I have a report to make on the state of Bronte currency in this corner of Canada. It looks like things have not improved much lately. And today I had a very sad experience. I still do not own a copy of Agnes Grey, or a proper collection of Anne's poetry. I went to the university bookstore today to get my books for classes which begin next week when I thought I would buy AG for myself since my birthday is in a week. I looked everwhere in the store, and firstly I have to say that this bookstore is the strangest I have ever seen. It does not include any 'literature.' 'Fiction' does not include any works by authors no longer living. I know that there's often a bias towards contemporary literature but this is ridiculous! I retreated, in defeat, to the check out.
"Did you find everything you were looking for?"
"Actually, I was looking for Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë?"
"Did you try upstairs?"
There was no one upstairs. There shoudl be someone upstairs. So, I went upstairs. There was no one there- until then suddenly someone appeared from nowhere. I repeated my request.
"Grey with an E or an A?"
"You know, I am never sure. E I think."
"…And the first name?"
"Agnes… …Oh, you mean the author? Anne."
"Hmn… There's so many Charlotte and Emily- the older ones."
There was no Agnes Grey. They had Tenant but Agnes Grey was not even in their catalogue!
Fine, I thought. No problem- I'll go to the mall instead. They have a huge bookstore there with its own coffee shop and kiddie play castle! I decided to call ahead just to be safe.
*something between symphony and circus music is blaring in the background*
"What was that name again?"
"Sorry, I couldn't hear over this symphony!"
And… it turned out they didn't have it either! There goes all but the second hand stores. I don't want to make it seem like Anne is the only Brontë suffering in this way. I also looked around for DVDs of Wuthering Heights and found stores only carrying one copy of one version of it. Hmn. I will never forget the time I called in after Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair.
"I know how to spell, Air! A-I-"
"No, Eyre- as in 'Jane Eyre"
"Hmnn…" (ie, 'well, we'll just see about that…')
Sometimes I wonder if I live in a Monty Python skit. "That's Dickens with two ks!" I went through the day with even my closest family looking at me like I was touched as I said: "I don't believe it! I just don't believe it! Not one copy of Agnes Grey?!"