by Dodie Smith
I watched the movie for the first time with my roommate in the last few weeks of school. I enjoyed it more than I expected to (which is to say, it’s quite good) but I did miss all the little funny lines which they couldn’t put in without it being constant narration. Naturally, when I got home I found my copy of the book and started it. It’s just as lovely and tantalizing and downright frustrating as ever. I completely understand the literary value of the ending, but I suppose I like my old-fashioned desire for a satisfying resolution.
It strikes me once again how central London is to the English consciousness (major generalization alert). In Austen it’s simply called “town” and while here it’s called London, it does seem to have that same sense of a center which bounds the whole country. That sounds very literary theory. Derrida maybe? I don’t know–I’m forgetting it all after two years.
The depth of allusion is astonishing! Just look at the names. Cassandra, of course, but also Cassandra Austen. Héloïse and Abelard, who I only properly appreciated after my Medieval Intellectual History course this semester. Rose has that connotation of being very bound up with love–the symbol of love and also the object which is desired and won. Leda’s name is particularly interesting given that in the book she seems to be cast more in the role of the swan than of the ravished maiden. And of course there are all of the conversations about books–Rose and Cassandra arguing about Austen and Bronte, for instance.
I own the St. Martin’s Press version, which has some rather silly questions in the back. “What is the meaning of the book’s title?” for instance. I’m fairly sure that it’s supposed to be one of those things which you just understand, like Cassandra’s image of Midsummer’s Eve as a cathedral-like avenue. Ah well.
I love the little sketches at the beginning of each section. They’re so lovely and capture the surroundings without being overly specific.
* Reading notes? A possible new feature I’m trying. Less formal than an actual review and more specific. We’ll see if it lasts. Since it’s more me blathering on than anything else, don’t necessarily expect anything sensible.