101 internautes sur 108 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
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.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
Although some of the reviewers are now saying that Rodi didn't have to 'reclaim' Jane Austen from those who claim her as the great founder of 'chick lit,' it still bears pointing out (as Rodi does here), how un-romantic a writer she is:
... Here are a few things you won’t find in Sense and Sensibility: a passionate kiss or a violent embrace ... a kiss or embrace of any kind, for that matter ... any portrayal of a marriage proposal ... any depiction of a wedding ceremony ... anyone speaking the words “I love you.” Here are a few things you will find in Sense and Sensibility: ruthlessness ... venality ... arrogance ... avarice ... fecklessness ... snobbishness ... shamelessness ... two or three of the most unbridled talkers in all of western literature ... and an authorial voice that merrily mocks them all into immortality. I rest my case. In Jane Austen, we have one of the great social satirists of all time.
... We’re 200-plus pages into Pride and Prejudice, and so far from anything resembling romance (Jane and Bingley’s hummingbird flutterings excepted), what we’ve had is a constant stream of bitter conflict, class anxiety, disappointed hopes, hideous confrontations, and an entire degustation menu of shrill social barbarisms.
Robert Rodi's take on Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice- chapter by chapter- is funny and shrewd. I liked his slangy style.
Here is a sample of his "live-blogging":
... But alas, Caroline’s campaign of icy inertia, which is doing a pretty fair job of making everyone within a quarter-mile feel the depths of her contempt, doesn’t last. Darcy, who’s heard of the ladies’ arrival, has left the fishing party and returned to the house to give Georgiana some moral support. At the sight of him—and at the sudden static-electric charge that crackles across the room between him and Lizzy—Caroline can’t help herself: she drops her strategy of victory-through-frostbite and switches to full-on Flame Queen; as if she might, with enough vitriol, be able to burn Lizzy down to slag right before Darcy’s eyes. She begins by loudly asking, “Pray, Miss Eliza, are not the ——— shire militia removed from Meryton? They must be a great loss to your family.” She’s talking specifically about Wickham, and almost everyone in the room knows it; unfortunately, Caroline herself doesn’t know that invoking Wickham is the surest way to distress Georgiana and infuriate Darcy. As ever, when Caroline throws a punch, it lands squarely on her own kisser.
Oddly enough, he sees very well the challenge Austen set for herself in Mansfield Park, and his comments are astute, yet he gets the book wrong by getting Fanny wrong. For him, her negativity conceals pride, and she is a hypocrite, but that really isn't what's going on. The charm of Mary and Henry Crawford is not supposed to blind us:
... “A little difficulty to be overcome, was not evil to Henry Crawford. He rather derived spirits from it. He had been apt to gain hearts too easily. His situation was new and animating”—we read this and we begin to suspect the sustainability of his high emotion; and that concluding statement troubles us as well, as it implies that novelty may be the chief attraction of his heroic resolve. In which case, despair and aggrievement might prove “new and animating” too. We may like Henry well enough—I’m pretty clearly crazy about him—but Austen, while failing to paint him as a despicable rogue, does convey his essential unsteadiness...
Close, but not quite there.