: "Undine is an extreme case of the
: unlikable person rendered perplexingly
: sympathetic by her desires. She’s almost
: comically indestructible, like Wile E.
: Coyote. The interest I take in her ascent,
: her Coyote-like survival of the seeming
: wipeout blows that her divorces deliver to
: her social standing, may be akin to the
: fascination of watching one spider in a jar
: prevail over other spiders, but I still
: can’t read the book without aligning myself
: with her struggle."
: H-m-m. Well, I can. I would have loved to
: see the book end with her complete ruin. I
: absolutely loathed her.
: I wouldn't have liked - aesthetically -
: Undine's ruin. It's too much for me that at
: the end of Dangerous Liaisons when the woman
: is ruined both socially and physically
: (smallpox as I recall). I find Undine's end
: highly satisfying aesthetically. She gets
: all she wants and finds that she wanted
: something else and is dissatisfied. She's a
: failure from beginning to end because she
: can never really be happy for long.
: I do not, however, sympathize with her. I
: never feel frustrated with her parents or
: Ralph or the Marquis for standing in her way
: as Franzen says. I feel frustrated with
: them, esp. with Ralph, for not casting her
: off, freeing themselves from her. Her
: parents hardly can, I suppose. The Marquis,
: to some extent, does. But poor Ralph is just
: besotted with love or something. Even when
: he thinks badly of her. I suppose his social
: codes tell him he must do all he can to make
: the marriage work. Van Degan is the lucky
: one. He never gets what he wants, but he
: doesn't get ruined.
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