Tuesday, 11 October 2011

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You know how Cedric in Love in a Cold Climate has been called "the first happy homosexual in English literature", because he gets his man, isn't mentally ill, and doesn't get killed off or forced to part with his lover? When do we get the first happy adulterer, and in particular the first happy female adulterer? I'm currently reading the Norton Critical Edition of The Awakening, one of those novels where a woman commits adultery and isn't allowed to live happily ever after (see also Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina), so it's been on my mind. Incidentally, the number of critics who simply Did Not Get what Kate Chopin was saying, even into the later half of the twentieth century, is quite mind-boggling. One of them actually snarks at her for describing her protagonist's sleep on a few occasions, because a protagonist who sleeps, and even sleeps during the day (hello, siesta culture?), evidently can't be taken remotely seriously. And then we get the ones who consider children entirely symbolic creatures, and misses the memo that some people just aren't interested in parenting. Hmm, maybe The Awakening is the first childfree novel?

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