Skip to main content

Villette Is the Best, Week 3

Villette is damn astounding. People try to "write fiction" and end up giving us something fake and mechanized, and while it can occasionally be entertaining, it is not humanity written down on paper.

VILLETTE. You're such a weird mix of overly-fanciful prose and Charlotte Bronte's obvious angst spilling into her book. Everyone in her life had died except her father, and who knows about that relationship. She'd started out with four sisters and a brother and in 1853 she was alone. At 37 years old. Lucy Snowe just pours her damn self into this book and doesn't care if you like it or not. CB's struggles with depression and attempts to continue life after her family was gone are just there on the page. I mean, good LORD:


She may have gone upward, and come in sight of her eternal home, hoping for leave to rest now, and deeming that her painful union with matter was at last dissolved. While she so deemed, an angel may have warned her away from heaven's threshold, and, guiding her weeping down, have bound her, once more, all shuddering and unwilling, to that poor frame, cold and wasted, of whose companionship she was grown more than weary.

Who writes like that? A done-with-everything Charlotte Bronte, that's who. And when she runs into past friends and prays later that night that she won't ruin the friendship by trying to be too close to them and then sobs herself to sleep? WHAT. Think about Victorian female characters. This is something so much more honest and out there than SO MANY of them; I'm constantly staggered by this book.

Speaking of Lucy Snowe not caring if you like it, let's remember that this is in the book:

Herald, come quickly! Thousands lie round the pool, weeping and despairing, to see it, through slow years, stagnant. Long are the "times" of Heaven: the orbits of angel messengers seem wide to mortal vision; they may enring ages: the cycle of one departure and return may clasp unnumbered generations ; and dust, kindling to brief suffering life, and through pain, passing back to dust, may meanwhile perish out of memory again, and yet again. To how many maimed and mourning millions is the first and sole angel visitant, him easterns call Azrael!



That is insane. And I'm so glad she kept it in. No cookie cutter, Dickensian, carefully controlled situations in Villette! NO. Easterns call him Azrael, damnit.

CB also throws in just good observations on life. I mean, check this out:

There are people from whom we secretly shrink, whom we would personally avoid, though reason confesses that they are good people: there are others with faults of temper, &c., evident enough, beside whom we live content, as if the air about them did us good.

I mean...yeah! Yeah, CB! TOTES correct. You are doin' swell. Occasionally you overwrite and go off on these flights of Romantic fancy, but those're forgiven, because you wrote such a totally unlikable, real person who talks about angels enringing things.

I trust you all will comment on the actual events of these chapters. I'm just gonna sit over here and be happy about everything else. Next week is chapters 21-26


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Harry Potter 2013 Readalong Signup Post of Amazingness and Jollity

Okay, people. Here it is. Where you sign up to read the entire Harry Potter series (or to reminisce fondly), starting January 2013, assuming we all survive the Mayan apocalypse. I don't think I'm even going to get to Tina and Bette's reunion on The L Word until after Christmas, so here's hopin'.


You guys know how this works. Sign up if you want to. If you're new to the blog, know that we are mostly not going to take this seriously. And when we do take it seriously, it's going to be all Monty Python quotes when we disagree on something like the other person's opinion on Draco Malfoy. So be prepared for your parents being likened to hamsters.

If you want to write lengthy, heartfelt essays, that is SWELL. But this is maybe not the readalong for you. It's gonna be more posts with this sort of thing:


We're starting Sorceror's/Philosopher's Stone January 4th. Posts will be on Fridays. The first post will be some sort of hilarious/awesome que…

How to Build a Girl Introductory Post, which is full of wonderful things you probably want to read

Acclaimed (in England mostly) lady Caitlin Moran has a novel coming out. A NOVEL. Where before she has primarily stuck to essays. Curious as we obviously were about this, I and a group of bloggers are having a READALONG of said novel, probably rife with spoilers (maybe they don't really matter for this book, though, so you should totally still read my posts). This is all hosted/cared for/lovingly nursed to health by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads) because she has a lovely fancy job at an actual bookshop (Odyssey Books, where you can in fact pre-order this book and then feel delightful about yourself for helping an independent store). Emily and I have negotiated the wonders of Sri Lankan cuisine and wandered the Javits Center together. Would that I could drink with her more often than I have.


INTRODUCTION-wise (I might've tipped back a little something this evening, thus the constant asides), I am Alice. I enjoy the Pleistocene era of megafauna and drinking Shirley Templ…

Yes, Frances Willard was as gay as Oscar Wilde. But in a lady-way.

Yup. We're gonna do it. We're gonna talk about Frances Willard and gayness. Look, it's not a major part of her life, and it's definitely not the main thing she should be remembered for, but the fact that a line is being put out that she was totally straight is complete hogwash and it upsets me.




The thing is, I get when people say it's anachronistic to put the cultural concept of "gayness" onto a person from a century other than the 20th/21st. I get that. And usually agree with it. But Frances Willard is one of the gayest people in history. I have zero problem labeling her with that. The fact that she didn't have the language to describe what she was experiencing is upsetting, but she managed to have a seemingly full and satisfying life anyway, so I am happy for her.

And for people annoyed when gay people say that someone from the past was gay, here's the thing: When you're completely whitewashed from history, it is a matter of TOTAL DELIGHT wh…