Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Writing the Back Story: Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea

Last month we talked about Jane Eyre at the Atwater Library, and tonight it will Jean Rhys's idea of why the first Mrs. Rochester went mad, Wide Sargasso Sea. Both books are great reads, and in their own way both are comments on the life of the time in which they were written.

While Charlotte Brontê's classic Gothic novel sheds much light on the difficulties of women's fate in the early 19th century, Rhys's much shorter story expands the vision to the evil left by slavery. She was born in Dominica, called a "white cockroach" as a child, and saw with very clear eyes the cruelty of the "peculiar institution" as well as the helplessness of women at the time.

The "honeymoon island" of her novel is in large part an image of Dominica, which is billing itself as marvelous, ecologically sound tropical paradise. This video makes you want to go, particularly as winter approaches in North America.

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