Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

April 27, 2006

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She's back.

Charlotte Brontë-saurus. First seen here*, but now we have another sighting of this elusive creature. Apparently she now lives in Minnesota and has children in South Dakota. This is clearly not the same Charlotte Brontë-saurus, but you never know. I mean, she's out there somewhere (unless she has been microwaved into action-figure oblivion). A Brontëana reader reports a cartoon dinosaur named Emily, but in our professional opinion we believe we can discount the report as not being a valid sighting of the even more elusive Emily Brontë-saurus, since she is not a cartoon as far as we know.

*Well, not 'seen' per se…

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 29, 2006

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Filed under: Agnes Grey,Anecdotes,Anne Bronte,Jane Eyre,villette — by bronteana @ 11:52 pm

Anne-ecdotes

This is yet another personal testamony of a Brontephile in the land that forgot the Brontes. Today, in the very room where last week I had heard a tirade against all three sisters, someone began to talk to me about them, knowing of this blog. I was delighted, and surprised when he assumed that of the three Anne was my favourite. She is not, in fact, but it made me feel strangely happy nevertheless.

And, I did finally break down and order a copy of Agnes Grey. It should be arriving next week.

Some related Bronte news from the homefront- I did convince two people to read Jane Eyre this week. This is astonishing progress, believe me. Although I think the first person will not be pleased with the book… After rejoicing, I remembered that this particular person loathes and despises anything even remotely religious. I brought in a Bible once, to prepare for a medieval lit seminar I had to give, and she hissed at it. So… I'm not sure what she'll make of Jane Eyre! Alas. And the second is the fellow mentioned above who hasn't read the book, "but I saw the movie and that was enough." The minx. But anyway, he was only kidding. He also said he wanted to give "Violet… Violette… that V one, you know," a try. Oh bliss- I don't think many of you will comprehend this, but I had to get a copy of Villette from a friend in Iowa…

Lastly, blame me who will, I was alone in an auditorium room for several hours today so I worked on a short story (based on JE), talked out loud to Charlotte while I did so, then sang Amarilli, Mia Bella. No one else will ever know!

December 1, 2005

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Tenant of Wildfell Hall Month!

I am sure I have fallen behind the times, and become neglectful of announcing the LERO Brontë book reading months. I believe Wuthering Heights month has just passed us by- but I am in time to spread the word for Tenant of Wildfell Hall! If you haven't read the novel yet, there is no time like the present. I was introducted to the novel when I enrolled in the Victorian seminar at my university- which happily that year was explusively on the Brontës. We read Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and Shirley in that order. By the end of the course, Tenant had been declared the best of them all by the majority of the class, and a request was made for the instructor to include Agnes Grey as well, and to replace Jane Eyre with Villette the next time the course is taught. I read it with some unfortunate expectations. I was curious to know why Anne is so often treated slightly by academics and critics. She is certainly not the less loved than her sisters are by the readers! It would have been best not to have these ideas at the back of my mind, but I could not help it.

I was baffled. There was nothing lacking, in my opinion, in Tenant. There's a peculiar power which is evidenced in the work of all three sisters. I forget that I am reading sometimes. I intend to read it again as soon as I can find the time (not this month at least. As you have no doubt noticed, I have been quite busy lately). It seems to me that it begins strong, and remains a very engrossing book until near the end. There is something not quite solid about it on first glance. This might not necessarily be a criticism. Often when I stumble over something it more often than not points the way to something deeper happening beneath the surface of the narrative somewhere. A second reading might clear this up. Does anyone else have similar issues with the ending?

Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the only work by Anne Brontë to be adapted for film. In 1996 it was made into a three hour television movie. I believe it is currently out of print, which is a real shame. I have a first edition of 'Charlotte Bronte and her Circle'. The chapter on Anne is really unbelievable in the way it completely discredits her as a writer. I do not have it on hand, but the editor claims, in the introduction (it may even be the first sentence…) that it is a certainly that if it wasn't for her sisters, she and her works would be forgotten. In my humble opinion, an easy test of this claim is to imagine what we truly would have thought of her works if she had not had her sisters' works to compete with. Would they really be so uninteresting, so skilless?

Here is an interesting, although far too brief, article on the Critics of Wildfell Hall by Glen Downey.

November 18, 2005

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'Cottage Poems' by Patrick Brontë

At last! The Cottage Poems have been published by Project Gutenburg! Click here to read the full texts. They were released on november 16th. Could 'Maid of Killarney' be far behind? How very exciting! Other Bronte texts available through the Project include:

A, C, and E Brontë: Poems by Currer, Ellis and, Acton Bell
Anne Brontë: Agnes Grey, Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre, Villette, The Professor.

Il y a Jane Eyre ou Les mémoires d'une institutrice>>, le roman en Francais aussi. Je ne sais pas qu'est le traducteur de cet roman. C'est tres intéressante. Je pense qu'il est comme lire la roman encore- pour le premier fois. Il a un peu plus …de melodrame. Ou plus de poésie, peut-etre. D'accord. Chacun langue chante son poésie. And, no, there is no text for Shirley! Shame, shame! (Nothing for Branwell either).

Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights.

Also: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell: The Life of Charlotte Brontë volume one and two.

A friend of mine is responsible for Really Slow productions of Shakespeare. People volunteer to record their lines, and then this is all pasted together with the magic of the internet into… a really slow production of Shakespeare. Some of my other friends and I were then inspired to try a really slow production of Jane Eyre the Musical. The trouble here was that all of my friends are ladies (the ones who sing, at any rate). And so, we had a soprano Rochester and myself who plays St.John Rivers (also a soprano, although I can sing alto as well). I forget how Brocklehurst came out… Our Jane was a certain classicist from Nova Scotia. Alas, before we ever even took our little horrendous productioni seriously, she ran away to a religious order.

And now, she's back! And she's not a nun. She found true love… in the religious order. I am astounded and amazed, and it is beautiful. She is no longer my soon-to be nun friend who despaired of leaving behind her copy of Villette. I now have a deliriously happy non-nun friend who can have as many books as she likes- and the true love thing is rather nice too.

ps. Don't worry, Martha- I got your email! I think this deserves a post of its own 🙂

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