I realise I have yet to acknowledge those who have newly followed me. Thank you, all new followers, for believing that my posts are worth the read. I’ll do my best to keep you entertained. 😀
It’s a new week, and a new post for the 30DBC. So for day 13, I’m here to discuss my favourite writer. I’ll be very honest and say that today’s challenge was also not an easy task. Mostly because I don’t really have a favourite writer – not necessarily. There are a few writers who I feel express themselves very well and who are original and explore many aspects of the human consciousness. But I’ve never actually considered any particular writer my favourite.
However, I will put into the spotlight today a particular writer who I absolutely love, and she is …
Rhys was a feminist and modernist writer who I identify with because of the female personae she writes about and the individual she was herself. She was a third-generation Dominican Creole with Scots ancestry. She was educated both in Dominica and England. Due to this upbringing, Rhys’ writing explores the lost woman, the woman who does not belong in society, a wandering woman spiritually, psychologically, metaphorically and physically.
I identify with this nomadic kind of soul because I was educated in three very different places and personally have a lot of difficult calling one country my home. And hovering in this geographical interim, I have never narrowed my viewpoint to a particular ideology of a particular culture – which can be both a good and bad thing. Rhys, similarly, demonstrates this in her writing, that the interim can both lead to wondrous revelations and disastrous suppositions. Therefore her writing resonates a sort of clandestine truth about how I view the world – the same way that she does. Such words as …
I would never be part of anything. I would never really belong anywhere, and I knew it, and all my life would be the same, trying to belong, and failing. Always something would go wrong. I am a stranger and I always will be, and after all I didn’t really care.”
― Jean Rhys, Smile Please: An Unfinished Autobiography
Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important it finds homes for us everywhere.”
These quotes remind me how I have possibly found a writing soulmate in Jean Rhys. So, for the most part of what I’m familiar with her biography, I identify with. And that part makes her writing very special to me.
Another reason why I would consider her one of my favourite writers is that she understands why a writer may write – or at least she understands why a writer like herself and a writer like myself writes:
“When I was excited about life, I didn’t want to write at all. I’ve never written when I was happy. I didn’t want to. But I’ve never had a long period of being happy, Do you think anyone has? I think you can be peaceful for a long time. When I think about it, if I had to choose, I’d rather be happy than write. You see, there’s very little invention in my books. What came first with most of them was the wish to get rid of this awful sadness that weighed me down . I found when I was a child that if I could put the hurt into words, it would go. It leaves a sort of melancholy behind and then it goes.”
This is possibly the exact reason (put into words) as to why I chose to write in the first place. I have a purple notebook filled with over 200 poems which I wrote because I felt like I needed to express my worries and anxieties somewhere. And that purple notebook was filled with the most rubbish of poetry, poetry about fictional girls who existed who liked rock music and got into a lot of angst-ridden pubescent trouble, but it was a necessary outlet. It was where I could displace anything dark-grey and brooding within me. And during the days I felt more content, I did not write at all. Which is why I will usually blog more here when I’m in a depressingly pensive mood than in a good mood. I am not used to writing when I’m pleased with the world.
But let me not digress, for the books I have read by Rhys, her language has always been very poetic, filled with incomplete sentences where the full stops could very well be line breaks and the paragraphs could very well separate the verses. Her imagery has such a calm tone about it, a sort of sad serenity to it. Yet at the same time, her words have this capacity to punch you right in the most tender veins of the heart. She writes about how it feels like to be a woman with very little purpose in life, and how you live day by day trying to discover what your true purpose is – often with very little result.
I agree wholeheartedly with Linda Grant of The Guardian when she wrote in her review of Jean Rhys that, “Sentence after apparently unremarkable sentence would pass until suddenly you would feel yourself hit in the solar plexus by the accumulated tension. I would look back and ask: how did you do that?”
So, for a writer who was so under the radar during her time, I feel as though Jean Rhys captured so much of how a woman, who originated from no where and has no where apparent to go, feels.
I had the pleasure to read two of her books during my uni days, and to have studied under a professor who has had the rare opportunity to actually do research and scrutinise Jean Rhys’ lesser known works and documents in the dark recesses of a university in America. So, if you love the works of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, maybe give Jean Rhys a try.
Last but not least, please check out Rhey of Sunshine‘s blog to find out who her favourite writer is. And I will catch you tomorrow when I get the absolute pleasure and enjoyment out of sharing with you which Jean Rhys novel I’ve loved the most!
Till next time,