19 August 2008
March 3, 1964
"I feel that I've just about exhausted everybody's patience with delays and alterations, but, as I told Miss Athill I've always known that this book must be done as well as I could - (no margin of error) or it would be unconvincing. I reckon that I've spent about two and a half years on it. Working steadily I mean. Stopping so often was just bad luck ..." (Wyndham and Melly, 253).
March 27, 1964
"But have finally settled on Rio. It would be so lovely not understanding what anybody said - and I haven't a word of Portuguese. I've always wondered why people want to - so much better not. Very peaceful, I think." (256). (regarding a trip)
"I'm not mad keen on the title but all the others I think of like 'Solitaire' which is the French for our Mountain Whistler, or 'Before the Break of Day' or 'Speak for me' aren't attractive or they are 'used' or have the wrong number of letters (very superstitious about that)." (257). (regarding the title of the book, which at that time, was not yet Wide Sargasso Sea)
April 14, 1964
"Now about the book - I was rather down with this and that, so flew to writing poems. This I've always done (aged 12 or 10 when I started)" (261).
She wrote four, but one of them helped her finish the book. She included it in her letter after a long explanation. Here is the poem:
A night I seldom remember
(If it can be helped)
The night I saw Love's dark face
Was Love's dark face
"And cruel as he is"? I've never known that
I've tried my best you may be certain (whoever asks)
My human best
If the next morning as I looked at what I'd done
(He was watching us mockingly, used to these games)
If I'd stared back at him
If I'd said
"I was a god myself last night
I've tamed and changed a wild girl"
Or taken my hurt darling in my arms
(Conquered at last. And silent. Mine)
Perhaps Love would have smiled then
Shown us the way
Across that sea. They say it's strewn with wrecks
Few dare it, fewer still escape
But we, led by smiling Love
We could have sailed
Reached a safe harbour
Found a sweet, brief heaven
Lived our short lives
But I was both sick and sad
(Night always ends)
She was a stranger
Wearing the mask of pain
Bearing the marks of pain -
I turned away - Traitor
Too sane to face my madness (or despair)
Far, far too cold and sane
Then Love, relenting
Sent clouds and soft rain
Sent sun, light and shadow
To show me again
Her young face waiting
Waiting for comfort and a gentler lover?
(You'll not find him)
A kinder loving? Love is not kind
I would not look at her
(Once is enough)
Over my dead love
Over a sleeping girl
I drew a sheet
Cover the stains of tears
Cover the marks of blood
(You can say nothing
That I have not said a thousand times and one
Excepting this - That night was Something Else
I was Angry Love Himself
Blind fierce avenging Love - no other that night)
"It's too strong for Beke"
The black woman said
Love, hate, or jealousy
Which had she seen?
She knew well - the Devil!
- What it could mean
How can I forget you Antoinette
When the spring is here?
Where did you hide yourself
After that shameless, shameful night?
And why come back? Hating and hated?
Was it Love, Fear, Hoping?
Or (as always) Pain?
(Did you come back I wonder
Did I ever see you again?)
No. I'll lock that door
Forget it. -
The motto was "Locked Hearts I open
I have the heavy key"
Written in black letters
Under a Royal Palm Tree
On a slave owner's gravestone
"Look! And look again, hypocrite" he says
"Before you judge me"
I'm no damn slave owner
I have no slave
Didn't she (forgiven) betray me
Once more - and then again
Unrepentant - laughing?
I can soon show her
Who hates the best
Always she answers me
I will hate last
Lost, lovely Antoinette
How can I forget you
When the spring comes?
(Spring is cold and furtive here
There's a different rain)
Where did you hide yourself
After the obeah nights?
(What did you send instead?
Hating and hated?)
Where did you go?
I'll never see you now
I'll never know
For you left me - my truest Love
Edward Rochester or Raworth
Written in Spring 1842
April 28, 1964
"I have tried to show this man being magicked by the place which is (or was) a lovely, lost and magic place but, if you understand, a violent place. (Perhaps there is violence in all magic and all beauty - but there - very strong) magicked by the girl - the two are mixed up perhaps to bewildered English gent, Mr R, certain that she's hiding something from him. And of course she is. Her mad mother. (Not mad perhaps at all) So you see - when he gets this letter all blows sky high. And so - I've fixed up the letter, written in his interview with Daniel whom Mr R detests but believes. (Why) I could guess that too I think - because he wants to - that's why .... The slant has been altered. It is not so tame - that's all. Additions do it .... The love drink on Obeah Night merely releases all the misery, jealousy and ferocity that has been piling up in Mr R for so long. He pretends to think he's been poisoned - that's only to pile up (again) everything he can against her and so excuse his cruelty. He justifies it that way. (It's often done). I do not think that it justifies him at all. I do think it explains him a bit" (269).
Wyndham, Francis, and Diana Melly, eds. The Letters of Jean Rhys. New York: Viking Penguin
14 August 2008
"I have so far used the language of the mocking bird indeed. I read my garbled, gargantuan rhetorical prose: “He saw giant masses of black bodies, stinking by the foulairtake of each ignoble creature, herdedinchains, to enter the doors of hells, held ajar by the horned doots of Yama, himself in Yab-Yam embrace with yami, sweating the oil of sweat, above the blood that oozed from flesh lacerated by whips, fear-stricken at being pushed into the ocean of filth, which exuded the smell of death,” etc. Bathos! With the smell of Christian hell about it! And the fall! Infected by the neurosis of after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden!"
And here's how Anand described the process of Gandhi's editing of his work (this is from The Little Plays of Mahatma Gandhi):
Gandhi: Mocking bird with a vengeance! Such big big words! You don’t know, that Harijans sigh, moan, groan and say a few words! They never talk in such big words! You want to make them into Dr. Johnsons!
K.C. Azad: (Humbled) I have been following the method of James Joyce. Stream of consciousness of characters! He has coined a new language. With puns! Satirical words! Joined words! Poetic phrases! … I thought if I also use big words, and make puns, English people will think I have mastered the English language …
Gandhi: I thought the same in
K.C. Azad: I have no language. My mother tongue is Punjabi. But the Sarkar has appointed English and Urdu as court languages! … Except Bhai Vir Singh and Dhani Ram Chatrath Poets! Few of us write in Punjabi. The only novel writer is Nanak Singh. There are no publishers in Punjabi or Urdu. Even Dr. Muhammad Iqbal writes in Urdu and Persian not in Punjabi! No one can earn a living as a writer in Punjabi. In English—my novel may get published in
Gandhi: Acha! Write in any language that comes to hand. But say what Harijans say! And the poor say! Translate their speech literally. Don’t use ‘Thees’ and ‘Thous!’ Above all you must be sincere! Truthful! Write of life as it really is! … Of the poor! Few writers have written about the poor! Only Sarat Babu! And Prem Chand! – I hear!
In an essay entitled, Mulk Raj Anand's Passage through Bloomsbury, critic Kristen Bluemel suggests:
"...the gap between the reception in leftist circles of Anand's radical fiction and his radical nonfiction suggests that Anand’s diminishing reputation among leftists had less to do with any failures of the literary imagination, and more to do with many English leftists' allegiance to England's imperial identity and specifically its right to rule India..."
She goes on to say:
"...While it is true that Anand was influenced by many of the same intellectual and political texts that other modernists and intermodernists read, his 1930s fictions struck most readers of the time as radically different for the following reasons: they are exclusively about India and Indians, are the first examples of Indo-Anglian fiction to adopt outcastes or social pariahs as their heroes, they use English in a new way to communicate Indian idiom, and they integrate the political speeches of the period’s most prominent Indian political figures, Gandhi and Nehru. More generally, Anand's fiction is regarded as a cornerstone of the first generation of Indo-Anglian writers who came to represent independent and postcolonial India..."
You can check out the full article below --- definitely worth a read.
12 August 2008
Also, there is the scene in which Bakha remembers pretending to marry Ram Charan's sister when they were children -- "Ram Charan's little sister was made to act the wife because she wore a skirt. Bakha was chosen to play the husband because he was wearing the gold-embroidered cap" (86-87). And yet, the clothing does not make the marriage real, nor does it make Bakha an Enlgishman or a sahib. It almost seems as if the characters seek to identify themselves through their choices of clothing, but it ends up being more of a disguise.
This extreme preoccupation with clothing and outward appearance is also present in all of Jean Rhys's novels. In Wide Sargasso Sea, for instance, Antoinette believes that Richard would have recognized her if she had been wearing her red dress, and she spends a great deal of time obsessing over the garment. Is this a common characteristic of British modernism?
09 August 2008
08 August 2008
07 August 2008
I was unsure of the change in format at the end where it looks like journal entries. What is the significance of this?
05 August 2008
The emphasize changes in the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man to one person, Stephen. Although I have not finished Portrait, we are primarily in Stephen's mind then out. When we are out of his head we get descriptions of what is happening around him. It seems like we are looking at the world through his eyes.
I don't know which style I like better but both are challenging to read. One last thought, I wonder if the gender of the writer had an influence on the way the stream consciousness was written. I know Woolf wanted to write a book in the manner in which a woman would think. Did Joyce have the same motivation? Did he want to model his writing after the thinking of a young man?
04 August 2008
According to postmodernist philosopher Jean-François Lyotard:
"The postmodern would be that which, in the modern, puts forward the unpresentable in presentation itself; that which denies itself the solace of good forms, the consensus of a taste that would make it possible to share collectively the nostalgia for the unattainable; that which searches for new presentations, not in order to enjoy them but in order to present a stronger sense of the unpresentable."
If this is to be accepted as true, can we make a case that Nightwood is actually postmodern IN modernism? And why would this not also be true for Stein?
02 August 2008
In an earlier post I said I thought that Robin was trying to regain the innocence of childhood; she was, in effect, devolving back to childhood from adulthood. I think that is what the child, Sylvia, who mysteriously appears in that scene represents. That’s why she and Robin have such an immediate connection. Robin is drawn to her and, in a sense, takes control of her.
In the carriage, Jen, who is already in a near panic over the possibility of losing Robin, sees this connection and finds it unbearable. She lashes out at Robin. But it isn’t a fight at all; it is a violent, passionate, desperate act of love. Barnes can’t write a sex scene and still get the novel published. This “fight” is the closest she can get to the act of lovemaking between two women. I hesitate to call it a rape, but it certainly comes very close. Jenny “takes” Robin right there in the cab and they end up in a grotesque embrace with Jenny’s breasts covering Robin’s hands. When it’s over, the child speaks for Robin “Let me go! Let me go!”
Robin runs away but shortly after this event, she leavers Nora and goes away with Jenny. This more than anything else is what got me thinking about the fight as a metaphor for sex, rather than an actual fight.
I don’t quite know what to make of the English girl who is present during all of this. The best I can do right now is to suggest that she’s there as a cover, to make it appear that Robin’s interest is in an adult rather than a child. I know that's weak and I'd love to hear other ideas.
01 August 2008
- If anyone is interested, the plates of the first edition of Joyce's A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man are available here.
- Anyone needing annotations to help them with reading Joyce might find this site useful.
- And here is the New York Times write-up of the Joseph Strick-directed, 1977 film-version of Joyce's novel.
- And a brief history of Joyce's process in conceiving the novel can be found here.
Early on she is described as having a childish face. Later the doctor describes her as someone who needs "permission to live" and someone to tell he she is an innocent (p.125) On page 155 he describes her as an innocent. Nora refers to her as a child and ultimately as her child (p.166) and raises the whole issue of incest again.
I think that may be why throughout the novel, Robin is increasingly driven to wander away from every adult relationship she has. And as the story progresses those wanderings become longer and more intense. Ultimately she wanders away from Jenny and returns to a place where where Nora - her mother- can find her. That scene with the dog reminds me more than a child playing with a dog than anything else.
Does this make sense to anyone else, or am I totally crazy.