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Bitch in a Bonnet – Robert Rodi

Bitch in a Bonnet - Robert Rodi

Bitch in a Bonnet – Robert Rodi

I have to say this blog is in a decline a bit like Mrs Bennet after Lydia runs off with Wickham. Time, content and motivation are all my problems. Anyway, Bitch in a Bonnet, was recommended by one of the members of my Jane Austen group – I bought the Kindle version.

Here’s the blurb …

Novelist Rodi (Fag Hag, The Sugarman Bootlegs) launches a broadside against the depiction of Jane Austen as a “a woman’s writer…quaint and darling, doe-eyed and demure, parochial if not pastoral, and dizzily, swooningly romantic — the inventor and mother goddess of ‘chick lit.’” Instead he sees her as “a sly subversive, a clear-eyed social Darwinist, and the most unsparing satirist of her century… She takes sharp, swift swipes at the social structure and leaves it, not lethally wounded, but shorn of it prettifying garb, its flabby flesh exposed in all its naked grossness. And then she laughs.” In this volume, which collects and amplifies two-and-a-half years’ worth of blog entries, he combs through the first three novels in Austen’s canon — Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park — with the aim of charting her growth as both a novelist and a humorist, and of shattering the notion that she’s a romantic of any kind (“Weddings bore her, and the unrelenting vulgarity of our modern wedding industry — which strives to turn each marriage ceremony into the kind of blockbuster apotheosis that makes grand opera look like a campfire sing along — would appall her into derisive laughter”).
“Hilarious…Rodi’s title is a tribute. He’s angry that the Austen craze has defanged a novelist who’s ‘wicked, arch, and utterly merciless. She skewers the pompous, the pious, and the libidinous with the animal glee of a natural-born sadist’…Like Rodi, I believe Austen deserves to join the grand pantheon of gadflies: Voltaire and Swift, Twain and Mencken.” Lev Raphael, The Huffington Post.

I loved this book – it was like chatting to a rather acerbic friend about Austen. Although, I do disagree with his take on Fanny Price (I have a soft spot for Miss Price) I thought the rest was excellent – funny, insightful and easy to read. What’s more it made me want to go back and read the books again (surely that is the highest praise for a book on Austen?). I’ve bought the second volume and will get onto it as soon as I’ve cleared some of my (enormous) to be read pile.

If you are an Austen fan, then you will definitely enjoy this book (particularly if like me you think most people who write sequels etc have completely missed the point – they’re not romances people!).




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