's clear-eyed, bitingly funny, dead-on deconstruction of the image of Jane Austen as a paperback chicklit goddess. Thank you for rescuing me from the mire of heaving bosoms and frantic fantasy! It's refreshing to realise that Jane absolutely skewered her characters even as she pierced our hearts with her brilliance. No one was safe from her barbed wit, even the characters she was most fond of, including Marianne and Elinor Dashwood. Heaven help the ones she was least fond of. Yet she wrote some of the most tender love stories in English literature, without a single passionate kiss or wild proposal.

Within the narrow confines of her life, Jane Austen wrote about marriage because it defined women's lives, but she mined the topic as a bottomless source of commentary on human behavior. At the same time, her devotion to her sister Cassandra formed the basis of her deepest and most moving work. The relationship between Elinor and Marianne is the true love story in 'Sense & Sensibility,' as Mr. Rodi shows in his brilliant scene-by-scene analysis that's as sharp, perceptive and funny as the original. I look forward to his next installment!
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 He gets it! 13 avril 2013
Par Steven D. Anderson - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
In this book, Rodi analyzes each chapter of Austen's first three books using satire and sarcasm on par with the great author herself. If anyone has seen a film version of one of Austen's novels and wondered how anyone could have so misinterpreted her work, her wit, and her satire, buy this book. If, instead, you buy, mistakenly, into the notion that Austen's intent was to write sappy love stories, you may not enjoy what Rodi has to say, but you should buy it anyway because what he has to say is spot and and absolutely hilarious. I am going to recommend this book to my students to read during their study of Pride and Prejudice. It will aid them on their knowledge of Austen's satire, along with a great example of the modern equivalent.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Not Your Gentle Aunt Jane 31 mai 2013
Par Elizabete - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Robert Rodi‘s "Bitch in a Bonnet" is an amusing commentary on three of Jane Austen’s novels. He presents an interesting discussion of the novels as Comedies of Manners influenced by the Enlightenment. I especially enjoyed his analysis of Austen’s masterful choice of words and use of phrases that make her stories sparkle with wit and astute insight. Rodi ‘s essays on "Sense and Sensibility" and "Pride and Prejudice" achieve these goals very well, but I was disappointed with his comments about "Mansfield Park."

Rodi remarks that Jane Austen barely mentions servants in her novels; yet, when she wrote an entire story about a poor relation/servant, he doesn’t notice. Fannie Price is an unwanted child. She is not physically strong or particularly bright; she has minimal education and social experience. Clearly the Bertrams, who have taken her in, do not consider her one of the family. Of course she is passive; she must remain under the radar to survive in the Bertram house. And of course she is terrified when someone notices her, as she does not know how to interact socially. To label her as passive-aggressive makes no sense. Her indication that she would like to visit Sotherton shows only a flicker of curiosity and courage. The better developed and more interesting Crawford characters serve as a contrast to Fannie. Although they are entertaining and exciting and have many advantages, they are basically self-centered troublemakers. Although she is dull, in many ways Fannie has better sense than they do. She certainly does less harm. Austen probably had good reason to cast Fannie as the heroine. Rodi remarks that Austen failed to address slavery in Antigua (as he admits, it is unnecessary for the story) and that he is uncomfortable with marriage of cousins (an accepted practice in 1800), but he completely overlooks child abuse (a modern issue) and blames the situation on the child. His research about treatment of poor relatives appears to be shallow, allowing him to be clever and a bit sadistic.

I plan to read his next book. I found Rodi’s literary analyses and frank remarks a refreshing change from comments in other books I’ve read about Jane Austen’s novels. I’m sure I will be entertained and will learn some more interesting details about her craftsmanship. I hope,however, that he will demonstrate better insight into the characters in the remaining Jane Austen novels.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "She's the yin to his yang--or more accurately the whack to his doodle." 25 février 2013
Par Kimberly - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Who could sum up more perfectly the relationship of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett? I laughed for five minutes after reading this one small but wonderful line. Indeed, this book is filled with as much wit and laughter as Miss Auten's own works.

I have tended to shy away from reading analyses of Jane Austen 's works. I just want to enjoy them...return to them whenever I need cheering up and a reminder that human nature was ever thus... wonderful and horrible in all our craziness. The few "scholarly" readings I attempted only kind of pissed me off! These books talked to me as if I was part of a special class of people...Those who were devotees of Miss Austen shunned such pop culture trash as Xena, Warrior Princess... whoa buddy, wasn't Austen critical of such classist ideas? One can love Lizzy, Emma, Xena, and Buffy and be the better for it.

Mr. Rodi understands this. He also knows and loves his Jane Austen as well as any scholar...his character readings are dead on...but he highlights the humanity in her work in a way that validates why I am so drawn to her heroines. They are strong, smart, imperfect, and damned funny (well except for Fanny...ugh).

Wonderful book...grossly under valued at $1...this book is priceless. Please hurry volume two!
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