I capture the castle [SPOILER ALERT]
ncase at hedbergmaps.com
Wed Jul 31 19:15:25 EDT 2002
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR I CAPTURE THE CASTLE
At 6:27 PM -0400 7/31/02, HSchinske at aol.com wrote:
>In a message dated 7/31/2002 10:57:33 AM Pacific Daylight Time, Nat writes:
>>Thanks for the recommendations for "I Capture the Castle" by Dodie
>>Smith. Just spent a lovely weekend in Thunder Bay, Ontario on
>>holiday, reading that and Connie Willis' "Bellwether." Lots of fun.
>>Castle echoed to me as half way between Austen and Dean. Does this
>>seem fair to folks?
>I think you are (consciously, unconsciously?) echoing the
>conversation between Rose and Cassandra where Rose says "Which would
>be better, Charlotte [Bronte] with a touch of Jane [Austen], or Jane
>with a touch of Charlotte?" [or maybe it's the other way around] and
>Cassandra, eager to get back to writing, contents herself with
>"Fifty percent each way would be perfect." I don't see much Dean-ish
>in it except the literary references, and lots of authors do that.
>(It is fun tracking them down ... I can remember finding
>Chesterton's dog Quoodle in a novel, I forget which one at the
>moment, at the Carleton library.)
No, actually it had occurred to me earlier that the book was a modern
Austen novel, and the comparison with Dean came as we reached the
end. I actually don't see as much Bronte in the book, but maybe it's
because I've only read Wuthering Heights and parts of Jane Eyre.
[synchronistically, Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" just came round
on the computer juke box.]
I found the whole context of the book very Austenian: young women
dealing with the need to "find a place in society," expectations of
marriage, all within the assumed context of "society." Cassandra
would never marry Stephen, as a more modern (or American) novelist
might make her. Rose's running off at the end is a cause for real
shame; she really does have to go to America after a disaster like
that. Smith knows the book is in some ways an anachronism; I like one
of the brothers' comment at the end how he knows the days of country
houses are effectively. It's like Smith was writing a book about the
last generation when an Austen novel was imaginable...
The relationship to Dean I see not just in the quotes, but in general
in the importance of Cassandra's intellectual life. Also in the sort
of almost-unbelievably literary and artistic life of the family; that
EVERYONE in the family takes it for granted that conversations are
half quotes and references. It's a different sort of hothouse than
the Austen households, but not totally dissimilar, and Castle seems
to me to be somewhere between them.
Somewhere I suspect there's a thesis about the book being a sort of
bridge between 19th-century and modern women's novels. Does anyone
know anything about Smith's relationship to the modernist
establishment? She obviously has some strong sympathies with Joycean
>Helen Schinske, returning from nearly a month in Oregon and
>California (btw, Nat, I saw Andrea Webster, formerly Dawson)
Yeah, I ran into her at reunion a few weeks ago. Chap was there too,
but I missed him (dang).
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