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

by Jean Rhys

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4,883None943 (3.56)484
Member:AndrewThomas
Title:Wide Sargasso Sea: A novel (Norton Paperback Fiction)
Authors:Jean Rhys
Info:W. W. Norton & Co. (2010), Edition: Re-issue, Paperback, 192 pages
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Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966)

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English (127)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (132)
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys; (4*)

I think that Jean Rhys did an excellent job of creating an interesting storyline as well as boggling our minds with the beauty of Colubri. Her images were so strong that I didn't have to try to imagine the characters or settings. I could see, smell & feel them.

This brilliant novel primarily deals with contradictions and ambiguity. Written as a prelude to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Jean Rhys creates an identity for the otherwise shadowy figure of Bertha Mason, Rochester's mad creole wife, through Antoinette a beautiful lonely Creole woman. Wide Sargasso Sea deals with contradictions and not just with feminist "rag issues" as other reviewers suggest, rather tending to deal with gender reversal. Christophine, the freed black slave from another Caribbean Island, is a strong female character who displays masculine traits standing up to the bullying unnamed Englishman (Rochester) who tries to use oppressive colonialist tactics to control the inhabitants of an exotic Island which cannot be controlled. Both are wild and unruly compared to his staid English persona and as such, something which he cannot relate to. Antoinette is the weak female figure who is finally destroyed by the Enlgishman, driven to madness through a combination of his desire for her and his distaste and hate for everything that she represents. An intriguing tale full of ambiguity Wide Sargasso Sea is a sad tale of dispossession and dislocation.

But please do not attempt to compare The Wide Sargasso Sea to Jane Eyre. To do that is to do yourself & Jean Rhys a great disservice. ( )
1 vote rainpebble | Mar 25, 2014 |
The Wide Sargasso Sea is like The Yellow Wallpaper but with fire. I'll never think of Mr. Rochester the same way again. Just a totally creepy book. ( )
1 vote Citizenjoyce | Mar 16, 2014 |
1960s prequel to "Jane Eyre" tells the story of the first Mrs. Rochester.

Very believable as a story of how Mrs. Rochester came to be as she was, but curiously uninvolving. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Mar 10, 2014 |
I am not sure how to rate this book. I know I didn't love it, but I am not sure that I understand exactly what went on in the novel. I'm not sure that I'm supposed to understand completely. The writing is strange, and I think I liked it, but I am not sure. I finished it, though for such a short novel it seemed to take forever.
I've been on a [b:Jane Eyre|10210|Jane Eyre|Charlotte Brontë|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1327867269s/10210.jpg|2977639]kick lately so this fit in, but I can't decide if I'm glad I read it or not. So much about this book is ambiguous! It would be interesting to read this without ever having read [b:Jane Eyre|10210|Jane Eyre|Charlotte Brontë|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1327867269s/10210.jpg|2977639]. I'm sure there are all kinds of interesting discussions about this book. I think I need some time to adjust to what I've read. For now this will be one of the few books that I've read recently that I won't rate. It's just too confusing.
  abookishcorner | Mar 4, 2014 |
4.5/5And if the razor grass cut my legs I would think 'It's better than people.' Black ants or red ones, tall nests swarming with white ants, rain that soaked me to the skin - once I saw a snake. All better than people.
Better. Better, better than people.
Imagine you are owned. Not from day one, not full physically either, but the brief taste of the former and the dire potential of the latter is enough to make you scream. For scream is not only what you can do but what you are expected to do, you, the fair, the frail, the coquette so volatile and weak. Born into beauty and likewise condemned, for where we find beauty we also find fear, and a pretty face only goes so far.

Imagine you are defective. Think upon the defectiveness that was your bread and butter, when the normal ones closed ranks and secreted away the lies and treachery and social functioning in the name of blood and bond. Ponder the long, slow death of mind and fate, when all the world's a foe and you must sell yourself before you find a friend. Measure how much time it takes for you to fidget in your silence and your isolation before recourse drives you to any and all distraction. Now reduce said available distraction to engorged nature, garroting humanity, and rum. See what you can find.Isn't it quick to say. And isn't it long to live.Imagine that there is hope, but not quite. Ponder the divisions of race, gender, and sanity, and the usual circumstances that accompany such bigotry, such ideology, such hate. The men are free, the women are free enough, and the mad ones are kept safe for their own good. Muse on the terms of legality, and how easily the webs spin into choke holds and damnation.No more slavery! She had to laugh! 'These new ones have Letter of the Law. Same thing. They got magistrate. They got fine. They got jail house and chain gang. They got tread machine to mash up people's feet. New ones worse than old ones - more cunning, that's allImagine lurid environment in rotting ripeness being the only confirmation that you are alive. Then sacrifice it for cardboard cutouts and denial of all sensory satisfaction.

Imagine a life lived in limbo, on the crest of looking up. Imagine the burning in a livelong text written before and happening after, measuring out truth as merest pinches of salt. Imagine lust and its double-standards of love and hell fire.How old was I when I learned to hide what I felt? A very small boy. Six, five, even earlier. It was necessary, I was told, and that view I have always accepted.

Names matter, like when he wouldn't call me Antoinette, and I saw Antoinette drifting out of the window...
Imagine what could have been, before your self was pinned and splayed and smothered deep within your life.

P.S. If Hemingway is the short shrift patter of BB guns, Rhys is the knifework honed to an exquisite flush. ( )
1 vote Korrick | Feb 26, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jean Rhysprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dorsman-Vos, W.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.
Quotations
'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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:52 -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

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182857, 0241951550

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