Thursday, 30 December 2010

The love of human beings

Helen says to Jane “you think too much of the love of human beings” and though I understand the context in which this is said it stays in the mind of this non-believer (I still find it difficult to say atheist), I suspect until long after I finish. On the Wikipedia page for Jane Eyre are listed numerous adaptations; missing the one of which I am most familiar and noting another being released next year. I’ve seen several and though the religious element is there I’ve never felt it forced; maybe I’m making allowances for the time or my psyche provides a natural filter, or perhaps such elements as they are have been downplayed for more modern sensibilities.

Any Human Heart television series
It contrasted with a scene in William Boyd’s recent adaptation of his own novel, Any Human Heart, in which an irritating member of the clergy who after having been earlier rebuffed by a declaration of atheism is finally told to “fuck off”. That jarred a little; I thought it at first a rather clumsy and unnecessary scene, a sop to atheists, since I’ve never met a religious practitioner quite as inept. Yet Logan Mountstuart was the antithesis to that ghastly picture of a perfect human being; it is what makes his story so interesting - it is why we care. His reaction demonstrated not superiority but his ability to strike out, his flawed humanity. Jane describes it well in a ‘victory’ of her own:
Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time; as aromatic wine it seemed, on swallowing, warm and racy: its after-flavour, metallic and corroding, gave me a sensation as if I had been poisoned.


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