I tried, I swear I did. J looked like it was going to become another H for me. I started a couple of books but they really weren’t to my taste. So I then cast about for recoemmendations. My excellent mother made the excellent suggestion that I read Jane Eyre.
Now, for some background on this, I have two degrees in English and the number of works of classic literature that I have NOT read is surprisingly legion. In mitigation I will point out that there is an awful lot of very fine, well-regarded literature out there in the English cannon. I don’t think I’ve been slacking. I’ve even started Jane Eyre several times, I’ve just never been about to get past that dreadful boarding school. I even tried watching the film a couple of years ago and fell at the same hurdle. It’s too dreary for words.
So, fabulous, here was a fine opportunity and a motive to fill this aching gap in my literary knowledge. I skipped the first few chapters to avoid the horrible school and settled down ready for things to become interesting.
Oh, how I wish they had! Why is this a classic? Whyever do people like it? Jane and Rochester are held up as icons of romance – they should be in therapy.
I struggled to see the appeal on any level. Was it the impenetrable prose that never feared to use twenty words where one would have sufficed? Perhaps it was Rochester’s breathtaking arrogance and superciliousness; his callous treatment of both the poor mad wife and Jane herself; or simply the fact that he spoke like no human being I’ve ever heard of. Maybe readers are seduced by Jane’s casual racism, or the fact that she has nothing good to say about anyone save herself. Or they are simply swept away by the romance of the most bizarre marriage proposal I’ve ever heard where the intended bride changes during the conversation.
I tried, I really did. But I abandoned it at 70% and consider I’ve done far more than my duty. I can’t wait to move on to my K book.
So, berate me, readers, and tell me (if you can) why Jane Eyre is a classic that deserves my respect!