Thursday, February 19, 2009

Selection in Relation to Sex

Current book: The French Lieutenant's Woman
Pages read: 1-11

Ok, I realize that's a pathetic amount to have read, but I cleaned our entire apartment, did laundry, and went to two grocery stores this morning, so step off. Also, even though I'm not very far into the book, I'm a little in love with John Fowles already. So far, we've been introduced to the man who seems to be our main character, Charles, and his fiance, Ernestina (Dreadful name. Nearly as bad as Eunice, really), and learned a bit of Charles's story. He's a paleontologist in 1860s England, a great adherent to Darwin, extremely rich, and seems like a nice enough fellow. He's either in his 30s now or close to it, so under lots of pressure to marry, which shouldn't be too hard, since he's quite the catch. We've also caught just a glimpse of the French lieutenant's woman, and already she's a tragic and solitary character. She's the sort of character you must always picture looking out to sea over a bare, windswept shore.

The prose is pretty much awesome. It's modern, since it was written in 1969, but it's referential to the Victorian style that was prevalent during the period it's discussing. Since it combines the two, however, there's a hint of wry sarcasm to the narrative voice that allows it to poke fun at itself and the Victorians but still maintain beautiful and even haunting description.

"There was no artifice there, no hypocrisy, no hysteria, no mask; and above all, no sign of madness. The madness was in the empty sea, the empty horizon, the lack of reason for such sorrow..." (6)

Like I said, I'm kind of in love. There's also some excellent dialogue, though Fowles could give me a little more attribution during some of the conversations. (If I have to go backward and count lines going, "Ok, that was him, that was her, that was him..." to orient myself to who's speaking, I get resentful and annoyed.) Anyway, I particularly liked the moment when Charles reported on a discussion he had with Ernestina's father on whether he, Charles, was a suitable husband. It seems, as you'll see, that Ernestina's father objects to the newfangled principles of Darwinism.

"He did say that he would not let his daughter marry a man who considered his grandfather to be an ape. But I think on reflection he will recall that in my case it was a titled ape." (4)



  1. I'm so glad you're enjoying it. And tomorrow you get to read in a clean house with a well-stocked frig and hang out with friends in the afternoon. Sounds heavenly.

  2. I'm excited to see how you'll like Atlas Shrugged.

    I have always steered clear of Sinclair Lewis but am now reading Main Street and love it!



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