Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Why I don't like Wolfe, James, Wharton, Hawthorne & Proust

After seeing The Hours, I decided to listen to Mrs. Dalloway on tape even though I didn't care for Wolfe's To the lighthouse or orlando. Alas, the book was boring with a bunch of whiners for characters. Still I decided to give the movie a chance since i enjoyed the films The Golden Bowl and The Wings of the Dove - alas once again, as the film was just as unsatisfyingly dull as the book. Bunch of semi-lost characters wondering if maybe they'd made the wrong decisions in their lives.

In the modern age, it's too hard to have any sympathy for victimhood, so when Isabel Archer marries some S.O.B. and then returns to him, when Ethan Frome fails at suicide, when Hester Prynne hangs around ostracized while her ex-husband makes her misery his life devotion, when Proust autobiographical character can't go to bed without a kiss from his mother, there's little beyond pity for the characters. Why should we care Lily Bart makes repeated self-destructive errors? Why shouldn't we scream at Hester & the Reverend to go make a new life for themselves in a different part of the colonies - that's why settlers came to America to make a new life?

Thinking back through the various films & books makes me wonder at these authours' continued reputation. Disliked the novel Ethan Frome, the movie house of mirth & despised the film the age of innocence - the only work by Wharton I could stand was miniseries The Buccaneers and that was largely because the scriptwriters could change the ending of an unfinished novel to deviate from Wharton's typical "tragic" ending.

Guess that I've beaten my point into the ground, so I'll make one more attempt at Proust if I can find the Madeline section, but will eschew the others from now on.

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