Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

May 8, 2006

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Filed under: Art,Books,Bronteana,Patrick Bronte,Wuthering Heights — by bronteana @ 12:46 am

Today's Brontë News

The following items really don't seem to naturally be on the same page with one another, I think you will agree…

Wuthering Heights gets a mention in an article on why people should read the Kama Sutra:

The pundit Vatsyayana, who wrote the Kama Sutra, is blessedly free of physical disgust, but he isn't naïve. He understands lust; he depicts the stages of erotic obsession in great detail. For example, he gives the stages of romance: making eye contact, exchanging longing glances, having erotic images come to mind that won't go away, followed by thinking of the beloved all the time, losing sleep, making excuses to meet, and finally culminating – if sexual contact is denied – with falling sick and dying.

The whole history of the romantic novel is written in those few observations. If you smile at the notion that sexual desire can make someone grow sick and die, you may be correct medically, but millions have wept over the death of Catherine Earnshaw pining for Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, not to mention a thousand knights languishing for love in medieval romances.

From the Kama Sutra to…

The hometown of the Rev. Patrick Brontë is one of the stops on musican Eliza Gilkyson's tour of the UK and Ireland:

Tue 9. Bronte Centre Churchill Road Drumballyroney Near Rathfriland, N Ireland. BT32 5IX Box Office 02406 23322 TP £12.00 DO 8.30 p.m.

There's more information on the Centre and the town's Brontë-related sites here.

Bronte Homeland Picnic Site, Knockiveagh:The picnic site at Knockiveagh is an ideal place to stop and see the rolling hills where Patrick Bronte grew up and the mountains of Mourne in the background. The picnic area occupies the ruins of a former shebeen – an illicit drinking house.

Alice McClory's Cottage:This cottage was the childhood home of Patrick's mother, Alice McClory. Alice and Hugh used to court secretly and some say they eloped to their wedding in Magherally Church, near Banbridge.

The Birthplace Cottage:Little now remains of the family's two-roomed cottage in the fairy glen at Emdale. The remains have been in the care of the Bronte Homeland Trust since 1956.

Glascar School:Patrick taught here in the 1790's, although the original schoolhouse was replaced by this more modern building in 1844. He is said to have used enlightened teaching methods to bring out the best in his pupils. He was later dismissed for forming a romantic attachment with one of them.

Lastly, tulips and Brontë fan art at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Image is of the Mourne Mountains as seen from near Rathfriland.

May 5, 2006

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Filed under: Books,Bronteana,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 7:01 pm

Reader, I Married Him by Michèle Roberts

Review from Monsters and Critics:

Echoes of Brontë and du Maurier reverberate in this black comedy from prolific Franco-British novelist Roberts (The Mistressclass, 2003, etc.) about a thrice-widowed British woman visiting Italy. Aurora, a 50-year-old lapsed Catholic, has bad luck with husbands. Her first died while traveling with a rock band in the 1960s. Her second, an architectural historian, drowned in the Grand Canal. She`s just buried her third, a devoutly Catholic tax collector who fell off a cliff.

After spending a few stultifying days with her overbearing stepmother Maude (who insists on calling her Dawn), Aurora decides to visit her Italian friend Leonora. When they met 20 years earlier, Leonora was a feminist activist. She is now the abbess of a convent in Padenza, but not like any abbess the Church wants to claim. At Leonora`s request, Aurora brings to Italy the pistol her father bought her mother for protection 50 years ago. (The ease with which she gets it through customs is scary.)

Maude also ends up in Padenza with members of her parish, including the disconcertingly handsome Father Michael, a proponent of Jungian synchronicity who plans to attend a conference Leonora has organized. Because there is no room for her at the convent, Aurora stays in an apartment run by another old friend, Frederico, whom she has always assumed is gay.

While Aurora battles mosquitoes and other inconveniences (there is no hot water), intrigues ensue concerning convent relics, Church politics and secrets of both sex and identity. Aurora finds herself in bed with Father Michael, who may not be a priest, and romantically pursued by Frederico, who may not be gay. How she finds her happy ending is a bit of a shock. Aurora is not to be trusted as a narrator, but she is mordantly funny.
Junk food for spiritually oriented intellectuals.


I think I've missed the echoes. You may purchase the book from Amazon.com, here.

May 2, 2006

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Today's Brontë News


Today we have, thanks to Austenblog, some news about a very creative blog called Knit the Classics, where members read a classic novel for the month and make needlework (of any variety- crochet, knitting, embroidery etc…) inspired by the work! this month's novel is Pride and Prejudice, and for June the novel will be Wuthering Heights. I think this is a marvellous idea, and not just because embroidery is one of my hobbies.

Here's another article about those Bed Books– books designed for reading in bed. Their assortment includes Brontë titles, such as Wuthering Heights.

There's a wrestling racoon named Jane Eyre

Emily Brontë is a 'spinner who did Yorkshire a good turn.'

Emily Brontë's poetry is also a challenge for a poetry recital contest.

I'm not sure what to make of this: For $1.50, there is Madeleine L'Engle's "Circle of Quiet," a biography in which she tells of days when she feels like Emily Bronte or Jane Austen or Elizabeth Barrett Browning. On those days, she signs her checks with their names, and never once has the bank returned one as fraudulent.

And an article on Justine Picardie's My Mother's Wedding Dress: The Life and Afterlife of Clothes, a book which features a discussion of Jane Eyre's 'shades of grey.'

And lastly, communities in Northern Ireland are hoping that Patrick Brontë can help to bring people together, and hope there may eventually be 'a Bronte Day.' This movement is being promoted by relatives of the Brontes. In a previous post, such a relative of the Brontes wrote in to Brontëana and posted her story here.

April 30, 2006

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Filed under: Books,The Professor — by bronteana @ 1:23 pm

Marketting The Professor

I came across this cover for The Professor by Charlotte Brontë and had to pause over it. To me it seems like an odd choice for the book, and yet I can well understand what motives might have gone into the choice. I am not sure, firstly, who this is supposed to depict. Is this supposed to be William Crimsworth? Is this Mr. Hunsden? Why is Mr. Hunsden on the cover of 'The Professor'? It doesn't seem to be of any particular character, I think. But it does seem to say: "tall, dark, mysterious man + Charlotte Brontë novel." And this will draw attention to an otherwise quite passionless book.

I have the penguin edition of The Professor. The cover depicts a rather studious looking man with round glasses, and an uncertain expression. It is a portrait of the artist's brother. He looks like he might be a school-teacher, or a clerk. In other words, he might be William Crimsworth, the professor. When I look at this cover, I think this is the story of an ordinary man which is what Charlotte had tried to do with The Professor.

This Wildside Press paperback cover reminds me of current advertisements for the 1934 Jane Eyre, which is heralded everywhere as a gothic horror classic. Anyone who has seen this film will find it difficult not to laugh at such a statement. It is like a comedy of manners, with a confused quaker living in one of the rooms ("Oh Edward! My husband! You've decided to get married again? [to Jane] Are you one of the guests?"). Here are some of the other covers for the sake of comparison:

April 28, 2006

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Filed under: Books,Bronteana,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 10:43 am

Digest of Brontë News


The forcast for today is wierdness with 10% chance of irrelevancy.

The Guardian has a review of Shanghai Nights by Juan Marsé:

Susana is a capricious girl who spends her time painting her fingernails and indulging in wild cinematic fantasies in which Scheherazade and Quasimodo appear in Wuthering Heights.

Hmn.

Here's a book most of us should be able to sympathise with: A Dead Language by Peter Rushforth.

Its heroine, Alice Pinkerton, is the spinster daughter of wealthy suburban New Yorkers. She reads, as Dickens once said, for life; and her obsession with books (with the Brontës and Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe and Tennyson, and so on) comes across, publicly, as a kind of madness, for which her small-minded neighbours hold her up as a curious exhibit.

More news on Emily Brontë the race horse.

Retiring judge Terry Hallenbeck is working through his alphabetised reading list, but somehow missed A… for Anne Brontë.

Lastly, we are told to keep teens occupied this summer by getting them writing:

So, get creative and dream up different ways of engaging that bright spark-propose e-mail, pen-pals, composing a thoughtful letter to Aunt Dorothy for the gift of Jane Eyre last Christmas; maybe even a letter to the editor of the local newspaper about some burning issue dear to your teenager's heart, such as why teens should be allowed to return home at all hours of the night and early morning.

Oh, yes, this will work. M. Heger put Emily to the same task, and the result is not very stimulating (she had to write several fictional letters). I can't imagine she found it enjoyable either. Some of the other advice is sound, though!

April 27, 2006

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Filed under: Books,Branwell Bronte,Paraliterature,Reviews — by bronteana @ 9:58 pm

Another Review of Branwell

We're heard from the publisher, professional critics, and myself. Now, here is a review from another blogger, and 'Jane Eyre girl.'

There are two types of girls in the Western world: Jane Eyre girls and Elizabeth Bennett girls. Although most love both of the 19th-century's most famous fictional heroines, the majority will confess, if pressed, that deep down their loyalties lie with either one or the other.Although I, too, fell in love with Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy and will accept no substitutes, when it comes right down to it, I'm a Jane Eyre girl all the way.

[…]

When I was given the opportunity to read Douglas A. Martin's Branwell, the fictionalized biography of Charlotte Brontë's underachieving brother, I tore into it, hoping desperately for glimpses of his genius older sister and revelling in each mention of her work on Jane Eyre.My tendency to crane my neck past Branwell in order to long after Charlotte was, according to the novel, exactly what was wrong with Branwell to begin with.

[…]

Those looking for the keen determination and righteous anger of Charlotte won't find it in Branwell. The bare bones of Branwell's life, gleaned from scraps of writing and newspaper articles aren't brought into focus. Instead, the entire novel adopts the regressive tone of Brontë himself, a man so personally regressive he painted himself out of the family portrait. The permeating voice is listless and dispassionate, as if Branwell himself is telling the story from the bottom of a fingerful of laudanaum. There is no dialogue between characters, and even the questions are all phrased as statements, as if the narrator did not care if he was heard or not.

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Digest of Today's Brontë News

Culled from Google News:

In Love with Love:
In a brief historicisation of the Romance novel the Brontës and Jane Austen are lumped together as 'The Gothics.' Characteristics thereof are delinated, while some interesting mental images for those who read this article too carefully provide some amusement.

From Page to Stage:
Humboldt Light Opera Company and College of the Redwoods present the musical drama Jane Eyre, April 28-May 13, at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees on May 7 and 14 at 2 p.m. at the CR Forum Theater. (445-4310.)

More on the above production: A 'Gothic' Love Story. Tickets are $12 for general seating and $9 for students and seniors. (Image above is from this article).

A very odd nostalgic moment indeed, for a news article on violent crime: TODAY'S NOSTALGIA: On April 27, 1961, CBS' Family Classics aired a live production of Jane Eyre, starring Sally Ann Howes, Zachary Scott and Fritz Weaver. (*makes note to track this one down*)

Lucy Ellman's got a vulgar way of retelling Jane Eyre for her book 'Doctors and Nurses.' Read at your own risk.

Chris Rankin talks about his role as Edgar Linton in Wuthering Heights (near the end of the article): Wuthering Heights runs at The Capitol in Horsham from Thursday May 4 to Saturday May 6 at 7.30pm (plus Saturday matin?e, 2.30pm). Tickets start from £15 (concessions available). For more information, call the box office on 01403 750220 or visit the website at www.thecapitolhorsham.com

From an article on a play based on Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451:
Here’s Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights,” and there’s Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” – and is that Aristotle? The Book People have memorized books by heart with the hope of restoring them once out of these dangerous times.

Now how many out there think they could manage memorising one of the Brontë novels? Let me rephrase that… How many of you have memorised them?

And, a remarkably short yet informative life of Emily Brontë from the Navhind Times, India.

April 9, 2006

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A First Look at Agnes Grey

My copy of Agnes Grey arrived in the mail a few days ago. In two days I had finished it, despite having much to do (hope none of my professors are reading this…But, then, it was for a good cause). I ended up with the Everyman paperback edition which includes a selection of Anne's poetry. I read the introduction, which was, to me, informative although I question it as I did catch one error which skewed things a bit. The writer claims that proof of how Aunt Branwell's Methodism had produced a kind of hysteria in the children is seen in Charlotte 'seeing' an 'angel' beside Anne's crib. Charlotte never claimed to have seen an angel, but a fairy which is not at all the same thing. I don't believe Aunt Branwell putting much faith in fairies as messengers of the divine (and anyone at the time who did believe in them would be more alarmed at seeing one by a baby's crib, yes?).

I have been working and studying with a publisher for nearly a year now, so I must speak out at the disgraceful state of the backcover copy even though it is of little consequence. Agnes Grey is not a long book by any means… It does not take long to write backcover copy. Why on earth, then, is Rosalie consistently referred to as Matilda about 5 times in the tiny paragraph of text? Could they not flip through the book for 3 seconds and check her name? There, I've said my peace. I really think publishers need to abandon these glued bindings as well. It's only a 10 year old copy and it already creaks because the glue has gone hard. Unfortunately almost all books published today are bound in this fashion.

On reading AG itself: I had a repeat of the feelings I experienced while reading Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Once again I was probably unduly critical as I read and once again I was baffled. Now, I had 'played' Anne Bronte before and prepared for the experience by reading what I could which might help me do her justice. I have a first edition of Charlotte Bronte and Her Circle by Shorter. So, I opened the section on Anne and what did I find? The first line declares that there's no doubt that Anne would be forgotten entirely, her works discarded, if she had not been Charlotte Bronte's sister! Harsh words! I was puzzled then, and I am puzzled now. It isn't because I would like to appreciate Anne's work- there is simply much to appreciate! If you doubt me, consider that I have been trying- actually trying– to appreciate Jane Austen and I find I still cannot. My feelings are that Anne is a better writer- but before I am torn limb from limb I will admit that I have peculiar tastes and that there are flaws in Anne's work which may lower her work's value after my initial enthusiasm wanes. However, I can never see justification in pronouncing her work so utterly forgettable!

I have a peculiar way of feeling when writing is genuine and when it is contrived. Much of what I've helped publish this year is contrived (again, hoping the publisher doesn't see this… No, actually I have told him so). Anne's work is genuine, and makes me believe in it. Her beginnings are stronger than any of Charlotte's novels, and continue with an unerring movement towards the end, maintaining a steady flow- until the end. And here is where the fault lies. Her endings are disappointing, not as strong as the rest of her work by far. And being the last impression of the entire work, I think they tend to colour how the book is remembered. I recall when I read Tenant that I was convinced it was superior to all but Jane Eyre and Villette until I reached the end. There is a curious hestitancy in the endings of Tenant and Agnes Grey.

This post is already extremely long, so I will have to keep the rest of my thoughts on the book for another time.

March 25, 2006

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Filed under: Books,Criticism,Jane Austen Comparisons,Jane Eyre,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 10:38 am

Dear Jane… Austen

I came across this little Brontë reference this morning. It caught my attention, not because it is yet another comparison between the Brontes and Jane Austen, but because it seems like a peculiar way to make the distinction between the two.

Patrice Hannon, English literature professor, is 'jumpstarting' her career as a novelist by writing a self-help manual on love written with the voice of Jane Austen. The book is called 'Dear Jane Austen: A Heroine's Guide to Life and Love.' The idea for the book came from her students who were commenting on how realistically Austen depicts relationships. This is where the Bronte reference comes in:

As opposed to unrealistic romantic notions often found in novels like “Wuthering Heights” and “Jane Eyre,” Austen championed cynicism and lifelike dialogue, according to Hannon.

I know that Charlotte's portrayal of Mr Rochester was attacked when the book was published as being unrealistic, but as a whole it both books seem remarkably lifelike in their dialogue- for the period, of course. Both books also delve in the depths of the human psyche, rather than those parts which are most readily accessable. What Charlotte was more blunt in saying, it is in a sense superficial in comparison. I don't often trust Austen's good natured characters (not implying that all of them are good natured). I suspect what I don't know about them might show they are not what they seem to be. I can conceed some ground on the dialogue but cynicism seems a strange way of distinguishing the two. I have not read much of Jane Austen, however, so I may be unwittingly saying something foolish here. In conclusion, I believe neither Charlotte, Emily, not Jane are less realistic than the other. If this is heresy, I cannot help it.

Austenite readers of Brontëana will no doubt find this a little unsettling:

“When I was merely twenty, I fell in love with a young Irishman. We knew very little of one another — far too little, indeed, to have fallen so deeply in love,” Hannon writes in Austen’s voice. Convinced that Austen’s life was not as plain as legend might have it, Hannon hopes readers will pick up on the subtle drama that unfolds behind the love advice.

March 4, 2006

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Filed under: Academic,Books,E-texts,Fan Fiction,Jane Eyre,Paraliterature — by bronteana @ 1:55 pm

Thornycroft Hall (1864) by Emma Jane Worboise

Thanks to reader, Shoshana, I stumbled upon this rewrite of Jane Eyre. A very… interesting one.

Published in 1864, Thornycroft Hall has more than a few echoes of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, which appeared some eighteen years earlier. It seems that the evangelical Emma Jane Worboise felt the need to provide a more "Christian" version of the earlier novel, including not only a spirited defence of Rev. William Carus Wilson and "Lowood School", but also repeatedly urging the necessity for immediate acceptance of Christ.

I have not had the time to read much of it, but here are a few more excerpts from literaryheritage.org.uk:

The similarities between the opening chapters of this book and Jane Eyre are striking. An orphaned girl is brought up by uncongenial relations, and a furious (though justified) temper tantrum leads to her being sent away to school. But here the novels diverge: Ellen is very happy at the Clergy Daughters' School, and defends both it and Rev. William Carus Wilson vigorously from Charlotte Bronte's strictures.

And it was no "Do-the-girls Hall," as some people have asserted: I here
solemnly declare that during the whole of my residence–nearly five years–I never saw the table otherwise than plentifully and wholesomely supplied…I confess that sometimes, at the breakfast hour, our olfactory nerves were saluted with a perceptible odour of burnt porridge; but I have known the milk to be burnt now and then at Thornycroft Hall; and certainly our bread and butter was cut in "planks," not slices, and the butter was, perhaps, a little hard to find…but if you had seen the large dishes-full replenished again and again till every girl was satisfied; if you had seen them passing down the long narrow tables in the lofty eating-room, disappearing with astonishing rapidity; if you had counted the number of "planks" each young lady consumed, you would not have imagined any pupil to be badly served.

The pious and slightly priggish Marshall Cleaton is certainly no Mr. Rochester, but he and his mother are surprisingly appealing characters, despite the rather heavy-handed evangelistic fervour they both display.

…Pious and priggish? The full e-text is now listed in the sidebar.

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