Jean Rhys – Women Writers: Voices in Transition (3/4)

like most people it was through the novel Wide Sargasso Sea when I first came across the work of Jean Ruiz and it was the first novel that she published for 27 years she had really fallen out of the public view so this novel made her almost an overnight sensation at a very late age but one of the things that really wide Sargasso Sea did for me was to make me want to go back to look at the earlier novels which I think speak more to me and more to my particular concerns with particular kinds of outside in us the passion for the underdog think that's a theme that runs throughout reese's work the kind of people that Reese writes about were not the kind of people that were deemed to be the stuff of literary fiction female protagonists on the margins of society who are displaced and dispossessed characters at emotional and psychological extremes they're often thought of as very autobiographical text and she does use events from her own life born to wells father and a white crayon mother in Dominica she was at Center School in Cambridge at the age of 17 she lived in England for a long time but hated England she drifted from job to job and from place to place she was a chorus girl she was an artist model so in all those kinds of ways she was an outsider and all those kinds of experiences feed into the novels as well but the stories are told with a very scrupulous meticulous style I think one of the great things about Reece is that she maintained an order and a structure and a shape what she inherited from other writers I think is the same kind of modernist techniques that one might see in Wolfe you might see in Mansfield her style is elliptical fragmented discontinuous very poetic he uses a lot of repetition but also of course her most famous novel inherits its raw material from Charlotte brontë's Jane Eyre the piece I went to read is from good morning midnight the character of Sasha is constantly on the move from rented room to rented room it also shows baristas use of modernist techniques the use of repetition the cycle of the characters experiences always ends back down at the bottom a room a night room a beautiful room a beautiful room with baths a very beautiful room with that a bedroom and sitting room with bath up to the dizzy heights of the suite two bedrooms sitting-room bath and vestibule the small bedroom is in case you don't feel like me or in case you meet somebody you like better and come in late a beautiful room with bath a room with bath a nice room a rule I think she's now still seen as an important writer from a feminist perspective from a post-colonial perspective I think that the work can be read in the wider sense as well in relating to anyone who is alienated from excluded from mainstream society anyone who was in that position can get something from reading a Jean Rhys novel and I think that's what appeals to me about them if I had to sum up her achievements in five words it would be this phrase a voice for the voiceless you you get more from the Open University check out the links on screen now

4 thoughts on “Jean Rhys – Women Writers: Voices in Transition (3/4)

  1. Amazing how someone who couldn’t poach an egg for herself could also hold an entire book in her head and write with such steel.

  2. I am so glad Jean Rhys is never forgotten, I love her since the seventies and her first novels are my favorites too. It's strange to include her into the feminists because she really hated women and wrote it many times, but she was such an independent mind that it could be a model for women. Thank you!

  3. Thank you for this thoughtfullness, my thoughts echo yours, but I would add one word – a voice for the voiceless "women" outsiders.

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