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October Week 3

Teen Reader

Rebecca

Rebecca

Click here for the text version of Rebecca

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About the Author

Daphne de Maurier

Daphne de Maurier (1907-1989)

Daphne du Maurier, who was born in 1907, was the second daughter of the famous actor and theatre manager-producer, Sir Gerald du Maurier, and granddaughter of George du Maurier, the much-loved Punch artist who also created the character of Svengali in the novel Trilby.

After being educated at home with her sisters, and then in Paris, she began writing short stories and articles in 1928, and in 1931 her first novel, The Loving Spirit, was published. Two others followed. Her reputation was established with her frank biography of her father, Gerald: A Portrait, and her Cornish novel, Jamaica Inn. When Rebecca came out in 1938 she suddenly found herself to her great surprise, one of the most popular authors of the day. The book went into thirty-nine English impressions in the next twenty years and has been translated into more than twenty languages.

There were fourteen other novels, nearly all bestsellers. These include Frenchman's Creek (1941), Hungry Hill (1943), My Cousin Rachel (1951), Mary Anne (1954), The Scapegoat (1957), The Glass-Blowers (1963), The Flight of the Falcon (1965) and The House on the Strand (1969).

Besides her novels she published a number of volumes of short stories, Come Wind, Come Weather (1941), Kiss Me Again, Stranger (1952), The Breaking Point (1959), Not After Midnight (1971), Don't Look Now and Other Stories (1971), The Rendezvous and Other Stories (1980) and two plays—The Years Between (1945) and September Tide (1948).

She also wrote an account of her relations in the last century, The du Mauriers, and a biography of Branwell Brontë, as well as Vanishing Cornwall, an eloquent elegy on the past of a country she loved so much. Her autobiography, Growing Pains, appeared in 1977 and The Rebecca Notebook and Other Memories in 1981. Her books have translated well to the cinema. Sir Laurence Olivier starred in the filmed version of Rebecca; Jamaica Inn, Hungry Hill and Frenchman's Creek have also been notable successes; as well as The Birds and Don't Look Now, both adapted from a short story.

Daphne du Maurier was made a D.B.E. in 1969. She was married to Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Browning K.C.V.O., D.S.O. She died in 1989 at her home in Cornwall. Margaret Forster wrote in a tribute to her, "No other popular novelist has so triumphantly defied classification as Daphne du Maurier. She satisfied all the questionable criteria of popular fiction and yet satisfied too the exacting requirements of ‘real literature', something very few novelists ever do. (From Wikipedia.)

 

Rebecca (1938)

"Last Night I Dreamt I went to Manderley Again..."

With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten—a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house's current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim's first wife—the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca.

 

Questions for Rebecca

Du Maurier admitted that her heroine has no name because she could never think of an appropriate one—which in itself is a telling comment. What effect does it have on the novel that the heroine has no first name?

What is the heroine led to believe about Rebecca? In what way does the dead woman exert power over Manderley? At this point, what were your feelings about the new Ms. de Winter? Were you sympathetic toward her plight...or impatient with her lack of assertion? Or were you confused and frightened along with her?

What are some of the other clues about Rebecca's true nature that the author carefully plants along the way?

How might the costume ball—and the heroine's appearance in Rebecca's gown—stand as a symbol for young Mrs. de Winter's situation at Manderley?

In the end, what really happened to Rebecca? What is the full story of her death? Is it right that Maxim is absolved of any crime? Was he caught in an untenable position? Was Rebecca simply too evil—did she end up getting what she deserved?

(Questions by LitLovers)

 

 

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