Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wispy Brontë Women

Cinemablend thinks that Kaya Scodelario in  Wuthering Heights 2011:

She's most heartbreaking, however, in the recent adaptation of Wuthering Heights, a must-see for any Brontë enthusiast.  (Gabe Toro)
Pitchfork reviews the video Heart is a Drum by Beck:
Over the course of the video, Beck encounters lost astronauts, a wispy woman straight out of a Brontë novel, the grim reaper, and a man wearing white trousers and a jacket/scarf combo that looks strikingly similar to the white outfit he wore in his 1993 video for "Loser". (Zoe Camp)
More news outlets carry the results of Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction poll about the most influential books written by women: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Scotsman, The Guardian (highlighting that Mary Beard chose Jane Eyre), The Guardian's Books BlogEntertainment Weekly...

Another usual suspect in recent news was the bad entry examinations at Cowan Bridge of Charlotte and Emily. We find articles on Librópatas (in Spanish) and The Guardian:
It's been a long time since I faced the terror of a school report myself, but it all came back after I landed upon this Slate article, pointing towards Charlotte Brontë's. Made available online by the British Library as part of its fabulous new digital English literature resource, the write up is hardly glowing. Apparently, the girl who would go on to pen Jane Eyre "writes indifferently" and "knows nothing of grammar, geography, history, or accomplishments". The eight-year-old is, however, "altogether clever of her age", but "knows nothing systematically".
The report is taken from the school register of the Clergy Daughters' School, at Cowan Bridge, and published in the Journal of Education. It also mentions Emily Brontë, then aged 5 ¾, who "reads very prettily, and works a little", and, poignantly, Elizabeth and Marie Brontë, then aged nine and 10, both of whom left "in ill-health", and died later in 1825. (Alison Flood)
Lesen (Germany) talks about pseudonyms in literature:
Das Benutzen eines Pseudonyms ist fast genauso alt wie das literarische Schreiben an sich. Viele berühmte Klassiker-Autoren, zum Beispiel Oscar Wilde, Ray Bradbury oder die Brontë-Schwestern, veröffentlichten sowohl unter ihrem bürgerlichen Namen als auch unter einem Pseudonym. (Stephanie Schäfers)
Today is the International Day of Friendship and Graphomania (Italy) quotes from Charlotte Brontë:
[I]f we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love our friends for their sakes rather than for our own[.] (Charlotte Brontë to W.S. Williams, July 21th, 1851).
New York Post's Pagesix titles its article about the Jersey Shore celebrities dressed 'old-fashioned' as Modern-day Brontë Sisters? MTV insists on the same moron 'joke':
The “Snooki & JWOWW” stars looked like they stepped straight out of the literary classic “Jane Eyre” when they made a special trip to a tea house in New Jersey on Monday. (...) If it weren’t for their designer handbags and Nicole’s shades, we’d think we were looking at the Brontë sisters. (Jordana Ossad)
The Guardian (Trinidad and Tobago) reviews House of Ashes by Monique Raffey:
For a self-proclaimed feminist it’s hardly surprising that Roffey’s strongest characters are women. The figure of Mrs Cynthia Gonzales, the cleaning lady (or obeah woman) who reduces the blustering gunmen to shamefaced boys (“Yuh mash up mih carpet…Where are your manners and where is your respect for civilisation?) and who refuses to leave her wounded Prime Minister, is truly memorable. Herself the one time victim of an abusive husband she, like Christophene in Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, refuses to allow any man to oppress her, standing as symbol of Caribbean matriarchy with a long tradition in our literature. (Simon Lee)
The Telegraph & Argus is warming up for the upcoming Yorkshire Day celebrations:
She said: "It's one of those events where people can celebrate all things Yorkshire.
"People have quite a strong identity to Yorkshire. They are very proud to come from here.
"People who come from overseas who have family connections to Yorkshire look to take something with the Yorkshire rose on it.
"The Tour de France has really raised the profile of Yorkshire. A lot more people know where it is now.
"Lots of people come from all over the country. We have a lot of visitors from Japan and the USA coming for the Brontë connections.
"Yorkshire Day has been going for about 30 or 40 years, it's one of those things that keeps building each year."
The Public Reviews interviews Peter McMaster about his all-male Wuthering Heights play that will be performed again at the Edinburgh Fringe:
Can you tell us more about the show?
The show is an all-male production of Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. It looks at the central character of Heathcliff as a male figure wrought with issue and complexity and in a rather subtle way, we as a group of men place ourselves alongside him comparing and contrasting with him; inhabiting his angers, exploring his passions and establishing a relationship with him. There is something about the work that questions, after almost 200 years since it was first published, if men are different nowadays. I am not sure if we are, in which case I wonder what should or could change about us. Lots of people believe that masculinity is in crisis, and I think the complicated version that is on display in this work, as in Brontë’s original, would testify that it is in crisis. If anything, perhaps, it is a performance that shines a light on our experiences of being men now, and our presentation of certain aspects of our masculinity. It is very raw at times, but also adopts good humour at other moments.
A couple of websites cover the recent Romantic Writers of America conference in San Antonio, TX and the presence of a Jane Eyre (more or less) panel:
It is, in fact, a more interesting and better written business than tired stereotypes and “Fifty Shades of Grey” might suggest. Linda Francis Lee and Eloisa James led my Alpha Hero workshop; the real Eloisa James (that's a pen name) is a tenured Shakespeare scholar at Fordham University. The next day, in an adjoining room, the standing-room-only “How to Write Hot Sex” panel was immediately followed by the more literary and historically-based, “Angst and Affability: Using Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice to Craft New Adult and Contemporary Romance.” (Adam Minter on Bloomberg News / Charlotte  Observer)
The Sheffield Star reports the local performances of the ChapterHouse Theatre production of Wuthering Heights in Wentworth Castle Gardens. Trome (Perú) talks about Wuthering Heights. The Brontë Parsonage tweets the earliest surviving sketch by Branwell Brontë when he was 11 years old. Over Crohn en andere ongemakken (in Dutch) reviews Jane Eyre.

Happy 196th, Emily

196 years ago Emily Brontë was born in Thornton. Hers tends to be the thinnest biographies on Brontë bookshelves, and yet there's something intriguing about her literary output that sends people looking for biographies of her in hopes that they can help explain how a provincial - albeit highly learned, despite what Charlotte would have the world believe - young woman could have written such words. (And we are pretty sure that this 'mystery' is a two way street. Emily may have scorned the public, but we are quite confident that she would have been quite amazed at what Wuthering Heights particularly has achived in terms of readership, influences, literary status, etc.).

And yet that is the magic and mightiness of the pen. If ever anyone showed that to the world, that was undoubtedly 'our Emily'. No explanations are really needed - a good book and good poetry are always self-explanatory.

Happy birthday!

(Post originally published in 2010)

Work in progress:
Blogs/Websites celebrating Emily Brontë's birthday: Ferriz (México), @BookLoversGift, Il Cenacolo Inteluattale (Italy), @Literature & Books, @Red Rose Chain (with free tickets for a Wuthering Heights performance in Suffolk), Real Simple, @St Helens Libraries, @National Portrait Gallery ...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Most Influential Books or Jersey Shore vs Wuthering Heights-haters in a NYC subway

The Bookseller announces the Top 20 Most Influential Books by Women today as released by  Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction:

Prize organisers have also released a list of the Top 20 Most Influential Books by Women today (29th July) as voted for by readers (...)
3) Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
5) Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
Mike Larkin in The Daily Mail has an overdose of Brontë misused references in this story that some consider news worthy of being printed:
So no doubt some will accuse Snooki and JWoww of being a couple of Jane Eyre-heads after they dressed up as Victorian ladies in New Jersey on Monday. And it seems their more genteel new look was not the most spontaneous of ideas, as they were being followed around by their ever-present reality television cameras during their outing.
It momentarily seemed like the Brontë sisters had come back to life as the fragrant ladies daintily padded down the street.
The picture captions:
Jane Eyre-head: Snooki was wearing Victorian period dress as she sauntered around New Jersey on Monday
Who needs the Brontë sisters? No doubt fans of Snooki and JWoww will say they push the reality television envelope in much the same way as the former did in literature
Hitting the Wuthering Heights: JWoww certainly pulled off the look with more aplomb
The Tenants of Wildfell Hall: She was accompanied by Snooki as they headed out for the day.
Flavorwire lists the most depressing places in literature including Wuthering Heights:
As Mr. Lockwood describes this landmark of Gothic fiction:
“Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff’s dwelling, ‘wuthering’ being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed. One may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house, and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun.”(Jason Diamond)
Queerty discusses same sex marriages in the American courts:
Here’s our favorite quote:
The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.
First of all, this is awesome because of the retro use of “countenance,” like one of the Brontë sisters wrote this ruling. (Matt Baume)
Joblo has seen Guillermo Del Toro's Crimson Peak at the Comic Con 2014
To me, the picture appears to be a combination of The Haunting (the good one) and Jane Eyre or something along those lines: A lush, classic gothic romance with creepy supernatural elements. (Think Jane Austen meets Edgar Allan Poe.) (Eric Walkuski)
The Cowan Bridge entry examinations of the Brontës are now in the foreign press too. ActuaLitté says:
Si vos professeurs vous ont tenu pour bon à rien lors de votre scolarité, ils ont pu se tromper. Ce serait possiblement le cas pour les soeurs Brontë, d'après un extrait d'une réimpression de The Journal of Education: A Monthly Record and Review, de janvier 1900. Du temps où elle suivirent leurs classes de primaire, au sein de la Clergy Daughters School, Lancashire, les filles n'eurent pas que de bonnes appréciations. Elle furent taxées d'écrire « indifféremment », ou encore de « ne rien connaître de la grammaire, de la géographie, de l'histoire, ou encore de la réussite ».
Also on nrc.nl.

Laura Inman continues her blog tour promoting The Poetic World of Emily Brontë. A post on Deal Sharing Aunt or an interview on Roxanne Kade:
This book should appeal to anyone who likes to read poetry or read about poetry. Those can be two very different categories. I like reading introductions to and essays about literature, which is a different kind of read than the literary work itself. Also, the biographical content in my book cannot be discounted. My book is in large part an investigation of Brontë’s thoughts and personality. I would have liked to write a biography of Emily Brontë, except there is really nothing new to add as a pure biography to those already available. I have to imagine that anyone who has read Wuthering Heights would find much to enjoy in my book because there are so many references to it and insights. I have at times felt like I was waging my own little campaign to get the public to stop thinking of Wuthering Heights as a love story. The discussion of that novel in my book, among other things, furthers that mission.
Lovereading interviews the author Ben Fergusson:
He lists many authors as people who have affected how and what he writes – the Brontës, Dickens, Austen, Katherine Mansfield, E.M. Forster, and American writers, including James Baldwin, Truman Capote and Richard Yates. (Vikki Patis)
The ChapterHouse Theatre Wuthering Heights tour arrives to Castle Kennedy Gardens Stranraer as printed in The Galloway Gazette. Lancaster Online presents Cocktails for Book Lovers, by Tessa Smith McGovern. Richard Mansel posts about the K.M. Weiland's Annotated edition of Jane Eyre. The Brontë Parsonage tweets a Branwell sketch when he was 11 years old. Veronica's Garden posts an essay by Rachel Creager Ireland: Jane Eyre, and the Lengthy, Passionate, Descriptive Sentence. In a merry hour and Coffee Cups and Camisoles post about Jane Eyre.

And finally, this anecdote which took place on the NYC subway as told by HauteZone is one of the weirdest we have read in a while.

On Wide Sargasso Sea

A new essay about Wide Sargasso Sea and Jane Eyre is available through AV Akademikerverlag:

Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea: A Postcolonial Re-writing of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre
Jessica Diebowski
Publisher: AV Akademikerverlag (June 2, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-3639627916

Without doubt, the Victorian classic Jane Eyre has generated a number of intertexual references. Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea has been regarded as the most famous rewriting of Jane Eyre and a paradigm of postcolonial literature. The novel, a prequel to Brontë's Jane Eyre, tells the story of Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress living in Jamaica. In remembering the representation of the character Bertha Mason/Rochester in Brontë's Jane Eyre, Jean Rhys as a postcolonial writer, re-writes Brontë's account of Bertha, Rochester's first wife first, the 'madwoman in the attic' who is denied to have a voice. Thus, Rhys makes use of various narrative devices and techniques, not only to capture the reader's attention, but also in order to present a different version of Bertha. The inquiry the present volume seeks to undertake is not new in the field of postcolonial studies but rather aims at throwing more light on the strategies Rhys uses to rewrite the Victorian classic Jane Eyre.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Not a Sweeping Romance

BlogCritics talks about the Pulp! The Classics collection:
For example, I have, in my life, been in possession of two copies of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. The first was a small paperback, with a cover akin to that of a romance novel, while the blurb on the back lauded it as a sweeping romantic tale. Despite the fact that the story of Wuthering Heights depicts an unhealthy, codependent relationship much more than an actual romance, and that the point of the book is, arguably, precisely that it’s not romantic, in 2007 readers of The Guardian voted Wuthering Heights the greatest love story ever told. That says a lot about how Emily Brontë’s story is regarded, and suggests that that cover was an accurate reflection of the prevailing cultural assumption that Wuthering Heights is, indeed, a romance.
The other copy of the book I’ve owned is a Norton Critical Edition, which is graced by a rather bland photograph of the moors while vaunting its academic editor and its belonging to a collection of critical editions that feature multiple works of criticism. It suggests another way in which we view the novel today: as a classic, worthy of footnotes and college essays, a work of “high culture” rather than popular culture.
Neither cover is entirely correct. Neither cover is entirely incorrect. Certainly there is some romance in Wuthering Heights, however dark and doomed, and certainly it’s deserving of being a literary classic. But it is not a tale of sweeping romance to be celebrated, or inspired by. (...)
Thus, both Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights, both in this collection, wouldn’t have been too well respected in their days. Wuthering Heights was published by Emily Brontë under a pseudonym, because a nice young lady writing a novel would mean a lot of bad press for the family name, and also because books by men were taken more seriously. It received some pretty terrible reviews upon publication. (Anastasia Klimchynskaya)
Pearl Thevanayagam is happy to live in Bradford according to The Guardian (Sri Lanka):
The entrance to my apartment is cobbled stones reminiscent of Thomas Hardy, Brontë Sisters and Lowry paintings which depict the good old England as I remember from the books and picture post cards during my school days. My apartment has walls built of Yorkshire stones and solid oak beams and the block was built in 1883.
The Telegraph remembers the origins of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights:
Despite her esoteric reputation, Bush had grown up as much obsessed by film and TV as novels or Pre-Raphaelite art. Her first single, 1978’s Wuthering Heights, was originally inspired not by reading the book but by watching the 1967 BBC adaptation of Brontë’s tortured romance, starring Ian McShane as Heathcliff. (Bernardette McNulty)
The Independent (Ireland) talks about (drinking) literary ladies:
Author of Wide Sargasso Sea, half-Creole Jean Rhys moved to London from the Caribbean to study drama at 16. She found the city inhospitable and the people cruel. When her British father died, she craved the safety that might come with a good man and marriage. But she picked men badly, with three marriages, an abortion and an estranged child; she lived on the brink of destitution. Alcohol became her way of dealing with the mess. Rhys' biographer wrote that her past tormented her, her writing tormented her and "she had to drink to write and she had to drink to live." (Deirdre Conroy)

1927 Selections in 2014

Cambridge University Press republishes this 1927 Brontë writings compilation:
Selections from the Brontës
Being Extracts from the Novels of Charlotte and Emily Brontë
Editor: H. A. Treble
Cambridge University Press, July 2014
ISBN: 9781107689602

Originally published in 1927, this book presents a series of extracts from the novels of Charlotte and Emily Brontë. Created with the younger reader in mind, the text was intended to act as an introduction to the novels and an inducement to read them in their entirety. An editorial introduction and bibliographical details are also included. This book will be of value to anyone with an interest in the writings of Charlotte and Emily Brontë.

Contents:

Introduction
1. The adventure of going abroad from Villette
2. A glimpse of the professor behind his spectacles from Villette
3. The fairy Malevola from Villette
4. A journey, and the first day at Lowood from Jane Eyre
5. Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre
6. The interrupted wedding from Jane Eyre
7. Home at last from Jane Eyre
8. The church militant from Shirley
9. The curates at tea from Shirley
10. The foundling from Wuthering Heights

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wuthering Heights at my Bedside Table

The Irish Independent interviews someone who we have been not able to identify but with some Brontë plans in the near future:

The books on my bedside table are... "'Stag's Leap' by Sharon Olds, 'Effi Briest' by Theodor Fontane and 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Brontë because we are doing it at Christmas."
The New York Daily News presents Tessa Smith McGovern's book Cocktails for Book Lovers:
Tessa Smith McGovern has written 'Cocktails for Book Lovers' with recipes for drinks that accompany works such as 'Great Gatsby' or 'Jane Eyre' (...)
Whether you prefer mulled wine, offered in “Jane Eyre,” a Gin Rickey, like Gatsby and Daisy gulped in “The Great Gatsby,” or William Faulkner’s favorite drink, the mint julep, “Cocktails for Book Lovers” has got you covered. (Gina Pace)
The South China Morning Post reviews The Silent History by Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett
Exciting as the marriage between inventive narrative and ingenious technology undoubtedly is, it's hard to say it represents a profound advance on the reading experience. Readers always shape the narrative they have chosen, and not always in linear ways. My Heathcliff, for example, will not be the same as your Heathcliff, or Emily Brontë's Heathcliff for that matter.
When, where and why we read a novel also shapes the experience. Wuthering Heights read reluctantly at school as a compulsory text will feel very different when we pick it up eagerly in nostalgic middle age. (James Kidd)
The Telegraph has an article on fan fiction with the usual suspects:
But what’s the legal situation regarding living people? Scholars point out that real people fiction (RPF) has been going on since Shakespeare wrote Julius Caesar – while the young Brontës honed their craft with hundreds of stories about the living Duke of Wellington disguised as the heroic Duke of Zamorna. (Julia Llewellyn Smith)
The Daily Telegraph (Australia) recommends a visit to York and surroundings:
If you can hire a car, as we did, even better. It’s a few hours up the M1 but then you have the flexibility to explore further afield. The magnificent historic city of Harrogate is nearby, along with the Yorkshire moors and dales. Next time, I shall pack my hikers and do one of the brilliant organised walks, hoping to spot Heathcliff. (Fiona McIntosh)
The Pen & Muse interviews Laura Inman, author of The Poetic World of Emily Brontë:
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
The original purpose of The Poetic World of Emily Brontë was to acquaint readers with Emily Brontë’s poetry and make it accessible to even those who shy away from poetry by putting the poems in context and explaining them. As I wrote it, I became equally interested in biographical elements – using the poems to reveal Brontë’s thoughts and personality and using what I knew of her life and Wuthering Heights to cast light upon the meaning of her poems. As a result, what was a first conceived of as a kind of heavily annotated selection of poems became an investigation into her life and work. Most books of poetry can be read by perusing random poems, whereas this book is best read by turning the pages sequentially. Topics and themes build one on the other to a culminating understanding of Brontë’s world. The reason I thought this book would attract some attention was that I had never come across one with a similar format. Also, I believed that it would serve the important purpose of bringing Brontë’s poetry out of the shadows. Many know of her as the novelist who wrote Wuthering Heights, but few know that she was equally a poet. Underlying all reasons for writing this book is my enduring fascination with the Brontës that I developed ten years ago when I wrote an article on death in Wuthering Heights.
Sopitas (in Spanish) talks about writers' rooms and mentions the Brontë Parsonage. Correo del Sur (Bolivia) recommends Wuthering Heights 2011 in a local TV screening. Radio Times informs of the ITV3 screening today of Jane Eyre 1997. The Derbyshire Times gives away tickets for the Creswell Crags performance (next July 30) of the Chapterhouse Theatre production of Wuthering Heights. The Sundy Times has an article about Lindsay Lohan moving to London with a Wuthering Heights reference (maybe because she campaigned for being Cathy in what finally became Wuthering Heights 2011?)

Mr. Rochester's Adventures

Another retelling of the Jane Eyre-Rochester relation appears for Kindle:

Charlotte Brontë's Mr. Rochester: Thornfield Hall (The Adventures of Mr. Rochester Book 1)
Arabella Vine

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 302 KB
Publisher: Origin Books (23 July 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.

Re-experience the classic story of Jane Eyre’s passionate and tortuous love affair with Mr Rochester.
In ‘Thornfield Hall’ this first book in this classic ‘Mr Rochester’ series, Jane arrives at Thornfield Hall as the newly appointed governess to Mr Rochester’s orphaned ward Adriana. She takes up her position, yet to meet the master of the house.
And then on a cold wintry night, while out on an errand on a lonely country lane, her path crosses with that of a dark horseman on a fierce black steed, and they immediately find themselves at odds with one another. Who is this man with his dark, brooding, angry eyes and ruggedly handsome face? This man who is so impatient in manner, and so outspoken…?
Jane Eyre is soon to fine out!
Adriana?

Emily's Birthday at the Parsonage

The Brontë Parsonage celebrates Emily Brontë's birthday in style:
We’ll be combining a ride on the KWVR with a talk by railway history expert David Pearson, then a vintage bus ride up to the Brontë Parsonage Museum. On arrival there will be an illustrated talk on Emily Brontë, and a guided walk up onto Penistone Hill for a view of the wild landscape which so inspired Wuthering Heights. There will also be an opportunity to look around Emily’s home, the Brontë Parsonage, finishing with tea and home-made cakes. Finally, returning by vintage bus to Haworth station for the ride by steam train back to Keighley.

Schedule Emily's Birthday
12.15: Meet at KEIGHLEY station for the Keighley and Worth Valley steam train leaving for Haworth at 12.30.
Our group has a reserved coach on the train. Railway historian, David Pearson, will talk about the Brontës and the railways and will also point out interesting places such as Oakworth station featured in the film “The Railway Children”.
12.50: Arrive and travel to Haworth by the Heritage Bus to the Museum Car Park
1.00: Free time for Lunch. Upstairs room at Cobbles and Clay Café on Main Street is reserved. LUNCH IS NOT INCLUDED.
2.00: Meet at the Parsonage Museum for the Emily Brontë activities.
You will be in two groups for the activities. Each activity takes about 30 minutes; groups will swap over at around 2.35.
1. “Emily’s Treasures” – talk and close-up viewings of some of Emily Bronte’s personal possessions presented by Ann Dinsdale, Collections Manager.
2. A short walk to Penistone Hill for a view of Emily’s beloved moors which provide the wild backdrop to “Wuthering Heights”, led by Sue Newby, Learning Officer.
3.15: Tea, soft drinks, and cakes in the garden weather permitting and visit to the Brontës’ home and gift shop.
4.00: Return to Haworth station by Heritage Bus from the Museum Car Park. Train leaves Haworth at 4.21 and arrives at Keighley arriving at 4.40 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

How wrong could Charlotte Brontë have been?

The Sydney Morning Herald reviews The Golden Fleece by Muriel Spark:

There are several essays on each of her biographical subjects, Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë and John Masefield. The most entertaining one looks at the Brontës, who posed as martyrs in their tutoring posts, from the viewpoint of the families which employed them. (Desmond O'Grady)
Paula Byrne vindicates Jane Austen in The Telegraph and particularly Mansfield Park in spite of Charlotte Brontë's opinions:
Like many Northern girls, I grew up adoring the Brontës: storms, wind, rain, Cathy and Heathcliff. Austen didn’t cut it for me. I agreed with Charlotte Brontë, who found her style anaemic: “What did I find?” she wrote after reading her novels, “a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers – but no glance of a bright vivid physiognomy – no open country – no fresh air – no blue hill – no bonny beck. I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen in their elegant but confined houses.”
But then my odious English teacher refused to let me sit English Literature O-level. I set out to prove him wrong. At night school, I discovered Mansfield Park – a story about a girl born in a small house and an urban community, not the Austen I was expecting. I fell in love. And it changed my life.
How wrong could Charlotte Brontë have been? Passion, eroticism, danger, illicit love and incest simmer below the surface in Mansfield Park. The anti-hero, Henry Crawford, is every bit as sadistic and sexy as Heathcliff; he just has more charisma (more sinister altogether) than Brontë’s charmless hunk.
KCET visits Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills:
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again... or was it Wuthering Heights, or Henry James' Bly House, home of the ghostly children of "Turn of the Screw?" No, it was not a fictional English country estate, filled with regrets and windswept gardens. And it was not a dream. It was Greystone, the awe-inspiring, grey-green estate built by the oil rich Doheny clan in the 1920s. (Hadley Meares)
Le Monde talks about the mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa, who debuted in the Montpellier performance of Bernard Herrmann's Wuthering Heights in 2010:
Rien de frondeur pourtant chez cette grande femme brune au maintien sage mais non réservé, qu'une ascension fulgurante a menée en moins de cinq ans de Montpellier à Salzbourg, en passant par l'Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Paris, et qui a déjà surpris son monde plus d'une fois. La première ? C'était le 14 juillet 2010 au Festival de Radio France et Montpellier. La jeune femme, alors inconnue, avait provoqué la stupéfaction admirative des spectateurs de l'opéra Wuthering Heights de Bernard Herrmann. Elle y interprétait Isabel Linton, l'épouse méprisée d'Heathcliff, l'infernal amant de Cathy, d'après le célèbre roman d'Emily Brontë.
Au début de l'acte III, elle s'était levée pour jouer au piano une mélodie langoureuse et triste, avant de s'accompagner quelques minutes plus tard dans Love is like the Wild Rose-briar. Le public, conquis, avait découvert une voix rare, merveilleusement projetée, au timbre profond, émouvant, sensuel, le double mystère d'un don et d'un talent rares. (Marie-Aude Roux) (Translation)
The Debutante Ball interviews the writer Kay Kendall:
My favorite novel of all time—first read when I was twelve—is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I rarely re-read books (my motto is “so many books, so little time”), but Jane Eyre is the exception. I’ve read it five times and watch every film version available. Originally I had no idea why this novel appealed to me while another Brontë sister’s equally famous Wuthering Heights did nothing for me. However, now I understand. Even in my early teen years, I was subconsciously drawn to the themes of Jane Eyre—feminism, social inequality, moral justice, religious concerns (of atonement and forgiveness), and family. I’m amazed that even today, this important book by Charlotte Brontë still tallies with my own views. Plus, it’s a danged fine yarn. For me there is no more thrilling line in all literature than the one that begins the final chapter—“Reader, I married him.” Jane, who had sought only to marry her equal, had finally drawn even with Mr. Rochester. (Lisa Aber)
Finally, an alert from the Romance Writers of America 2014 Conference:
Angst and Affability: Using Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice to Craft New Adult and Contemporary Romance (CRAFT)
Speaker: Megan Frampton
How can the classics be used to shape modern fiction? Megan Frampton will teach how to pinpoint common themes and tropes found in both New Adult and contemporary romance by examining Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice.

Writers in Their Place

The view from the nursery in the Brontë Parsonage. Source
An exhibition in Scarborough has caught our interest:
A new photography exhibition in Scarborough presents striking monochrome images of writers’ homes.
If you’ve ever wondered what DH Lawrence’s kitchen looked like or how the view from the Parsonage might have inspired the Brontës, then it’s worth seeking out a new photography exhibition, at the Stephen Joseph Theatre gallery in Scarborough.

Writers in Their Place explores the homes of past novelists, poets and playwrights that are open to the public in Britain and Ireland. The atmospheric black and white prints are the work of Yorkshire photographers Peter Burton and Harland Walshaw and they cleverly capture the essence of the writer, sometimes through an image of just one object in the house. (...)
Burton and Harland took the pictures for a book, Writers and Their Houses, published twenty years ago which featured essays by modern-day writers about the homes of their predecessors. These included pieces by Melvyn Bragg on Wordsworth, Jeanette Winterson on Viriginia Woolf, PD James on Jane Austen and Seamus Heaney’s thoughts about fellow poet WB Yeats. (...)
here are around forty images in the exhibition including pictures of Dylan Thomas’s writing shed, Charles Darwin’s study and Shakespeare’s bed in Anne Hathaway’s cottage, as well as Yorkshire writers’ houses – the Sitwell family’s home Woodend, Laurence Sterne’s Shandy Hall and the Brontë Parsonage. 
 The original book is now out of print but there may be some scope for revisiting it, says Walshaw, since other writers’ homes have opened to the public in the meantime, such as Agatha Christie’s house in Devon.
Writers in their Place is free to view at the SJT Gallery until August 30. (Yvette Huddleston, The Yorkshire Post)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Wuthering Heights 1920 (script) returns to Haworth

Keighley News publishes the monthly Brontë Society article and among many other things the most exciting one is the discovery and purchase by the Parsonage of the production script of Wuthering Heights 1920:

We have had a very exciting recent purchase at the Parsonage. The full production script of Albert Victor Bramble’s Wuthering Heights (1920) has been discovered.
The copy of the original film has been lost and so now for the first time we can see just exactly what the film was like and how it came to be made.
There are 22 pages of production notes including details of costumes and locations used in each scene.
Bramble endeavoured to be as faithful as possible when making the film and made good use of local landmarks. He used Haworth Old Hall for Wuthering Heights and Kildwick Hall in Keighley for Thrushcross Grange.
There are even original stills of the film crew carrying their equipment and the child actors up to Top Withins. This purchase is especially exciting in the build-up to Emily Brontë’s bicentenary in 2018. 
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner looks into this year's Emily Brontë's birthday celebrations (next July 30):
It's nearly 200 years this weekend since one of Yorkshire’s most famous women was born.
Emily Brontë, author of Wuthering Heights, and a member of the family that has brought fame and fortune to the tiny village of Haworth, near Keighley, celebrated her birthday on July 30.
Although it’s 165 years since Emily died, her legacy lives on and this weekend the Brontë Society is planning a programme of events to commemorate her life and achievements.
Sunday will see a pilgrimage to Haworth on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in a reserved coach, with historian David Pearson on hand to talk about the Brontës and the railway.
At the Brontë parsonage, which was home to the family from 1820 until 1861, there will be talks on Emily and a chance to take a short guided walk across the moors that were such an inspiration to the literary sisters.
Tickets for the event are available from £11.50 for children to £19.50 for adults. Details from www.bronte.org.uk or by calling Sue Newby on 01535 640185 (Susan.Newby@bronte.org.uk).
There is also a separate evening celebration with another talk on the Brontës and a piano recital. Tickets are £35.  (Hilarie Stelfox)
The Independent makes a 50 books list for students to read this summer:
20. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre follows the emotions and experiences of its title character, including her growth to adulthood, and her love for Mr. Rochester, the master of Thornfield Hall.
36. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Emily Brontë's first and only published novel about the tumultuous relationship between Catherine - the daughter of a wealthy family - and her father's adopted son, Heathcliff. (Roisin O'Connor)
The Slate article about the well-known (for Brontëites at least) annotations of the registry at Cowan Bridge seems to have inspired some bloggers around:
Charlotte’s teachers said she “[wrote] indifferently” and “[knew] nothing of grammar, geography, history, or accomplishments.” At least instructors pointed out that she “worked neatly”?
As for sister Emily, author of Wuthering Heights, her evaluation was best. She “reads very prettily and works a little,” her teachers wrote. The other two sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, were both evaluated as writing “pretty well,” although each sister was also knocked for her grammar. Slate has a great shot of the reports here.
Of course, we all know the rest of the narrative — at least for literary success. Makes you feel pretty good if you’re the kind of writer who crutches on spell check, no? (Meredith Turits on Bustle)
Here’s some hopeful news if you were ever told by your teachers that you’d never amount to anything: In grade school, Charlotte Brontë’s teachers at the Clergy Daughters School said she “[wrote] indifferently” and “[knew] nothing of grammar, geography, history, or accomplishments.” Slate dug up the reports, which were reprinted in the January 1900 issue of The Journal of Education: A Monthly Record and Review. (...)
Of course, Charlotte and Emily Brontë became feminist icons and two of England’s most renowned novelists, and Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Emily’s Wuthering Heights are in the canon of British literature. Poor Anne Brontë, whose work is often overlooked in favor of her sisters’, didn’t even go to the same school. (Jacob Sham Sian on Entertainment Weekly)
The Herald of Everett reviews Jane Eyrotica by Karena Rose:
Jane Eyrotica by Charlotte Brontë and Karena Rose. A somewhat popular literary trend of recent years is the literary remix. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!, The Meowmorphosis and Zombie Island are just a few examples of classic literature updated in an absurd, nearly surreal manner. The best of these feature seamless rewrites, the style of the modern author matching perfectly that of Austen, Kafka and Shakespeare. Jane Eyrotica is a rather racy remix of Brontë’s classic, rampant with bosom heaving, Victorian innuendo, bondage and somewhat explicit carnal activities. Although the story is changed a bit (Jane being 16 rather than 10) to accommodate the subject matter, this is a well-written book, classic yet sexual, and a far cry above the quality of Fifty Shades. For a quick taste, witness Jane’s reaction when looking at a photograph of an attractive man:
Upon first seeing [his eyes], I had felt a jolt of pleasure beneath my petticoat;
A fairly tame observation, Victorian in its naiveté, but merely an aperitif of what is to come.  (Ron)
The Northern Echo describes an excursion to Brontë country:
On Tuesday we went back to Haworth, home of the famous Brontë sisters and completed an exhilarating four-mile walk on Haworth Moor to some of the places which inspired Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. Interestingly, some of the public footpath signs had directions in Japanese.
A Brontë mention on an Atlantic CityLab article about the (too high) temperatures inside the London Tube this summer:
Trains on these lines do have some air blown in from vents (and windows at the ends of carriages that open to provide a breeze), but the gusts they provide is more Barbie hair dryer than Wuthering Heights. (Feargus O'Sullivan)
Karen Hardy makes a curious reference in an article about the Commonwealth Games in The Canberra Times:
I must admit I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by the whole idea of colonialism. The books A Passage to India, Wide Sargasso Sea and Heart of Darkness were on my reading list growing up. Sunday afternoons spent watching epic films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Zulu, and in later years Out of Africa and The English Patient kept me captivated for hours.
The Brontë Parsonage tweets the 1822 Charlotte Brontë sampler;  My Head is Full of Books reviews Always Emily by Michaela MacCall; K.M. Weiland, editor of the Annotated Classics Jane Eyre edition posts on The Procrastiwriter about What Jane Eyre Can Teach You About Mind-Blowing Heroines.

Stancliffe's Hotel in Japanese

A bilingual Japanese-English edition of Charlotte Brontë's Stancliffe's Hotel has just been published in Japan:

Stancliffe’s Hotel―絵と原文で楽しむ
Charlotte Brontë
Annotated & Translated by Taeko Tamura
Illustrated by Junko Ichihara

大阪教育図書  Osaka Kyoiku Tosho (June 10, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-4271410133





Thursday, July 24, 2014

Real Women

The Telegraph & Argus talks about the August City of Film initiative in Bradford:
Throughout August City of Film will host free family film screenings on Big Screen Bradford in City Park, and each film will be complemented by a short film from the Yorkshire Film Archive , with a focus on holiday scenes.
One of the selected short films is Jack Eley's 1959 Yorkshire Curiosities which features very briefly the Brontë Parsonage (10'50'') in Howarth (sic).

Claire Fallon lists in The Huffington Post the best books capturing how is to be an introvert person:
Jane Eyre. Jane can be passionate and fiery when it comes to her rights as a person, but for the most part she’s a quiet, unobtrusive presence. Capable of forming profound attachments to others, she cares little for the company of those who are not among her chosen few loved ones. A stimulating conversation with her friend Helen or Mr. Rochester is more than enough to fill her with happiness, and larger social gatherings leave her cold. Jane enjoys her solitary time, dreaming wild dreams or working on paintings; though she isn’t a highly skilled artist, she plans her pieces carefully and executes them thoroughly. Much of Jane Eyre is spent inside Jane’s active, contemplative mind, an effect heightened by the fact that Brontë physically isolates Jane by mostly depicting her in rural settings where she rarely needs to interact with others. And though Jane seems to dream of far-off adventures, in reality she is frightened by the possibility of traveling to India as a missionary, and the lonely moors of England are more than enough for her as long as she's accompanied by a kindred spirit like Mr. Rochester.
Elise Waters discusses on The Federalist the need for pretty heroines (it seems that things haven't changed so much since Charlotte Brontë's days):
When I think of fiction with strong female heroines I automatically go to Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. I love these books, and they are often held up as paragons of literary success. Additionally, the central female figures are not pretty. Let’s do a quick breakdown of the heroines, shall we?
Jane Eyre: 18, plain, independent, quiet, rejected by her family, school teacher/governess, refuses marriage to a man she doesn’t love, ultimately marries Edward Rochester (after abandoning him when she finds out the truth about his first wife). Jane marries Rochester after his wife dies, he is badly burned, and she realizes she cannot live without him. (...)
These are real women, not cookie-cutter females who need to fall in love to justify their own self-worth. A question to ask, though, is: Would these books today be lauded any less if Austen and Brontё had made the heroines a little bit prettier? I doubt it.
You could argue that these characters are so insightful and interesting to read about because they are not pretty and they’ve compensated for their lack of appearance through wit and understanding of human emotion. But I call bullshit. Austen and Brontё were exceptional writers, and their books succeed because of the depth of character they convey, which could be achieved if the women were plain or even labeled “pretty.” (...)
Now that we’ve established what could be considered acclaimed literature with realistic heroines—how do modern-day fantasy books with pretty heroines who fall in love compare? Well, they can’t, because the comparison isn’t possible. How can we understand how books of today will be viewed 150 years from now, when novels such as Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice were initially brushed off as smut?
Sheila Kohler, author of Becoming Jane Eyre, writes in Psychology Today about heroines from a different angle:
Even 19th century women heroines like Jane Eyre are capable of integrity and physical bravery when facing difficult situations. After her aborted marriage, when she discovers that Mr. Rochester already has a wife locked up in the attic at Thornfield, Jane runs away across the moors without any sort of sustenance. Her wanderings on the bleak moors without food or shelter are not entirely unlike the modern Katniss and her adventures in the Hunger Games.
Vermont's Seven Days reviews the novel The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makai:
In this volume, evocative of the gothic classics whose conventions Makkai both emulates and spoofs (Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Citizen Kane), many of the secrets lie — surprise, surprise — in the attic. (J.T. Price)
The tragedy of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is recalled in this article in The Huffington Post with a Brontë mention:
One of the ghastly, can't-look-away fascinations of this week's Malaysian 17 crash is simply a narrative foible: coincidence. As an English professor, I can attest that coincidences happen much more often in literature than in real life. Literary coincidences, which will appear corny and sloppy if they're not done right, are necessary fictional contrivances to bring two strands of a story together in a way that normally wouldn't happen without authorial artifice. (Victorian novelists, for whatever reason, were the champions at coincidence-crafting: Dickens, Eliot, Austen, the Brontës.) (Randy Malamud)
A tweet by the Keighley News editor Richard Parker reveals a quite interesting teaser for tomorrow's news:
Latest @BronteParsonage feature in tomorrow's Keighley News reveals exciting purchase of 1920s Wuthering Heights film script and photos.
Laura Inman is promoting her book The Poetic World of Emily Brontë on Infinite House of Books,
What initially got you interested in writing?
I always had a bent for writing in college and in my work as a lawyer, but did not pursue it until late in life, starting in the last ten years. Although I might not have realized it when I started writing, my interest in it must have been the creativity of writing—all writing is creative writing. Writing and writing for publication went hand in hand. With very minor exceptions, I never kept journals or wrote stories or poetry for myself. I did not think about writing for publication until I took a graduate English course a few years ago as part of getting a master’s degree to teach English. I wrote a lot of short papers for that class and then wrote a long one on Wuthering Heights in which I proposed that I had discovered something new about that book. I turned that paper into an article that I got published in Brontë Studies. The research for that article set me on my course of devotion to Emily Brontë and writing about her, including an article on her poetry published by Victorians: Journal of Culture and Literature. In addition to scholarly writing, I wrote a screenplay about the last six years in her life when she wrote Wuthering Heights, turned that into a fictionalized biography, and wrote another novel in which she has a cameo appearance (neither got published, which doesn’t trouble me anymore.)
or on Roxanne Kade's Reviews.

Portal Cwb (in Portuguese) posts about Villette. View from Section T reviews Jane Eyre. Cronton College shares some pictures of their recent Jane Eyre. The Musical production. Interesting Literature recommends ten classic Victorian novels including Jane Eyre, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Wuthering Heights. Books&Bits reviews among others Wuthering Heights and The TenantKatie Doyle reviews The Writer's Digest Annotated Jane Eyre edition. Finally a picture of Top Withins by Christine Barraclough.

Emily by Candlelight

A new chance to catch Rita Parisi's Gothic Tales by Candlelight at the Bristol Public Library (CT):

Gothic Romance Tales by Candlelight w/ Rita Parisi
07/24/2014
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Rita Parisi from Waterfall Productions will present “Gothic Romance Tales by Candlelight” at the Bristol Public Library on Thursday, July 24, at 6:30 pm. This theatrical storytelling presentation will feature mysterious stories of love and betrayal by Louisa May Alcott, Emily Brontë and Kate Chopin. No charge. Please Register.
(Via The Bristol Press)