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Watch – In conversation with Bidisha

25 February 2022

Carlo Gébler interviews Bidisha about Wide Sargasso Sea and Jane Eyre with readings by actor Evlyne Oyedokun.


This was an exclusive live event for Saga customers, recorded in June 2021.

Experience it again below.

Wide Sargasso Sea

In Jane Eyre the marriage ceremony of Jane Eyre and Rochester is interrupted by the solicitor declaring an impediment to the union: the prior marriage of Rochester to Bertha Antoinette Mason, the ‘mad woman in the attic.’

Jean Rhys took umbrage with Brontë’s stereotypical depiction of Antoinette and believed that she needed her own story to establish ‘the reason why Rochester treats her so abominably and feels justified, the reason why he thinks she is mad and why of course she goes mad, even the reason why she tries to set everything on fire, and eventually succeeds.’

Wide Sargasso Sea is both a prequel and a response to Jane Eyre, in which Rhys introduces us to Antoinette as a young woman on the island of Dominica and to the sexual oppression, racism and the complex social and political history of the West Indies in the early 1800’s. It was published in 1966 and is now viewed as a modern masterpiece.

About Bidisha

Bidisha is a broadcaster, journalist and film-maker. Bidisha specialises in international human rights, social justice and the arts and offers political analysis, arts critique and cultural diplomacy tying these interests together. She writes for the main UK broadsheets and presents and commentates for BBC TV and radio, ITN, CNN, Viacom, CBS and Sky News. As part of BBC4's Secret Life of Books she presented a documentary on Jane Eyre.

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