Texts From Jane Eyre

oh my god

        what

this guy

this publisher guy

is asking me about my favorite canto in Childe Harold

that’s like asking someone to pick who’s hotter

his half-sister or his cousins

it’s literally impossible

texts from jane eyreMallory Ortberg’s Texts From Jane Eyre is the kind of book you want to race through in an hour, laughing hysterically, and then lend it to everyone you know. I counsel otherwise. My advice? Browse through it slowly (the laughing hysterically part is not optional). Read a few sections a day. Stash it on your nightstand and read it before bed. Read bits aloud to friends. And then buy several more copies as Christmas gifts, and watch yourself become extremely popular.

god I love you cathy

     i love you too

     i love you so much

     god

     it hurts how much i love you

i love you so much

let’s break each other’s hearts

     oh my god let’s

     i love you so much i’m going to marry edgar

i love you so much i’m going to run away

     i love you so much i’m going to make myself sick

good

good that’s so much love

     i love you so much i’m going to get sick again

     just out of spite

     i’ll forget how to breathe

i’ll be your slave

     i’ll pinch your heart and hand it back to you dead

i’ll lie down with my soul already in its grave

     i’ll damn myself with your tears

i love you so much i’ll come back and marry your sister-in-law

 god yes

and i’ll bankroll your brother’s alcoholism

     i always hoped you would

uuuuuugh

This could be just a gimmick — ha ha, what if people had phones in the past! That would be crazy! But this book is not that. Texts From Jane Eyre is satire that has little to do with the actual method of delivery: it could just as easily be telegrams, or notes, or deleted scenes from these literary works. Mallory Ortberg’s jokes (originally a feature at The Toast) work because she knows the canon so well, and loves it. These texts are a vehicle to skewer subtexts: somewhere inside ourselves we all knew that Mr. Rochester would text IN ALL CAPS, or that Scarlett O’Hara should never be given a phone, or that Edgar Allan Poe would text at extremely inconvenient hours. In a larger sense, these texts take the big personalities of the Western canon — authors and characters — and translate them into the everyday: what would William Blake be like if you had to find a place to put yet another drawing of a flaying? Would you appreciate his genius so much then, huh? What if you were Jason’s second wife, after Medea, and Medea had your number?

Don’t take this book at one sitting. Small doses increase the delight. But you’re going to like this: the better you know the books, the funnier the texts are. And then you’re going to want to lend it out. Resist! Get a second copy — the minute you lend it out, you’ll want to go back and read it again, and again, and what was that part about Jane Eyre…?

I hope you’re packed for India already

     I’m not going to India with you, St. John

That’s not what these TWO TICKETS TO INDIA say

 

I received a copy of this book for review consideration from Henry Holt.

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14 Responses to Texts From Jane Eyre

  1. Hi, Jenny! Thanks for a wonderful suggestion for Christmas gifts (to those who are familiar or becoming familiar with the great works, of course). I think it always helps to learn to take “the greats” (and therefore oneself as one reads them) with a generous pinch of salt. I can already think of several mature friends who will love this book, and think it would also be a lovely bedside book for any undergraduate burdened with such burning questions as whether or not Tennyson was really being gay when he wrote “In Memoriam” for Arthur Hallam (a question one of my more earnest students once asked me).

    • Jenny says:

      I agree! If I were in the English department (instead of French) I think I would give it to any graduating senior with a sense of humor.

  2. Swistle says:

    1. I have added it to my Christmas Wish List
    2. I am going to race through it in an hour
    3. Then I will take it slower on the re-read

  3. Oh, wonderful – what a find. Straight on to my list!

  4. Hahahaha, there are so many people on my Christmas list for whom I am considering buying this. The problem is that they all keep buying it for themselves! And I haven’t got it on my own Christmas list, which was a serious oversight by me.

  5. Stefanie says:

    I’ve been hearing how funny this book it. I will definitely have to check it out!

  6. Christy says:

    Oh, Wuthering Heights, ha ha. I look forward to perusing this book myself.

  7. Juxtabook says:

    That’s brightened my morning already!

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