Special Sub-Topic: All About "Rebecca"
|"Rebecca" is regarded by many as the very epitome of the Cornish novel, while, in fact, the word "Cornwall" is never mentioned in the book. Actually, Daphne du Maurier wasn't even in England when she wrote the major part of the book, she only finished it there. Where was "Rebecca" mainly written?|
Egypt. Du Maurier's husband, Frederick Browning, was a soldier stationed in Alexandria. Her own insecurities in complying with the social obligations expected of her as the commanding officer's wife would later resurface in the narrator's character.
|"Rebecca" is said to be inspired by, and to reflect, which English classic?|
"Jane Eyre" (Charlotte Brontė). Although different, the two novels do have some key plot points in common, such as an unlikely marriage between a wealthy man and a woman widely regarded as unsuitable, and a shadow falling on that marriage due to the man's first wife. Both feature a stately manor that burns down in the end, with both fires being caused by the first wife (though only indirectly in the case of "Rebecca" - according to Sally Beauman, Rebecca is the "poetic agent" as opposed to the "physical agent", who is probably Mrs. Danvers). Both novels also imply that the main character "saves" her husband from his past, although this works out much more pleasantly in "Jane Eyre" than "Rebecca", given that the ending of "Rebecca" (which is, in fact, the very beginning of the book) is rather cynical and not exactly happy.
|How many officially approved follow-up novels did "Rebecca" inspire?|
3. "Mrs. de Winter" (1993) by Susan Hill is a direct sequel.
"The Other Rebecca" (1996) by Maureen Freely is a contemporary version.
"Rebecca's Tale" (2001) by Sally Beauman, the only one of the three which I've read, too, deals with Rebecca's childhood and background through a bunch of letters sent to Colonel Julyan (the magistrate from "Rebecca") approximately twenty years after the events of the original novel. Mrs. Danvers, Jack Favell and the second Mrs. de Winter all make an appearance.
|Fellow author Agatha Christie was so fascinated by one particular aspect of "Rebecca" that she corresponded with du Maurier on the topic. Which aspect was that?|
the fact that a main character should be nameless. I admit, this is a hard question, and one should think that Ms. Christie was more interested in the murderous plot points, so to speak. But, in fact, she found it most unusual and worth talking about that the narrator's name is never given.
|Hitchcock's atmospheric 1940 film version of the novel generally stays very close to the original, but changes one crucial plot point. What happens in the movie?|
Maxim doesn't shoot Rebecca. The Hollywood Production Code, or Hays Code, was the predecessor of the rating system and determined what was morally acceptable in a feature film. And it was, of course, unacceptable that a husband should get away with the murder of his wife, even more so since the audience is on his side. So the murder had to be made an accident.
The 1997 TV version of "Rebecca" was the first adaptation of the novel to show Rebecca alive. She was played by Lucy Cohu.
|As Sally Beauman points out in her (very interesting) afterword to the 2002 edition of "Rebecca", the novel is a subversive book that undermines the very genre into which it was forced by the critics: romance. It is likely that du Maurier's sympathies lay with Rebecca, the angry, rebellious female voice, rather than the submissive second wife who gradually keeps losing her own identity during the novel and defining herself only as a wife.|
t. Beauman argues that du Maurier used "Rebecca" as a valve to come to terms with her own complex personality and that characteristics of her can be found in both women, Rebecca and Mrs. de Winter. But she also points out that, in spite of being the antagonist and the villain of the piece, Rebecca is the character that lingers in the reader's mind longer than the pale narrator. All Rebecca did was challenge the patriarchic structures at Manderley by being an absolutely free spirit, much like du Maurier herself. In contrast, the narrator pretty much ends up where she started: as a paid companion to a petty tyrant, only this time she is not paid in money but "love". Her destiny is to be completely subsumed by her husband.
These are Beauman's theories, but although I find them hugely interesting, sometimes I prefer the more shallow, romantic interpretation and like to hate Rebecca and see the narrator and Maxim happy together ;)
|Who wrote the novel "Bag of Bones", which does not only quote from "Rebecca" several times but also uses the character of Mrs. Danvers as a kind of boogeyman for the main character?|
Stephen King. Stephen King is a huge admirer of du Maurier's works; in fact, some people think of her as King's literary predecessor.
"Bag of Bones" deals with a writer, a haunted house, a little girl and a millionaire. It also opens with a quote from "Rebecca": "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again..."
|There is a musical version of "Rebecca".|
t. It opened in Vienna in September 2006. Book and lyrics are by Michael Kunze, the music by Sylvester Levay, the team behind the successful German musicals "Elisabeth" and "Mozart!". They were able to obtain the rights after du Maurier's son had seen a performance of "Elisabeth" and was convinced that his mother's masterpiece would be in good hands.
It was, by the way ;) The musical stays very close to the book, but includes the same plot change as Hitchcock's movie version. In addition, the role of Mrs Van Hopper was extended a little, and the outlook given on the marriage is much more positive than in the book. Other than that, everything stays true to the original, right down to the opening line.
|A funny bonus question to end the background section of this quiz: the cardigan Joan Fontaine wears in the Hitchcock movie is known as a "rebeca" in which language?|
Spanish. Apparently, this particular piece of clothing was uncommon in Spain, so they simply called it "rebeca", like the movie where they first (?) saw it. And no, it's not a typo - double consonants exist in Spanish only when the pronunciation requires them, and a double c before an a would not make any sense in Spanish.
|Now let's talk about the novel itself. In a scene near the beginning, during a drive with Maxim, the narrator wishes she could bottle up something, like scent, so that she could open that bottle and relive whatever is inside whenever she wants to. What exactly does she say she wants to bottle up?|
a memory. "If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent." (p.40) The quote also made it into the movie and inspired a ballad in the musical, "Zeit in einer Flasche". I did a translation into English of the song for my dissertation and called it "Memories in a Bottle" (instead of "time", which would be a literal translation), bearing the original quote from the book in mind.
Maxim's wry answer is something along the lines of, "Careful, sometimes there's a demon in the bottle."
|When the narrator discovers Rebecca's cottage in the bay, she meets Ben Carminowe, the slightly retarded young man who digs for shells in the bay. During the ensuing conversation, Ben repeats two phrases several times. Which phrases?|
"She's gone in the sea" and "Don't put me to the asylum". Apparently, Ben saw Rebecca and Favell in the cottage, and Rebecca told him that she would send him to an asylum, should he ever tell what he saw. Even now, after her death, Ben insists he's "seen nothin'", because he's still afraid he might be sent away. He also repeatedly says that "she's gone in the sea".
It's true that Ben also tells the narrator that she's "got angel's eyes", but he only says it once. I made up the other options, although they do sound like things that Ben might say.
By the way, Ben's last name, Carminowe, is not mentioned in "Rebecca" but in "Rebecca's Tale", and I'm assuming it to be canon.
|In a very intense scene, Mrs. Danvers wants to coax the narrator into killing herself. What does she suggest the narrator should do?|
jump out of the window. She speaks so hypnotically that the narrator nearly obeys. Fortunately, the moment is interrupted by the rockets in the bay, signalling that there's a ship in trouble. Neither Mrs. Danvers nor the narrator ever mention the incident again.
|What is the verdict at the inquest of Rebecca's death?|
suicide. Although it seems a rather strange method of committing suicide, Colonel Julyan contends himself with the version that Rebecca sank her boat herself. Jack Favell's attempts at blackmail fail when Dr. Baker is discovered and provides everyone with a motive for suicide: Rebecca was terminally ill. The implication is, of course, that Rebecca provoked Maxim deliberately into killing her, so that her death was indeed a strange form of suicide.
|Due to the circular structure of the novel, what would usually be an epilogue (I guess) comes in the beginning. Therefore, the novel ends very abruptly. What is the last scene in the book?|
Maxim and his wife drive up to Manderley and find it in flames. In the movie, it is Maxim and Frank in the car, and they even get to get out of it. The book ends abruptly, with the last spoken line being "That's not the sunrise. That's Manderley." Then Maxim and wife drive up the driveway to see the manor ablaze, and the wind is blowing the ashes in their faces, and then it's over.
The musical has an epilogue that depicts the de Winters as an elderly couple in an idyllic place by the Mediterranean. A very happy ending, compared to that dull exile that awaits the de Winters in the book.
|Finish the quote to complete the famous opening line of the novel: "Last night I dreamt I..."|
went to Manderley again. It's been quoted and re-used a thousand times (see question 7, for instance).
I hope you liked this quiz. I know the questions weren't all that easy, but I hope they were at least interesting.
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