Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Tender is the Night was the third Fitzgerald I read and also the most deliciously complex. The story centers on Rosemary Hoyt and Dick and Nicole Diver. The first part of the novel is told influenced by Rosemary, a young actress infatuated with Dick and in awe of Nicole's glamour. Rosemary thinks Dick is the most charming and handsome man in the world, unaware that their affair and alcoholism will damage him chronically. On the other hand, Nicole seems like the perfect mysterious woman to Rosemary, but underneath her dazzling facade is a history of institutionalization. Mental illness is a major subject in the book as Dick is not only Nicole's husband, but also her doctor. The book interestingly mirrored the issues Fitzgerald was experiencing in his own life with his wife, Zelda, who was living in a mental institution while Fitzgerald lived in Hollywood with his gossip columnist lover.
As Dick falls down the rabbit hole of failure, Nicole finds her wings. Because of Nicole's growing strength, Dick's demise is especially powerful. The moment of defeat for Dick coincides with Nicole's eventual release from her mental illness and her dependence on Dick.
Overall, there were some deep themes including the difference between old Europe and new America, the striking presence of death, and the loss of youth and self that permeate throughout the novel.
Described as an almost masterpiece, Tender is the Night was an enjoyable read and a new side of Fitzgerald I had yet to witness.
"When you're older you'll know what people who love suffer. The agony. It's better to be cold and young than in love. It's happened to me before but never like this - so accidental - just when everything was going well."
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Oh wow. Wuthering Heights was something. Beautiful but morbid, unpolished but well written, ghostly but forceful; it was an experience. The first half which revolves around Cathy and Heathcliff's powerfully dark love story was undeniably more thrilling than the second half centered on the succeeding generation living in Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights; Although, the second half served as an interesting juxtaposition and I believe had more insightful character development.
For me, except for the scene where the two quotes are from (when Cathy admits to Nelly Dean her love for Heathcliff) the most compelling part of the story was the thought of Cathy's spirit haunting Heathcliff forever - torturing and comforting him simultaneously. This kind of idea is preternaturally transcendent for a girl of Emily Brontë's isolation and Yorkshire upbringing, so hats off to her for her originality. The connection that Cathy and Heathcliff have is fierce, a sort of primal infatuation - but it's also tender and full of deep and true love that is unique in the annals of 19th century literature. There's a sexual fire burning between them which pre-Victorians would frown upon, but Wuthering Heights has stood the test of time and is - yes I dare say it - more sensually riveting than the 50 Shades of Grey series. All three of them put together.
"Heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights ; where I woke sobbing for joy."
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Monday, July 15, 2013
"One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other."
Jane Austen's endurance in the literary sphere as one of the greatest authors of all time is remarkable considering her style of writing. There is no fancification, there is no overlysuperflowery language. She does not amusingly create her own words like masters such as Shakespeare and Joyce have done, or high-school-aged and aspiring writers attempt to do; she is simple. She is perfect in her subtle and pretty writing that gives birth to the complex themes and ideas present in her books. For this reason, she has been called "a prose Shakespeare," and completely deserves the title. Minute comedic and social observations in conjunction with development of characters, likable and detestable, create masterpieces.
I have most recently finished Emma, arguably Austen's finest work. Most likely because it is her greatest character novel. The wit and the sharp descriptions of character are amazing. Most intriguing is the central character, Emma, probably best described by Austen herself. When speaking of the novel's protagonist, Austen said, "I am going to take a heroine whom nobody but myself will much like."And yet, for once, Austen was wrong. Emma, although undeniably snobbish and painfully class-concious, is likable. She was indulged and spoiled as a child, leading to overconfidence and snottiness. A close to perfect situation in life led to a lack of empathy, and she additionally has an inclination to look down her nose at lower social classes. She doesn't sound overly pleasant, does she? Well, you'll have to read the book then because what Austen manages to do is ingenious. This character who every instinct of yours tells you to hate, endears herself to you and you find yourself rooting for her to find love and happiness even at the expensive of sweeter tempered characters, such as Harriet Smith. It's incredible, really. Because the book is more of an experience than just a nice read, I would rather not reveal the plot details to save you the pleasure of reading it if you have yet to peruse it, so I'll be signing off with a quote I felt incredibly insightful and most inspirational - truly gives you a new perspective on the world and how to live a deep and fulfilled life...
(But honestly I really loved this quote and it will be showing up on every invitation I send from now on.)
"One cannot have too large a party." - I mean, really, it's brilliant. Fantastic, Austen. Well done.