Saturday, July 21, 2001

'jane eyre'

You've probably heard the expression that a million monkeys typing for a million years eventually will reproduce the works of William Shakespeare. I give "Jane Eyre" one monkey, ten minutes. I cannot see reading this book again unless it's the only way to save a terminally ill relative.

This book is a slow read. And I mean slow. A snail? Greased lightning. Molasses on a cold day? Quicksilver. Eighth-period study hall in high school on a Friday? Over in a flash. We're talking a slow, boring read here, even without the benefit of a high school English teacher's enthusiasm for ruining literature.

The novel chronicles the story of Jane Eyre from her childhood as an orphan up until the birth of her first child. Jane's childhood as a 19th-century orphan is so rotten, and she is picked on by the cousins she lives with, misliked and mistreated by her aunt and so on. Unfortunately, Bronte's writing is so dry and lifeless that it's hard to care.

It just gets worse from there. We get to hear every self-pitying thought Jane has (and there are plenty of them), about how plain she is, how her employer Mr. Rochester could never love her, how beautiful her imagined rival in love is, and on and on and on for page after tedious page.

This is both good and original. I will give Charlotte Bronte the benefit of the doubt, and will say that "Jane Eyre" is thoroughly original. Unlike the works of Shakespeare and a number of other classics of English and world literature, it is not good.

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