I am so excited to re-read Jane Eyre! I won’t be starting it for at least a week as I want to knock out some more Anitober selections, but since Bethany posted her pre-reading notes I thought I should go ahead and do mine, too. This will be the fourth time I have read Jane Eyre. The first time was in seventh grade when my mom first bought it for me for Christmas. She would intermittently have these phases where she would buy me classic fiction in order to expand my reading horizons and get me to “stop reading all that crap you usually read.” I don’t know why she had a problem with Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew, but she did. The second time was for AP English. The third was for my nineteenth century British novel class in college. My copy is old. And weathered. And has a 49ers ticket stub in it. (Apparently on October 3, 1993 the 49ers played the Minnesota Vikings. Tickets cost $35.75 back then, in case anyone is interested. I was there, of course, but I suspect I was reading Jane Eyre rather than paying close attention to the game.) I have never not enjoyed reading this book. I remember having a harder time with it when I was in junior high than I did later, but generally it has been a pretty easy read for me.
So, as far as memories of reading this book back in 1993? I don’t know. I remember learning the correct pronunciation of St. John Rivers. I was actually glad that it wasn’t pronounced “Saint John.” What an unfortunate name, right? I definitely remember the whole “touching” conversation, though I had forgotten what brought up the discussion, and am grateful to Bethany for reminding me that it was Jane Eyre. I could laugh about that forever. I remember when Fr. Murphy started talking about that in philosophy Bethany turned around and looked at me with this priceless look on her face: she was saying with her eyes, “Please don’t let me start laughing in the middle of class.” And for those of you who know Bethany in real life, she has a very contagious laugh. If she had started laughing, I would have started laughing, and then shenanigans would have ensued. I do really think Fr. Murphy cared a lot about helping us girls out in the world. He had minimal experience with us, but he seemed to want to do a good job mentoring us. He was a nice man, even though he made us read Portrait of a Lady.
I am curious to see if anything has changed in the pages of Jane Eyre for me since the last time I picked it up in 1997. Will I still love Jane and sympathize with Rochester? Will I still fear the crazy wife in the attic? This is the first AP English Challenge book since The House of the Spirits that I have considered a favorite, and quite honestly I’m a little worried. When we started the AP Challenge I was certain that my opinions about these books were inviolate. Imagine my surprise to learn that I was wrong about Lord Jim. Imagine my surprise to learn that Esteban Trueba is a tragic hero and Blanca Trueba is a perpetual teenager. What surprises does Jane Eyre have in store for me?
Bethany mentioned reading Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea after Jane Eyre, which seems like a good idea. I read Wide Sargasso Sea back in college for another class; I think my literature by women comparative literature one. I remember enjoying it but not as much as Jane Eyre. It had a different writing style than I was used to at the time and I wonder if my opinion would change now that I’ve read more modern literature. I may need to read it again when Bethany does.
And yes, for those of you who care about such things, the picture of Jane Eyre at the top of this post is my copy which I have owned since 1989 or thereabouts. It’s a Signet Classic and cost $2.25 brand new. Fancifying of the picture courtesy of Instagram.