This book is very valuable insofar as it has taught me to respect the society of men the way I would respect the circle around a chained-up rabid dog. Usually it seemed like the men were always criticizing each other behind one another's backs and this usually arose from something like “he has slightly insulted my honor or friend, perhaps unintentionally, I'm not going to find out, I'm just going to list off and exaggerate every one of his faults because it will create a deeper bond between me and my brother or friend try to kill him.” This book profoundly depressed me. It helped to destroy any hopes I had of ever having a happy relationship with a man.
JUST KIDDING! But, this book did take me on a stroll down recent-memory lane
. In case that comment gets somehow deleted, here it is:
Justin wrote: “This reminds me of what I started telling people about this book after I first read it. ‘It's very valuable insofar as it has taught me to respect the society of women the way I would respect the circle around a chained-up rabid dog.’ I don't remember who Elinor was but I remember scene after scene playing out like what you describe. Although usually it seemed like the women were always criticizing each other behind one another's backs and this usually arose from something like ‘She has slightly insulted my sister or friend, perhaps unintentionally, I'm not going to find out, I'm just going to list off and exagerate every one of her faults because it will create a deeper bond between me and my sister or friend.’ This book profoundly depressed me. It helped to destroy any hopes I had of ever having a happy relationship with a woman. Luckily, it taught me to avoid mistakes in the future. It taught me the rules to a game that no one had ever taught me but which women consider all important and it suddenly made sense of all the times that whole swaths of women would suddenly turn against me after being so nice to me. I guess it should be praised for being true to life. just like in real life, the people in this book don't try to communicate with those they have a grievance with. They just take pleasure in the grievance. World War One? All of humanity througout all of human history. Anyway, it doesn't seem like anything gets resolved through the hard work of communication which real relationships require. Things just get accidentally discovered about Mr. Darcy, making him oh so attractive, because if he had tried to straighten things out directly he would have looked arrogant and insensitive. I like how sensitive he was to people on the big issues at the end, but all those hoops that had to be jumped through in an empty, empty game....why? Human selfishness. Self and selfishibility.”
I was wondering about whether it meant that I have some kind of hatred of men that I’m not aware of, and it was belied by the fact that, while I was listening to this book, I kept thinking about Justin’s colorful expression of hating women. But, no, I don’t think I hate men. That I know of. Just sometimes y’all can be a little hypocritical in your descriptions of why you hate women. But, who isn’t hypocritical sometimes? I hate bananas, but I love banana bread. Humanity is so complex.Master and Commander
made me think a little about how some sorts of interpersonal interactions are the same across genders, but they do feel different, somehow. This book was a lot of kicking up heels at a sleepover and obsessing about what somebody meant when he dropped a random hint at an accusation, gabbing about the nature of feelings, showing off about clothes and food, and gossiping about how to manage social status while dating. Since I’ve tolerated, or even enjoyed, those happenings in other books, I took to thinking about why this book was so shockingly boring to me. The obvious answer is that it was men who were doing those things and that somehow just the very nature of someone different than me doing them bores me. That would be so weird, but MAYBE TRUE! Could it just be the fact of the different appearance that makes the interpersonal deathly dull here, where it is immensely compelling in Austen?
There are at least two things definitely going on here, other than just the failure to provide a physically identifiable character for me, that made this book astoundingly boring. The first is the prevaricating about emotion and the interpersonal. The second, of course, is the women.
On the prevarication point, it’s just not very interesting to listen to someone be like, “IDK, maybe I like him, maybe I don’t” for HOURS. You know? I don’t care if it’s a man or a woman saying it. “Maybe I want to challenge him to a duel; maybe my sense of honor can’t reconcile with my position; maybe I was too brave or not brave enough!” Good golly. Somebody tell a joke!
One time, I posted this Virginia Woolf quote on facebook. It was from her writer’s diary, and it referred to these established male writers, friends of hers, who were critiquing her work. They didn’t care for it, but their critiques seemed to have missed something very basic in what she was saying. I don’t remember exactly what the quote was, but it said something like, “It is so difficult for the genders to communicate that among these very wise men, sometimes they will say things, and I can’t help but think that it sounds very similar to stupidity.” The day after I posted that quote, a man I know came up to me and expressed that he was offended I would post something that was so clearly anti-men on my facebook. And I couldn’t help but think him saying that so took the quote to mean the opposite of what it actually means that it sounded similar to stupidity. So, maybe there is something similar in my reaction here, where all of the interactions among the men in this book seem so See Spot Run that it is difficult to be interested. But, I am probably missing something.
On the unfortunate women point . . . well, there’s not much to say about that. This book has no very good opinion of women, black people, or homosexuals. It doesn’t like us, folks, so we best move along. I think it is fair to bring stuff back around to Austen at this point. She doesn’t write her books about the men folk, so her male characters do have a tendency to be somewhat flat and act as props for the women to grow around. I think she loves her men, though. I love her men, at least. But, this. Wheeeuuu. Not a fan of the women. They’re either morons who basically speak in gibberish, or whores who ruin men’s lives. We are not welcome. And the gays get shot, but, you know, you had it coming. Black people . . . well, you can be useful at times, but no one understands your speech. So, you best walk on by. Oh, man, I am so tired of talking about people who hate people for dumb reasons. Start being more interesting, you guys!
Point: it would be interesting to jump into the skin of someone who could have identified with any of this to see if I would then have found it interesting. But, I wouldn't want to live in that skin.
Anyway, I don’t feel . . . angry . . . or really anything about this book. It is just boring. I wouldn’t say there is any objective redeeming value, but apparently some people like it. They made a movie of it. It might be saying something, but to me it sounds a lot like stupidity.