In accordance with our meta agreement to have topic challenges, and since the list of suggestions has a single highest-voted entry at the start of this month (+8, -2), it is time to announce the next topic challenge! Throughout April 2019, our topic challenge, proposed by Christophe Strobbe, will be
the life and works of Jean Rhys.
What's a topic challenge?
See the meta posts linked above, and also this main meta post. In short, during April we should all try to read any short stories or novels by Jean Rhys and post thoughtful and interesting questions about them.
Participation is not obligatory in any sense, but those who participate will be forever remembered in the annals of our history. And of course it goes without saying that questions on other works are more than welcome during March too; they just won't count as part of this topic challenge.
How can I take part?
By getting hold of any of the writings of Jean Rhys and asking good questions about them. These questions should be tagged with jean-rhys, and other tags if applicable. We'll keep a list of all such questions in an answer to this meta post.
Below is Christophe's presentation of the author:
Jean Rhys (1890 – 1979) was a Caribbean-born English novelist and short story author. She was encouraged to start publishing her first stories by Ford Madox Ford. Her first novels (Quartet, After Leaving Mr Mackenzie, Voyage in the Dark, Good Morning, Midnight) and collections of stories didn't bring her much money or literary fame. It was only with the publication of Wide Sargasso Sea in 1966, which won the WH Smith Literary Award in 1967, that people (re)gained an interest in her earlier work.
Why read her works?
- Wide Sargasso Sea is famous for being a kind of prequel to Jane Eyre that puts the "madwoman in the attic"-story in a different light. It is also a great example of postcolonial literature.
- Good Morning, Midnight is listed on Goodread's list of Great Stream of Consciousness Novels.
- Her short stories have been published in many collections. For people who just want one volume, Penguin Classics recently published The Collected Short Stories (400 pages). This review characterizes Jean Rhys's stories as follows:
Anything Jean Rhys wrote is unmistakably hers -- not only in its consonance of theme and style -- both are changeless, timeless. And long before the theme became an issue, she wrote again and again of the disenfranchisement of young women -- being nowhere, going nowhere -- the derelict survivors of brief encounters and meaningless attachments, hanging on if only by the thread of a flayed silk chemise, whether it's a call girl or a midinette or a "Coloured" from her native Antilles ("I come so far I lose myself on the journey").
Professor Marina Warner recently included Jean Rhys in her six nominations for the 100 influential women of the last 100 years.
- Vote here for the next topic challenge, or propose your own!