In The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes writes:
“This was another of our fears: that Life wouldn’t turn out to be like Literature.”
This is actually a thought that crosses my mind pretty often. I love reading and read a lot, which sometimes gets me wondering whether I spend too much time pondering on the literary quality of my own life. When there’s a thunderstorm going on outside, I wonder how amazing it would be living in Wuthering Heights and trying to hide my affection for Heathcliff. When I’m in London I immediately imagine myself buying flowers just like Mrs. Dalloway did. And when I wandered the streets of Dublin a few years ago, I couldn’t help but wonder whether I was taking the same route as Leopold Bloom once did in Joyce’s Ulysses.
Last week I rented a DVD entitled Lost in Austen, in which a contemporary London girl, who wonders why her boyfriend does not bear any resemblance to any of her favorite novel heroes, suddenly discovers that a secret door in her flat allows her to enter the world of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
And this BBC mini-series is by far not the only cultural product which tackles the problem of reality meeting fiction. I will stick with my initial example of Pride and Prejudice, as this is a cultural phenomenon which has shaped Britain’s sense of its own past and has made its way into the hearts of many (predominantly female) readers… or viewers, as in the case of my alter ego Bridget Jones. Bridget is addicted to the BBC-adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and she becomes somewhat annoyed when she finds out about the real-life love affair of Colin and female co-star Jennifer Ehle:
“When I stumbled upon a photograph in the Standard of Darcy and Elizabeth, hideous, dressed as modern-day luvvies, draped all over each other in a meadow: she with blonde Sloane hair, and linen trouser suit, he in striped polo neck and leather jacket with Shoestring-style moustache. Apparently they are already sleeping together. This is absolutely disgusting. Feel disoriented and worried…”
Bridget adores Darcy and Elizabeth but wants their love affair to remain strictly locked up in a fictional world (I would hate to see Darcy and Elizabeth in bed, smoking a cigarette afterwards). Welsh cult author Jasper Fforde, on the contrary, plays with the idea of connecting the fictional world and the real world. In his Thursday-Next-Series, he designs a fictional Britain obsessed with literature where there are actual gang fights going on regarding the true identity of Shakespeare. His protagonist special agent Thursday Next enters the world of Jane Eyre and is culpable for the novel’s happily ever after. A few weeks ago I attended a reading of Jasper Fforde in which he discussed this idea turned topsy-turvy and wondered how fictional characters would find their way in our world: “Imagine Hamlet in Starbucks… My God, he could never decide!”
Although I try keeping fiction and reality apart, I want my life to have a certain literariness and I love secretly comparing myself to Catherine Earnshaw or even Bridget Jones, and I also love to imagine entering their world… Do you, as well?
Oh! Nearly forgot: You probably still wonder about the title of this post. You might even have expected some pornographic content… (Come on, admit it!) Or a very personal confession? Well, then I am sorry to disappoint you. The title only refers to a quote from Friends’ Chandler Bing (who does, or rather did, have a third nipple), who jokingly said: “If you press my third nipple, it opens up the magical world of Narnia.” Well, a blogger’s got to do what a blogger’s got to do to advertise her new blog. So go out there, spread the word, tell people about my blog, twitter about my blog, write poems about my blog etc.
And please: Hit the comments and tell me which fictional character you would like to meet, to have some drinks with, to change lives, or to fall in love with. Would you rather have a passionate Heathcliff waiting for you outside in the storm (as I would) or do you prefer going to Bermuda with a sparkling accessory such as Edward Cullen?