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

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After a few days, they hastily set off for Paris but ended up getting stranded in Brussels because they had almost no money. There is style too, which I would compare to Louis-Ferdinand Celine, a man who also wrote caustic, near-plotless monologues, rife with ellipses…although Rhys’ ellipses suggest broken trains of thought, confusion, sluggishness, rather than, as with Death on Credit, recklessness, tension, and breakneck speed.

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.I’m not convinced Henry Miller is a good role model for the thousands of middle-class boys who read him in late adolescence and are given this incredibly seductive picture of life as an endless bachelor party, with wall-to-wall pussy and intermissions of boozy philosophical chatter. Something that would mean a symbolic relief from the past, the present, the sadness and the loneliness. Good Morning, Midnight is the story of a young woman’s plunge into depression and loneliness in the years following World War I.

Since I was born, hasn't every word I've said, every thought I've thought, everything I've done, been tied up, weighted, chained?In the silent hollowness of her impersonal room, she promises herself that she’ll never allow anybody to look down on her. Saved, rescued, fished-up, half drowned, out of the deep, dark river, dry clothes, hair shampooed and set. Rhys credited this renewed interest in her for a second burst of literary output, and in 1966 published her final novel, Wide Sargasso Sea. I wish it had done well, and that she had continued in this vein (after the novel failed to do well, Rhys dropped out of the public eye for 20 years), because in its focus on sexuality and the mind, this should have stood as a work of modernism. Rhys's portrait of Sophia Jansen, an isolated, broke, drunk and ageing woman, is the heart of the novella; the plot and the lives of other characters pale in comparison to the swirling psychodrama of the lead character, rendering her melancholy that much more acute.

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