Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tea & Fanfiction…

No, it’s not what you think lol. Back when I went to university I took a course called Postcolonial Fanfiction. The course explored the classics from the “others’” perspective through a series of books. Honestly, I hated Postcolonial Studies and I failed Postcolonial Literature…twice. The Postcolonial Fanfiction course made an impression, though, to some extend. My absolute favorite book from the course was Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea. The book tells the story of Antoinette Cosway, you might know her as Bertha Mason, the crazy wife of Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre.

Title: Wide Sargasso Sea

Author: Jean Rhys

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Date of Publication: November 17th, 1998

ISBN: 9780393960129


Jean Rhys' late, literary masterpiece "Wide Sargasso Sea" was inspired by Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and is set in the lush, beguiling landscape of Jamaica in the 1830s. Born into an oppressive, colonialist society, Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent sensuality and beauty. After their marriage the rumours begin, poisoning her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is driven towards madness.

I’ve always loved Jane Eyre; it has always amazed me how a single book could become the basis of an entire school within feminist studies. Of course, when you’re 13 years old (I read every classic I could get my hands on when I was 13) you don’t think of terms like ‘the madwoman in the attic’ or ‘plain Jane’. The only thing I’ve always felt was missing in Jane Eyre was the Bertha Mason’s story.

Antoinette/Bertha’s story, before she goes to England, is very sensual, and heartbreaking at the same time. Antoinette’s childhood was horrible; without money and scared the former slaves of their plantation her mother remarries, only to lose everything when the plantation is burned down and she loses her son in the fire. The loss drives Antoinette’s mother mad, Antoinette is sent off to a convent school, and her stepfather travels back to England.

The young Edward Rochester, being the second son, is forced to seek his own fortune. A marriage is arranged between Edward and Antoinette, now a young woman. At first everything is bliss, but slowly the reader sees how the young couple grows to hate each other and Antoinette is driven towards madness.

It’s been about 5 years since I’ve read Wide Sargasso Sea, but the impression is still there.

In 1993 and 2006 Wide Sargasso Sea was made into movies.

(1993) Starring Karina Lombard and Nathaniel Parker.

(2006) Starring Rebecca Hall and Rafe Spall



Ladytink_534 said...

I've never heard of Postcolonial Fanfiction or this before. Both sound interesting!

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