Posted July 11, 2007on:
The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall is one of those books one must read before you die. (“Attempt” falls under my definition of “read” (a sincere attempt) because one must give leeway in such matters.) It is both because of the writing and not. I’m almost ashamed to admit that it might be because of the message (ewwwww! I know, I know, I want to shower after typing that) or rather the tremendous emotion, the rage, the ferocity that can be clearly seen behind every word. It’s both hard for me to imagine how anyone could pick up this book and not be overtaken, persuaded and yet very easy because Hall’s prose is…sometimes it’s clumsy, belaboured and improbable. She can be melodramatic and twee. It’s her “voice”, her spirit which allows me to forgive that in a way I never could forgive a polished, elegant prose that was sterile and lacked verve.
It’s offensive and so immensely stupid and abominable that high school students can be assigned books that cover all kinds of “sins” but this one will not make it for some time (if ever) because of the sexual orientation of the protagonist.
*ahem* Anyway so, I was saying? Yes, you really should try it! Other books on my Read Before You Die (RBYD) list are
- Dreamtigers by Jorge Luis Borges
- Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake
- The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
- Ahead of All Parting by Rainer Maria Rilke
- Oscar Wilde’s plays (I can’t decide which one yet)
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
- The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah
- Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust (Lydia Davis translation, please)
- The Iliad by Homer (Richmond Lattimore translation)