Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

April 20, 2006

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Filed under: Academic,Art,Charlotte Bronte,Illustrations,Jane Eyre,Resources,Websites — by bronteana @ 4:19 pm

Jane Eyre Illustrations

I have just finished uploading the first of many sets of illustrations at the Bronteana Resource page. This time we have the Walter L. Colls illustrations of Jane Eyre, to match his illustrations of Villette, which were added last month or so. The link to the Resource page is on the links list to the left, for future reference.

This Friday I write my most final of final exams, and then there will most likely be more etexts and illustrations to add in the coming days and weeks.

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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!

March 19, 2006

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The Butterfly, by Emily Bronte I've just finished transcribing Sue Lonoff's translation of Emily's Belgian devoir entitled 'Le Papillon' ('The Butterfly'). I've transcribed the translation rather than the original French this time so that the anglophone readers of Bronteana can enjoy some of Emily's work as an essayist as well. I will transcribe the French at a later date. The transcript is available here. I have also begun to scan the rest of the illustration I have for Villette, and these will soon be appearing on the site. Thereafter, I have some for Shirley, The Professor, and Jane Eyre to add in time. Le Papillon is my favourite of Emily's devoirs, at least of those I have read so far. Here are a few excerpts from the transcript: In one of those moods that everyone falls into sometimes, when the world of the imagination suffers a winter that blights its vegetation; when the light of life seems to go out and existence becomes a barren desert where we wander, exposed to all the tempests that blow under heaven, without hope of rest or shelter– in one of these black humors, I was walking one evening at the edge of a forest. It was summer; the sun was still shining high in the west and the air resounded with the songs of birds. All appeared happy, but for me, it was only an appearance. I sat at the foot of an old oak, among whose branches the nightingale had just begun its vespers. "Poor fool," I said to myself, "is it to guide the bullet to your breast or the child to your brood that you sing so loud and clear? Silence that untimely tune, perch yourself on your nest; tomorrow, perhaps, it will be empty." But why address myself to you alone? All creation is equally mad. Behold those flies playing above the brook; the swallows and fish diminish their number every minute. These will become, in their turn, the prey of some tyrant of the air or water; and man for his amusement or his needs will kill their murderers. Nature is an inexplicable problem; it exists on a principle of destruction. Every being must be the tireless instrument of death to others, or itself must cease to live, yet nonetheless we celebrate the day of our birth, and we praise God for having entered such a world.

March 14, 2006

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Filed under: Emily Bronte,The Belgian Essays,The Brontes' Works — by bronteana @ 8:32 pm

Excerpts from Emily Bronte's Devoirs

For the Anglophone readers, here are a few excerpts from Sue Lanoff's translations of Emily's Belgian devoirs. These quotes are more or less random, except that I particularly like Emily's conclusions, so several are from the end of her essays. The first one is from a devoir which is interesting for several reasons. There are several versions of it in this book, showing M. Heger's corrections, and then a rewrite he did for Elizabeth Gaskell- presenting it as emily's work when it clearly has been rewritten in a very different style. The ending is particularly unbalanced by Heger's recasting. Emily's line is full of quiet, natural nobility, while Monsieur's line is artificial and distant- not to mention clumbsy.

From Le Roi Harold (King Harold):

As visible to men as to his Creator, the soul divine shines in his eyes; a multitude of human passions awake at the same time, but they are exalted, sanctified, almost deified. That courage has no rashness, that pride has no arrogance, that indignation no injustice, that assurance has no presumption. He is inwardly convinced that a mortal power will not fell him. The hand of Death, alone, can bear the victory away from his arms, and Harold is ready to succumb before it, because the touch of that hand is, to the hero, what the stroke that gave him liberty was to the slave.

From L'Amour Filial (Filial Love) (about the commandment 'honour thy parents'):

The hour will come when conscience will awake; then there will be a terrible retribution. What mediator will plead then for the criminal? It is God who accuses him. What power will save the wretch? It is God who condemns him. He has rejected happiness in mortal life to assure himself of torment in eternal life.

Let angels and men weep for his fate — he was their brother.

From Le Papillon (The Butterfly):

God is the god of justice and mercy; then surely, every grief that he inflicts on his creatures, be they human or animal, rational or irrational, every suffering of our unhappy nature is only a seed of that divine harvest which will be gathered when, Sin having spent its last drop of venom, Death having launched its final shaft, both will perish on the pyre of a universe in flames and leave their ancient victims to an eternal empire of happiness and glory.

Of the devoirs I have read so far, Le Papillon is the most masterful. There isn't any other way to describe it. I believe Charlotte was right in saying that 'Ellis Bell' was at 'his' best as an essayist! I would also add that she seems to be an expert in sprezzatura. She manages to write in a precise Classical manner with language which is direct, unaffected, and natural. I can imagine these essays being composed in her head before setting them down, rather than working out a structure on paper before hand.

Incidentally Heger's version of the first passage reads as follows:

Harold is no more a man; his passions bubble up, they become exhalted, but shedding their egotism, they are purified; they are sanctified: his courage has no more rashness; his pride has no more arrogance — his assurance is without presumption; his indignation is without injustice.

Let the enemy come! still the victory is Harold's. He feels that all must retreat, fall, before him…..But Death?…–to him who fights in defense of his native soil, the stroke of death is the stroke given to the slave, to liberate him and set him free.

March 13, 2006

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Filed under: Academic,E-texts,Emily Bronte,The Belgian Essays,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 9:39 pm

Le Chat by Emily Bronte


Last night I decided to read some of the Belgian devoirs before I went to sleep. I had read a few of Charlotte's devoirs but none of Emily's. This one, Le Chat (The Cat) is the first. It was composed in 1842. The work is interesting, and I think there is enough of the author's opinion running through it that you wouldn't say she was simply adopting an argument set down by Monsieur Heger. I found it charming, in a sense. The topic might seem trifling at first glance, but she uses the occasion- defending cats- to comment on human hypocrisy, cruelty, and ingratitude. I think she finds her place somewhere towards the end where the narrator argues with the lady who prefers lap dogs to cats. The ending was nicely placed as well: "For, assuredly, the cat was not wicked in Paradise."

The criticism in this edition, however, is somewhat heavy handed. I have looked over a few of Emily's other devoirs. In each, the editor tells us how Emily's French shows her 'resistence' to the very end, in the from of syntax etc, to the domination of M. Heger, or this new language. I think this is absurd. It is very natural for someone learning a language to express themselves for a time in their customary forms. I recieved 13 years of French language training and yet I still prefer using French words which reflect 'English' ideas- I am not 'resisting' French. In fact, despite my preference for maintaining my… 'barbarisms' as M. Heger might say, when I compose in French, I 'think' in French as well. Also, at the moment I am a teaching assistant for a Latin class. In Latin, word order is fluid- quite the opposite from English. Very often students merely use Latin words in English word order on their assignments.

Since it is short, and one did not exist, I have transcribed Le Chat. There is an English translation in this book but I think the French is more vital, and more authentic- obviously since the French is the work of Emily herself and not a translator.

March 6, 2006

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"Where did you see Latmos?…"

Why, here of course. Thanks to Thisbeciel, we have some clips to show you from the BBC's 1973 Jane Eyre, starring Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston, which is due for DVD release this June. It is much loved for its fidelity to the book as well as for the calibre of the cast.

"I was tormented between my idea and my handiwork. Each time I would imagine something- something I was quite powerless to realise…"

The Interrupted Wedding


As you see, there are other Jane Eyre clips on this site, including the 'Sirens' performance from Jane Eyre: The Musical presented at the Tony awards, for which the show was nominated. Also there is a clip from the Hindi film Sangdil, which I will have much to say about at a later date.

Also, I would like to say that the Brontëana resource site also has a bunch of new etexts, mostly juvenilia but there are also some pieces by Branwell, and Patrick Brontë

I may have to be scarce this week. As I told one of my professors today, my workload for the week will probably reduce me to a puddle of goo by Sunday. At least I have that novel edited and annotated… and a commentary written… and… suggested revisions made… I just have to write the backcover copy, then write a paper on writer contracts, another paper on the Romance of the Rose, prepare for an in-class essay on Beckett, and then prepare for my first real conference! I will be presenting a paper on Emperor Claudius- which is fitting because last night I stepped on a thorn and now I have a nice Claudian limp. Here's hoping that those attending the conference think that I'm trying to be amusing.

March 5, 2006

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Filed under: Academic,Charlotte Bronte,E-texts,Illustrations,Juvenilia,Resources,villette — by bronteana @ 1:51 pm

Brontëana Resources: Albion and Marina, Villette.

Especially for Brontëana, Charlene has taken the time to transcribe one of Charlotte Brontë's Angrian tales- Albion and Marina. The e-text is now available on the Brontëana recource site and in the sidebar to the left. I have also made some substantial changes there. I'm working on the design elements but I have also made some progress with uploading the ridiculous number of images I have. There is now a page for illustrations of Villette from an early edition of the novel (I would guess early 1900s, from the style). I would prefer having a separate directory for each edition, since I have illustrations by more than one artist, but I am still trying to work this out.

These images of Villette were donated by Charlene as well.

February 9, 2006

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'Devotion'

This film, a loosely termed 'biopic' of the lives of the Brontës was filmed in 1946 and starred Ida Lupino as Emily Brontë, Paul Henreid as AB Nicholls, and Olivia de Havilland as Charlotte Brontë.

Thisbeciel calls it: 'A universe where everybody loves Charlotte and everybody loves that sexy man AB Nicholls.' Here is a synopsis of the film:

In the early 1800s, sisters Charlotte and Anne Brontë prepare to leave their sister Emily, their brother Branwell and their aunt and vicar father to work as governesses. Charlotte and Anne want to experience life outside their home as preparation for their careers as writers. Branwell is a talented, temperamental painter who is coddled by his sister Emily, and Charlotte and Anne plan to give the money they earn as governesses to him, so that he can go to London to study art. One night while Bran is getting drunk at a local tavern, Arthur Nicholls, his father's new curate, arrives. Bran insists that Arthur accompany him to the vicarage. At first Arthur refuses, believing that it is too late in the evening, but then, seeing how drunk Bran is, accompanies him. Emily answers the door and mistakes Arthur for one of Bran's drunken friends. The following day, after Bran leaves for London, Arthur reappears. After he is greeted by the unwelcoming Mr. Brontë, Emily's mistake is cleared up and she and Arthur become friends. One day, Emily shows Arthur a lonely house, which has inspired her novel, Wuthering Heights. After some time passes, disillusioned Bran returns home, blaming his sisters for his failure as an artist. Charlotte and Anne also return home. At a dance at the neighbouring Thornton house, Arthur is struck by Charlotte's beauty. When Charlotte realizes that Emily is interested in Arthur, she becomes interested as well…

Thanks to Biedroneczka, I bring you a Lux Radio Theater radio adaptation of 'Devotion' starring Virginia Bruce (the platinum blond starlet who played Jane Eyre in the first talkie of the 1930s) as Charlotte Brontë and Vincent Price as AB Nicholls!

Devotion

The production will be available for download for a week.

January 12, 2006

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More Video Clips from JE the Musical and Transvestism in CB

This is sure to please Esther! Thanks once again to Thisbeciel for these clips from the Jane Eyre Musical! Some of these are repeats from the last time, but I don't think anyone will mind too much?

An Icy Lane
You examine me
Waking Rochester
I know who heals my life
the Gypsy
the Proposal
Wild Boy/Farewell Good Angel

Thisbeciel also came across this interesting poem, 'Transvestism in the Novels of Charlotte Bronte' by Patricia Beer

1 When reading Villette, Shirley and Jane Eyre,
2 Though never somehow The Professor
3 Which was all too clear,
4 I used to overlook
5 The principal point of each book
6 As it now seems to me: what the characters wore.

7 Mr Rochester dressed up as the old crone
8 That perhaps he should have been,
9 De Hamal as a nun.
10 There was no need
11 For this. Each of them could
12 Have approached his woman without becoming one.

13 Not all heroines were as forthright.
14 Shirley in particular was a cheat.
15 With rakish hat
16 She strode like a man
17 But always down the lane
18 Where the handsome mill-owner lived celibate.

19 Lucy, however, knew just what she was doing.
20 And cast herself as a human being.
21 Strutting and wooing
22 In the school play
23 She put on a man's gilet,
24 Kept her own skirt, for fear of simplifying.

25 Their lonely begetter was both sister and brother.
26 In her dark wood trees do not scan each other
27 Yet foregather,
28 Branched or split,
29 Whichever they are not,
30 Whichever they are, and rise up together.

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