Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Two Girls

I’ve been hanging out with two quite remarkable young women these past few weeks. Both are powerful, independent, self-possessed, and quirky; and while one is the epitome of contemporary post-modern sensibility, and the other paradigmatic of a pre-industrial worldview, each, in her own way represents the apotheosis of a unique brand of femininity, one that challenges the pervading notion of how females in her era ought to behave.

I’m speaking, not to be coy, of the heroines of two very compelling works of fiction, first, Roberta aka “Clyde” Rohbeson, the protagonist of Lynda Barry’s illustrated novel, Cruddy, and second, Jane aka “Janet” Eyre, the eponymous narrator of Charlotte Bronte’s partly autobiographical masterpiece of 19th century social class and manners.

I finished Cruddy earlier this week, unable to restrain myself from turning its pages and the dark and darker story and story-within-a-story unfolded. I’ve been trying to savor Jane Eyre, drinking in Ms. Bronte’s lovely prose more slowly as befits its rich and layered textures.

I also made it a point to mostly read the former in the daytime, since its images and storyline were so brutal; the latter I’ve taken to bed with me, happy to be carried off to dreamland by the lovely and mostly pastoral quality of the text.

I had Cruddy recommended to me a couple months ago, but didn’t get around to checking it out until I was at Powell’s Books in Portland when we were down there for Filmed by Bike. My recalcitrance was based in part on a misconception that it was a “graphic novel,” a form of literature that I tend to (probably unfairly) denigrate.

I don’t know why I never picked up Jane Eyre until this point—probably some misguided notions about olds books written by women—but I’m glad I finally have; I’m as happy as Mr. Rochester himself to hear her voice; in fact, I’m going to stop talking myself right now and go read her some more.


Blogger Deb's Lunch said...

Mark loves these Jasper Fforde, Jane Eyre spinoff books, that came out before the current craze for everything Bronte or Austen + zombies. The Eyre Affair is the first one.

9:21 AM  

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