an unapologetic critique of the Haitian Invasion and boycotting Pride and Prejudice

dearest and most loyal readers, I apologize for my long and unexpected absence. i’m sure that you were most pained by it and can only hope that my future posts will make amends for this grievous blow.

in regards to Carpetnier’s Kingdom of This World, it is no secret that my enjoyment of this book was largely non-existent. on an individual level I found the book aimless and dull, with perhaps a few interesting passages only to be found in the very last pages. in a broader context my reading of this book occurred in the middle of “the great Haitian Onslaught.” it was the second of not two, not three, but FOUR books on the Haitian revolution, the latter two which were plays about the same thing. my ire for this book might have been lessened had it not been for the bombardment of three other varyingly dull texts on the exact same topic.

I appreciate that one of the aims of Arts One is to provide students with instruction on “great” texts and at the same time expose us to material and subjects which are perhaps more obscure and less ubiquitous. this is a legitimate goal but I think that it was taken to an EXTREME MEASURE in regards to the Haitian onslaught. IT MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE to me why there is such a disproportionately large focus on this particular topic in the syllabus. the fact that this is a revolution that is less known and studied, for largely ethnocentric and racist reasons, is true and valid but this was understood and appreciated with the reading of the first text. the second was unnecessary to make this point, and the third and fourth were just beating a dead horse. by the time that I read Kingdom I was ready to throw Carpentier and Trouillot out the window. by the time I finished Walcott and Cesaire I was ready to throw myself out the window. rather than instilling an interest to read more on my own about the Haitian Revolution, as perhaps reading just one of the texts might have, I am now confident that I will never voluntarily read another text on the subject EVER AGAIN. in this case I don’t think that the balance between studying great texts and being exposed to new material was evenly or logically struck, grossly in favour of the latter.

my feelings for Northanger Abbey are directly related to the fact that I read it (as well as Lyrical Ballads) almost immediately after I fled the Haitian Invasion. therefore I hold it on a particular level of esteem, mixed with my own relief and gratitude.

let me say however that while Jane Austen is god, and because she is god, her worst book is vastly superior to most peoples’ best (including all of the books that we read about Haiti), Northanger Abbey is definitely my least favourite of her books. the heroine, Catherine Morland, is probably the most simplistic and least admirable of Austen’s heroines. She is naïve, sheltered, gullible, easily manipulated, and very ignorant about most things in general. Elizabeth Bennett and Emma Woodhouse would eat her for breakfast. she is very susceptible to the manipulative and self-serving Isabella Thorpe, and her bumbling idiot brother, John. These two DRIVE ME INSANE!! I cannot emphasize how much I loathe them. every scene that they are in enrages me. they are incredibly annoying and its SO DAMN OBVIOUS from the beginning what kind of people they are. the fact that Isabella is a gold-digger is the least surprising plot twist ever. only a character As naïve and honest-to-god-dumb and oblivious as Catherine would have believed her and failed to recognize what she was. Elizabeth and Emma would have stripped the Thorpes a new one in the first chapter and sent them off packing.

now, the hero Henry Tirney, isn’t such a ridiculous character but his romance with Catherine is. Austen repeatedly states that the reason that he is essentially interested in Catherine in the first place, and why he falls in love with her, is because SHE is so obviously in love with him. she hangs on to every word he says, worships him, compliments him, and makes it goddamn obvious that she’s into him. that is why he likes her. she flatters his ego. that is the most pathetic and absurd basis for a love story that I have ever read.

the only saving grace for this book is Austen’s witty and humorous narration. I would hate this book if it were written by anyone else. but the fact is that Austen knows how ridiculous these characters are, she makes fun of them, especially Catherine, all the time. she’s mocking not only gothic texts that were popular at the time, but archetypical characters in literature and society.

having said that, I fail to understand the purpose behind reading this particular Austen book, or its connection to Lyrical Ballads. unfortunately I was unable to attend the lecture so hopefully my classmates can shed some light on this in seminar. my suspicion is that there was a desire to do an Austen text, as she is a “great” writer, but not one of her more well known texts which infuriates me.

it’s the Haitian Invasion all over again. THE CLASSICS ARE CLASSICS FOR A REASON. If we are reading Austen we should be reading Pride and Prejudice, Emma or Sense and Sensibility. you don’t study Shakespeare and skip over Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet and Othello and only read Timon of Athens. no one thinks, hmmm we’re going to learn about the greatest playwrite in the English language, we better skip all of his most beloved and famous works, pick the most obscure unknown and legitimately worst play just for the heck of it. THIS IS LUDACROUS.

they are beloved and admired for A REASON. boycotting texts just because they are widely regarded is just as stupid as boycotting them because they aren’t. in summation it we should not be reading texts simply to be exposed to new material, just like we should not be reading texts solely because a bunch of dead rich white guys decided that they were “great” works. the texts should have value, quality and insight to offer us on their own. it infuriates me that we are reading some texts that I feel have very little merit or purpose in this course and in literature in general, while we are ignoring amazing texts simply because they are considered to be “great”.

it’s like people who don’t like The Beatles just because they are so popular.

i think that i can speak for all of us when i say that they have lost the privilege to have ears and should have them forcibly removed. maybe their entire auditory cortex, temporal lobe and their sorry excuse for a brain.

and people who say that we shouldn’t read Pride and Prejudice just because it is too popular share the same circle of hell.