Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

August 17, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 11:44 pm

Bronteana Book Meme!

Glaukopidos informs me that I’ve been tagged for a book meme that has been circulating on Classics blogs. I’ve never posted a meme on Bronteana before, and it isn’t news or an anecdote. So, I suppose this is an interview with myself.

1. One book that changed your life:

Villette, by Charlotte Bronte. It was only after I read Villette that I became interested in the Brontes. And this was not that long ago either: perhaps two years ago. I took it to heart, and owe to it my determination to become a Bronte scholar.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte. I imagine that the novel will change when I read it again. It is a totally different experience each time.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (really, are you surprised?).

4. One book that made you laugh:

An Aislinge MacConglinne (The Vision of McCongline), annonymous medieval Irishperson. Well. It has a saga in it about the ‘mighty peerless chieftains of the tribes of food,’ with such characters as Cakey MacWrist-y-hand and Filch MacSmooth-juicy-bacon.

5. One book that made you cry:

Shirley, by Charlotte Bronte. I believe it is the only book that made me cry, while Villette came very close.

6. One book that you wish had been written.

I wish Charlotte had finished Emma. Those were some of her finest opening chapters. The rewrite, by Clare Boland was not convincing.

7. One book that you wish had never been written.

Wide Sargasso Sea would be the smart answer, just so I would save time in explaining that it and Jane Eyre are not narratively compatible. I can’t say I wish any book were not written. No, wait… There Was Mr. Cristi. I helped publish the thing. I edited it. I nearly went mad trying to write backcover copy for it. ‘Just pretend to like it- say why people should read it.’ I drew a blank for so long that I finally snapped and, looking at the Penguin copy for Charlotte’s The Professor which makes it sound like a tale of seduction, I set to work. I believe I did use the phrase ‘Mrs. Christi sucks the marrow out of life’ but only in desperation. I even hinted at illicit goings-on and sinister implications surrounding the completely benign Mr. Bedlington, but as the publisher said: ‘the backcover is the only place where hyperbole and lies are encouraged.’ (Thus, in an anthology I am actually published in I am hearalded as one of Canada’s emerging authors (very emergent- as that is my one and only publication to date). And that the books is ‘the best ever’. I kid not). Anyway, no one- the publisher, the author’s family, the 30 or so editors working on it- thought it had the slightest merit as a novel. I think we went with Gritty Realism in the end, which is good for anything!

8. One book you’re currently reading:

I am currently between books. I just finished Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:

North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell. Would you believe it, they don’t have a copy in the entire library system of this city!

10. Now tag five people: I tag Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog, Mysticgypsy, Frankengirl, Pennyforyourdreams, and Austenblog!

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17 Comments »

  1. Please please hunt down North & South! It is truly wonderful. I didn’t discover it until last year, and it was such a treat. I even found a copy on my bookshelf that I’d purchased – ahem – 20 years ago when I was at university doing my English degree (I studied Wives & Daughters for my degree and must have picked up N&S because I’d enjoyed W&D). So it was sitting there unread all those years waiting for me.

    Comment by delamare — August 18, 2006 @ 8:10 am |Reply

  2. Freaky! I’m in the middle of reading Mere Christianity right now! Say, how do you like C.S Lewis? On another vein, I admire your admiration of Villette (if that makes sense). The first Bronte book I read was Jane Eyre, and I love it- its very enjoyable to read. But I think Villette is my favorite. Its more painful in my opinion (though I think it has its light and comedic moments as well), but for some reason it goes strait to my heart.

    Comment by mandyjoy — August 18, 2006 @ 9:20 am |Reply

  3. to delamare:

    I’ll be able to get a copy at my new university’s library I’m SURE. It is shocking sometimes how difficult it is to find classics here- and I don’t even live in a small town! I have some prejudices against Gaskell because I don’t like how she treated Patrick Bronte and Mr. Nicholls in her biography of Charlotte but I have to overcome them! (Besides, once I read the book I can see the mini-series without guilt).

    Comment by Brontëana — August 18, 2006 @ 11:14 am |Reply

  4. Hi!
    Thanks for tagging me! My answers can be found here.

    Comment by mysticgypsy — August 18, 2006 @ 11:16 am |Reply

  5. to mandyjoy:

    That is strange! While my computer was down I read all of the Chronicles of Narnia- again. Those and MC are all I’ve read of Lewis. In MC there were some points I don’t agree with, but many times he expresses very simply something I had known or felt but couldn’t put into words. When I first read it, I was impressed by the idea of God being outside of Nature. It seems so obvious now, but it had never occurred to me. It is a comforting thought, I think. As for Narnia, I really love Digory Kirke. I don’t know why!

    Before I had read Villette I had never found an author who could write two books so excellent as JE and Villette. I didn’t have a favourite author until then although JE had been my favourite book for many years already. Also, I’m rather more like Lucy than Jane. When I saw Lucy acting as I do, I suddenly realised this (I was having one of those moments were you ask a character why they’re doing something stupid only I realised that I do the very same thing!). It is just lovely. Very sad. But it and JE go together in my mind. It fell just short of JE in my heart.

    Comment by Brontëana — August 18, 2006 @ 11:34 am |Reply

  6. Bronteana: I hope you do find a copy of ‘North And South’ – it’s a very good read, and look out for ‘Wives And Daughters’ as well!

    mysticgypsy: I love Hardy, especially ‘Tess Of The D’Urbervilles’!

    How are you enjoying the superb ‘I capture The Castle’? Has Cassandra’s narrative won you over?

    Comment by marshalsea — August 18, 2006 @ 11:42 am |Reply

  7. “Also, I’m rather more like Lucy than Jane.”
    Same here. That’s why, I think, it is harder to deal with Lucy (in my mind) that Jane.

    Comment by mysticgypsy — August 18, 2006 @ 12:08 pm |Reply

  8. to mysticgypsy:

    Thank you for humoring me 🙂 It made her story more painful, I think. But I believe it helped to warn me against myself when I’m having a weak moment.

    And to think that she used the same materials as inspiration for The Professor is surprising. Maybe it was the fresh pains she was coping with that galvanised her skill in this case? I have a sense that Emma would have been just as strong- if not stronger, based on what we have.

    Comment by Brontëana — August 18, 2006 @ 7:11 pm |Reply

  9. Oh thanks for tagging me, will do this when I get back from visiting my family (cue pulling small children off my leg and removing chewing gum from my hair). 😀

    Comment by pennyforyourdreams — August 19, 2006 @ 10:46 am |Reply

  10. C.S Lewis, I think, has a gift for metaphors and analogies- for simplifying the complex. From a christian perspective, this makes sense, if you follow the whole ‘you must have the heart of a child’ creed. I think people today complicate theology and spiritual ideas way too much, and lose sight of what is really important. I have no problem with Catholicism, but I think I agree with many of Lucy Snowe’s ideas on the potential unity of religion, and the idea that we don’t need so many forms and rites to keep us from God. I love M.Paul, I think, a little to obsessively, for his character’s simplicity and uncorruptable heart, which Lucy describes over and over again as being somewhat childlike. Would it make you sigh if I thought I was more like Lucy Snowe that Jane Eyre as well? Jane Eyre has strength- she’s a sort of role model. But Lucy I can relate with (I hope this is no cause for concern, seeing how I now some critics have described her behavior as ‘schizophrenic’). I think we know a lot more about Lucy than we think we do, because we know ourselves thoroughly. Its easy to fill in all the blanks that CB leaves in the book with our own lifes and emotions. I think that is part of what makes Villette so relevant.

    Comment by mandyjoy — August 19, 2006 @ 11:41 am |Reply

  11. to pennyforyourdreams:

    I hear ice is good for removing chewing gum. Good luck with that! 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — August 19, 2006 @ 4:41 pm |Reply

  12. to mandyjoy:

    I agree. He has a talent to expressing very profound ideas in simple and beautiful ways. People do get caught up in theology- in the details which do not matter. I remember how fights would break out among my friends over things like which kinds of music should be played during services.

    I tend to think of the denominations in terms of sections in a choir. Each is distinct, different but none are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and the invidual singer is likewise distinct from the section although a part of it. If all are co-ordinated properly, there is only one piece of music. If one tries to stifle the others, you get disharmony, chaos. I might like you tend to dislike forms which seem to keep God at a distance yet to the individual Catholic they might draw them closer to God than they would me.

    I have a friend who loves M.Paul as well. She’s a very devout Catholic. I thought she might object to Villette but I recomended it to her anyway. She sees him as very pure as well (and is angry with me for saying he is similar to Mr. Rochester in some ways. lol). She carries a copy of Villette with her ‘for emergencies.’

    I was surprised to read those articles about Lucy’s so-called mental instability! I thought it was ridiculous. It seems to come from the point of view of people who do not really know what it is like to be deeply troubled by something.

    Comment by Brontëana — August 19, 2006 @ 4:52 pm |Reply

  13. Hi Marshalsea!
    I am enjoying Cassandra’s narrative! I almost wish I hadn’t seen the movie, though 😉

    Comment by mysticgypsy — August 20, 2006 @ 11:57 am |Reply

  14. “I was surprised to read those articles about Lucy’s so-called mental instability! I thought it was ridiculous. It seems to come from the point of view of people who do not really know what it is like to be deeply troubled by something.

    I agree! However, I wonder who is “troubled”. Is it people like Lucy Snowe, or those who accuse her?

    hmm..and what is abnormal, anyway?

    Comment by mysticgypsy — August 20, 2006 @ 11:59 am |Reply

  15. I like your choir analogy…thats a nice way to think of it. Hmmm…and I’ve been contemplating buying a smaller copy of Villette to stick in my purse…I hope this is no sign of mental disturbance.

    Comment by mandyjoy — August 20, 2006 @ 7:46 pm |Reply

  16. to mysticgypsy:

    I am making an assumption here. It seems like the voice of persons who are totally unused to acknowledging their own emotional weaknesses. Rochester puts it best, when he tells Jane how she will one day come to the rocks as he did. They have not arrived yet, and can’t see why Lucy behaves so ‘erratically.’ They just don’t understand, so in that sense she does trouble them.

    Comment by Brontëana — August 21, 2006 @ 12:30 am |Reply

  17. to mandyjoy:

    The effect of carrying Villette? … Well, my friend entered a religious order- not a convent but a shared ‘house’ of Franciscans of both genders. And, she and one of the brothers fell in love and promptly left the order. 🙂

    Comment by Brontëana — August 21, 2006 @ 12:33 am |Reply


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