Mallory Ortberg is a writer and comedian based in San Francisco. She co-founded the website, The Toast, and has written for New York Magazine, Gawker, The Hairpin and The Atlantic. She is a hilarious force to be reckoned with and she has just published a book that is the physical manifestation of all of my wildest dreams. It is literally all I’ve ever needed in life and I’m no longer anxious about graduating and going out into the “real world,” which multivitamin I should be taking, global warming, or neoliberalism. Now I have Texts From Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with your Favorite Literary Characters and everything is going to be OK.
Ortberg was inspired when she saw a comment on a “Classic Trash” review of Gone With the Wind in which a user noted that life in her small, southern town was still basically like Gone With the Wind except that now they had cell phones. In a Q&A on the Texts From Jane Eyre website, Ortberg says: “. . .the idea of Scarlett O’Hara—who is so selfish and sneaky and prone to lying and manipulation—with a cell phone was so vivid to me I came up with the idea on the spot.”
The brilliant book contains imagined text conversations between our favorite literary characters and authors — Medea, Hamlet, Don Quixote, Sherlock Holmes, Emily Dickinson, Daisy Miller, Virginia Woolf, and, of course, the characters of Harry Potter, to name a few. Given that our class often involves making connections between Victorian visual culture and modern phenomena (like funeral selfies, contemporary advertising, and poverty tourism), I couldn’t NOT share this awesome, anachronistic, insanely creative collection with you all.
I’ve included an excerpt of the book — a conversation between Odysseus and Circe — available on textsfromjaneeyre.com: TextsFromJaneEyre-Excerpt
I just found this very important, very (perhaps more) relevant post by Ortberg on The Toast, Women Having A Terrible Time at Parties in Western Art History: http://the-toast.net/2014/10/28/women-terrible-time-parties-western-art-history
In an interview with The Guardian, Ortberg explains how the idea came to her: “I saw an image online and thought how interesting it is that many painting throughout Western art history are called The Conversation or Two People Flirting or The Couple. You’re clearly meant to see this as a pleasant interaction, but the look on the woman’s face is so clearly, “Someone, please, for the love of God, get me out of here. I wish I were dead.” I don’t want to make sweeping generalisations, but I love the idea that basically for 600 years of Western European art, male artists were thinking, ‘That’s the look women always have on their face when you talk to them. That’s not boredom, that’s just their listening face.’”
Take a break from studying and enjoy these hilarious texts and photos!