Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

April 29, 2006

114632128429943855

Filed under: Agnes Grey,BBC,Media,Radio,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 10:17 am

Agnes Grey on BBC Radio 7

Thanks to Christina for this find! A dramatisation of Anne Brontë's Agnes Grey can be listed to from the BBC's webplayer, here.

Does anyone else find their synopsis rather odd?

Agnes Grey dismays her family when she decides to earn her own living as a governess. Will her trials lead to true love?

Because we all know that one of the likely outcomes of becoming a governess is to find true love…

April 9, 2006

114459319655573379

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

114369490867899646

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!

February 28, 2006

114118989175131310

Filed under: Agnes Grey,Anecdotes,Bronteana — by bronteana @ 11:54 pm

In Search of Anne Brontë…

The saga continues. A Brontë scholarling, in a moderate sized Canadian city… trying to find a copy of Agnes Grey. I had to acknowledge that the chain stores will never stock the book, that the same goes for the university store- unless it is ordered for a class. Yes, the easy thing would be to order a copy myself but there's a point to be made here… Why is this so difficult? Today I went to B_______, the most respected rare and used bookstore in town. It is almost an institution among readers. It is located in the old city, and so I had to wind my way there on foot, through a small lane. I stepped into the lovely little shop absolutely stuffed with old books- antique books too. This is what is called book-lust, by the way. But I was on a mission. I had heard the owner speak to us about his passion for books, and heard his complaints of people stopping in only for some book Oprah had recomended- and then leaving. I had to smile to myself, and couldn't help but wonder exactly what he would make of me, then.

"I'm looking for a book by Anne Brontë."
"Which one?" (a good sign!)
"Agnes Grey." He got up and disappeared behind a bookcase.
"Anne Brontë…?"
"Agnes Grey."
"We have Tenant of Wildfell Hall…"
"Yes, everyone does…" I smiled to a gentleman there who nodded politely but probably didn't really care that everyone has copies of Tenant of Wildfell Hall– or he didn't believe me.
"We don't have that one."

And so, I bid him good day and left him to shake his head and probably wonder what that was all about and why I didn't want to buy a copy of Dr.Aitkin's newest book or something. And my poor mom, who picked me up, had to hear my ranting all the way home. Looks like I must admit defeat and order one online. I can't feel bad for the bookseller. How often will he have someone run in from the cold demanding a copy of Agnes Grey?

January 8, 2006

113669957540366722

Filed under: Agnes Grey,Anecdotes,Bronteana,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 12:31 am

Alas, Anne!!

I have a report to make on the state of Bronte currency in this corner of Canada. It looks like things have not improved much lately. And today I had a very sad experience. I still do not own a copy of Agnes Grey, or a proper collection of Anne's poetry. I went to the university bookstore today to get my books for classes which begin next week when I thought I would buy AG for myself since my birthday is in a week. I looked everwhere in the store, and firstly I have to say that this bookstore is the strangest I have ever seen. It does not include any 'literature.' 'Fiction' does not include any works by authors no longer living. I know that there's often a bias towards contemporary literature but this is ridiculous! I retreated, in defeat, to the check out.

"Did you find everything you were looking for?"

"Actually, I was looking for Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë?"

"The novel?"

"Yes."

"Did you try upstairs?"

There was no one upstairs. There shoudl be someone upstairs. So, I went upstairs. There was no one there- until then suddenly someone appeared from nowhere. I repeated my request.

"Grey with an E or an A?"

"You know, I am never sure. E I think."

"…And the first name?"

"Agnes… …Oh, you mean the author? Anne."

"Hmn… There's so many Charlotte and Emily- the older ones."

There was no Agnes Grey. They had Tenant but Agnes Grey was not even in their catalogue!

Fine, I thought. No problem- I'll go to the mall instead. They have a huge bookstore there with its own coffee shop and kiddie play castle! I decided to call ahead just to be safe.

*something between symphony and circus music is blaring in the background*

"What was that name again?"

"Anne Brontë!"

"Sorry, I couldn't hear over this symphony!"

And… it turned out they didn't have it either! There goes all but the second hand stores. I don't want to make it seem like Anne is the only Brontë suffering in this way. I also looked around for DVDs of Wuthering Heights and found stores only carrying one copy of one version of it. Hmn. I will never forget the time I called in after Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair.

"Eyre, spelt-"
"I know how to spell, Air! A-I-"
"No, Eyre- as in 'Jane Eyre"
"…"
"E-Y-R-E."
"Hmnn…" (ie, 'well, we'll just see about that…')

Sometimes I wonder if I live in a Monty Python skit. "That's Dickens with two ks!" I went through the day with even my closest family looking at me like I was touched as I said: "I don't believe it! I just don't believe it! Not one copy of Agnes Grey?!"

November 18, 2005

113237125998676083

'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 🙂

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.