februeruri: (Default)
[personal profile] februeruri
devoured the rest of RtN on the long commute home. i have some......................feelings.

first one being, i dnt know why im still so shocked these days when MR turns good old biological essentialism into a poetic device, bc tons of other people do it, and i hardly bother to roll my eyes. maybe bc they're not half as original about it, and because i dont start out with the somewhat ill-founded belief that they're on my side?

still, the thing with MR's flavour of internalized misogyny (and homophobia) is that i can't fully bring myself to call it a flaw in her novels, because it's not something you can remove without making the works unrecognizable. like the lean in the leaning tower of pisa. all the motherhood/birth imagery towards the end of RtN was wild. the story about mrs. fleming's actor was off-the-wall batshit. and the cave reunion ending was terrifying for reasons both narrative & meta. but of course that's what it was all building up to. hilary's just agreed mentally to birth & swaddle her very own manbaby for the rest of her days, spiritually accepting the hallowed calling of her sex that she's been denying for so long-- it's ghastly, and beautiful, as only MR could make it. i think my mouth dropped open on the bus at the madonna reference. caves. wombs. jesus's mom. christ.

will prob have more thoughts later in the week, since im still processing it all

once again, it's hilarious how love in MR novels is this supernatural force that takes hold of two people who barely know each other and who in fact may actively harbour delusions about each other, until they collide in a spectacular payoff that narrowly prevents one of them dying. and by hilarious, i mean stressful. for me.

Date: 2015-09-30 05:20 pm (UTC)
naraht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naraht
Ah, the horrific ending is revealed at last...

still, the thing with MR's flavour of internalized misogyny (and homophobia) is that i can't fully bring myself to call it a flaw in her novels, because it's not something you can remove without making the works unrecognizable.

Never heard it expressed like this before but I think you're absolutely right. I have this love/hate relationship with MR, because she's an absolutely brilliant, compelling writer who pulls this stuff over and over again - and it only becomes more clear the more of her novels you read. But it is what it is, I guess. We can't choose who or what to love - Hilary obviously can't, and neither can I, the reader.

Having said that, some people actively enjoy the batshit element as well. [personal profile] legionseagle started calling Julian and Elaine, Baby and Mama Fruitbat.

hilary's just agreed mentally to birth & swaddle her very own manbaby for the rest of her days, spiritually accepting the hallowed calling of her sex that she's been denying for so long-- it's ghastly, and beautiful, as only MR could make it.

And yet, MR's overwrought symbolism notwithstanding, how much of this is Hilary deceiving herself in yet another way? No doubt Julian will be a trial, and require rather firm handling, but is it really such a sacrifice, coming down to it, to spend your life with a hot, wealthy, talented young man who worships you as a goddess? Really?? Hilary, and MR for that matter, may believe that he'll leave her when he grows up a little, but I don't believe it for a moment. Plus WWII may well accelerate the maturation process (I have committed fic...)

once again, it's hilarious how love in MR novels is this supernatural force that takes hold of two people who barely know each other and who in fact may actively harbour delusions about each other, until they collide in a spectacular payoff that narrowly prevents one of them dying. and by hilarious, i mean stressful. for me.

Yup. Love is always sort of a disaster in Renault novels, a sacrifice, a surrender, a lessening. Which is weird because allegedly she wrote romances! She doesn't seem to have much believed in it.

Anyway, congratulations for enduring to the bitter, cavey end. Always happy to discuss further thoughts - and perhaps you might find some of the fic a bit less infuriating. We have quite a bit, given what an obscure book it is.

Date: 2015-10-01 07:26 pm (UTC)
naraht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naraht
(i started 'To Hilary, from Prison' yesterday & have been reading sporadically but greedily at work)

Oh, I hope you enjoy it. My goal was to give Julian a bit of a life of his own, and maybe just prompt him to grow up a little. Not entirely sure I succeeded, but it still seemed worth doing.

one thing that's regrettable (but not surprising) about julian's fruitbattiness is that his regard for women only stretches as far as his mother complex, and that he's actually quite a little prig otherwise (esp re: lisa).

Yes, well, this is fair.

There is the fact that he's nice about Lisa when he first discusses her ("she's nice, isn't she, sort of comfortable") and only gets scathing when his jealousy kicks into play. This is no excuse but I do at least view it as evidence that there's an undercurrent between Hilary and Lisa that goes deeper than friendship!

and i do hope hilary's old habits reassert themselves to whip this weird borzoi manchild into shape (but like, in an emotionally healthy way)

We can dream. I usually consider myself a very hard-headed reader, but with RtN I do more than occasionally indulge the guilty pleasure of imagining that this is true. He just has too much manic pixie dream boy potential to be let go...

Date: 2015-10-03 03:49 pm (UTC)
naraht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naraht
in the end any grumblings i have about julian are an extension of my misgivings about power dynamics in hetero relationships in general-- if he were paired up with a man or existed in the TC universe, i think i'd even be inclined to take his side. (i'd also have read a completely different novel...)

I'm pretty certain that canonical Julian as he exists is a reflection of MR's misgivings about power dynamics in het relationships (the theme of most of her non-TC contemporaries), so that actually makes perfect sense!

There have been a few fics crossing over RtN, in various ways, with TC - but it would be interesting to put Julian into that milieu completely and see what transpired.

When I feel like reading about male characters (for a change), I do often enjoy reading about them in a homosocial environment. It makes so many things so much simpler. (Having said that I also have a soft spot for the idea of Hilary working with Alec. I think they'd get on.)

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