Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

July 20, 2005

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 1:47 am

BBC RADIO JANE EYRE

Oh dear, I lost my blogger password. I should try to be less clever in future. 😉

So, as you can see from the title of this post, I intend to say a few words about a radio broadcast of Jane Eyre. I really don’t know very much about this particular one, since it has only just come my way via a new friend from Brazil (the internet is a wonderful thing sometimes!). I will soon try to write up a complete cast list, and post it here, but so far I know that the leads are Meg Wynn Owen (also credited as Megwynn Owen, according to imdb.com), and Patrick Allen- a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. I can only guess that it is a BBC production because nowhere does the announcer say who produced it. The adapter was Barbara Cooper, I think. (I will verify this later).

I know it is late, and perhaps I should wait to discuss this, but it has been so long since I updated Brontëana…

In short, I am very impressed with this production. The entire cast is superbe, and the abridgement is cleverly done, retaining much of the artistry of the text. I believe that a good adaptation should do this, but an excellent adaptation has to go beyond simply repackaging the text. An excellent adaptation will encourage the viewer to see the text differently. Okay, so perhaps I am being too intellectual. I do enjoy some adaptations which are simply good fun and are otherwise not very insightful, but I get far more satisfaction from adaptations which make me want to re-read the original novel.

Only two adaptations have had this effect upon me. The first was the version with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston, already mentioned below. Eventually I shall properly speak of it, in all of its glory, but not now. 😉 This radio production has had the same effect. Like many of my fellow readers, I have found the chapters featuring St.John Rivers to be difficult to focus on. I still do not know why that was, but I have undergone a change now. The actor playing St.John is this adaptation does a marvelous job with the role. I have always found St.John to be terrifying, and here he is, capable of ‘killing [Jane] without extracting a drop of [her] blood’ or staining his ‘crystal conscience’ with guilt.

I listened to that episode many times over. And then, I smothered chapter 35 in annotations! A whole new appreciation for this section of the novel has been opened to me, thanks to a radio program. I also want to write another paper (which is not what I should be doing right now but it already has a title, so I suppose I’ll just have to write it :-\ ).

I know some of my readers have heard it as well. What are your thoughts on it? Did it make you see the novel differently as well?

Lastly, while looking through the catalogue at http://www.amazon.com, I came across this book on Brontë studies, due to be released not long from now. Reading the Brontë Body. It is about illness, disease, and 19th century medical practices. I’m not sure how much of it delves into the texts, the lives of the Brontës, their society, or the interplay of all of the above. It seems weighted towards the societal context of the Brontës. I suppose we will just have to wait and see! 🙂

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2 Comments »

  1. Hey, there. This is Thaïs (fonetika). I hope you don’t mind my barging in like this. This is the first time I come to your blog and I have only read this one post.

    I know exactly what you mean when you say you prefer versions that make you see things differently. This adaptation gave life to the words in my head. Mainly Mr. Rochester’s intonation on saying certain things. And this, of course, gave different meaning to the sentences I had read. It’s a wonderful adaptation.

    I have to agree with you again: it is hard for me too to pay attention to the chapters where St. John is. I deslike him very much. And it’s not because he is Mr. Rochester’s “rival”. But because he is deceitful (IMHO) and because he uses the name of God to try to trick Jane. Really, I don’t like him.

    Comment by Anonymous — July 26, 2005 @ 12:39 am |Reply

  2. To Thaïs:

    Hi! I was hoping you would stop by- I knew you would find me eventually- especially with a post about Patrick Allen 😉

    What you say about giving life to the words is precisely what I experienced while watching the Jayston. It was wonderful- and surprising. Some scenes which I had had trouble visualising properly seemed perfectly natural. Thank you so much for sharing this with me- I absolutely love it! It’s by far the best audio version I have.

    I read JE after I had seen the Zefferrelli film with Gainsbourg and Hurt. In that film St.John is uptight, humorless, but rather harmless and a little on the cute side (he’s rather bashful at times, and we get to see him chasing his hat and falling down a little sloping lawn). When I got to the real St.John, I forgot all of that- and I hated him! With a passion. I’m surprised at how Rochester is so generally despised and yet so few see St.John for what he is. As you say, he uses the name of God to trick Jane- he must know that he cannot speak for her, yet he will not back down and resorts to using her religion against her. I find that totally dispicable!

    When I annotate the text for those chapters, I have to restrain myself from writing in strong language how I feel about him 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — July 29, 2005 @ 1:36 am |Reply


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