Thursday, March 24, 2011

Villette read-a-long Week 7 : Chapters 31-35

I've been writing so much in these blog posts; some of it musings and thoughtlings and various witterings; some of it factoids learnt from my fascination with all things Bronte. I've read other posts from other excellent bloggers involved in this wonderful read-a-long by dearest Wallace and I like to think we're all gaining that little bit more love for this wonderful book. Even if you've found you don't really like the book very much.

I would love to just say something like "the big question I have is this...", but I just cannot. Villette is simply too complex a novel, too deep in its emotions, too nuanced in its examination of relationships (across the whole spectrum of that word's meaning) to be boiled down into anything so mundane or simplistic. And on top of that I have to keep pinching myself into reminding myself that Villette was written over 150 years ago. And with THAT in mind, I just keep getting struck with how similar Charlotte's world is to our own, not how different it is. From Villette (and I'm sure many of you will agree here), schoolgirls are very much the same creatures nowadays, as is much of human nature; whether it be Madame Beck's nosiness or Graham's pathetic blindness to Ginevra Fanshawe's spiteful side. Of course there is some Victorian drawing room etiquette to discard - although Charlotte's stories always have class structure at their heart, they're never as heavily bogged down in it or as reliant on it for their plot mechanics as say Jane Austen, whom I find very hard-going. But I digress...

In this week's reading, the chapters have very much focused on M. Paul and Lucy's budding - let's call it - friendship. She's had an idyllic little interlude in the country where Paul's feelings are becoming more open; and she's had a gothic tinged journey into the heart of Paul's private world, allowing us to better understand this strange little man - but also allowing us to better understand Lucy's growing feelings for him. Other characters have been briefly faded down in the mix; Lucy is now in M. Paul's world and not her own. When you get those flutterings of love everything else gets tuned out - at least in my experience - and perhaps Charlotte is helping us to feel this; creating a vacuum where only M. Paul's and Lucy's heartbeats are to be heard.


Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

As always Charlie, great post! You are the third blogger who mentions Austen in this week's post :)

You're right about the complexity and the many many topics that Charlotte weaves in. This week's chapter brought on an especially large number of questions, actually.

I'm afraid I can't warm up to M. Paul and it might be too late in the day for me to change my mind. But I'm more and more convinced that M. Paul is very close to what M. Heger Would be like.

Wallace said...

Yes... apparently several of us had Jane on the brain this week. Me included.

I love how you call M. Paul a "strange little man." I am beginning to feel that same way, while at the same time feeling sorry for him. What a waste of the years since his love died. I hope he changes his ways -- and soon!