Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

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.

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.

December 2, 2005

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Filed under: Books,Intertexts,Jane Eyre,Paraliterature — by bronteana @ 3:20 pm

A Brontean Dream Vision

One of my friends has brought to my attention a very strange little book published in 1904. It is called Henry Brocken: His Travels and Adventures in the Rich, Strange, Scarce-Imaginable Regions of Romance, by Walter J. de la Mare. I call it a dream vision because it seems to me something akin to this medieval genre. I have not read it all the way through, but at first glance it seems to be a travel log of his journey through various literary 'romances'. How he has taken 'romance' I am not yet certain. Chapter three of this strange book is called 'Jane Eyre'.

In chapter three, Henry has somehow, inexplicably, finds himself at Ferndean- apparently. It is, as he says in the title, 'strange'. I cannot say that I can recognise Mr and Mrs Rochester in his prose. Mr Rochester is something very odd in this book- both hyperbolically transcendent (his guestures at dinner apparently all denote a 'smoldering power' something like 'storms, winds of the equinox, the illimitable night sky'), and yet he speaks of having a 'shell' that he's quite content to stick himself into- while brooding and stumbling around outside… When Jane isn't trying to lock him inside. Yes, she keeps locking him inside- locking the gate and the doors. Her husband asks her why she keeps doing that, and she then enunciates some very fine, very confusing, and totally unhelpful poetry back at him. No wonder he excused himself from dinner to stand outside- until Jane snatched him again.

And the strangeness doesn't end there. Mr Rochester has grown suddenly very touchy about strangers- which he attributes to his blindness. Pilot has also been mentally disturbed, apparently- the poor dog has no feelings it seems but just stares eerily and blankly at Mr.Brocken. In fact, everone at Ferndean MUST speak in elaborate, poetic passages. These are, really, often very nice pieces of poetry but are really obnoxious before long. This is not the same as saying they are melodramatic- as the early stage productions of Jane Eyre.

The strangest part of all, perhaps, occurs when Mr Rochester has left for awhile and Mr Brocken and Jane are alone. She wants to know about what is left of her. What part of herself he has taken from the book. It is unclear whether she is supposed to be the 'real' Jane Eyre living inside the novel- in a sort of Plato's realm of the ideal- or if she is the Brocken's Jane Eyre. Again, there's some interesting, but very cryptic language here. Something disturbs his sleep. And he is soon off on his journey. Here are a few extracts from chapter three:

"It is indeed a strange journey," she replied. "But I fear I cannot in the least direct you. I have never ventured my own self beyond the woods, lest–I should penetrate too far. But you are tired and hungry. Will you please walk on a few steps till you come to a stone seat? My name is Rochester–Jane Rochester"–she glanced up between the hollies with a sigh that was all but laughter–"Jane Eyre, you know."

I went on as she had bidden, and seated myself before an old, white, many-windowed house, squatting, like an owl at noon, beneath its green covert. In a few minutes the great dog with dripping jowl passed almost like reality, and after him his mistress, and on her arm her master, Mr. Rochester.

There seemed a night of darkness in that scarred face, and stars unearthly bright. He peered dimly at me, leaning heavily on Jane's arm, his left hand plunged into the bosom of his coat. And when he was come near, he lifted his hat to me with a kind of Spanish gravity.

"Is this the gentleman, Jane?" he enquired.

"Yes, sir."

"He's young!" he muttered.

"For otherwise he would not be here," she replied.

"Was the gate bolted, then?" he asked.

"Mr. Rochester desires to know if you had the audacity, sir, to scale his garden wall," Jane said, turning sharply on me. "Shall I count the strawberries, sir?" she added over her shoulder."

"Jane, Jane!" he exclaimed testily.

***
"There! hush now, here he floats; sit still, sit still–I hear his wings. It is my 'Four Evangels,' sir!"

It was a sleek blackbird that had alighted and now set to singing on the topmost twig of a lofty pear-tree near by; and with his first note Jane reappeared. And while we listened, unstirring, to that rich, undaunted voice, I had good opportunity to observe her, and not, I think, without her knowledge, not even without her approval.

This, then, was the face that had returned wrath for wrath, remorse for remorse, passion for passion to that dark egotist Jane in the looking-glass. Yet who, thought I, could be else than beautiful with eyes that seemed to hide in fleeting cloud a flame as pure as amber? The arch simplicity of her gown, her small, narrow hands, the exquisite cleverness of mouth and chin, the lovely courage and sincerity of that yet-childish brow–it seemed even Mr. Rochester's"Four Evangels" out of his urgent rhetoric was summoning with reiterated persuasions, "Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre, Ja … ne!"

***
"And am I indeed only like that poor mad thing you thought Jane Eyre?"she said, "or did you read between?"

I answered that it was not her words, not even her thoughts, not even her poetry that was to me Jane Eyre.

"What then is left of me?" she enquired, stooping her eyes over the keys and smiling darkly. "Am I indeed so evanescent, a wintry wraith?"

"Well," I said, "Jane Eyre is left."

She pressed her lips together. "I see," she said brightly. "But then, was I not detestable too? so stubborn, so wilful, so demented, so–vain?"

"You were vain," I answered, "because–"

"Well?" she said, and the melody died out, and the lower voices of her music complained softly on.

"For a barrier," I answered.

"A barrier?" she cried.

"Why, yes," I said, "a barrier against cant, and flummery, and coldness, and pride, and against–why, against your own vanity too."

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