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Tony Grist

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Enter Mr Rochester [Feb. 27th, 2013|10:33 am]
Tony Grist
The first thing he does is fall off his horse. It's a Don Quixote moment. In the movie- as I remember- it's the apparition of Jane in the darkening lane that makes the horse shy and rear. Ooh gothick!. In the book the horse trots past Jane without incident, then slips on ice. Bump, He comes off. And swears a lot.

Bronte knows how to mix it up. A romantic setting, twilight, the rising moon, intimations of the supernatural. is the dog a gytrash? is the horse a gytrash? Then whoopsadaisy-  there's a man down. Is he badly hurt? Naah, it's just a sprain. .

Bronte breaks down even as she builds up. She adores the gothick. She thinks the gothick is silly. She blends gothickism and silliness into a smooth even paste.

Mr Rochester takes the book over. It used to be Jane's book; now it's his. He lounges and declaims- with his foot up on a stool because of the sprain.  He's very romantic, very Yorkshire- half Lord Byron, half Geoff Boycott. He balloons with magnificently wordy self-contempt- and cool Jane slips under his guard with a hat-pin. No wonder he falls in love.

One expects a Victorian novelist to be coy. I don't know why but it's a prejudice we've been encouraged in. Some of them are coy- Dickens for instance; he never saw a prossie he couldn't find a euphemism for. He hates the evangelicals but he's been infected with their cant. Bronte ain't that way; she grew up in a vicarage so she's worldly-wise; she calls a French mistress a French mistress and no beating about the bush. The story of Rochester's Parisian amour is as tough minded as anything in Balzac. She's frank, she's sensual, she's withering. She has none of the Victorian whimsy about children either. Adele is nothing special, not very bright. If it were now she'd be dressing up as a Disney princess. The child is mother to the woman- nice kid; don't expect too much of her; her Daddy certainly doesn't. If this was Dickens (again) Rochester would be in awful trouble for this attitude of his. Bronte and Jane are far too sensible for that.

Here comes the madwoman. Demonic laughter at the keyhole. So far so ghastly. Now Mr Rochester is on fire! O no! So Jane puts him out with a jug full of water.  Mr Darcy wet shirt moment! Mr Rochester forbids Jane to look. Does he have a boner? "Don't leave me Jane". "Sorry but I have to." Firm manly handshake. Oh, but this is wonderful stuff.....
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: steepholm
2013-02-27 10:57 am (UTC)
half Lord Byron, half Geoff Boycott

So true!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-27 11:05 am (UTC)
I love it how Yorkshire he is.
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[User Picture]From: glitzfrau
2013-02-27 11:09 am (UTC)
Never thought of that! Can you give examples?
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[User Picture]From: glitzfrau
2013-02-27 10:59 am (UTC)
I had NEVER thought of the boner possibility, but now I ALWAYS WILL.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-27 11:05 am (UTC)
He's woken up in the middle of the night to find the woman he desires standing in his bedroom- in her night clothes....
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From: cmcmck
2013-02-27 11:40 am (UTC)
I will assure you now that the reason I write poetry under the pen name Marianna Rochester has nothing to do with the mad wife, but everything to do with where I was born and raised.

That's my excuse, anyway and I'm sticking to it! :o)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-27 12:03 pm (UTC)
I believe you- absolutely...:)
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2013-02-27 12:59 pm (UTC)
Orson Wells was my favourite Rochester.

Far better book than Wuthering Heights in my opinion.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-27 01:45 pm (UTC)
I love Orson Welles.

I've read W H a couple of times. It never did anything for me. Maybe I should try again.

Have you read Villette? That's amazing too. I don't understand why it isn't better known.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2013-02-27 02:05 pm (UTC)
I am loving your reactions to Jane Eyre. I assume you saw the Orson Welles / Joan Fontaine version. Other more recent versions are good, too.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-27 08:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks.

Yes, that's the only film version I know.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2013-02-27 05:18 pm (UTC)
He balloons with magnificently wordy self-contempt- and cool Jane slips under his guard with a hat-pin. No wonder he falls in love.

As an adaptation, it didn't work for me entirely, but this was one of the currents the recent (2011, Mia Wasikowska/Michael Fassbender) film got right.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-27 08:07 pm (UTC)
The only film version I know is the one with Welles and Fontaine. I may also have seen TV versions but if so I've forgotten them.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2013-02-27 07:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, I need to re-read this as soon as I get home to my library. As it is, I'm taking a few days in the Summer House, and the book case here is somewhat more limited than the 40 shelf-meters in the apartment.

I read Jane Eyre for the first time when I was 12. I think I re-read it again at 24, so perhaps now at 34 it might be a good time to read it for the third time. With your notes in mind...

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-27 08:10 pm (UTC)
I'm flattered.

I'm glad I didn't read it as a kid. I think I'd have found it way above my head.
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