Wednesday, November 26, 2014

'Under the spell of the remote and lonely moorlands'

Arkansas Traveler recommends several 'Good Reads to Catch Up On Over Thanksgiving Break'. One of them is by a new author:

3. “Wuthering Heights” by Emile Bronte:  Romance and ghost stories are an interesting combination, and this book is one of weird obsession and everlasting love. Set nearly entirely in a cold, deserted climate, “Wuthering Heights” is perfect to curl up with in the wintertime. Another classic that has become famous for the love-hate relationship readers will find with the two protagonists, Catherine and Heathcliff, one can’t miss being in on the age-old theme of misused lovers and undying affection. (Michele Dobbins)
Bustle also mentions the novel before suggesting more books to read on Thanksgiving break.
There are three things I never leave for home without: a bottle of wine, a copy of my passport, and a good book. Sure, the wine might only make it through the first night, and yes, the passport occasionally gets forgotten or confiscated at the least of convenient times (ask me about it over that bottle of wine), but the book — it has always been there for me.
Whether it was Wuthering Heights over Christmas Break or Play It As It Lays that fateful weekend my heart was broken and I had to make my way home by bus, the right book has always made the difference. And now, with Thanksgiving break approaching, I’ve started frantically scanning my shelves, lining up my options, and doing some serious weighing of alternatives. (Hannah Nelson-Teutsch)
Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner interviews writer Jennifer Niven.
3. You're having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?There are too many to choose from! But maybe Harry Houdini, Emily Brontë, Zelda Fitzgerald, Abraham Lincoln, and Errol Flynn. (Kayla Posney)
Another fan of Emily Brontë seems to have been the composer Arthur Butterworh, who is featured in The Independent.
His song cycle The Night Wind sets three poems by Emily Bronte, the poet of Yorkshire and the moors. "Like Emily Bronte I have always been deeply under the spell of the remote and lonely moorlands of the north of England," he wrote, "and much of my music has been influenced by their oftimes forbidding desolate loneliness." Perhaps his love of wild country is most popularly exemplified in his short tone poem The Path Across the Moors. (Lewis Foreman)
The Guardian reviews the second season of Psychobitches and looks back on the first:
The first series was a knockout – Julia Davis played a wailing hybrid of Pam Ayres and Sylvia Plath; the Brontë sisters were foul-mouthed, filthy puppets obsessed with sex, and Sharon Horgan played a campy Eva Peron, who clung on to her bottles of “boobles”. It was silly, and odd, and very funny. (Rebecca Nicholson)
This is how Fast Company describes Michael Fassbender's take on Mr Rochester:
Fassbender is an interesting choice, having tackled roles ranging from a broody, hearthrobby Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre to a broody, hearthrobby version of psychotherapist Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method. (Chris Gayomali)
Bustle on a sidebraid sported by Kristen Stewart:
this tousled braid is exactly the type of wind-ruffled coif I would expect to see on Elizabeth Bennet or Jane Eyre. (Tyler Atwood)
Atticus Review interviews writer Susan Millar DuMars who says she has
written a story called Grace, about the servant who cares for the mad Mrs. Rochester in Jane Eyre. (Georgia Bellas)
The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page shows a lovely detail to be found in the garden of Elizabeth Gaskell's newly-opened house, which according to them, looks 'resplendent in the Manchester gloom'. Ann Dinsdale also 'channeled Charlotte Brontë' on a recent visit to the house.

The Male Heights in Manchester

Peter McMaster's Wuthering Heights is going to be performed in Manchester:
The Arches presents
Wuthering Heightsby Peter McMaster
Contact Theatre, Manchester

Wednesday 26 November 8:00pm
Thursday 27 November 8:00pm

Four performers explore their experiences of being men in this bold, award-winning, all male interpretation of Emily Brontë’s seminal text.

As they recall the dark expanses of the Yorkshire moors, they sing together, full-throated, and dance optimistically to the howling tones of Kate Bush. They ask, almost 200 years after the book was published, are the aspirations of men very different now?

The energy of this brave new performance is not to be missed.

Suitable for over 16s.
Post-show talk on Wed 26 Nov.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bertha, the baddie

The Guardian discusses 'baddies' in books:

It was an odd delight to have to choose a favourite villain in literature. Reading the choices made by fellow contributors has, to an extent, brilliantly confused rather than dully clarified my thoughts. Are we talking about the scope of their megalomania – a Sauron or an Ahab? Or is it the nastiness of their behaviour – a Patrick Bateman or a Humbert Humbert? Or is it the slyness of their villainy – Bertha from Jane Eyre or Mrs Danvers from Rebecca? Henry de Montherlant observed that “happiness writes in white ink on white paper”, and it’s certainly true that villainy thrills on the page in a manner decency struggles to realise. (Stuart Kelly)
On the other side of the coin, Repubblica (Italy) looks at heroines.
Quando si è imparato che bisogna tener duro per le prime tre pagine, perché entrare in una storia è come saltare dentro un buco nero, la letteratura fa tana nei nostri cuori. Ed è in quel momento che nella vita di una lettrice entrano le regine: Jane Austen, Emily e Charlotte Brontë. Orgoglio e pregiudizio, Jane Eyre e Cime Tempestose. Si parte da lì, ovunque si decida di andare. Io sono andata sempre verso le storie, ho sempre avuto questa passione imperdonabile e inestinguibile per la narrativa. Lo dico perché altre sapranno indicare meglio di me saggi e riflessioni, la non-fiction che deve stare sul comodino di ogni donna. Io  sono devota profondamente e senza possibilità di guarigione al valore dell'invenzione, alla verità dell'immaginazione, a  quella catena di meravigliosi inganni che costituisce un romanzo. Ogni romanzo, persino quello che sembra più vicino alla realtà. I diari per esempio, o le lettere. (Elena Stancanelli) (Translation)
Weighing in on the gender imbalance debate, this reader of The Sydney Morning Herald is not quite so sure about Wuthering Heights for a reason:
Bronte makes us ask the eternal question. The gender imbalance notwithstanding, I'm all for the dumping of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, if only to save any future teacher the inevitable embarrassment of not being able to respond to some student's query as to the meaning of "wuthering" ("Gender imbalance in HSC English book lists criticised", November 24).
David Grant (Ballina)
This Portland Tribune columnist is 'reading' the novel nonetheless:
In the CD player of my car is the audiobook for “Wuthering Heights,” the classic novel by Emily Brontë. [...]
"Wuthering” is a novel powerful enough to have withstood the test of time and remain as one of the greatest love stories in the history of literature. [...]
Don’t skip Brontë. Books like “Wuthering” are the meat and potatoes for a well-rounded reader. (Stephen Alexander)
Entertainment Weekly's Shelf Life asks 'writer-editor-actress' Tavi Gevinson the following:
What’s a book you’ve pretended to have read? In high school I pretended to read The Odyssey, Jane Eyre, and Pride & Prejudice. (Stephan Lee)
El Mundo (Spain) reminds us that, like the Brontës, the Goytisolo brothers are a family of writers now that Juan Goytisolo has been awarded with the Cervantes Letters Prize. Girl with her Head in a Book invites you to an upcoming Wuthering Heights readalong. Another ongoing readalong (a Jane Eyre one) is the one that A Night's Dream of Books or The Frugal Chariot are posting about.

Auditions and Readings

A couple of alerts for today, November 25:

Auditions in Todmorden, UK:
Todmorden Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society
26th November
Auditions for Cathy and Heathcliffe (sic) parts only on this night
27th November
Auditions for all other parts

Lucy Gough has written a passionate new adaptation of the timeless classic. Emily Brontë's gothic tale of tortured love is brought to the stage in all its turbulent, passionate glory. Long before Twilight stirred the emotions of a generation, Wuthering Heights embodied the eternal pull between good and evil, dark and light, and heaven and hell.
This exhilarating and vibrant adaptation of the literary classic brings to life the all-encompassing love between the taciturn, brooding Heathcliff and the emotionally unstable Catherine. Their destructive relationship is one of the most enduring love stories of English literature. It's terrific theatre which is completely true to the essence of the book. (Via Todmorden News)
Reading in Shelton, Connecticut:
Plumb Memorial LibraryRetro Reads — Friday, April 25, 6 p.m. This new book group considers classics from youth: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë this month. Read or re-read and share opinions and snacks, a reader’s Happy Hour; new members welcome, copies of the book available. (Via Shelton Herald)

Monday, November 24, 2014

'Wuthering Heights sure ain't cheerful'

The Independent (Ireland) reviews the Gate Theatre producion of Wuthering Heights.

The first reaction to the Gate production of Anne-Marie Casey's adaptation of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights is a sense of profound relief: this is Brontë's novel, not a jumble of 21st century slang and jargon in a story framework that matches the original only in an occasional point of contact.
It could be claimed that Casey had an easier task than some adaptors in that Wuthering Heights is an outrageous Gothic tale, its language straightforward and unadorned by fashionable style and thus presenting fewer possible pitfalls. But such advantages have not prevented other adaptors of period classics, here and elsewhere, from torturing them into a slow and mangled death.
Casey's adaptation is faithful from the first. Mr. Lockwood is the man who has rented the ill-fated house in which so many of the protagonists have died, from the wild and tormented Cathy to her betrayed and desperate husband Edgar Linton. And the tale unfolds as it does in the book: as told to him by the housekeeper Nelly. She has kept the dreadful secrets of a fierce and impossible love to herself for 20 years, watching Heathcliff, the man despised even by the crude Yorkshire society into which he was adopted by Cathy's father, howl himself towards the grave to which he has driven his wild lover in the impossibility of their almost unearthly passion.
Casey has added a fantasy of her own: in her text, Heathcliff's "gibberish" when he is picked up as a small and filthy boy on the streets of Liverpool is actually Irish, a doubtful fantasy, since Patrick Prunty, father of the famous sisters, was always at some pains to disguise his own Irishness (even changing his name to the more "refined" Brontë.) [...]
Wuthering Heights sure ain't cheerful, but it is an excellent piece of theatre, even though somewhat downbeat as a Christmas offering. (Emer O'Kelly)
The same newspaper also wonders whether 'modern women' can 'reach the 'Wuthering Heights' of having two partners'.

The Sydney Morning Herald is concerned about the 'Gender imbalance in HSC English texts'.
Anna Funder's Stasiland made it to the new list of prescribed English texts for Higher School Certificate study as did the filmmaker Jane Campion, the science fiction novelist Ursula Le Guin and Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre.
But for these exceptions women writers are a vulnerable species on next year's senior English reading list, according to University of Notre Dame's lecturer in literature and communications, Dr Camilla Nelson.
At least 70 per cent of texts authorised for senior study in years 11 and 12 by the NSW Board of Studies from 2015 to 2020, are authored by men. [...]
The notion that the best books are written by men is absurd but that's precisely the message the gender imbalance sends, says Nelson.
"Among the texts we have lost are Austen's Northanger Abbey, Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and Emily Dickinson's poetry which rather supports my suspicion that as the classic nineteenth century texts are taken off the curriculum there's a tendency to replace with contemporary male, rather than contemporary female writers.
"I am certainly not saying that we should necessarily bring back all the classic nineteenth century writers who basically dominated the novel last century. I can certainly see the sense in engaging students with contemporary texts. But the gender politics at work are astonishing." (Linda Morris)
The Yorkshire Post has an update on the plans for a wind farm in Brontë country.
Councillors are being advised to refuse a bid to install two wind turbines on a farm in the heart of the countryside made famous by the Brontës.
The move to construct the turbines on 18-metre high masts at Old Oxenhope Farm, Oxenhope, Keighley, has divided opinion.
Bradford Council has received seven letters in support of the scheme and 10 letters of objection. Oxenhope Parish Council is among its critics.
Coun Neal Cameron, the chairman of the parish council, said: “We tend to look at every case on its merits with special regards to the aesthetics of the locality. We are very much an area of outstanding natural beauty.
“The Brontë sisters’ countryside is very important historically and affects a lot of tourism.
“We tend to treat everything how it will sit in its environment and unfortunately in this application the turbines would be very prominent on the horizon in the locality.
“The farm is equidistant between Haworth, the home of the Brontës which attracts a lot of visitors, and the Brontë waterfalls. We support wholeheartedly the fact that we have a dairy farm in the village. We are very keen to support and retain agricultural activities.”
Critics fear the turbines will adversely affect tourism in the area. However, supporters say the development is vital to the farm business and the application will help the farm so it should be supported.
They say that government policy is to reduce carbon emissions from the dairy industry. They claim that “without allowing farms to develop they inevitably decline and ultimately environmental stewardship declines with them”.
Members of Bradford Council’s Area Planning Panel for Keighley and Shipley will be advised to refuse the application when they meet on Thursday.
The farm is next to a public footpath which is part of the Brontë Way and The Railway Children Walk.
An Ottawa Sun columnist writes about a late member of the community:
Amidst that chaos -- and just two doors down from the bordered-up crack house -- I found Jean-Marc Jubinville. He was sitting on his front porch, dressed in his going-to-mass pants and collared shirt, drinking tea and reading an Anne Brontë novel. [...]
And that quiet grace -- can you come up with a better definition than reading Anne Brontë next to a crack house? -- amazing how often it wins. How often it saves our communities. (Ron Corbett)
Classic Movie Favorites reviews Wuthering Heights 1939. Words for Worms posts about the original novel. Babbling Books continues reading Jane Eyre. Fanda Classiclit also post about Charlotte Brontë's novel. Finally, Dr. Harrison Solow explains 'Why We Still Read Jane Eyre'.

Charming Orient Shining England

This is a study of the influence of The Arabian Nights in British nineteenth century novelists. Including Charlotte Brontë:

Charming Orient Shining England
Dr. Mahmoud F. Al-Ali
XLIBRIS Self publishing (November 14, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1493114511

The Arabian Nights is a composite work consisting of popular stories originally transmitted orally and developed during several centuries, with material added somewhat haphazardly at different periods and places. This study was devoted to the impact of The Arabian Nights on four novelists of the nineteenth century: Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, George Meredith, and Robert Louis Stevenson. These authors were selected on the ground of their life spans, which encompassed almost the whole century. Because they are among the masters of the English novel, it is reasonable to assume that they did not content themselves with mere imitations resulting in pseudo-oriental tales. Their original creations assimilated the influences from The Arabian Nights, forming new unified structures with interwoven references and allusions, which are to be redetected.
Chapter 2 is "The Influence of The Arabian Nights on Charlotte Brontë".

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Call of a Distant Curlew

The Sunday Herald reviews Sanctuary by Robert Edric:

The opening scene describes a meeting on Sober Hill between Branwell and a pack man with his "string of Galloways", delivering unmade kersey to Leeds and Bradford. The man's trade is being usurped by the railways: "Everyone talks forever of 'progress'," he says to Branwell, who responds: "meaning they speak of it when they profit from it most?" Sanctuary is full of sleek dialogue like this, and plenty of historical fodder to chew on. (...)
The strangeness of the book is in the feeling the story isn't going anywhere. The plot hangs around like the thick mist that clings to the Yorkshire moors. At this point Branwell's life is also going nowhere. The chapters are occasionally just brief encounters between Branwell and some hapless acquaintance he meets on the road. This is no criticism. The cast is never dull, and Edric is wonderful at creating a sense of place and atmosphere in few words. By the end you need only be reminded of the "call of a distant curlew" on the moors and a panoply of imagery gathers around you again.
It should be tiring to read about a man making the same mistakes over and over, but you rarely feel bogged down. This is not surprising. Edric has written more than 20 novels, and has had plenty of practice in how best to break the rules. His prose can be sentimental and a few phrases, such as "home grown revolutionaries", stick out as too modern. But these are quibbles. Sanctuary slow-burns its way into the mind and sits there, waiting for you to re-read its depictions of the Yorkshire countryside, the poverty of agricultural existence, and of the faltering life of the male Brontë who never lived up to his own or his family's hopes.
The novel's epigraph is an extract from one of Branwell's letters to his friend Joseph Leyland. It captures the mindset of a man resigned to failure: "I am betrayed by my instincts and damned by my desires. It was ever thus." (Nick Major)
The Irish Independent mentions Tom Canton (Heathcliff in the Gate Theatre production of Wuthering Heights):
"Ohmigad!" the tall brunette exclaimed grabbing my arm. "You're not going to believe this but Heathcliff is sitting at the bar!"
Indeed he was.
Or, at least, the Rada-trained actor playing Emily Brontë's literary hunk was.
The Gate Theatre's production of Wuthering Heights, starring Tom Canton as the bold and brooding Heathcliff and Kate Brennan as Catherine Earnshaw, was met with rapturous applause and a standing ovation.
"I think women like Heathcliff's unpredictability, his passion and his recklessness," Canton said. That'll do it, alright. (...)
Author Joseph O'Connor was there to support his other half, Anne-Marie Casey, who penned the stage adaptation of Brontë's book. "It's not every first night you attend where you're in love with the playwright," he said. (...)
It's been 70 years since The Gate staged Wuthering Heights but it's not for want of trying.
"I asked Hugh Leonard to do it before but he said no," director of The Gate Michael Colgan said.
"It's a long and rambling tale but I think we've cracked it. It's got drama, romance and ghosts - what more do you want?" (Kirsty Blake Knox)
Not the only article in the same newspaper where the Gate production is mentioned. The Sunday Times reviews the production:
When old Mr Earnshaw found a young Heathcliff wandering the streets destitute and alone, the child was speaking “gibberish”. Students of Emily Brontë have taken this to imply that the boy, who is taken in as Earnshaw’s son and falls in love with his daughter, Catherine, was a gypsy. In this adaptation of the classic novel, writer Anne-Marie Casey has inferred the nonsensical language to be Irish. It is one of many bold but confident decisions that establish this Gate Theatre production as a thoroughly enjoyable night of entertainment and a thoughtful interpretation of a much-loved tale of tumultuous passion. (Eithne Shortall)
The vision of marriage in Xaluan (Vietnam) is, to say the least, a bit dated:
Nhưng trong suốt những tháng năm tới đây, cả hai sẽ luôn biết đến một mảnh đất gọi là nhà, nơi tôi nặn bánh, nấu cơm, thong thả viết, nơi tôi thêu nốt bức thêu, đọc đi đọc lại cuốn Jane Eyre vào những chiều thật lạnh. Nơi đó, tôi sẽ lại chơi chi chi chành chành với lũ mèo, và người chơi keng với chó. (Vũ Hoài Anh) (Translation)
Let It Be Printed discusses Charlotte Brontë's poetry;  Les Soeurs Brontë (in French) posts about Haworth; JPT Movie Reviews posts about Wuthering Heights 1998; kącik literacki (in Polish) talks about the original Emily Brontë novel.

Batman vs the robotic Emily Brontë-saurus

The latest number of the digitally-released comic Batman 66 (Chapter #47, The Osiris Virus, DC Comics) contains an unexpected Brontë reference. The archvillain Bookworm has no less than a Emily Brontë-saurus (run by a Heathcliff 1 computer?) and entraps Batman and Robin in a gigantic Wuthering Heights volume:

Ha! Ha! What pleasure it gives me to look down to my enemies from such Wuthering Heights.
I bid you adieu, caped crusaders... for you will surely not survive the footfall of my Emily Brontë-saurus!
Script : Jeff Parker
Letters: Wes Abbott
Art & Colors: Scott Kowalchuk
Cover: Michael & Laura Allred
Comics Alliance adds:

One of the great things about the current Batman ’66 comic is that it allows for set pieces that the TV show never could’ve budgeted for — the latest issue involves Bookworm’s Wuthering Heights-themed robotic dinosaur, the Emily Brontësaurus, and the very first story involved Batman gliding through the air to chase down the Riddler’s airplane. (Chris Sims)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Jane Eyre-esque earnestness

First, a couple of alerts for today November 22. The first one in Berkeley, CA:

Mallory Ortberg reads from Texts From Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations With Your Favorite Literary Characters
Pegasus Books Downtown
2349 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704
Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 7:30pm
Join Mallory Ortberg, co-creator of The Toast, in a reading from her new book, Texts From Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations With Your Favorite Literary Characters. Based on the popular web-feature, Texts from Jane Eyre is a witty, irreverent mashup that brings the characters from your favorite books into the twenty-first century.
The second one in Elkin, NC:
Murder by the Book” opens at Elkin High’s Dixon Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with a second performance at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are available at the door, $5 for adults; $3 for students and children. (Kitsey E. Burns on Elkin Tribune)
Great literary road trips in The Guardian with a picture of Top Withins, of course:
Celebrate some of the women who put England on the literary map with a tour of Yorkshire and Cumbria. Start in Haworth, the village in the Pennines where the Brontë sisters, Anne, Charlotte and Emily, grew up. Visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum, furnished as it was when the family lived here, and take the short walk up to Brontë Falls and on to Top Withens, said to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights, the house in Emily’s eponymous novel.
News Letter mentions the Brontë connection of the Rathfriland Presybterian Church (i.e. Patrick Brontë preached and taught at Drumballyroney Church and School House, between Rathfriland and Moneyslane):
In the congregation we have many historical links, through our families to the sinking of the Titanic with the death of Thomas Rowan Morrow, members who fought in First and Second World Wars, United Irishmen and the Brontë family.
New Jersey Star-Ledger talks about The Hunger Games: Mockingjay and the real need of splitting the adaptation in two movies:
Since Hollywood began, it's been adapting big, unwieldy books — and always managing to do it in one go. Dickens movies often toss away fistfuls of chapters; most versions of "Wuthering Heights" discard the last half of the novel. No American studio ever asked you to see "War" one year, then come back for "And Peace" the next. (Stephen Whitty)
In the Yorkshire Post there is an article about the Gissing Centre in
She takes a pragmatic view of the Centre. “It’s not Haworth, and Gissing isn’t one of the Brontes,” she says. “It’s never going to attract the numbers Haworth attracts, but it will attract the faithful few.”
Dawn (Pakistan) talks the quite subtle gender revolution taking place in Pakistan through cinema and television:
Another equally popular show Zindagi Gulzar Hai sanctified a middle class dupatta-clad girl while villainising the upper class girls in western attire.
The good girl/bad girl dichotomy, however, fails to erase the complexities that animate out of this binary.
With a Jane Eyre-esque earnestness, the good girl pursues a career, lives apart from her husband, and carves a space, where her being is not policed by men. (Nur Ibrahim)
Globe Newswire talks about the newly published writer James I. Marino:
As he grew older, he grew into the literary adventure stories of Ernest Hemingway, and then the Sturm und Drang of novels by Thomas Hardy and the Brontë sisters. Conspicuously absent during all this journey were the stories of such evangelists for fantasy as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, or Ursula Le Guin. (Richard Adams Carey)
La Presse (Quebec) reviews Bain de lune by Yanick Lahens:
La violence des désirs dans le village fictif de l'Anse Bleue traverse trois générations qui vivront la naissance de la dictature, et n'est pas sans rappeler celle des Hauts de Hurlevent de Brontë ou des Fous de Bassan d'Anne Hébert, et surtout Amour, colère et folie de Marie Vieux-Chauvet, figure majeure des lettres de «l'île magique». (Chantal Guy) (Translation)
Cultura e Cultura (Italy) reviews the film Scusate se esisto! directed by Riccardo Milani:
Donne all’ombra di uomini. Donne che fanno fatica ad affermarsi, oggi come un tempo, quando alcune scrittrici di successo facevano uso di pseudonimi maschili per pubblicare romanzi e antologie. Jane Austen o le sorelle Brontë sono un esempio in tal senso. Le donne erano escluse da quasi tutti i campi lavorativi. (Maria Ianniciello) (Translation)
The first blog post on the Elizabeth Gaskell's House Blog has been published and is a really nice one; Sarah Actually Reads videoreviews Jane Eyre.


The Brontë biofiction, Branwell genre, has a new addition:
by Robert Edric
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Doubleday (20 Nov 2014)
Ebook: Transworld Digital (20 Nov 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-0857522870

Haworth, West Yorkshire, 1848.

Branwell Brontë - unexhibited artist, unacknowledged writer, sacked railwayman, disgraced tutor and spurned lover -finds himself unhappily back in Haworth Parsonage, to face the crushing disappointment of his father and his three sisters, whose own pseudonymous successes - allegedly kept secret from him – are only just becoming apparent.

With his health failing rapidly, his literary aspirations abandoned and his once loyal circle of friends shrinking fast, Branwell lives in a world of secrets, conspiracies and seemingly endless betrayals. To restore himself to a creative and fulfilling existence in the face of an increasingly claustrophobic environment, he returns to the drugs, alcohol and the morbid self-delusion which have already played such a large part in his unhappy life.

Sanctuary is a lacerating and moving portrait of self-destruction. In it, Robert Edric has reimagined the final months of one of the great bystanders of literary history, and, in so doing, has shone a penetrating light on one of the most celebrated and perennially fascinating families in our creative history.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Heathcliff, business guru

The Independent (Ireland) reviews the Gate Theatre production of Wuthering Heights.

Anne-Marie Casey’s adaptation, necessarily compressed, loses most of the fine tissue connecting the bones of one of English literature’s greatest love stories.
Much of it, particularly in the first act, jerks along, made jerkier by Michael Barker-Caven’s over-busy production. Within minutes Cathy has returned home outwardly transformed from her recuperation at the Lintons, a surly young Heathcliff has been scrubbed up by Nelly (the excellent Fiona Bell) to impress her, while vowing undying revenge on Cathy’s tyrannical brother Hindley and Hindley’s wife has gone upstairs pregnant and come down in a coffin. Unless you know the story it all seems rather haphazard.
Wuthering Heights is in a constant spin, and though the ingenuity of Paul O’Mahoney’s set design often pays off, sliding rocks, sliding curtains, beds coming out of walls, and some decidedly naff film projections do more to shred the atmosphere than thicken it.
A key element of the novel’s brooding menace is Hindley, consumed with hatred for Heathcliff from childhood. A sneery wimpish Ronan Leahy is miscast as the vengeful brute, while Joseph is just an ephemeral servant rather then the cursing Biblical moralizer he should be.
Thankfully Tom Canton is a superb Heathcliff, physically and vocally, his hoarse northern accent hollow and dry when making threats that never fail to materialize, and impassioned when articulating his tormented love for Cathy. Kate Brennan is a constantly compelling Cathy, in possession of an untameable love the well-bred Lintons can’t even imagine, but, as a woman, still concerned to better her position.
Brennan embodies perfectly this conflict between her love and her appetite for betterment, spelled out when she tries to justify her intention of marrying Linton. She loves Linton because he’s rich and he loves her, but Heathcliff is a different matter. “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
With Brennan and Canton, the unvarnished simplicity of Cathy and Heathcliff’s avowals have a visceral power and truth that make love the most desirable but the most terrible of involvements. (John McKeown)
Daily Express has an article on Sheila Hancock's love life and reminds us of the fact that she herself has
previously compared their romance [her marriage to John Thaw] to that of Cathy’s and Heathcliff’s in Emily Brontë’s ‘Wuthering Heights.’
Emily writes extraordinarily about the depth of Cathy and Heathcliff’s desperation, with him actually grabbing her body as she’s dying to try to stop her going, as it were," Hancock explained during an interview with Radio Times in 2013.
"Well, anyone who’s watched somebody die, that’s just what you want to do. I did. ‘Don’t go, don’t you dare go!’ She puts into words something I totally understand."
Hancock has gradually learned to live without the late actor over the past decade, but believes that she was meant to be with him.
"If you have ever known that obsessive love, which sometimes makes it difficult to be together but impossible to be apart, you can identify with the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff," she said. (Annie Price)
Well, here's something we had never thought Wuthering Heights would help with--business! Linkedin interviews Matt Gross, Boston-based entrepreneur and founder of Mobile First Software. According to him,
reading Emily Brontë’s novel “Wuthering Heights,” with its fictionalization of the character Heathcliff, helped me understand that in a hostile business interaction there’s a human being on the other side, and any negative interactions are likely a result of that person's internal state of mind, not necessarily about what I’m doing or saying. (Chuck Leddy)
The Church Times quotes rather more predictably from Shirley:
We sing Isaac Watts's "O God, our help in ages past". Charlotte Brontë has a girl, "her voice sweet and silver clear", sing it in Shirley. (Ronald Blythe)
The Daily Mail reviews the novel Sanctuary by Robert Edric.
In this fictionalised story of Branwell Brontë, the acclaimed author Edric focuses not on his subject’s youthful collaborations with his sisters, but on the would-be author and artist’s troubled later years.
It’s a brave decision, and lends many of the episodes in this book an autumnal cast: ‘My hopes these days are all dead leaves in a rising wind,’ Brontë confides at one point, and the image recurs as he ponders the debts that swirl around him.
His famous siblings, meanwhile, keep their distance (particularly cold, critical Charlotte) — their success and the secrecy it’s wrapped in forming an exclusive bond. Unable to find his place within the family, Brontë is also adrift in the world, disgraced as a tutor, sacked from his position on the railways for ‘an accounting discrepancy’, and unacknowledged as the father of a long-dead child.
Not everything about this novel works: the dialogue doesn’t always convince and, in the final, distressed stages of Brontë’s life (which ended when he was just 31), his narration is a little too lucid. On the whole, however, it’s a restrained and sensitive portrait. (Stephanie Cross)
We didn't think it possible for anyone to romanticise Lowood, but this columnist from The Collegian does:
I dream of Kenyon having a serious snowstorm or a blackout, literally or figuratively. Then it might turn into an English boarding school like Charlotte Brontë’s Lowood Institution and professors might tell us pilgrims’ tales by the fire, taking us back to the days where the reader was more important than the book, bringing us close to that plane where we grasp the fundamentals. (Kelly Reed)
The novelist Ayelet Waldman writes about travelling to London with a family of fans of Doctor Who on Condé Nast Traveler.
Outvoted but mollified by promises of proper English teas—though not a committed Whovian like my children and husband, I am a devoted re-reader of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters and know well the attractions of cucumber sandwiches and clotted cream—I set about planning the trip. 
Dos Manzanas (Spain) finds Peter Cameron's novel Coral Glynn somewhat reminiscent of Jane Eyre.

And more High School Jane Eyre

This one in Kennebunk, Maine:

Jane EyreAdapted by Willis Hall
Kennebunk High School

The Visual and Performing Arts Department proudly announces Jane Eyre as the Fall Play!  This powerful theatrical production based on the immortal classic by Charlotte Brontë and adapted by Willis Hall, will be performed Friday and Saturday, November 21st and 22nd at 7:00 pm, and Sunday afternoon, November 23rd, at 2:00 in the Alexander Economos Auditorium. There are no advance reservations for this production.  Tickets are $8.00 at the door.
SeaCost Online gives more information:
“It's a unique play for our stage — highly stylized, minimal set, relying on lighting and movement and characterization to bring the story to life. It's a great play for November — a dark and mysterious Gothic romance,” said the play’s director, Val Reid.
“It is a very intense classic, but it is family friendly — anyone can come and see it,” said junior cast member Rosemary Crimp. (...)
Set and lighting design is by Benjamin Potvin and student stage director/manager Ben Walker-Dubay.
“It’s a large cast with students from all grades working together. It’s great to come together across the board like that, we always have fun,” said junior Meira Clark.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mordantly Funny (or how Fundraising and Sewer Work is quite a metaphor for the snooty wars)

The Spectator chooses the best books so far in the year and Melanie McDonagh's selection is:

Muriel Spark wasn’t only one of the great British novelists but a cracking literary critic and a lovely essayist. Her book on Mary Shelley is extraordinarily perceptive; ditto, but more fun, is her writing on the Brontës. Carcanet Press, having last year reissued the Shelley book, has now republished The Essence of the Brontës (£12.95), Spark’s compilation of their letters, with essays. It’s a joy on both fronts. Her piece on the siblings as teachers (‘genius, if thwarted, resolves itself in an infinite capacity for inflicting trouble’) is mordantly funny — her sympathies are entirely with their pupils — while the selection of letters is very fine and occasionally downright malicious. Consider Charlotte on Pride and Prejudice: ‘An accurate daguerrotyped portrait of a commonplace face; 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.’ Fabulous.
The Irish Times reviews the Dublin production of Wuthering Heights as adapted by Anne-Marie Casey:
Retaining the novel’s framing device, which has the bumbling visitor Lockwood (Bosco Hogan) and the earthy, sympathetic housekeeper Nelly (Fiona Bell) as narrators, the production never settles on a theatrical frame. If anything, it seems to follow a shooting script, zipping through locations and images: the hand through the windowpane, Catherine and Heathcliff tumbling through the moors, Catherine desperately calling his name.
Where the adaptation finds something new to say is the suggestion (informed by the critic Terry Eagleton) that the adopted Heathcliff is an Irish Famine refugee. (We first find him, as a child, muttering the Ár n-Athair.) That might lend Heathcliff’s brutalisation – and ensuing brutality – a political dimension, were there room to explore it.
For Tom Canton’s towering and husky Heathcliff and Kate Stanley Brennan’s whirling Catherine, who hope to dissolve into one another in fantasies both romantic and macabre, their onstage relationship becomes, inevitably, a more physical expression. Conveyed in leaps and lifts and laughs and lunges, though, it threatens to tip into parody. That is the peril of a literal approach; it sticks to the the surface of the story, and here, the book’s most pivotal moments – Cathy’s fatefully overheard conversation or Heathcliff’s grave digging – are served unadorned and strangely muted. (Peter Crawley)
The Yorkshire Post (and several other local newspapers) talk about some sewer works that have to be done in Haworth and that will sadly interfere with the local Christmas celebrations:
Hundreds of people from across the UK were due to flock to the Brontë village over the weekend of December 6 and 7 for the Victorian Christmas Market.
Bands, street entertainment and a diverse range of market stalls had all been planned to entertain the crowds.
But contractors need to move onto the street from December 1 to carry out essential engineering works - and the organiser has decided to cancel after taking council advice.
Despite the disappointment, organisers have praised Bradford Council for the way the issue has been handled. (...)
Mike Powell, Bradford Council’s emergency planning officer, said: “It’s regretful that the event has had to be cancelled, but safety of the public is paramount and the road work has to be done. Council officers will work with the organiser when he submits the new date for his event.”
Darren Badrock, Bradford Council’s principal highway engineer, said that the highway surface - which is made up of stone setts - would be restored to its original condition once the work is completed.
A spokesman for Yorkshire Water said the engineering work related to waste pipes which had been incorrectly connected during the development of a private housing scheme.
A date for the work has been agreed with the council, the company said. Work is expected to start on December 1 and finish on the 13th. (Andrew Robinson)
Also in Haworth the Haworth Church Website makes the following appeal:
Haworth Parish church has played a significant part in English church history. Rev’d Grimshaw, Rev’ds John and Charles Wesley are among key people and pioneers associated with the church. The parish had close links with the Methodist Revival movement. The Brontë connection meant that the parish was, and is, a place of pilgrimage for Brontë fans. (...)
But the building is not just a historical monument. It is central to the Haworth Community; and provides regular worship as well as being extensively used for Wedding, Funerals, Civic occasions etc.
It costs £1,000 a week to keep the church open. Sadly, like so much of our national heritage it needs a great deal of money spending on it to restore it and make it fit for the 21st century.
In 2012 £0.26m went on the new South Roof; the heating system was replaced at a significant cost this autumn. An application to replace the North Roof, around £0.3m, has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Completion will make the building weather-proof; however, to make it fit for the 21st century further work, such as new eco-friendly lighting, new wiring, toilets, etc., needs to be done at an estimated cost of £1/4m.
The church, like the Society, is dependent on those who attend services and well-wishers for its funding. If you believe that you might be able to help please speak to the Rev’d Peter Mayo-Smith. Tel: 01535 648464 or e-mail:
The New York Times reviews the book Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti:
Rough wood furniture on pale stone floors reminded her of chairs at Wuthering Heights that Emily Brontë called “high-backed, primitive structures.” (Eve M. Kahn)
Vulture reviews the latest episode of Sons of Anarchy (Suits of Woe, S07E11). The Brontë reference of the previous episode is still briefly mentioned:
Juice has been squeezed dry. He talks to Unser and Jarry as they frantically try to get him a deal so he will tell them the truth. “It doesn’t matter anymore, Sheriff. I’m done. It’s too late, for all of us,” he says, tear-stained and numb. He tells them he told Jax the truth and that Gemma knows the truth. By the end, guards are taking him to the infirmary, where Lin’s men will be waiting for him. And he had just gotten into Brontë. Jax did promise it would be quick.
 An ode to the use of imagination in reading is what we found in Kentucky Kernel:
My English teacher of that elk was Mrs. Hunter. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights was her favorite novel, and she ripped the mammoth to shreds. Every conversation was chewed up and spit out in four different ways.
At the time, I had not the slightest bit of idea or ounce of care to figure out her points about the character development and progression of Mr. Heathcliffe (sic). The book was massive, and my attention span was not as such. (Nick Gray)
Noticias Mercedinas (Argentina) announces the broadcast of the play The Love Course (1969) by AR Gurney on Radio Fénix (November 19, 21.00 h and November 23, 19.00 h):
Both Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and Emily Brontë’s "Wuthering Heights," which have big parts in this play, are elements in other plays I wrote later on. I guess those two works won’t leave me alone.
The Edmonton Journal talks about the release of a live album by Mike McDonald. Regrettably it won't include his 1997 track 'Wuthering Heights vs The Guns of Navarone'
The evening went smoothly, though some songs were dropped from the finished recording due to errors both large and small.  (...)
"There were other songs I wanted on there, too, like Wuthering Heights vs. The Guns of Navarone, but the mistakes would have driven me crazy every time I listened to it.” (Tom Murray)
And more music and Wuthering Heights. Kate Bush's song is performed in many different ways today in the news. As a kind of Christmas show in Canberra:
We've Got Our Standards. Devised and performed by John Shortis and Moya Simpson. Teatro Vivaldi ANU Arts Centre. November 29,30.
Shortis says Simpson  also sings Ralph McTell's Streets of London and tells stories of being a schoolteacher in the East End of London, as well as performing Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights and a "thrown-up-in-the-air" rearrangement of the old Eurovision Song Contest winner Puppet on a String. (Ron Cerabona in Canberra Times)
With puppets on Boris & Sergey's Preposterous Improvisation Experiment at the Mimetic Festival 2014 in London (The Vaults, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, November):
The final part of the showcase for us was “Boris and Sergey’s Preposterous Improvisation Experiment”. Unfortunately, Sergey wasn’t with us, as Boris explained, but he (along with his three handlers) carried out regardless and delivered a version of ‘Wuthering Heights’ which made Kate Bush’s original look almost sane. (Neil Cheesman on London Theatre 1)
Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner interviews the writer Louisa Treger:
What three novels could you read over and over? (Kayla Posney)
I could give you a list of ten! But if I must restrict myself to three, I would probably choose "Villette" by Charlotte Brontë, "Fugitive Pieces" by Ann Michaels, and "The Hours" by Michael Cunningham.
And Muzikalia (Spain) reviews the BBC documentary Kate Bush: Running Up That Hill:
Si alguien se quedó en que Wuthering Heights (1978) era la música del anuncio del perfume de Gloria Vanderbilt aprenderá mucho con este film. Típico documental estilo BBC, 60 minutos de impactos revisando la consistente, personal y ecléctica carrera de Bush. (Sonia Galve) (Translation)
Televisión Cubana (Cuba) interviews the actor Roberto Perdomo:
¿Cuánta fantasía de niño has podido realizar mediante la actuación?
La mitad. Me queda mucha fantasía y mundos por experimentar y dibujar. Me hubiera encantado interpretar uno de los personajes de la novela Cumbres Borrascosas, además de encarnar a Teresa Racán y a otros clásicos. (Mayán Venero) (Translation)
El País (Spain) describes Àngel Guimerà's play Terra Baixa as 'Wuthering Heights with pubilla' (Jacinto Antón).

Finally, a new installment in the Brontë Society internal little wars: the Brontë Parsonage Blog gives voice to the President of the Brontë Society, Bonnie Greer who completely disagrees with the 'snooty' accusations to some of the leaders of the Brontë Society:
“One of the reasons that I accepted the Presidency is not only because I love the work of the Brontës, but because both the members and the Council have been welcoming and supportive. And because of Yorkshire - the people and the region. I’ve been London-centered for all of my almost thirty years in this country. So to get away from the south east bubble to somewhere “real” - to me that’s great!
One of the reasons I love Yorkshire is because I, too, don’t do “snooty” and “snobby”. I never have, don’t now, and never will. And believe me, if I felt that there was an atmosphere like that around me, I’d be out of there.

High School Jane Eyre

An alert for today, November 20.

The Drama students at Anchor Bay High School (Michigan) are playing Willis Hall's adaptation of Jane Eyre. Further details on The Voice:

"JANE EYRE" PRESENTED at ABHS Nov. 20-21-22: Our Town is invited to attend the play, based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë and adapted by Wills Hall. Curtain time is 7:15 p.m. Mrs. Dawn Battice, in her 19th year as director of the drama department at Anchor Bay High, is excited to provide the students with another rewarding experience in the genre. The production is sure to be another outstanding performance by the students. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students, senior citizens and members of the military.
Also on the ABHS Drama Twitter account.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"It's fun to wear corsets"

A.V. Club suggests which adaptations of the classics you need to see in order to 'cheat English Lit 205'.

Jane Eyre (1997): Anyone in search of exacting fidelity regarding Charlotte Brontë’s definitive character study should turn to the 1983 series, in which an entire episode is spent in Lowood and Timothy Dalton pretends not to be handsome. A&E’s 1997 outing is short on time and low on budget: Scenes fade awkwardly to make room for commercial breaks, and whole subplots—like Jane’s journey to settle accounts with dying Aunt Reed—happen entirely offscreen. But this also means an Eyre tightly focused on its leads (Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton), who nail crucial and difficult characterizations of the plucky, introspective governess and the asshole who loves her. Hinds’ Rochester is every inch the abusive blowhard who manipulates Jane for his amusement, and a viewer has zero trouble believing he would stash a wife in the attic. It’s no wonder Morton’s Jane—whose steely gaze barely disguises her temper—often seems intrigued by him despite her better instincts. Backed by a score overwrought enough to make Brontë proud, these two duke it out for the best-earned codependent happy ending of the 19th century.
The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall (1996): Of all the Brontë novels, this might be the trickiest to adapt. Its prickly heroine, Helen Graham, is the most determinedly feminist Brontë heroine, feet planted firmly in a suffragette future: disregarding unfair laws, resenting men’s legal control, and shunning the behind-the-scenes support network of women. But she lacks the relatability of plucky Jane Eyre—Helen’s the wife that’s been locked in the attic. And Wildfell Hall’s plot, which parallels a slowly unspooling tale of marital abuse with a slowly unspooling tale of Helen being harangued to open up in her new life, could feel stagnant on the screen. Instead, director Mike Barker imbues the frame with the cool illumination of a Vermeer, and shows Helen as a natural fit among the scrub trees that have twisted and toughened to survive. There’s even the occasional grace note of uncomfortable sensuality, as Toby Stephens’ Gilbert becomes romantically entitled about her in a way the series suggests makes him a questionable improvement on the last guy. It’s a largely uncompromising adaptation of an uncompromising novel. [...]
Wuthering Heights (1998): Emily Brontë was the most openly Gothic of the sisters whose work came to define the Romantic era. Wuthering Heights, though often described as a dark love story, is actually a two-person horror story that catches a generation of innocent parties in its terrifying wake—which makes it awfully tricky to adapt, since a successful one will have to acknowledge their mutual monstrousness, and most versions softball Cathy. The 1998 miniseries is no exception; Orla Brady’s Cathy is mildly determined rather than poisonous. But Robert Cavanah is as cruel a Heathcliff as the small screen’s ever seen; he’s more bombastic than Tom Hardy’s quietly sinister sociopath in the 2009 iteration, but Cavanah’s right at home in a wholeheartedly Gothic take. (Heathcliff digging up Cathy’s coffin to embrace her bones is a succinct encapsulation of the entire novel.) It’s not perfect—the dated effects mark this as distinctly ’90s, and Polly Hemingway isn’t as compelling a Nelly as she could be. But this version comes closer than most to capturing the psychological sinkhole at the novel’s center. (Genevieve Valentine)
We are sorry but we don't really agree with the versions of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights that have been selected.

We doubt they were there for the cheating, but the Irish Independent carries the story of the celebrities who were there for the opening night of Wuthering Heights at the Gate Theatre.
It has been 70 years since Emily Brontë's haunting romance 'Wuthering Heights' was last staged at Dublin's Gate Theatre.
So there was plenty of excitement in the foyer of the theatre as broadcasters Pat Kenny, Marty Whelan and Gay Byrne crowded through the doors to watch Cathy and Heathcliff's love story play out on the Yorkshire Moors.
"It's a classic book," Whelan said. "And we all love a bit of high drama and romance in the build up to Christmas don't we?"
Actresses Cathy Belton, Ingrid Craigie, and author Joseph O'Connor also attended the opening night as did Master of the National Maternity Hospital Holles Street, Dr Rhona Mahony.
Directed by Michael Barker-Caven the production has been adapted by acclaimed playwright Anne-Marie Casey.
Tom Canton takes on the brooding lead role of Heathcliff while Kate Brennan - daughter of thespian Stephen Brennan and 'Fair City' actress Martina Stanley - plays Catherine.
"It's like a ghost story," Brennan said. "I really connected to the raw passion. I never really do stuff in this period so it's fun to wear corsets and dresses with big skirts for a change." (Kirsty Blake Knox)
Jane Eyre is one of seven life-changing books for MyDaily:
3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë. This gothic novel tells the story of Jane Eyre, one of the most independent female protagonists in literary history. The story follows her journey from her loveless home to the grand Thornfield Hall where she works as a governess. She finds herself falling in love with her employer Rochester only to face the ultimate dilemma. Jane Eyre was written in 1847 and dazzled readers with its intimate voice and portrayal of a young woman's search for equality and freedom. (Tara King)
Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden) reviews Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries:
Men till skillnad från den viktorianska romanen à la Brontë eller Dickens – på vilken ”Himlakroppar” får sägas vara en pastisch – finns hos Catton ingen moraliserande slutsats att hämta. Det tycks i slutändan framför allt vara en postmodern berättelse om verklighetsåtergivningens svårigheter, ett slags genreparodi på den realistiska roman som vill synliggöra tillvaron från alla dess skilda perspektiv. (Viola Bao) (Translation)
This is how Vulture describes the song Chocolate by Giraffage:
Damn, this song is pleasant. It sounds like the soundtrack of a video game about a polar bear who just drifts lazily down an icy, yet calm, river. Periodically, fish jump into her mouth, and she eats them clean, pulling out the bones (Heathcliff-style). (JDF
Eloquent Codex posts about Wuthering Heights.