Good Morning, Midnight: Jean Rhys (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Good Morning, Midnight: Jean Rhys (Penguin Modern Classics)

Good Morning, Midnight: Jean Rhys (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Although early critics noted that Good Morning, Midnight was well written, they found its depressing storyline ultimately repellent.

Originally published in 1939 and with a new introduction, Good Morning, Midnight portrays Sophia Jansen, a young single woman who, upon arriving in France to flee personal tragedy, seeks to emancipate herself and exploit her sexuality. My life, which seems simple and monotonous, is really a complicated affair of cafés where they like me and cafés where they don't, streets that are friendly, streets that aren't, rooms where I might be happy, rooms where I never shall be, looking glasses I look nice in, looking glasses I don't, dresses that will be lucky, dresses that won't, and so on.The space between my eyes became a spreading bruise: first a little yellow, then dark lime, then bright blue, and finally deepest black. It was a buddy read with Elyse and sparked a great dialogue about our relationships with men and mirrors. In Paris, Sasha passes the time going to cafés, drinking, taking sleep medication, and lounging in her room.

I assume that it can only get better from here, but I do plan to read as much of Jean Rhys's work as possible. Sasha, the protagonist of Good Morning, Midnight, incarnates the pathos of all forsaken lovers in the bleak narrative of the intimate experience of loss. When he mistreats her, her revenge is to withdraw her sympathy from him (her witnessing, in Tomasulo's framing) since she can no longer identify with him. My feeling is you could argue all of these points depending on your analytic sensibilities and also you view of women and, obviously, feminism in particular.

A great choice for a book group and an important one to mark out for older teenage women you are close to (daughters, nieces etc).

It's difficult not to see Sasha as a mere self-portrait, but would be unfair to see Good Morning Midnight just as a disguised memoir, because it isn't.Single, middle aged, fading forlorn looks, depressed alcoholic with a rich fur coat and worn out shoes. She contemplates suicide, not once, more than once, perhaps even with some regularity when things are going especially badly. A middle-aged, alcoholic Englishwoman adrift in a 1930s Paris of shabby hotel rooms, seedy bars, drunken encounters and sad reminiscence. I could see how her world-view might have the same warping effect on a certain type of girl as Miller’s does on a certain type of boy. However, I think that it was an incredibly brave text to release at the time (1939) for it painted a woman's sexuality in a very frank way, and didn't shy away from difficult subjects.

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  • EAN: 764486781913
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