Observations on both books that I'm currently reading.
I'm sailing through Daphne, and am nearing the end. It is still as fascinating at this point and getting more impressive. I love how Picardie is able to keep the three voices balanced, and I truly love how the stories of Branwell and the Brontes, Syminton, Daphne du Maurier and her pathetic husband, his Snow Queen, and, of course, her Rebecca, parallel and weave with the modern unnamed heroine and her Paul and his Rachel and Menabilly/Manderley. I have just got to read the recent bio of du Maurier.
In reading about Symington and his futile attempts to bring order and articulation to his life's work (and theft, er, borrowing) with regards to Branwell, I am reminded of Casaubon in George Eliot's Middlemarch. Much as I love and identify with Dorothea, I truly feel sorry for Casaubon. He has what I have come to call the Amadeus complex--he recognizes genius, appreciates genius, and is tormented because as close as he gets to the sublime in art, as much as he is moved by it, he can never produce a work that approaches greatness. For him, it's not enough to appreciate and enjoy. He wants to create, and his efforts can never be more than pedantic, and he knows it in his heart. For me, that is Symington.
I am also still slowly working my way through Rebecca Dickson's A Jane Austen Treasury. One of the gems in this book is her micro essay regarding why anyone should watch the Laurence Olivier/Greer Garson Pride and Prejudice movie from 1940. I've always enjoyed the campiness of it, as well as the cinematic sexiness of Olivier. But, Dickson's sidebar talks about how this movie actually was part of Britain's propaganda to bring the U.S. into WWII on the side of the Allies, showing how Darcy wasn't really against the middle classes (aka the American Dream). According to Dickson, this movie demonstrates, by having Lady Catherine conspiring with Darcy to confirm that Elizabeth will love him as much if he's a poor man, that if the U.S. joins the war effort it "isn't going to war to help save an aristocracy--they're going to war to help the adorable Lizzie Bennet and her soon-to-be aunt-in-law, the chummy Cathy Bourgh." I give Dickson 10 gold stars for this analysis. I love it!