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Web Letter

Thank you for shining a spotlight on Jean Rhys. She definitely should be elevated to role model for the masses, not just for masses of women. She transcends gender. Any person would be able to benefit from her insight on the human condition.

And what an incredible contrast the heroines from Rhys's early four novels (Quartet, After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie, Voyage in the Dark, Good Morning Midnight) are from Lady Brett Ashley (a well-known drunk, hyper-sexualized heroine from a novel by some guy named Hemingway).

Jean Rhys's work is not just a supplement to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Women and Economics. Her work is much more than that. It is universal, timeless, and essential. And it is beautiful.

I hope that she eventually receives the recognition she deserves.

Peter M. Sproul

Portland, ME

Oct 7 2009 - 6:18pm

Web Letter

"Hell, no," to Jean and the rest of my paper friends. A decade ago I quit, almost entirely, booze, smoking tobacco and smoking grass. I quit being me cause I was fed up with that guy. So now and again I meet former friends, and Jean Rhys was one of them. The total disillusion, total desolation, the recognition of it all. I felt more than a bit like her, although living in another age, being of the opposite sex etc. etc.

Jean Rhys wrote Goodmorning Midnight as well, a book I forget most of but which gave me one of those jolts that made me think more seriously about quitting all that jazz & booze & madness. Yes, I had my share of hangovers in Paris, being young and immortal, almost thirty years back. Almost prostituted myself there, to a man--a good-looking man, mind you! So, was I gonna throw my life away, hitting 40, was I gonna throw up more & more, on the carpet, in bed, on the streets, wherever, whenever. So was I gonna follow the footsteps of my paper friends... No, Jean, I said to myself, I love myself a bit more than you; no, Charles, no Hunter, no Jack, no William, no Marguerite, no Tip, hell, no: I will no longer see & read & reread you as if you are my closest friends, I will no longer look to you as my heroes.

So I joined the AA for a few months, quit what I loved most: drifting into that zone in which we think we see more clearly but in fact do the contrary; alcoholism is solipsism with a twist, a shot of bourbon, if you like. Ten years further now, reading Rhys's name, I miss that old fool I used to be, I miss Jean, and Jacks London and Kerouac, and Charles, and the rest of those literary giants, sometimes I miss them so much it hurts, hurts so bad I wanna cry. Now, for instance, and the rest of this afternoon too.

victor crebolder

Den-Bosch, The Netherlands

Oct 7 2009 - 7:18am