Friday, November 09, 2007

The First Part of November

I finished reading Angela Davis’s work Women, Race and Class. I had read a few chapters for my feminist theory class back in the day, and decided to read the whole book. It’s very accessible and easy to read. Due to the organization of her chapters, she doesn’t completely use chronological order in all areas, and definitely focuses on certain time periods more than others, but overall it was informative. She addressed and discussed some of the problems that existed in the early women’s movement, and continued to plague it during the second wave: the way white middle class women dealt with women of either a different racial/ethnic background or of a different class standing. Often middle class women didn’t understand that class struggles or racism were much more pressing than sexism for these women, and even continued to express their own racist/classist ideas. She also went into a detailed about lynching. Of course, if anyone is interested in that topic, Ida B. Wells was one of the most important people in opening the world’s eyes to the horrors of lynching, and I’d also recommend Making Whiteness by Grace Elizabeth Hale which had a very good discussion of race, gender, lynching and power dynamics.

I also read the novel Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirosky. It’s actually two novellas, or two sections of a larger novel that the author never got to finish. I’d read an article about it a while back, thought it sounded fascinating but never actually got around to ordering it or reading it (I was waiting on the paperback and forgot about it in the process) until Amazon put it on my recommendation list and reminded me of the piece. The author was a woman of Jewish descent living in France during the Nazi occupation. At the time of the occupation, she was already a famous author, and she continued to write (I’m actually curious if any of her other works are still in print). She was working on a novel about the war and the French when she was deported and killed in Auschwitz. The manuscript was discovered rather recently, and published. Naturally, the story behind the novel alone would account for an interest in the piece and a large readership, but it was also a very well written and good story. According to the preface of the French edition, she was a fan of Tolstoy, and her novel shows his influence with her great assortment of characters (not to say that she copied his style or anything but she interweaves and works with the stories of several characters of varying backgrounds). I read Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl when I was only ten or eleven and honestly thought it was kind of boring. I don’t expect most adolescent diaries to be too entertaining even if the writer has the potential to be a great author later in life – at that age (and most ages), people are kind of self-involved (also, given my age when I read it, I may have been too self involved to appreciate it). Basically, while I felt the success of Anne Frank’s diary had a lot to do with what she represented and symbolized, I think Nemirosky’s work may benefit from that, but would also be worth reading without that the background story.

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