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2002 articles 1988 articles

Swimming the Wide Sargasso Sea: the manuscript of Jean Rhys's novel

Ruth Webb

Abstract

THERE have been times during my long acquaintanceship with the manuscript of Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea (BL, Add. MS. 57857) when I have felt caught up in the plot of a detective novel-whose author has delighted in leading me down blind alleys and to false conclusions-rather than involved in literary enquiry. Scholarly investigation inevitably creates the atmosphere of detective fiction and that atmosphere is part of the enjoyment. The apparent 'clues' to Jean Rhys's creative process, particularly the arrangement of the manuscript's eleven sections, proved to be the basis for more wrong guesses than brilliant discoveries; the real insights lay deeper.

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