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Voyage in the Dark (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 3 Aug 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (3 Aug. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141183950
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141183954
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 87,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jean Rhys was born in Dominica in 1890, the daughter of a Welsh doctor and a white Creole mother. She came to England when she was sixteen and then drifted into a series of jobs - chorus girl, mannequin, artist's model - after her father died.

She began to write when the first of her three marriages broke up. She was in her thirties by then, and living in Paris, where she was encouraged by Ford Madox Ford, who also discovered D. H. Lawrence. Ford wrote an enthusiastic introduction to her first book in 1927, a collection of stories called The Left Bank. This was followed by Quartet (originally Postures,, 1928), After Leaving Mr Mackenzie (1930), Voyage in the Dark (1934) and Good Morning, Midnight (1939). None of these books was particularly successful, perhaps because they were decades ahead of their time in theme and tone, dealing as they did with women as underdogs, exploited and exploiting their sexuality. With the outbreak of war and subsequent failure of Good Morning, Midnight, the books went out of print and Jean Rhys literally dropped completely from sight. It was generally thought that she was dead. Nearly twenty years later she was rediscovered, largely due to the enthusiasm of the writer Francis Wyndham. She was living reclusively in Cornwall, and during those years had accumulated the stories collected in Tigers are Better-Looking.

In 1966 she made a sensational reappearance with Wide Sargasso Sea, which won the Royal Society of Literature Award and the W. H. Smith Award in 1966, her only comment on the latter being that 'It has come too late'. Her final collection of stories, Sleep It Off Lady, appeared in 1976 and Smile Please, her unfinished autobiography, was published posthumously in 1979. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1966 and a CBE in 1978.

Jean Rhys, described by A. Alvarez as 'one of the finest British writers of this century', died in 1979.


Product Description

Review

Miss Rhys has not often been more steadily successful than in her account of Anna Morgan's quite ordinary tragedy. . . . Miss Rhys has done a nearly perfect job.--T. P., Jr.

About the Author

Jean Rhys was born in Dominica in 1894. Coming to England aged 16, she drifted into various jobs before starting to write in the late 1920's. Her novels, often portraying women as underdogs out to exploit their sexualities, were ahead of their timeand only modestly successful. Partly autobiographical, VOYAGE IN THE DARK was first published in 1934. From 1939 she lived reclusively, and was largely forgotten when she made a sensational comeback with 'Wide Sargasso Sea' in 1966. She died in 1979.

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It was as if a curtain had fallen, hiding everything I had ever known. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ladywebslinger on 5 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
Voyage in the Dark is the story of one young woman as she journeys through a tangled web of dubious acquaintances, seedy dwellings and alcohol-fuelled encounters in the demi-monde of late Edwardian England.

Having decided she is too costly to look after, Anna is sent from her Jamaican home to the care, or rather supervision, of a guardian, her aunt. The aunt is interested in little more than what she can get from the relationship and refuses, when asked, to pay for the return of young Anna to her native land. The action begins on a foggy cold street in England where Anna and a friend, both chorus girls, are 'picked up' by two wealthy man. What follows is the seduction, and ultimately the betrayal of Anna by her older lover, Walter, and her subsequent unravelling as she tries to make ends meet.

The reason for the 5 stars is not only the intrigue Rhys imbues in her character, and the 'what will become of her' quality she lends the same, but for the beautiful writing style, and skilled switches between Anna's conscious and sub-conscious mind as she voyages yet further into the darkness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christopher H TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 July 2012
Format: Paperback
One might praise its literary achievements, yet this is one of the saddest books. Jean Rhys was up there with Virginia Woolf and Rosamond Lehmann with her writing in the 1930s, developing a Modernist prose style where the narrative almost effortlessly jumps from thoughts to events to dialogue. Technically, there is much to savour and admire, to learn from. It is high art. But it all gets hard to appreciate due to the story that is unfolding. At moments you can't stand back objectively and praise the writer's skill, because events being described overwhelm.

With no siblings, her mother long in the grave, her father recently dead, and neither inheritance nor financial resources, not even an education to fall back on, 18 year old Anna is alone in the world and trying to survive. To compound matters, she was born and raised in the West Indies, although her stepmother has brought her to Britain, and then left her to fend for herself in this strange land. She thinks that she is getting by. However, we can see that Anna is floundering.

Rhys's novel has that drabness of the paintings of Walter Sickett and Camden Town School - the world seems small, dingy, somewhat claustraphobic with no relief, no way out. Indeed, much of the story unfolds in the cheerless grey streets of Camden Town and Bayswater. There seem to be no moments of pleasure and delight: "The houses on either side of the street were small and dark," Anna explains at one point, "and then they were big and dark but all exactly alike. And I saw that all my life I had known this was going to happen, and that I'd been afraid for a long time, I'd been afraid for a long time." (p.82)

Anna's story is almost archetypal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By nigeyb on 5 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
The first book I have read by Jean Rhys - and not the last. Clearly biographical and very well written too. The protagonist - Anna - arrives in England from the West Indies and has to adapt to a new country, a new culture, and a society that is changing fast. Anna is ill equipped to deal with her life as a chorus girl traveling the country, and the characters she encounters. Most of whom want something from her and in the process leave her more damaged. The writing is wonderful and I was engrossed from the first few pages. I'm looking forward to reading more books by Jean Rhys.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Mar. 2002
Format: Paperback
Gripping!! A brilliant book of a young girls struggle to become a woman in London in the 1930's. The main character, Anna, is a perfect example of the 'New Woman' of modernism that was developing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Arriving in England from the West Indies Anna becomes a chorus girl traveling the country. It is on these travels that she meet a variety of charcters all whom tarnish her in some way, men who give her money for sex and women who trick her out of money. This is a brilliant read. It is a book I couldn't put down, with an ending that will pull the heart strings of every reader. It is a book filled with intrege about a hypocritical society that virtually ruins this young naive girl. This book a must. It's simple style makes it an easy read, at the same time however there is nothing simplistic about the plot. You've got to try it -it's a must!!!
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By minty on 10 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
a genius of a writer, naturalistic, and Voyage in the Dark - my favourite of all her books, and hers too according to her biographies. There is also a brilliant review of this book by Andrea Dworkin entitled ""Voyage in the Dark: Hers and Ours" which highlights why Jean Rhys is such an important and valuable writer.
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