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Wide Sargasso Sea: A novel (Norton Paperback…

Wide Sargasso Sea: A novel (Norton Paperback Fiction) (original 1966; edition 2010)

by Jean Rhys

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5,333156823 (3.58)564
Title:Wide Sargasso Sea: A novel (Norton Paperback Fiction)
Authors:Jean Rhys
Info:W. W. Norton & Co. (2010), Edition: Re-issue, Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966)

  1. 251
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (aces)
  2. 61
    The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination by Sandra M. Gilbert (Imprinted)
  3. 30
    March by Geraldine Brooks (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Classic stories (Little Women/Jane Eyre) re-imagined through the experiences of characters who are important to the plot while being almost entirely unseen.
  4. 21
    Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica by Zora Neale Hurston (cammykitty)
  5. 10
    Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector (Petroglyph)
    Petroglyph: Even though Near to the wild heart was written some twenty years prior to Wide Sargasso Sea, these two share numerous features: the interior monologue, the lyricism, the heroine mostly living inside her skull, the central character who doesn’t see a way out of their mental frustrations with life. Lispector kicked all that up a few notches, but to me these two belong close together on my mental shelves.… (more)
  6. 10
    After Mrs Rochester by Polly Teale (srdr)
    srdr: This brilliant drama illuminates the themes that run through Jean Rhys's life, Wide Sargasso Sea, and Jane Eyre.
  7. 00
    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (Philosofiction)
  8. 00
    Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline (Cecilturtle)
    Cecilturtle: colonialisme
  9. 01
    Blessed Is the Fruit: A Novel by Robert Antoni (IsolaBlue)
  10. 01
    Bug-Jargal by Victor Hugo (Medicinos)
    Medicinos: Bug-Jargal décrit une société antillaise basée sur l'exploitation des esclaves qui éclate lorsque ces derniers se rebellent. La prisonnière des Sargasses décrit une société analogue après la rébellion.
  11. 02
    Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry (GlebtheDancer)
    GlebtheDancer: Dark, foreboding, claustrophobic feel. Self-destruction of central character. Similar prose styles.
  12. 03
    Signed, Mata Hari: A Novel by Yannick Murphy (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Lush depiction of tropics with natives playing important roles, women "bought" and tragic endings

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» See also 564 mentions

English (150)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (155)
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
I enjoyed this novel very much as it gave the reader an in-depth view of the Caribbean culture in the late 1800's while telling us more about Bertha, the woman hidden in the attic from the classic novel, Jane Eyre. It is a very passionate story with a very tragic ending. The prose is beautiful and the themes are racism, sexism, colonialism and human nature. I recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in Charlotte Bronte and/or Caribbean literature. ( )
  eadieburke | Jan 19, 2016 |
While ostensibly telling the backstory for Mr. Rochester and his first wife, the madwoman in the attic, this novel is about as far from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre as you can get. The latter is definitely a product of it's era, fitting the mold of a 19th century novel to a tee. Jean Rhys history of Antoinette, or Bertha, Mason, is modern and the language, while evocative, almost stark in comparison to the flowery prose used by Bronte. And yet it works perfectly. Had Rhys tried to mimic the inimical Jane Eyre she would have surely failed. Instead she created her own voice, her own characters, whilst at the same time telling us the story that Charlotte Bronte left out.

Born and raised in the West Indies, Jamaica to be exact, Antoinette Mason, nee Cosway, spent the years following her father's death and the abolition of slavery in an environment somewhere between heaven and hell. Her father had been a wealthy plantation owner and slave master. He wasn't one of the "good" ones either; fathering more bastards on his slaves than he could keep track. When he died and the slaves were granted freedom under the new laws, his wife and children were left abandoned and poverty stricken in their old plantation home, Coulibri, with only a couple of loyal slaves turned servants for company. Disliked equally by the whites in town and the native islanders it was a time of nightmares for both mother and daughter. The young widow manages to find a new husband though and they attempt to start over.

Unfortunately for all involved, this new beginning is not to be. The years of fear and caring for an invalid son have taken their toll on Annette Mason. The burning of her home is the final straw that breaks her back, and ultimately her mind. Antoinette spends the next few years being schooled in a convent in Spanish Town before her step-father also dies, leaving for her half his fortune, to be split with his son. That same son engineers a marriage to a second son of a wealthy English landowner, Rochester. Antoinette longs for happiness in this new marriage, but fate and others conspire against her, eventually leading to her tortured life, locked in the attic of Rochester's country estate.

Born in the West Indies herself and spending her early years there, Rhys does a masterful job at showing us both the beauty and the darkness inherent to the islands. The ugliness, fear and distrust rampant following the abolition of slavery still runs rampant through many of the islands today, making this aspect of the book relevant even today.

Rhys also manages to bring the characters to life, giving us a different view on characters both well-loved and deeply misunderstood. Rochester doesn't come across at all as the dashing figure he was painted by Bronte. Instead he is selfish, fearful, and vengeful. Antoinette, whom he takes to calling Bertha, is nothing at all like the madwoman to whom we were originally introduced. Her other characters, especially Christophine, are just as full of substance and life.

The perfect companion read to the original, Jane Eyre, my only complaint is that I would have preferred to see the last third of the novel, while Antoinette/Bertha is locked in the attic more fleshed out. Rhys only really delves into two of the four major incidents in which her protagonist was featured in Bronte's classic, the meeting with her brother and the burning of Thornfield Hall. For this reason alone, I do not include Wide Sargasso Sea on my shelf of favorite novels. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
Rhys takes one of the minor (but highly important) characters from literature and attempts to give her a voice; Bertha is Rochester’s mad wife, kept in the attic for most of Bronte’s Jane Eyre. This is the story of her childhood on her family’s Caribbean plantation, and the early months of her marriage to the Englishman, Rochester.

I wanted to like this. I had heard much about the novel over the years and more than one friend whose opinion I trust raved about it. But it just didn’t do much for me.

First of all, Rhys writes in first person. I have no problem with that voice and have read many a book written in first person with no problem. However, Rhys switches narrators with no warning (other than announcing Part Two); Antoinette begins the narration, then the first person narrator is the Englishman, and significant events have already taken place without any explanation. Oh, but that will come later as he recalls events. Then Part Three switches back to Antoinette/Bertha.

Oh, and that’s another thing … In the classic novel, Rochester’s wife is Bertha Mason, but here she is Antoinette Cosway, though the Englishman always calls her Bertha. Huh? And, by the way, the Englishman is never named, though the final part finally clearly makes reference to events and characters in Jane Eyre.

I could forgive much of this if I had gotten what I thought I was going to get – some insight into the young woman’s background and what may have led to her madness. But I didn’t get that.

If this review is disjointed and lacks narrative flow, well that’s how I felt about the book. I never really connected with the story, evidenced by needing five days to read a 190-page book. I kept reading only because it's my F2F book club selection for this month.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
Now I know where to find the Sargasso Sea :-)
A very strange but intriguing book.
Read Jane Eyre long time ago and to realise that Antoinette could be the first Mrs. Rochester... Sheds a new light on that part of the book.

It is strange because of the language used, the way of telking the story and the fact that this acts as a kibd of prequel to Jane Eyre.
For me (if considered that way) it put Mr. Rochester in a different light.

Poor Antoinette. Or not? Is she very cunning? Or indeed mad, inherited from her mother and reinforced by all that has happened? ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Nov 10, 2015 |
Famously a prequel to Jane Eyre, this book can be read with great pleasure entirely on its own terms. Exploring the effects of Caribbean colonial life on one family through the life of Antoinette, a slightly unhinged young girl who grows up, escapes her through what turns out to be a highly unsuitable marriage, and ends in madness. The multiple layers of duplicity and betrayal among all of the characters as they act almost entirely in their own self interest, creates a texture as complicated as the political and social webs they find themselves involved in. Rhys's prose has a riches and vividness that is more visual than almost any other writer I can think of, as bright and intensely colored as the islands she writes about. Strangely, though, the historical contexts plays for almost nothing; the sense of place is astonishingly present, the sense of time almost totally absent. ( )
  sjnorquist | Nov 7, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jean Rhysprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ashworth, AndreaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorsman-Vos, W.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyndham, FrancisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.
'If you are buried under a flamboyant tree,' I said, 'your soul is lifted up when it flowers. Everyone wants that.'
The saints we hear about were all very beautiful and wealthy. All were loved by rich and handsome young men.
Reality might disconcert her, bewilder her, hurt her, but it would not be reality. It would be only a mistake, a misfortune, a wrong path taken, her fixed ideas would never change.
'So between you I often wonder who I am and where is my country and where do I belong and why was I ever born at all.'
'You can pretend for a long time, but one day it all falls away and you are alone.'
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393308804, Paperback)

In 1966 Jean Rhys reemerged after a long silence with a novel called Wide Sargasso Sea. Rhys had enjoyed minor literary success in the 1920s and '30s with a series of evocative novels featuring women protagonists adrift in Europe, verging on poverty, hoping to be saved by men. By the '40s, however, her work was out of fashion, too sad for a world at war. And Rhys herself was often too sad for the world--she was suicidal, alcoholic, troubled by a vast loneliness. She was also a great writer, despite her powerful self-destructive impulses.

Wide Sargasso Sea is the story of Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress who grew up in the West Indies on a decaying plantation. When she comes of age she is married off to an Englishman, and he takes her away from the only place she has known--a house with a garden where "the paths were overgrown and a smell of dead flowers mixed with the fresh living smell. Underneath the tree ferns, tall as forest tree ferns, the light was green. Orchids flourished out of reach or for some reason not to be touched."

The novel is Rhys's answer to Jane Eyre. Charlotte Brontë's book had long haunted her, mostly for the story it did not tell--that of the madwoman in the attic, Rochester's terrible secret. Antoinette is Rhys's imagining of that locked-up woman, who in the end burns up the house and herself. Wide Sargasso Sea follows her voyage into the dark, both from her point of view and Rochester's. It is a voyage charged with soul-destroying lust. "I watched her die many times," observes the new husband. "In my way, not in hers. In sunlight, in shadow, by moonlight, by candlelight. In the long afternoons when the house was empty."

Rhys struggled over the book, enduring rejections and revisions, wrestling to bring this ruined woman out of the ashes. The slim volume was finally published when she was 70 years old. The critical adulation that followed, she said, "has come too late." Jean Rhys died a few years later, but with Wide Sargasso Sea she left behind a great legacy, a work of strange, scary loveliness. There has not been a book like it before or since. Believe me, I've been searching. --Emily White

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:45 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Beautiful and wealthy Antoinette Cosway's passionate love for an English aristocrat threatens to destroy her idyllic West Indian island existence and her very life.

(summary from another edition)

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W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182857, 0241951550

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