Woke up early as usual …went to my favorite coffee shop and had three cups of steaming aromatic coffee…smoked a lot of cigarettes. Since exams have begun in school, I was free throughout the day. I spent some time reading Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. I became fascinated with its protagonist Isabel Archer. For an 18th century novel, she is a classic feminist. The male characters in the novel did not impress me much. Blog writing has helped me to discover my style of writing and evolve into a distinctive writer. There’s a Kerala Christmas Bumper lottery draw to be held in Jan and it’s a tidy sum of six crores. Getting a windfall will reduce my penury. I have a bank account with no money in it. I teach in a private school and I am paid a mealy sum. My work of fiction is monumentally experimental. Was able to create a Fiction, called Fictopia; it’s an epic lasting several seconds. I was inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses in which a life of 12hrs is rendered in epic streams of consciousness narrative. I wonder why followers in twitter are dropping. I had 6 followers and now it’s come down to 4. Sometimes I wonder if I could be a writer at all. My heart and soul are filled with the urge to write. I want to write avant garde innovative fiction. At least I have been able to publish my writings in e-book format. I haven’t put any price for my writing. All I want is my writing to be read. I wish I had the money to retire and devote my whole life to writing. A windfall is a blessing in disguise. I have a personality crises with my writer-self and my real-self. Postmodern philosophies have influenced me profoundly. I long to have a good fuck. My Pentecostal, conservative wife has no time. My wife is not the kind of woman I longed for. Bloody hell, it was an arranged Indian fucked up marriage. I was married when I was 25 and I am 47 now. Till now we haven’t had a quiet moment of togetherness. When I was married, my father with sunken in debt. All the debtors were haranguing in the house. What I don’t get in my wife, I seek in other women and I can’t help it. My wife has never done an oral on me. She dislikes it much and thinks its sodomy. I can’t help calling her a bitch. The cunt does not even does not allow me to drink threatening me that she will take me asylum. The bloody bitch has done that many times. I would not have minded a wife that boozes and smokes and is sophisticated like me. My wife is a country bum, an arch conservative, a fiendish monster. Sometimes I think of divorce but I don’t have money to file the proceedings. I hate her, the fucking bitch.
Henry James is the master of realist fiction and the portrait of a Lady was published as serials in the magazines: Atlantic and Macmillan. Literary critics hail his work as one his best pieces of fiction.
The protagonist of the story Isabel Archer is invited by her maternal aunt Lydia to visit her uncle’s home in London. There Isabel meets her invalid cousin Ralph and a neighbor Warburton. Isabel declines the offer of marriage made by Warburton and also a gentleman named Casper Good Wood. Lydia’s uncle grows ill and leaves her with a large legacy which she uses to travel to Florence. There she meets Osmond an American expatriate and marries him. Their relationship becomes one of sour grapes due to genuine lack of affection to Lydia by Osmond. Lydia wants Pansy the daughter out of Osmond’s first marriage to marry an art collector. But Osmond is more interested in marrying her to Warburton. Isabel then hears the news that her uncle is dying and she also comes to know that Pansy is the daughter of Madam Merle who had an adulterous relationship with Osmond. The ending of the story is rather cryptic leaving the reader to figure out whether Isabel would return to Osmond and also rescue Pansy from his clutches.
The novel cannot be considered as a masterpiece of fiction. The art of realism fails to achieve its aesthetic touch. There are several flaws in the story-line. One can hardly imagine it to be a fitting story. Tropes are sparingly used. There is no depth of character in the protagonist Isabel. As a work of literature—the oeuvre of art tends to be limited to a sparing minimalism. The novel lacks in philosophical content. Is Isabel a caricature of wounded feminine? Is she an archetype of the 18th century womanhood? A Marxian critic would dismiss the novel as being related to the life of the bourgeoisie. Does Isabel as a character in the novel want to pursue an independent feminine life? Why does she reject the proposals of her suitors? Why does she finally accept Osmond as her suitor? The male characters in the novel are very effeminate. The novel is intensely subjective. The novel does not adhere to any school of philosophical thought. The prose of the novel is pedantic and stultifying. The novel signifies the fin de siècle of century. Looking at the novel through the Nietzsche’ prism of art, one encounters only the Apollonian elements of melody and not the Dionysian elements rhythm and beat. There is no Aristotelian sense of cathartic consciousness in the novel. The novel does not satisfy the literary analyst Bakhtin’s sense of the dialogic. The novelist is not versatile in the usage of prose. Isabel’s relationships with men in the novel can be traced to the Freudian Electra complex. Isabel was looking for father figures in her life. The contemporary culture of the 18th century is not very conducive for aesthetic development of the human psyche. The novel does not have any suitable endings. The story of the novel is warped in the consciousness of disunity. The novel is a fragmented piece of prose. The novel does not provoke the psyche of the reader. As a literary work of art, the novel lacks aesthetic merit.