Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Wright's wrongs

Our LitWits met today and we tore into Richard Wright's Adultery. We didn't tear it apart but rather dove into the questions raised by the author.

On the whole I think we agreed it was a good readable book with much in it to think about. Some thought it better than Clara Callan as I did ( but at least one thought the reverse) The title put some of our members off initially. One member had several alternatives she thought might have been better( "the wages of sin" I think was one ?) but we agreed the adultery event was the central issue of the book with Denise's death only exposing the betrayal. We talked quite a bit about adultery itself. It seemed to be accepted by his colleagues, by the police ( except for the female constable) and by Denise's family. Does this partially absolve Daniel? I felt that it meant that the situation Daniel had to face was made easier for him but that it shouldn't in any way absolve him; he had hurt his wife and daughter seriously no matter what society thought of it.

Would Claire have found out about the affair had Denise not been killed? Would the affair have continued? I thought for sure it would have if Denise had anything to do with it as it was clear she had initiated the affair and had a "thing" for Daniel. And Daniel might have been weak enough to continue with it.

I felt Daniel was very detached through the first half or more of the book and was very self centred until he met Denise's family when perhaps finally he was made aware of the full tragedy of the events in which he was a central figure. But did he feel guilty? Did he really feel how much he had hurt Claire? We thought maybe men feel less seriously about betrayals of this sort and intellectualise it while a a woman's point of view might have had more emotion and obvious pain which Daniel did not seem to express. Was this what the author intended? There was a feeling that that the author is more confident in portraying male characters ( cv Clara Callan ) and I agree as the female characters were sketchily drawn, except for Denise who was fleshed out more toward the end.

My quibble remains. I question the logic, credibility, athleticism? of a 50+ year old man waiting in a car park until past dark for English rain to stop (does it ever stop) and having a "quickie" in the (small, standard shift, rental ) car when a comfortable hotel room awaited them. Necessary for the plot maybe but ....

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Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937)