Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jane Eyre: Book or Film?

I would like to say that as an advanced reader for my age, I challenge myself in the books that I read. However, I have found myself lacking in the challenging-book department.

I have been reading what I like to consider brain-mushing books full of nasty girls with lots of money, extensive wardrobes, perfect boyfriends and their preppy school peers at their fingertips. Not that I don't love reading them (they are to me as Mills & Boon are to a middle-aged woman) but sometimes I think I do need that informative literature to enrich the mind.

After discussing Jane Eyre with fellow blogger Maria, I have had the urge to pick up the book, as it seems an interesting story. Though, I have been what most refer to as a "wimp" for my whole life. That, combined with the challenge of trying to translate such old language such as "thou", the dark plot and unspoken feminist controversy behind the book, it might be a little... heavy. As I rarely take the easy way out of these kind of situations, I think I owe it to myself to shortcut my longing to engage in the story a bit.

As the star in one of the book/movie duos that changed my life, Alice in Wonderland actress Mia Wasikowska is, in my opinion, very talented. She plays Jane Eyre in the new movie (I have included the trailer) that I think I will go and see as a sort of alternative to the book. Or is it a must-read, book-lovers?



  1. Hmmm. Well, I believe it is a must read, simply because it is considered a classic. And if you can get into the language, it's a peek into the thinking and attitudes of the day. But if you can't read it without getting frustrated, put it aside and try in a few years.
    I definitely wouldn't see the movie instead of. Movies are very rarely the equal to the book.
    But there are some "must reads" and classics that I just don't like. One of them is Wuthering Heights. I liked Jane Eyre, just because it had somewhat of a happy ending. But it's not one of my top 10 books.

    And don't knock your mush brain books. Reading is reading. It broadens your perspective and helps you to develop your brain. Even when you are middle-aged. ;)

  2. I think it's a must read because it is beautiful. Don't be discouraged by the various perspectives through which this novel is viewed. Charlotte wasn't being a feminist. She was writing about a woman from a certain background, with certain principles, who falls in love with a man who is completely her opposite in every way. To me, the prose was easy reading. Quite frankly, I think most of the Victorian writers are quite like contemporary writers in terms of the use of language.

    However, if you're still nervous about reading the book I would suggest you watch the BBC (2006?) series with Toby Stevens. I haven't watched it myself, but my mom says it's the best one she has seen of all the Jane Eyre adaptations. Then again, she's rather biased where Toby Stevens is concerned.:D

    At the end of all this rambling, though, I would say, read the book. There's a reason it's such a well-loved classic.;)

  3. At the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, why don't you try Spark Notes or Cliff Notes? I found the Spark notes indispensable when reading Emma for the first time. Since then I have gone back and read it 'all by myself' a couple of times. We all need a helping hand from time to time.

  4. I do think reading the book will be rewarding. I didn't find any feminist agenda being pushed in my face so to speak. Its very subtle. The language isn't as tricky as Shakespeare or Marlowe, I think you get comfortable with it once you're a few pages in.

  5. That's a good idea, DeLynne. Especially because sometimes we don't know the customs back then. Some words change meaning, etc.

  6. Also, if you do decide to read it, this time read it just to enjoy it. Don't necessarily try to find meanings or agendas...

  7. I'm a big fan of movie AND book when it comes to classics. As much as I love Jane Austen and Shakespeare, I find I can enjoy the texts better if I see the play/film first. Many times with older works it's not so much the language that hangs me up as the characters. I keep getting stuck with who is related to whom and how they're all interconnected (especially if they have similar names or are sometimes referred to by a proper name and sometimes an informal one). By seeing the work before I read it I can usually get a firm grasp on who's who and knowing the general flow of the plot also keeps me from getting stuck in flowery speeches - if I know what someone is doing or going to do I can better sort out their motives/attitudes when the text gets too heavy.

    That said, I haven't seen the new version of Jane Eyre but it looks delightful! I tackled the book earlier this year and actually ended up liking it quite a lot - there were a few slow-ish parts - but again, for me, knowing how things were going to play out (I had seen a play of it in college) made it easier to press through the sluggish portions.

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the movie (and hopefully the book too!) Good luck!

  8. Thank you for all the help, lovely readers! I am going to try and get some sort of Cliff Note helper, so it will make the reading easier. I think I'll see the movie and read the book... X

  9. I bet you won't have much trouble with the book-- you have no trouble with the old fashioned language in Alice-- plus, you are brilliant!!!!

    I second what Leslie said: Don't knock the brain-mushing books-- and never be embarrassed of them like some people are-- it is much more interesting to be an eclectic reader. All books have value even if it is just pure entertainment and escape.

    Glad you decided to do both! I've posted before about being a big fan of films from classic books-- and I don't care if I've read the book first. If I have loved the book then I'm compelled to watch all film adaptations. If I haven't read the book, then the film usually makes me have to read it-- to get the real story as the author wrote it.

    I've been wanting to reread Jane since last Aug. Might be good for a readalong-- What do you think?

  10. I'm also thinking that once you give it a couple of days, the language will be more interesting than challenging! It always takes me a while to get into Jane Austen, for example, but then I go around thinking and even dreaming in that old-fashioned type of language. The Jane Eyre story is quite dramatic. My vote is to read the book BEFORE the movie so THOSE characters don't get stuck in your head!

  11. +JMJ+

    Jane Eyre is my favourite novel, so I'm going to be very biased now!

    Yes, of course you should read it! Jane is the polar opposite of those "nasty girls with lots of money, extensive wardrobes, perfect boyfriends, and preppy school peers"--but I think you'll love her, anyway. (And in case you miss those nasty girls, you'll get to meet the beautiful, rich and spoiled Blanche Ingram in the middle of the novel. She was definitely their Victorian prototype!)

    I agree that Charlotte Bronte's prose can be a bit of a challenge, but as Lesa has pointed out, you've read Lewis Carroll and just love his prose. =) Bronte just won't have much of a sense of humour. Yes, the plot is kind of dark. But it's also very "high romantic." I think every lover of literature should read Jane Eyre at least once!

  12. Thanks for all the help, and Lesa I think it would be much easier to read if it was part of a readalong! I would love that. Count me in! X

  13. the book was so introspective that I didn't think it made a good movie. You can always try the book- you don't have to read it all if you really don't get into it.

  14. I love the book and have read it several times. I love that I get something new out of each time. When I read it first as a young teen, I thought the book was about a young girl who suffers incredible hardship at the hands of her family, school and society at large - I was enraged on Jane's behalf.
    When I reread it in my 20's I was surprised to discover that the second half of the book was actually a romance - I completely missed that as a child! But I thought Rochester was a bit too old for Jane.
    In my 30's I just loved the language and felt that Rochester was nothing but a big kid anyway, so wasn't too old for the very mature, responsible Jane after all.
    The movies have been pretty good, but Rochester is always played by someone too young, too charming and good looking - he's never gruff enough or selfish enough to start with. And of course, all the movies have to miss out important story lines to make it fit into a 2 hr frame.


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