Between January and March of 2005 a group of us on WomanWritersThroughtheAges (a Yahoo literary list) began a reading and discussion of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's East into Upper East: Plain Tales from New York and New Delhi (1980). During this conversation we discussed feminine romance (e.g., Anne Tyler's The Amateur Marriage); criticism of Jhabvala (e.g., Laurie Sucher's The Fiction of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and Yasmine Gooneratne's Silence, Exile, and Cunning); the films Jhabvala wrote the screenplays for (The Remains of the Day); her other novels and short stories (e.g., A Backward Glance, Heat and Dust and Out of India); and the close parallels between her and Jane Austen's fiction.
- Jan 23: "Expiation" and "Farid and Farida": "Expiation" & "Farid and Farida": Tales 1 & 2 from New Delhi: Reliable and Unreliable Narrators; Feminisms; The film Monster, Why the Titles; Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreters of Maladies and Caroline Bynam Walker's Holy Feast and Holy Festival; The Endless Cooking and Breast-feeding; Tyler's wandering women; Jhabvala and those outside the loop of safety & concern; Jhabvala's films; Wharton's "Expiation"?
- Jan 30: "Independence" and "Development and Progress": "Independence" and "Development and Progress": Tales 3 & 4 from New Delhi; As we prepare to think about "Independence" -- thinking about female sexuality and power; "Independence:" Ironies abound and Austen; Self-Disinheritance; "Development and Progress:" Flotsam and Jetsam; An Indian Saloniere; Kitty's Sexuality; Kitty's Announcement; "Farid and Farida" Redux; This week's stories, "Independence" and A Backward Glance; Jhabvala and Austen; Damned if you do, damned if you don't, Romance is dangerous; Kitty a lesbian; Jhabvala's Heat and Dust and this week's stories; The Text as a Cultural Artifact; Dove, beauty, and perpetuating the cultural construction of "female work"; Mazo and Me, continued -- and Botox; Botox, Cultural Divides, and Jhabvala; Legends about Corsets; Indian film (Inflamed Passions, Fire) -- yet more passion/mother roles; Pathologizing Single Femininity; Gender: Essays on Film and TV shows about Gender/Sex/Family; Sex and the City.
- Feb 6: "A New Delhi Romance" and "Husband and Son": "A New Delhi Romance" and "Husband and Son": Tales 5 & 6 from New Delhi: A Sharp Critique of the Dreams of Motherhood (Parenting?); Christmas at the movies: Closer et aliae; Mozart Updated: Cosi Fan Tutti becomes Closer (as well as commentary on The Mother, Calendar Girls, Being Julia and Something's Gotta Give); "A New Delhi Romance": Jhabvala's cruelty/Excluding the "other" (and Austen Brought Back); Naomi Wolff's Promiscuities; Dipti: she dips; Dipti and Indu; Intrasex antagonism among women: Seierstad's The Bookseller of Kabul; Jhabvala and Space; Intrasex Antagonism Among Women/Lack of Space&Decent housing; "Husband and Son": Some grounds of interpretation: Larkin's "Reference Back".
- Feb 20: The Temptress" and "A Summer by the Sea": "Temptress" and "A Summer by the Sea:" Tales 7 & 8 from New York; "Temptress" or Ma; "Summer by the Sea:" Mother Bea; "Summer by the Sea:" Names & Smells; "Temptress:" Surrealistic and Unbelievable; "The Temptress:" Allegory about the Seductive Appeal of Religious Cults; 'The Temptress': Jhabvala vis-a-vis her characters; Jhabvala and Henry James.
- Feb 27: "Great Expectations" and "Parasites": "Great Expectations" and "Parasites": Tales 9 & 10 from New York: The gravid female versus the emaciated one: Symbolic.
- Mar 6: "Fidelity" and "Bobby": Her Career as a Screenplay writer: Heat and Dust, The Remains of the Day; Return of Suttee?; "Fidelity" and "Bobby:" Tales 11 & 12 from New York: The Devoured Mother.
- Mar 13: "Broken Promises" and "Two Muses": East into Upper East: Summing Up and, slightly OT, Paul Zacharia; General Thoughts; "Broken Promises" and "Two Muses:" Tales 13 & 14 from New York; Jhabvala and Begley's About Schmidt.