Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Bibliophile Recollects

All entries made under this tag will contain recollections about books I have read earlier this century and some others that I read in the previous century. A very nagging memory is the one of 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte. I read it when I was 12 and preparing for my school exams. I envy the fact that I had plenty of free time aside for reading. We didn't have an internet connection back then. Therefore any reading I did was based entirely on the next whimsical gut feeling and all interpretations (whether accurate or tangential) were made on the basis of uneducated guesses.

My mother, a bibliophile in her own right, bought a collection of three novels. Each novel written by a different Bronte sister. She praised 'Jane Eyre', claimed that 'Wuthering Heights' was meant for older readers and seemed pretty lukewarm about 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall' (I hope that's the correct title of Anne Bronte's only book). So I started to read 'Jane Eyre', with great voracity and an equal amount of stealth owing to certain 'academic' engagements.

I am surprised at how 'Jane Eyre' facilitated the bridging of the wide gap between Enid Blyton and classic literature. 'Jane Eyre' is the partial biopic of a woman who lived under some of the most unfortunate and extraordinary circumstances. It chronicles her life from the time she is a little girl with a cruel aunt to the time she marries a rather unlikely man. 'Jane Eyre' stands out more for its characters than for its literary quality. It fades in comparison to 'Wuthering Heights' despite its resounding success at the time of its publication. Charlotte Bronte gives vent to the secret need of almost every woman (even the most rational) in the form of a strong,silent, tortured yet vulnerable male protagonist. Such characters seem to be a hallmark of the 'Bronte' craft (if you've read 'Wuthering Heights' then the male lead of 'Jane Eyre' is a sophistacated kind of Heathcliff).

To me, 'Jane Eyre' marks the beginning of my foray into the exploration of classic literature. I have never looked back since then and have quite recently diversified to things more modern. The bibliophile is and will always be on the prowl. More to follow in the next entry.

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