Growing up in the Iraki Jewish community in London, I knew, from early on, that I didn’t want the happy ending my parents wanted for me: marriage to a nice Iraki Jewish boy. Sleeping Beauty made me think that I could do something different. Lizzy Bennet gave me hope that that might involve something more interesting than being a princess. Anne Shirley inspired me to become a writer. Franny Glass consoled me for my loss of faith. Marjorie Morningstar made me love theatre. (…) Because as I started reading again the books that had meant so much to me, I remembered how I’d felt as a four-year-old wishing I was the Little Mermaid, or at twenty, wanting to be Lucy Honeychurch. It was hard to confront my mistakes, and I had to ask myself difficult questions. But I discovered that I did have an arc and a journey after all. I wasn’t just reading about my heroines, I was reading the story of my life.
Ce poți cumpăra în New York cu 50 de cenți? 10 lecții de viață dintr-o carte care, deși m-a costat puțin, merită toți banii. Vă povesteam într-un articol anterior despre vizita în raiul cărților, Strand, care pe lângă faptul că arată impresionant, are și prețuri impresionant de… mici.
Am găsit o carte de care nu auzisem până atunci, How To Be A Heroine, Or, What I’ve Learned From Reading Too Much, Samantha Ellis, o autobiografie literară în care autoarea vorbește cu drag, emoție, nostalgie și emfază, despre cărțile care i-au marcat viața. Câteva lecții cu care a rămas de la prea mult citit și câteva citate memorabile. Cartea asta este pentru iubitorii de literatură precum este o cină cu cele mai bune și rafinate feluri de mâncare pentru gurmanzi.
- Prin citit îți dezvolți imaginația și empatia.
By imagining how other people feel, she can love them, and sometimes help them.
- Un strop de imaginație te ajută să treci prin momentele dificile.
Anne’s imagination has developed under pressure. Orphaned at just three months old, (…) she needed to imagine all her misery away. She even, courageously, declares that there’s more scope for the imagination in the horrible places she’s been. (…) Anne turns to her imagination to help her cope.
- Iubirea imposibilă și tumultoasă e frumoasă doar în cărți și în filme.
But I hope I’m braver about love now, and I’m tempted to make a rule that any heroine who spends a whole novel in love with someone who can’t or won’t love her back is not truly a heroine. Because unrequited love is delusional, thankless, and boring. It’s also a misuse of imagination- like Anne Shirley fancying all the wrong men before she learns what real romance is, Scarlett wastes so much energy fantasising about Ashley, that she can’t see him as he really is, and she completely misses Rhett’s charms, which are legion.
- E OK daca nu te conformezi stereotipurilor de frumusețe; nu trebuie să fii perfectă.
From Greer, I learned that there was a stereotype of female beauty and I didn’t have to conform to it– and that anyway, it might be fun and liberating to ‘undress with eclat’. I learned to stop laughing at men’s bad jokes. She said powerful women were using masculine methods while playing the feminine game, and I thought about Margaret Thatcher. (…)
She articulated, more than any other writer, how the pressure to be perfect can break a girl. (…) I’d had so many good girl heroines. In her novel, The Bell Jar, Plath gave me a heroine who was anything but. Esther Greenwood could even be called an anti-heroine. (…) I thought this was a brilliant twist on the marriage plot. Instead of the heroine going through trials and being rewarded with a ring on her finger, she could be reborn as her real true self.
- Să nu te mulțumești doar cu rolul de soție. Rolul femeii nu e ‘la cratiță’.
I would still give the page where she describes Mira’s cleaning routine to anyone who styles herself as a ‘domestic goddess’. The Women’s Room shored up my determination never to have a traditional marriage. (…) I wanted to learn how not to become a housewife and mother: it helped to read about women who had tried it and wished they hadn’t. Watching Nora in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House, being patronized by her husband, forced to pretend to be a feather brain and an angel, a lark and a squirrel, while all the time she’d saved his life, I thought nothing was as satisfying as her slamming the door to leave him at the end of the play.
- Niciodată nu e prea târziu să trăiești viața pe care ți-o dorești.
After Norm divorces Mira so he can marry his mistress, she presents him with a bill for her work during their marriage (including cooking, cleaning and childcare, but also prostitution). She survives a suicide attempt, goes to Harvard, befriends empowered women and falls in love with a male feminist.
- Există happy ending- dar trebuie să te lupți pentru el.
She gets her happy ending because she learns to be strong, and she learns to demand pleasure from life.
- Viața de artist- una dintre cele mai bune vieți posibile.
From A Room with a view, I got the idea that the best kind of life was an artist’s life. When Mr Beebe, the socially astute clergyman, fails to stop Lucy going out unchaperoned, he puts her rebellion down to ‘too much Beethoven’ and speculates that ‘If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting both for us and for her.’ I loved this. Too much Beethoven could catapult you into the arms of George Emerson, too much Beethoven could catapult you into LIFE. (…) I did want to live as I played. To be brave on and off the page.
- Visează la siguranță financiară și carieră, nu la ‘Prince Charming’.
Growing up with a father who was often out of work, Judy ‘thought about financial security the way other girls did about Prince Charming’. She doesn’t want to end up having no life, like her mother. She doesn’t believe marriage guarantees anything: work will bring her security, money, independence and impact.
- Există viață și fără iubire romantică.
Cold Comfort Farm, I’d heard is the most quintessentially English novel ever. What I didn’t know was how much it would help me with my questions about the possibility of living without love.
And then there’s Sarah Burton, the heroine of Winifred Holtby’s 1936 novel South Riding. For a while I borrow Sarah’s mantra: ‘I was born to be a spinster, and, by God, I’m going to spin.’