Wide Sargasso Sea is both a response and a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, set in the West Indies and imagining the lives of Bertha Mason and her family. Bidisha describes how Jean Rhys’ novel portrays the racial and sexual exploitation at the heart of western civilisation and literature… Discuss
Do you think it is the book that changed Jane Eyre forever? Join us on Friday 9 November and let’s have a lively chat about this and the themes that run through the book.
Rhys drew on aspects of her own life story in Wide Sargasso Sea. She was born in the West Indies in 1890 to a Creole mother of Scottish descent and a Welsh doctor father. Aged 16, she was sent to live with an aunt in England, and briefly pursued dreams of becoming an actress. When her accent nixed those, she took to the stage as a chorus girl instead. After that came love affairs, depression, alcoholism, and a menage a trois with her mentor, Ford Madox Ford, and his partner Stella. She was married three times, each disastrously, and had two children a son who died tragically young and a daughter who would spend time in a concentration camp during World War Two.
Rhys’ novels, including her first four novels Postures or Quartet (1928), After Leaving Mr Mackenzie (1930), Voyage in the Dark (1934), and Good Morning Midnight (1939) feature heroines whose lives echoed her own.
She seemed such a poor ghost, I thought I’d like to write her a life, Rhys explained of her feelings for the first Mrs Rochester.
“It’s a novel that evokes a vivid sense of place, immersing the reader in the intoxicating lushness of its Caribbean setting; it’s hard to put down and impossible to forget;”
Something else has become clear, too: the novel has forever changed the way we read Jane Eyre. As author Danielle McLaughlin recently put it, writing for The Paris Review: The novel didn’t just take inspiration from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, it illuminated and confronted it, challenged the narrative. Or, to quote novelist Michele Roberts, Rhys took one of the works of genius of the 19th Century and turned it inside-out to create one of the works of genius of the 20th Century.
Join us for what will be a lovely discussion with some wonderfully tasty food to boot!
15 for 2 courses
18 for 3 courses
Menu to be released shortly. Please check back.
Bookings are closed for this event.