March 7, 2007

Jacobs on Mendelson

Category: Literature :: Permalink

This review by Alan Jacobs of Edward Mendelson’s recent The Things That Matter: What Seven Novels Have to Say About Stages of Life interests me.  I haven’t read all of the books Mendelson discusses, but I do appreciate this quotation:

Mendelson also sees the implications of the books’ obviously encompassing themes. For instance, here’s a sentence from the conclusion of the chapter on Jane Eyre, comparing that novel with the masterwork of Charlotte Brontë’s sister Emily: “The unity of Catherine and Heathcliff is so complete that it excludes everyone else. The marriage of Jane and Rochester is so fertile that it embraces others.” (Says Jane at the end of her story, “My Edward and I, then, are happy: and the more so, because those we most love are happy likewise.”)

That sounds exactly right.  I’ve read both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but hadn’t compared them in this way.  It appears that Mendelson may be a helpful guide.

Posted by John Barach @ 4:59 pm | Discuss (0)

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