Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Outsider books: a top 10 list

Neil Griffiths, author of Betrayal in Naples and Saving Caravaggio, on what makes an outsider:
To be an outsider is to feel disconnected from life, from other people, from oneself, the sight lines of communication always just slightly skewed. Outsiders can be perceptive readers of inmost thoughts, but they slip off surfaces and are awkward on firm ground. It is their unfortunate role to stand against life, in Heidegger's sense of next-to yet in conflict-with. No outsider wants to be one, it is not a lifestyle choice. Whatever its psychological aetiology, it is like an accident of birth: you are either in or you're out.
With that reference point, Griffiths named a top 10 list of outsider books for the Guardian. Number 10 on the list:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Two outsiders for the price of one. Early on Jane doesn't fit. Although plain, she somehow brings attention to herself (a classic aspect of the outsider) and is capriciously bullied and punished. Later she finds comfort in the isolation of Thornfield, her teaching duties. It is here she meets Rochester, a precursor to the modern outsider: a man of dark moods, irritable and discontented, a world roamer. As we all know, it ends happily, making Jane Eyre the story of outsiders redeemed by love. So maybe there is hope, after all.
See what outsider topped the list.

The Page 99 Test: Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre.

--Marshal Zeringue