Edna Pontellier is a 29-year-old mother of two in late nineteenth century Louisiana. As befits a woman in her station, she has maids to clean, cooks to prepare her food, and a nanny to care for her young ones. As Kate Chopin’s novella The Awakening (published 1889) begins, she is spending her summer vacation at
Heart of Darkness (1902) by Joseph Conrad is considered by many to be one of the best novels written in the English language, a fact made all the more remarkable to me by the fact that Joseph Conrad wrote in not his first or second language but his third language, a language he learned after
Quicksand, Nella Larsen’s debut novel (published 1928) was not nearly as satisfying to me as her second one, Passing (published 1929), which I found a complex but intriguing look at race and repressed sexuality for a light-skinned “coloured” woman in New York during the Harlem Renaissance (thoughts here). Despite my frustrations with Quicksand, it is
Summer by Edith Wharton (published 1917) is a short novella about a young woman searching for her place. In some places, it’s been cited as Wharton’s most “erotic” work1. Charity Royall does come to her own sexual awakening over the course of a summer, but Wharton writes about Charity’s choices without too much sexual reference.
This post may contain thematic spoilers of My Lady Ludlow. Lady Ludlow is the representation of the old aristocracy in England. She is a conservative who does not want to allow the lower classes to gain an education or to gain “rights” in the post-Revolutionary years. Beyond those that are her servants, she essentially does
When I read One Hundred Years of Solitude (by Gabriel García Márquez, published 1967) half a decade ago, I didn’t understand it, but I loved every bit of it. As I struggled for months through the saga (part of which I read in the original Spanish, part in translation by Gregory Rabassa), I found myself
Last year, I read The Stranger by Albert Camus (L’Étranger, published 1942, translated from French by Matthew Ward), and the book struck me as odd and a bit disturbing given the themes. Overwhelmingly, the story seemed to say that life is meaningless. I read it again this summer for my book club, and I think
As I helped compile the listing of Imperial Russian Literature for the Classics Circuit a few months ago (found here), I found my TBR list growing exponentially: there are so many authors I want to read that I just don’t know when I’ll get to them all. Through my searches at the library and at
I was a bit disappointed by Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome. I’m glad I read it: it gave me a new perspective on Wharton, because it was a different setting, cast of characters, and theme from those I’ve read before. It was wonderfully written, with Wharton’s elaborate and realistic descriptions of the setting and thought processes.
Although Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a slim book (124 pages), the issues raised are relevant today. I wouldn’t say Gilman’s writing is stunning or beautiful. The plot is not engaging or page-turning. It is predictable and overly “convenient.” The characters are stereotypes on steroids. But rather than expecting any of those other things,
I had previously seen the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet, so I thought I’d revisit it on CD during my opera phase in November. When I listened to the commentary CD for it (produced by the Chicago Lyric Opera), I discovered that the story was originally a novella by Prosper Merimee, so I downloaded the
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