If I am to catch up by next Wednesday, and a hurricane weekend's measure of sloth time says I can, I need to dispense with the idea of four regular posts on the novellas above. Not that they are not worth my time. If I had any time to spare. But I need to clear the decks in order to push ahead. So...
- The Lesson of the Master by Henry James - The vulgarity of marriage. A theme James just loves. And this time, marriage provides many material comforts but deprives the artist of the ability to attain perfection in his craft. The distractions. The obligations. The wife as architect and warden of the artist's cage, as administrator of his affairs, as disciplinarian that knows a prolific output means a healthy bank account. "They're the idol and the altar and the flame." To which one sacrifices a measure of one's talent. And is it worth it? What is the endgame? Very enjoyable. Although occasionally venomous. Which makes it all the more fun.
- Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf - Hauntingly beautiful. I flew through and did not stop to take a single note for fear of disrupting the flow of fragments unifying into a single picture. Which of course is impossible expectation but a clearer view of Jacob does emerge through the thoughts of women that knew him. But never his own voice. Which is intriguing. But this is a re-read at a more leisurely pace and more time to gather my thoughts. Not a novella. It demands one's undivided attention. It demands more than I have to give at the moment. See Emily's post instead. Brilliant.
- A Simple Heart by Gustave Flaubert - Rather heartbreaking. Felicite is a simple woman without education, means or family to speak of. Without love. Yet she pours herself into the care of others without reserve, and had only a stuffed parrot by life's end. A parrot that carries much potential meaning. What constitutes meaning in life? I felt like Flaubert grew a heart here a la the Grinch on Christmas morn.
- Lady Susan by Jane Austen - Epistolary treatment of the husband quest marked by naked ambition is an enjoyable read but a young Austen to be sure. Wicked. Funny. Regency girl power. In a way.