We held the sixth BYOB at Muffets and Tuffets, a café at Koramangala.
Sunny started the session with the first book he had ever read. Jane Eyre, a classic by Charlotte Bronte, was gifted to him one Christmas by a friend. He has read it more than once since then and found this book too to be light, not overly philosophical, and extremely readable. Jane Eyre is a crowd puller and has a whole lot of elements including madness, disability and a dash of gothic. In the Victorian era, women novelists were not a particular favorite and their aesthetic sensibilities were often at the receiving end, yet the Bronte sisters ended up churning classics.
This was a book that one of our guests, Piya Bose had read while in school. “It’s an extremely positive and feminist book that illustrates the story of a woman’s quest for independence. It’s set at a time when religion played center stage in the lives of the people. So besides being a story of an individual, it is a story of the times as well.”
There are some French sentences in the book. Meticulous readers can find translations online and eBook versions usually have translations added to them.
Abhaya mentioned a book by Jean Rhys that was modeled on Jane Eyre. Wide Sargasso Sea is the story of the passionate young woman whom Rochester had locked up. Since Charlotte Bronte never explored this woman entirely, Rhys gave a feminist aspect to the lunatic in the room and exposed gender constraints.
Another classic we encountered was Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a book Madhu talked about. We’ve featured one of Kundera’s books called Ignorance during one of our Talking Terrace Book Club meets. So we looked forward to hearing one of Kundera’s enlightening passages and were glad when Madhu read it out:
“The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body.The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?”
What would you choose? I would choose Kundera.
Kundera is an extremely sophisticated writer you can keep going back to and gleaning meaning from. In this classic, he charts the life of a young woman in love with a man who is a womanizer as well. It is hard to capture the essence of relationships and this is what Kundera does with breathless accuracy.
Still, on the subject of great writers and their books, Karan had a book by a celebrated author.
“I was going through a low phase in my life when I came across this book,“ Karan said about Pulp, a book by the one and only Charles Bukowski. This literary work of paranoia features an unreliable narrator Nick Belane, a very profane detective in his fifties. He’s a catastrophe formula- low on luck when it comes to his profession and women. If you want to start reading Bukowski, this book is the last place to start as this is his last book. You start Bukowski with his poems and then graduate to this short stories and novels.
More fiction in Part 2.