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Paperback Wide Sargasso Sea (Norton Critical Editions) Book

ISBN: 0393960129

ISBN13: 9780393960129

Wide Sargasso Sea (Norton Critical Editions)

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

Written over the course of twenty-one years and published in 1966, Wide Sargasso Sea, based on Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, takes place in Jamaica and Dominica in 1839–45. Textual notes illuminate the novel’s historical background, regional references, and the non-translated Creole and French phrases necessary to fully understand this powerful story. Backgrounds includes a wealth of material on the novel’s long evolution, it connections to Jane Eyre,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Jean Rhys created this masterpiece late in life...

I loved the biogrpahy of Jean Rhys which gave me motivation to re-read all her books. None held a candle in my opinion to her last novel, this masterpiece. It pulls you into the sensual Caribbean, it gives so much in the way of the relationship that began in Charlotte Bronte's "JANE EYRE"... You don't have to know the Bronte story to totally enjoy the atmopherics here. There is love and hate, black and white, lush descriptions and even when you aren't sure who is talking, this novel is a complete gem, rare and quite a miracle given Jean Rhys' life, how she wrote this toward the end of it, how she wrote like an angel. Highly recommend.

Very happy with purchase and service.

My son needed this book for a college class. We had a hard time finding it. We were very pleased with the book and the amount of time it took to get it. Now I am reading it for fun.

Masterful work is spellbinding

I came upon this book raw: I didn't know anything about it, didn't know of its fame, did not know that it has become canonical. To me, it was only a dusty book on the library shelf. But when I began reading the book, it was clear that I had stumbled upon something of great value. The "Wide Sargasso Sea" by Jean Rhys is well-deserving of its newfound stature. The book is beautiful and haunting from start to finish. It is dreamlike in its tone. The tale becomes nightmarish, though, as Rhys masterfully overlays the confused rationalism of Rochester, the jungle of Jamaica, the troubled youth of Antoinette, and the maddening backdrop of newly outlawed slavery. Rochester is a man of reason and masculinity: things are to be known, owned, measured, and governed. He can scarcely fathom a world which resists his ideas about rationality, and poses its own rejoinders. And what of this mad world he despises? It is the seething confusion of enslavement and empire: the black magic and savagery Rochester fears are products of his own elite brand of Englishness. The narrative, which changes between the minds of Rochester and Antoinette, is deeply fair to both. Contrary the remarks of other reviewers, Rochester is not a "pig" until he falls into his own kind of madness: Rhys is straightforward and even sympathetic with the Englishman's ethics and perspective. Each voice in fact humanizes: this is a book about paradigmatic collisions and the legacy of violence. Rhys has not taken a cheap shot at Eurocentric masculinist culture. This is no mere political commentary of cardboard dramatists: this is a work of literature, all the more haunting because the characters are so believable. Although originally unaware of the novel's recent accolades, I was bowled over by this remarkable work. "Wide Sargasso Sea" is a great work of art, not only for its beautiful language and compelling story, but for its penetration of repression and rationality. I agree with those who have placed this work on this lists of great novels. May it be discovered for generations to come.

Captivating and beautiful

This book was recommended to me in 1970, and I finally read it in 2000. Perhaps it was best to wait, since I'm not sure an eighteen-year-old could fully appreciate the novel's piercing beauty and emotional resonance. It's certainly one of the great historical novels, given its lush, unsettling evocation of the early 19th century in the West Indies, constrasting the physical splendor with the human squalor, but it's also one of the best "studies" of repressed sexuality I've ever read. It's a brief, but stunning tale (much more than just a pre-quel to "Jane Eyre) that manages to touch on everything from the consequences of slavery, to the crushing force of social conventions and even the effects of climate upon character. But all this begins to sound far too clinical--at bottom, this is a gorgeous read about a fatefully troubled young woman and the human constellation that destroyed her. Vastly better than the over-charged, over-hyped, emotionally-shallow novels that have been foisted upon us lately as works of genius, this novel is truly luminous and captivating. The only note of caution I must add is that this is a book for those who love good writing, not for those who require the emotions on the page to be as simple as those on a TV talk show.

Beautiful prose, tragic story

Jean Rhys may be one of the greatest underrated writers of the century. Wide Sargasso Sea is her masterpiece. In a short 140 pages, Rhys creates a multi-layered story that deserves a few re-readings in order to fully appreciate it's scope.It's not "anti"-Jane Eyre, it is an exploration of that theme Bronte created but never examined- the madwoman in the attic. Rochester is not "evil"- he is a confused, weak man who blindly follows the values of his society (money, emotional repression), and is in fact portrayed to be a victim of them. That is what makes this story a tragedy; the oppressors are not hellions, they are simply ignorant and arrogant.There are so many themes in this book it is impossible to touch upon them all; men & women, slaves & slave-owners, rich & poor, industrial & rural, the known & the unknown, the conqueror & the colony.The first part is narrated by Antoinette Cosway, her memories of growing up in post-Emancipation Jamaica. It is written as though we have direct access to her thoughts, or she telling us her memories verbaly. The prose is rythmic, not static. The second section is mostly narrated by Rochester, his voice is a little more restrained, he is prissy and frustrated and confused as he describes their marriage and life in the Islands. Sometimes Anointette (whom Rochester has re-named Bertha) breaks his narrative and we are shown her own growing frustration and desperation. The last section brings the story to England- a few paragraphs are given to Grace Poole, then it is Antointette's now "mad" voice as she is locked in the attic.Reading Jane Eyre is obviously good preparation for this book, but if one knows the basic plot (say, have seen a movie version) that is good enough to appreciated WSS. Afterall, it is really the plot points and characters, as well as some imagery, that this "prequeal" picks up; it's themes stand on their own, as does Rhys's magnificant prose.
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