Friday, May 20, 2011

Jane Eyre

I just finished listening to Jane Eyre on CD in the car (coming home at midnight after a run-thru).

I've loved the story, of course, ever since I first read it as a teenager... Jane Eyre is exactly the sort of novel a teenage girl can moon over properly and a good many grown women retain their affection for the book.  (Hence the reappearance of film versions every generation since film was invented.  The latest here.)  But though I've read it quite a few times, I'd never had it read to me before.

Hearing rather than reading the book made me realize how elaborate its language is.  Not unwieldy nor purple - quite - but ornate, rich, teetering on the border of over-the-top.  For instance, Jane doesn't just not understand the person she's talking to - no - she was, "sensible that the character of my interlocutor was beyond my penetration."  And house guests don't just open bedroom doors and stick their heads out to see what the fuss is: "door after door unclosed; one looked out and another looked out."  There's an elaboration and a leisure to the writing that carbon-dates it as from another time.  Interlocutor? That's just big vocabulary.  Unclosed?  That's kinda silly.

But the story seems to be proving itself timeless enough.

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