Monday, June 30, 2008

Jane Eyre: the Jacqui's Room Notes

In which I give Jane Eyre a test.

Does Your Book Have All the Elements of a Great Novel? A Checklist.

Hot and heavy romance? Check.

Multiple surprising and dramatic plot twists? Check.

Strong, whip-smart female character who insists on equality with men? Check. And remember, this was at a time when her refusal to be coerced into marriage would have shocked the chastity belts off some folks. Bonus points.

Subtle condemnation of self-aggrandizement and mistreatment of those less fortunate in the name of Christianity? Check.

Mockery of the upper crust? Check. Again, at a time when it was revolutionary? Bonus points.

Lunatic pyromaniac in the attic? Check.

Two hundred page discussion of the intricacies of the skin of the sperm whale? No!

Great novel? Check!


One warning to book-listeners: I did try to listen to the audiotape of this several years ago and fell asleep multiple times. This week, my smart, voracious reader, online friend Sarah Miller revealed to me that she's struggling with the audiobook too. Maybe Jane Eyre is just one you have to read.

This week's Remedial Lit Summer Project book was To Be Announced. I am probably going to read Pale Fire, by Nabokov, which Time Magazine called one of the 100 best books of all time, and about which Time wrote:

A bizarre, three-legged race of a novel, Pale Fire is composed of a long, narrative poem followed by a much longer set of footnotes written by an obsessive, increasingly deranged annotator.

Or, I will read New Moon, the second in Stephenie Meyer's* Twilight series, which is about vampires having sex. Come on, people! How long does something have to top the New York Times bestseller list before I can call it a classic??? I read every page of Moby Dick! Don't I deserve a break? Vote in the comments...

Also, it's my dad's birthday and he just revealed he's a lurker in Jacqui's Room. Happy birthday, Dad!

*Would this be a good time to mention that Stephenie Meyer and I have the same agent, whom I love even though she doesn't hold little parties with me and her and Stephenie Meyer, or John Green for that matter?

13 comments:

Writerperson said...

Re: Nabokov, all I have to say is "Lolita, Lolita, Lolita." There's your classic, right there. You may be torturing yourself with Pale Fire, and come to think of it, can you imagine what the crazed annotator would have made of the Internet?

Jacqui said...

I agree, writerperson. Lolita is the classic. But I have read it and as lovely as it would be to read again, I'm supposed to be broadening my horizons, or at least my "I've read it" list. Can I count you as a vote for New Moon?

Hmm. I am picturing the glee of the crazed annotator at discovering wikipedia...

Writerperson said...

I don't know re: New Moon. I've been resisting the whole S. Meyers phenom for no good reason. I don't resist potato chips or chocolate chip cookies as self-righteously.
You have some books on your list I want to read, like Blood Meridien, but I don't know whether I can stand the gore. I loved the movie of No Country for Old Men, though, so maybe ...
Yeah, he'd be cackling with glee whilst correcting Wikipedia entries.
d

Diane T said...

All work and no play make Homer something something. I had to take a break after Moby Dick, so I read an old favorite scifi novel before tackling House of the Seven Gables. Although I'm really enjoying Hawthorne, I will probably again bounce back with another "nonclassic," just because I feel like it. I did a summer of Remedial Lit for myself a while ago, so I don't feel motivated to read more than 5 classics this summer.

Definitely think "Lolita" will be one of them, though.

J. Thorp said...

Man, I wish I could keep pace with y'all. I'm still digging on Moby Dick, though. Seriously. It may not make a list of my top books to read and read again, but I like it ...

Then again, my pappy is mule-man. That explains something, somehow ...

Jacqui said...

Ah, Jim Thorp, you are a better man than I (?) for reading the whale epic so carefully.

And Diane, and everybody, I read New Moon yesterday. Yummy brain candy. Will start Pale Fire this afternoon...

Kristi Valiant said...

My book was Pride and Prejudice this week. I was completely taken aback by the fact that I liked the two Pride and Prejudice movies better than the book! The movies stuck close enough to the book, but I felt drawn in more to the character of Elizabeth in the movies. Weird, huh? Opposite of how I usually feel about movies made from books. I've put a few more Austen books on my reading list.

I didn't do a drawing this week. Instead, I want to link to a wonderful painting of Pride and Prejudice by one of my new favorite illustrators, Anthony VanArdsdale: http://anthonyvanarsdale.blogspot.com/2008/04/pride-and-playground.html

Jacqui said...

Kristi, I am always interested in how you present your books! Which P & P should I watch?

Kristi Valiant said...

Jacqui, I'd suggest the 2005 movie of P&P starring Keira Knightly. Here's the trailer: http://www.apple.com/trailers/focus_features/pride_and_prejudice/trailer

There's an older version that I thought was really good to.

Diane T said...

Most of the purists I know are appalled at the Keira Knightley P&P. Something about pigs in the garden, the proposal scene in the rain, and Lady Catherine visiting at night. For them, nothing approaches the BBC miniseries adaptation because of a) Colin Firth (for him they are willing to overlook the fact that there was no scene in the book where he dives into a lake with his shirt on and then emerges wah sshaha swha [drool drool drool]); b) it's longer and more faithful to the book; and c) did I mention Colin Firth?

I must admit, the miniseries is a more faithful adaptation, especially in communicating Elizabeth's wit. But I also like the Keira Knightley P&P, despite its impurities, both as a romance and for the way Knightley brings Elizabeth to life as a very young woman questioning what she really wants in life.

Of course, I have both on DVD should you want to borrow them. Or "Sense and Sensibility." Or "Emma." Or "Persuasion," if you want the purest Austen experience.

Jacqui said...

I am not Colin Firth fan myself. Hmm. Interesting what purists are willing to overlook in the name of bare-chestedness.

Diane, I would love to borrow the K.K. version, even though I would also love to have young Keira live with me for a month so I could feed her.

Anonymous said...

pale fire, pale fire! in your honor ( and bc Neal always brings it up as "the best") it is the one book that I am trying to read this summer in between calls with real estate lawyers and calls with the controlled substance regulation officials for the state of MA. - wow, my life just sounded sort of exciting. so please, pale fire :)

stacy

Jacqui said...

Stacy, your life does sound exciting! Hopefully real estate and controlled substances are two separate issues :)

Have started Pale Fire and it is wonderful so far!