Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Delicate Feminine Fingers of the Brontës

The Guardian interviews the comedian Bridget Christie:

Further encouragement to write a feminist show came from an anti-feminist writing implement. “I was in Ryman and I saw them on the counter: A Bic for Her. I asked the assistant: ‘What are these? Have they been selling well?’ She said: ‘No, we think they’re a bit silly.’ So I bought six packets and thought I could use them in some way.”
This purchase led her to pen a riff on how the Brontë sisters got all those novels written before the invention of a special pen to fit their delicate feminine fingers. Christie apologises that, not having brought her bag to the cafe, she doesn’t have any lady biros with her but, apparently, they are chunky although light, and have a rubber pad to prevent pressure calluses. (Mark Lawson)
The Washington Post reviews The Language of Houses by Alison Lurie:
The tone of Alison Lurie’s “The Language of Houses” is light and breezy. “A small Greek temple or a New England church is simple and formal, like the greeting, ‘How do you do?’ ” she writes. “A log cabin or a bus shelter, on the other hand, is simple and informal, the architectural equivalent of ‘Hi there.’ ” Her 1981 book, “The Language of Clothes,” directed a similar lens at fashion; her 1984 novel, “Foreign Affairs,” won the Pulitzer for fiction. Not surprisingly, there’s a literary bent to her latest undertaking, with allusions to the work of Charlotte Brontë, Tom Wolfe, Joyce Carol Oates and Michael Lewis, whose decision to rent a seven-bedroom, $13,000-a-month New Orleans mansion at the height of the real estate boom gave him personal insight into the American penchant for overspending on a dream home. (Eric Wills)
The New Yorker talks about new covers for classics. It mentions the recent Penguin Wuthering Heights edition with a cover by Ruben Toledo:
It is possible and desirable to create cheeky modern covers for classics. Penguin itself has done so beautifully with its Graphic Deluxe editions, which feature covers drawn by noted illustrators and cartoonists. The new designs make the old books look like hip, vital collectibles, but they also convey something essential about the work of literature inside. The artist Ruben Toledo’s cover for “Wuthering Heights,” for example, which is edged by windswept tree branches like black lace, has the panache of a fashion drawing. (Margaret Talbot)
The Independent discusses the power of anonymity:
Throughout history, anonymity or pseudonymity has had many uses – whether hiding rebels from the gaze of the authorities (remember “I am Spartacus!”?) or allowing the likes of Jane Austen (“By a Lady”) and the Brontë sisters (“Acton, Ellis and Currer Bell”) an entrée into the male world of literature. (Boyd Tonkin)
The Hindu discusses a new trend on Facebook:
Over the past couple of days, people have started naming 10 books that ‘left a lasting impression on them’ and then tagging friends, asking them to do the same. If you’re tagged, you need to post your list of 10 books, before tagging more friends — and so on. So far, all the usual suspects have featured, from the Brontë sisters, to J.R.R. Tolkien and Paulo Coelho. Bringing up the Indian side, Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie and Vikram Seth seem the most popular. 
We read on The Tyee:
Good stuff is thin on the ground at the moment, which is why we return over and over again to Heathcliff and Cathy, Rochester and Jane Eyre, even Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight, with two of the most physically blessed humans on the planet (George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez) eyeballing each other's assets. (Dorothy Woodend)
Jacqueline Wilson chooses her six favourite literary orphans in The Times. And Jane Eyre, of course, features in the selection.

Le Nouvel Observateur interviews Augustin Trapenard, editor of Emily Brontë's Devoirs de Bruxelles and several Brontë papers:
"Je n'ai pas d'autres religions que la littérature", ajoute-t-il, convoquant cette fois les textes sacrés qui ont changé sa vie : "les Hauts de Hurlevent" d'Emily Brontë (objet de sa thèse), "le Bruit et la Fureur", de Faulkner, "Tendre est la nuit" et "Gatsby le magnifique", de Fitzgerald. Il a tatoué sur lui une phrase de "Gatsby". (Alexandre Le Dollec) (Translation)
El Correo (Perú) talks about the exhibition La Mujer de Bellocq by Patricia Villanueva:
Mitad humana, mitad animal. Objeto de deseo e instinto asesino. La lucha eterna entre civilización y barbarie encarnada en un ser que batalla entre dos mundos. Inspirada en la serie de fotografías de Storyville (1912) de E.J. Bellocq, las novelas de Jean Rhys y Charlotte Brontë, la Metamorfosis de Ovidio y su amor eterno por los cuervos, Villanueva crea una oscura leyenda acerca del instinto de sobrevivencia, del amor, de la existencia sin testigos y del deseo de sentirse vivo en los ojos del otro. (Translation)
Worldwide Branding's Contributing Authors traces a profile of Brontë scholar Christine Alexander; Carcanet Blog announces the upcoming release of The Essence of the Brontës by Muriel Spark; Paranoias RiKanna (in Spanish) and Gator Book Chom post about Jane Eyre; Auxiliary Memory reviews Wide Sargasso Sea.

The Fame Lunches

A new collection of essays which contains one on the Brontë sisters:

The Fame Lunches,
On Wounded Icons, Money, Sex, the Brontës, and the Importance of Handbags
Daphne Merkin
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9780374140373
ISBN10: 0374140375

A wide-ranging collection of essays by one of America’s most perceptive critics of popular and literary culture

From one of America’s most insightful and independent-minded critics comes a remarkable new collection of essays, her first in more than fifteen years. Daphne Merkin brings her signature combination of wit, candor, and penetrating intelligence to a wide array of subjects that touch on every aspect of contemporary culture, from the high calling of the literary life to the poignant underside of celebrity to our collective fixation on fame. “Sometimes it seems to me that the private life no longer suffices for many of us,” she writes, “that if we are not observed by others doing glamorous things, we might as well not exist.”
     Merkin’s elegant, widely admired profiles go beneath the glossy façades of neon-lit personalities to consider their vulnerabilities and demons, as well as their enduring hold on us. As her title essay explains, she writes in order “to save myself through saving wounded icons . . . Famous people . . . who required my intervention on their behalf because only I understood the desolation that drove them.” Here one will encounter a gallery of complex, unforgettable women—Marilyn Monroe, Courtney Love, Diane Keaton, and Cate Blanchett, among others—as well as such intriguing male figures as Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, Truman Capote, and Richard Burton. Merkin reflects with empathy and discernment on what makes them run—and what makes them stumble.
     Drawing upon her many years as a book critic, Merkin also offers reflections on writers as varied as Jean Rhys, W. G. Sebald, John Updike, and Alice Munro. She considers the vexed legacy of feminism after Betty Friedan, Bruno Bettelheim’s tarnished reputation as a healer, and the reenvisioning of Freud by the elusive Adam Phillips.
     Most of all, though, Merkin is a writer who is not afraid to implicate herself as a participant in our consumerist and overstimulated culture. Whether ruminating upon the subtext of lip gloss, detailing the vicissitudes of a pre–Yom Kippur pedicure, or arguing against our obsession with household pets, Merkin helps makes sense of our collective impulses. From a brazenly honest and deeply empathic observer, The Fame Lunches shines a light on truths we often prefer to keep veiled—and in doing so opens up the conversation for all of us.
The chapter on the Brontës is Moping the Moors. There's also an article about Jean Rhys, The Lady Vanquished. A review can be read on the Jewish Journal.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Is Errol Flynn available for the Brontë Society?

The Yorkshire Post gives more details about the turmoil at the centre of the Brontë Society. It seems that at the heart of the problem lies the rather sudden (and not well explained) departure of Ann Sumner last June:

About 40 members of the literary society, which is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, have expressed concerns and how its governance is having an impact on the world-famous Brontë Parsonage Museum, which it owns.
Critics are close to getting 50 signatures to force an extraordinary general meeting in a bid to oust the ruling 
In a letter, members John Thirlwell and Janice Lee claimed there was an urgent need to “modernise” the society. (...)
Mrs Lee told The Yorkshire Post that, in her opinion, the current council appeared to be “enthusiastic amateurs”.
Mr Thirlwell claimed the running of the Parsonage Museum should be left in the hands of museum staff, putting an end to what he called the “micro-managing” by the society’s council.
He added: “The big picture is that the Brontë Society has lost its way. The museum should be run by a Trust and in a more professional way.”
Mr Thirlwell claimed a 
recent consultants’ report concluded the Brontë Society was not best placed to be a fund-raiser because it was members’ club.
Members including Mr Thirlwell and Mrs Lee are still angry at the sudden departure in June of Ann Sumner, the society’s executive director, after just 16 months in the role.
Questions have been asked about the circumstances of her leaving, but details have not been disclosed.
Mr Thirlwell, a TV producer, said: “I, for one, would want Ann Sumner to come back.
“She had improved the relations between the village of Haworth and the Brontë Society, which has not always seen eye to eye with the village. She was very well respected in the museums field.”
Mrs Lee, who is a volunteer at the museum, added: “Ann Sumner came with a remarkable CV – she was amazing and had already started making inroads into taking the Parsonage forward.” (...)
The Brontë Society Council confirmed it was aware a letter had been sent “expressing concerns” over the way it was governed. (...)
“The council is working hard with an experienced and accomplished leadership team to ensure that the business planning of the Brontë Parsonage Museum is on a secure footing.”
The List reviews the Peter McMaster adaptation of Wuthering Heights recently seen at the Edinburgh Fringe:
This is not a faithful theatre adaption of Emily Brontë’s classic: from the beginning the all-male cast announce they will be playing various characters from the novel as well as themselves, taking Heathcliff’s temperamental disposition as the driving force behind a rollercoaster of a play exploring the male psyche.
Directed by Peter McMaster, who also plays Nelly and himself, Wuthering Heights is an undoubtedly brave piece of theatre. Taking on the nineteenth century classic and injecting synchronised dancing to Kate Bush, Catherine and Heathcliff’s love from the perspective of a horse and a man in drag (who derobes and wrestles naked) make this an oblique look at a familiar tale.
At times cracks in the whirlwind performance surface – audible count-ins to dance moves, a genuine concern that the horse may collapse – and it becomes hard not to want of a little more of Brontë’s story as a reference point. (Maud Sampson)
The Guardian reviews The Novel: a Biography by Michael Schmidt:
Schmidt does the tiny notes beautifully, and an alert, specific comment often brings the flavour of a page of Faulkner or Charlotte Brontë before us. The book took me a good while to read, as I kept breaking off to rediscover this novel or that. To that extent it is a great success. (Philip Hensher)
Los Angeles Times reviews the Errol Flynn biopic, The Last of Robin Hood:
The real-life drama “The Last of Robin Hood” starts three years later, when Flynn suffers from increasing heart trouble, back problems and substance abuse, and is so desperate for work that he agrees to play Edward Rochester in a stage version of “Jane Eyre.” (Michael Sragow)
Errol Flynn as Rochester? Well, as a matter of fact it was a very short lived performance as  we read in Errol Flynn: The Life and Career by Thomas McNulty:
[In 1958] Flynn made the ill-advised decision to appear in his first American stage production. He had not worked on stage since his brief stint with the Northampton Repertory Players. Perhaps his interest in the play, written by Huntington Hartford and based on Jane Eyre, stemmed from his continuous need for money. (...)  Re-titled The Master of ThornfieId, the play was another disaster. Flynn's heavy drinking contributed to his inability to remember his lines. He reportedly loaded the set with supplies of vodka and upon forgetting his lines would saunter to a bookcase or desk and pour himself a quick shot. Sometimes he broke character and addressed the audience, digressing into anecdotes about John Barrymore. The play folded after only a few performances. Flynn, perhaps embarrassed by the turn of events, said, "I can't do much with this the way it's written" In response to that Hartford said, "In my own defense, I'd like to say that I have yet to hear my play (from Flynn) as it was written." (Errol Flynn: The Life and Career by Thomas McNulty, McFarland & Company (2004), pp 283)
Emily Brontë was a 'healer type' (INFP- Introvertive, Intuitive, Feeling-Perceptive) in the  Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) according to Medical Daily:
 INFP, “the healer,” makes up two percent of the general population and his ideal career would be in medicine, teaching, or litigation. In romantic relationships, he is supportive and loving along with his good sense of integrity. He craves harmony and emotional engagement, and respects and values his partner deeply. Famous people of this personality type include Mohandas Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Emily Brontë, and Jimmy Carter. (Samantha Olson)
Arts.mic lists several 'exceptional' webseries:
This remake of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre does a great job of adapting a Gothic setting to the present day. Run by a small crew of actors and writers, its low budget makes the series feel authentically like a vlog from a new YouTuber. While the ending is a little disappointing, the series as a whole does a great job of bringing even the smallest characters to life. (Rachel Grate)
The Daily Express interviews TV presenter Alex Jones:
At the moment I am re-reading some of my favourite classics such as Jane Eyre and The Bell Jar but I love contemporary fiction too. I recently read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and it completely blew me away. (Lucy Benyon)
The Star Phoenix reviews The Immigrant by James Gray:
The frames have the brownish, ominous tint of old blood. The sets conjure the smell of mould and cloying perfume. And the story itself feels like something left behind in Charlotte Brontë's bottom drawer. (Katherine Monk)
The Conversation on reading pleasures:
Those novels, with their racy covers and dry English wit, lent me a sense of much needed sophistication. This was money in the bank for a plump British Asian 14 year-old who wore glasses, and had a reputation for starting conversations with the line, “Have you read Jane Eyre?” (Preti Taneja)
The Plymouth Herald reminds us of the fact that, for a time, James Taylor was compared to a modern Heathcliff:
Taylor is known as probably the greatest sensitive-male singer-songwriter of all time – but Time magazine in 1971 noted his appeal to female fans and compared his strong-but-brooding presence to Wuthering Heights’ Heathcliff.
Writings Corner posts about Contemporary Patriarchal Society in Wuthering Heights; the Parsonage Twitter shares a 1828 Anne Brontë drawing; The Halifax Reader posts about Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell; Ripassamo Insieme (in Italy) reviews Jane Eyre.

Brontë Society Conference: The Condition of England

Today, August 29, opens the annual Brontë Society Conference at the Warwick University:
The Brontës and the Condition of England

The next Brontë Society conference will take place on 29, 30, & 31 August 2014, at the Scarman Conference Centre, Warwick University.

In the nineteenth century the term ‘Condition of England’ was applied mainly to the economic and commercial problems of the nation. For this conference we would like to broaden the meaning to include, if possible, some of the other major national concerns of the day, which would have impacted on the Brontë family and possibly influenced their works. Some of the
most obvious examples are: development of the railways; controversy over home-rule for Ireland; abolition of slavery; Catholic emancipation; Law reform; and the Chartist movement. The last topic is particularly pertinent, as Haworth was at the very centre of the rapid industrialisation of the former cottage industries of wool-combing, spinning, and weaving.

The aim of this conference is to give meaning and depth to the anxious national concerns of early 19th century England, ones which would have impacted the young Brontës both in their lives and works. We hope to create an overall picture of what the world looked like to the passionate young inhabitants of Haworth’s Parsonage.

We are greatly privileged to have some of the leading scholars in this field to address us. The key-note speaker will be Juliet Barker, the author of the closest thing to a definitive biography of the family, The Brontës. Other speakers include Rebecca Fraser biographer of Charlotte Brontë, Dr Robert Logan, Chairman of the Irish Brontë Society, whose understanding of the young Patrick and the influences on him growing up is exceptional and Marianne Thormählen, author of The Brontës and Education and editor of The Brontës in Context. Our President, Bonnie Greer OBE, will be present and will give the after-dinner speech at the conference dinner on Saturday.

The conference location this year is at the purpose built Scarman Centre, Warwick University, just eight miles from the ancient county town of Warwick, which lies on the River Avon, and boasts the country’s oldest school (Warwick School, established 914), as well as a castle dating back to 1068 and The Norman Conquest. To the South, and a little less than seventeen miles from the University is Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon.
More information here.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Brontës on Pen stylus

Keighley News reports the local concerns about the application for the building of a barn near Ponden Kirk:
Opposition is mounting to plans to build a livestock building on a scenic spot outside Stanbury.
More than 50 objections have been submitted to the application for the new barn and access track at Ponden Kirk, Ponden Lane. (...)
Christine Went, trustee of the Brontë Society, comments: "This structure's excessive size, which is out of scale with existing buildings in the area, and the materials from which it would be fabricated, would render it highly and inappropriately visible in a landscape valued for its literary and historical associations.
"The building would be situated midway between Ponden Hall, a grade two listed building, and the natural feature known as Ponden Kirk, both of which have long-standing associations with the Brontë family and their works."
Dursley Gazette talks about the upcoming Brontë season by the Butterfly Psyche Theatre & Livewire Theatre:
Whether you're a hard-core Brontë fan or if you've never had the pleasure, these fresh new adaptations of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by West Country theatre companies Butterfly Psyche Theatre & Livewire Theatre are sure to invigorate, inspire and melt hearts around the South West this autumn.
Performed in rep, with only one and two actors, there's a chance to mix-and-match an old favourite along with a new acquaintance, as well as the chance to see all three in omnibus performances at most venues.(Jayne Bennett)
The Telegraph celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sheridan LeFanu and reminds us of the possible influence that one of his stories might have had on Charlotte Brontë:
His story A Chapter in the History of a Tyrone Family (1839), the tale of a madwoman in the attic who attempts to kill her husband’s new bride, may have guided the hand of Charlotte Brontë.  (Matthew Sweet)
You can read it here and judge for yourself.

Digital Spy, Pocket-Lint and others talks about a curious initiative by Microsoft to promote the release of its new Surface Pro 3 tablet:
To celebrate the launch of its Surface Pro 3 tablet, Microsoft commissioned renowned ballpoint pen artist James Mylne to recreate three of the famous paintings hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in London, using just the tablet and its included Pen stylus.
He chose to render The Brontë Sisters [in the video -->] by Patrick Branwell Brontë, Dame Christabel Pankhurst by Ethel Wright, and William Shakespeare, associated with John Taylor. All three are iconic works, and Mylne opted to reproduce them in black and white on the Microsoft slate. (Rik Henderson)
The Independent (Ireland) mentions a curious side effect of climate change. What about weather-inspired literature:
From the cold, wet and foggy streets of Dickensian London in Oliver Twist, symbolic of the underbelly of crime in the city, to the classic Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, the weather is a constant and pervading feature.
I wonder would this tragic love story be as compelling if not set amidst the misty, dark, desolate and bleak Yorkshire Moors?
Connecticut Post talks about Susan Elizabeth Phillips's novel, Heroes Are My Weakness:
With her new book, the author has attempted an homage to the stories she loved as a young reader.
"It's my take on the gothic, Daphne DuMaurier. `Jane Eyre.' Remember those book covers with the house on the cliff and the heroine in her nightgown running away? I wanted to use all of those elements," the novelist said. (Joe Meyers)
Now Daily has some facts about Kate Bush's career:
She wrote the song Wuthering Heights as a tribute to the best novel ever...
...(no, we're not debating it) and the chorus goes, ‘Heathcliff - it's me Cathy. I've come home. I'm so cold. Let me in-a-the window.' Genius. (Obviously this topped the charts.) (Jo Usmar)
Le Nouvel Observateur (France) is devoting a series of articles to famous siblings. Now is the Brontës' turn:
 Noël 1827. Dans le presbytère de Haworth, sur cette lande écossaise et venteuse qui échauffera bientôt leurs âmes romanesques et solitaires, sont assises au coin du feu Charlotte, Emily et Anne Brontë. Elles ont entre 11 et 7 ans.
Il y a là aussi leur frère Branwell, moins choyé par la postérité mais qui n'en fut pas moins influent dans la construction d'un univers commun. Le garçon s'ennuie. Charlotte, dont l'esprit gambade sans cesse, a une idée: «Supposons que chacun ait une île à soi.» Immédiatement, le fertile quartette entre dans un jeu de rôle. Ce n'est pas leur premier. Les mondes qu'ils imaginent à quatre, pleins de magie et de surnaturel, sont une échappatoire à un contexte funèbre. (Read more) (Translation) (Anne Crignon)
We have to point something out, however. Patrick Brontë was not 'un méthodiste austère et autodidacte'. No doubt Methodism was a strong influence on Patrick Brontë's background but he was loyal to the Church of England all his life.

Libération (France) reviews Madame by Jean-Marie Chevrier:
De vieilles anglaises, se dit-on, à égrener les phrases de Madame. Comme dans «éducation anglaise», une tendance au fouet et au corset, un manoir genre Hurlevent ou Rebecca. (Eric Loret, Claire Devarrieux and Thomas Stélandre) (Translation)
Buxton Advertiser talks about the upcoming Wuthering Heights performances of the ChapterHouse Theatre Company at the Buxton Pavilion Arts Centre; Dictionopolis reviews Wide Sargasso Sea.

Unrest within the ranks of the Brontë Society

It seems that tomorrow's opening of the annual Brontë Society Conference will be anything but quiet. According to Museum's Journal, there is saber-rattling in the Society's ranks:

Members of the Brontë Society have expressed serious concerns about the organisation’s governance and are seeking to call an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) in order to elect a new council of trustees.
Following a meeting of more than 20 members in July, a letter was sent out to the society’s membership last week detailing a number of allegations about the conduct of the council and asking members to support the calling of an EGM.
It said: “It is essential and urgent that we gather 50 signatures of paid-up members to requisition an [EGM].”
The letter, which a source has shown to Museums Journal, said it was necessary to elect a new council in order to “modernise” the organisation and bring “higher levels of professionalism and experience to the society”.
It described a “difficult” situation for staff at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, which is run by the society, and raised concerns about the council's lack of action following the departure of former executive director Ann Sumner in June.
The letter stated: “The post of executive director remains unadvertised. Financial reporting both of the society and its trading company, Brontë Genius, is months behind schedule...
“This is extremely serious for a business dependent on seasonal income and requiring up-to-date information to facilitate decisions that can improve performance during the busiest months of trading. (Geraldine Kendall)

Food, Elizabeth Gaskell, Sarah Waters and Contemporary Female Bildungsroman

Tomorrow is not only the opening of the 2014 Brontë Society Conference but also of this confernce in Slovakia with several Brontë-related talks:

12th ESSE Conference in Košice, Slovakia
Friday 29 August – Tuesday 2 September, 2014
Department of British and American Studies, Faculty of Arts and SKASE (The Slovak Association for the Study of English)

Agata Buda, University of Technology and Humanities in Radom, Poland,
Food as the Representation of Gender Roles in the Victorian Female Novel

The aim of the paper is to analyse the idea of cooking/eating in two Victorian novels: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë and The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. Both works present the idea of food as one of the major points of reference in human relationships. One of the aspects worth analysing is family eating. The meetings are preceded by careful preparation of meals (e.g. preserves by Mrs. Tulliver or Nelly’s dishes). The food often becomes the major topic during these meetings, showing in this way the gender roles in the nineteenth-century England: females are irreplaceable in preparing food but men very often ignore the final product of cooking. This idyllic space of collective eating (according to M. Bakhtin) can be frequently destroyed by refusing; men refuse to eat either because of sadness (Mr. Earnshaw) or being fussy (Linton); women do not eat due to the fact they are busy taking care of men (Cathy) or are more interested in reading (Maggie). Both sexes are aware of the demands society poses to them. Neither Cathy and Maggie are allowed to read books, but expected to be mindful about meals.

María José Coperías Aguilar, University of Valencia, Spain,
The Reception of Elizabeth Gaskell in Spain

Elizabeth Gaskell (1810–1865) was a prolific and well-known Victorian writer who enjoyed great popularity during her lifetime and sold a comparatively high number of copies of her books. However, after her death, her work seems to have fallen into oblivion in the minds of most readers and critics, except for her novel Cranford and her biography of Charlotte Brontë. Although an incomplete collection of her works was published in the early 20th century and some occasional critical studies were also published in the first half of that century, it was not until the 1950s, with Marxist criticism, and in the 1970s and 1980s, from a feminist approach, that she was rediscovered. In this paper we will try to analyse how her work has been received in Spain, especially in the 20th and early 21st centuries. Despite the few translations we have managed to find for the first half of the 20th century, in recent decades there appears to have been a great increase in popular interest in reading her work. However, this great interest in Elizabeth Gaskell does not seem to exist in the academic world.

Soňa Šnircová, Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice, Slovakia,
Girlhood in Susan Fletcher’s Eve Green and Tiffany Murray’s Happy Accidents: Contemporary Transformations of the Female Bildungsroman.

Published in 2004 as debut novels by contemporary writers, Eve Green and Happy Accidents share some important similarities. Fatherless and abandoned (for different reasons) by their rebellious mothers, the young heroines have to move from cities to the rural setting of Welsh farms to be brought up by their maternal grandmothers. Both authors place the coming-of-age stories into the context of the female Bildungsroman tradition, using allusions to Jane Eyre as important structural elements of their narratives. My paper will claim that these two texts represent a new stage in the development of the female Bildungsroman since their appropriation of the tradition can be defined as postfeminist: Susan Fletcher, who makes the romantic motif of Jane Eyre central to her novel, appears to support the new cult of (almost idyllic) domesticity, while Tiffany Murray, whose images of domesticity are, on the contrary, interwoven with grotesque elements, uses the mad Bertha motif in the way that challenges victim feminism.

Eileen Williams-Wanquet, University of La Réunion, France,
Reviving Ghosts: The Reversibility of Victims and Vindicators in Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger

I would like to pursue the conclusion Susana Onega comes to, in her answer to George Letissier, concerning the identity of the “little stranger” in Sarah Waters’s fifth novel (2009), showing how Waters associates the use of the Gothic and of psychological realism to “plumb the psyche” (Robert Heilmann) and express the unspeakable trauma of the mixed feelings involved in British class relations. Although the novel is set in the context of the class crisis of the postwar period, the trauma transcends time and space. The transtextuality with Jane Eyre shall be developed, in order to suggest that the “phantom” unconsciously carried by the narrator-focaliser, Faraday, is also that of Bertha Mason and of Jane Eyre herself, revived with a vengeance in The Little Stranger. Haunted by the ghost of a ghost of a ghost of a past text that itself keeps spectrally and anti-lineally returning, Waters’ novel, typical of postmodern romances that “create doubt” (Elam) and blur temporality, rethinks the relation between victims and vindicators, offering a reflexion on the ubiquitous and elusive nature of evil, and on its origins: if a victim cannot exist without a tormentor and if a traumatised victim returns to take revenge, where do vulnerability and responsibility ultimately lie and how can the endless repetition of the same, the repetitive spiral of violence, be broken?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

No Wuthering Before the Dawn

Kate Bush's first comeback concert is, of course, all over the news. Regrettably she didn't included Wuthering Heights on her setlist:
Certainly, her voice still sounds terrific – although she no longer includes Wuthering Heights, her first and biggest hit, on her set list. (Jan Moir in Daily Mail)
It is not difficult to realise why Kate Bush made such a startling impression when, in 1978, at the age of 19, she burst upon the scene with Wuthering Heights, cartwheeling in her weird dance moves to No 1 in the charts – the first woman to reach the top with a song she had written. Everything about it was rich and strange: the swooping soprano, the musical progression and the words! Even in the hippy Seventies lyrics based on Emily Brontë’s mad fantasy seemed far-fetched: “Heathcliff, it’s me, I’m Cathy, I’ve come home. I’m so cold!” Then there were her looks: unusual but stunning. (The Telegraph)
The singer shares a birthday, July 30, with novelist Emily Brontë. Kate's birthday is known as Katemas and it is celebrated by devoted fans all over the world.
Kate's debut single, Wuthering Heights, is based on Emily Brontë’s novel of the same name but the singer hadn't actually read the book at the time. (Emma Pietras in The Mirror)
 In 1978, a 19-year-old doctor’s daughter from Kent mimed her way through Wuthering Heights on Top Of The Pops. Scary yet sexy, romantic and other-worldly, Kate Bush’s wild-eyed rendition of a song she wrote after catching the last ten minutes of a BBC adaptation of Emily Brontë’s novel (she didn’t read the novel until later) was a life-changing, generation-defining moment in pop culture. (Will Hodgkinson in The TImes)
The aftershocks of punk and new wave were still rolling across the cultural landscape, disco was in its pomp,Jeff Wayne had just unleashed his musical version of HG Wells’ “War Of The Worlds”, and then suddenly there’s this girl singing a song about an old Emily Brontë  novel in a strange, witchy voice. (Fraser McAlpine on BBC America)
Yelena Akhtiorskaya remembers why she disliked English class in New Republic:
Imagine my shock then, when we began reading novels and taking apart the characters and events as if they were real, trudging laboriously through Steinbeck and Brontë, answering the equivalent of who, what, where, how, and why. My literary identity fractured; I loathed the assigned books and dreaded analyzing them, but loved my secret books, which I’d never defile by deconstructing (or thinking about too hard).
SBS on Spring fashion(s):
After a 150 year hiatus, Victorian era skirts are back, and shorter than ever! More titillating than their 150 year old predecessors, these skirts reveal an entire ankle (so racy), and make a great costume should you ever choose to attend a party dressed as ‘Sexy Charlotte Brontë’ or ‘Sexy Emily Dickinson’. Long and flowing, these skirts are also great for sneaking people and things in and out of places. (Nina Oyama)
New York Daily News makes a list of great books to bring along this Labor Day:
"Wide Sargasso Sea" by Jean Rhys.
Rhys takes the done-to-death story of "Jane Eyre," flips it and reverses it. By exploring that "crazy woman in the attic," she opens up a story about love, identity and destiny. Could a woman who is told she is crazy over and over again learn to believe it? Heartbreaking and sad, this book taught me in college about how the ability to express vulnerability gives us strength.
North Devon Gazette presents the Wuthering Heights performances at the Tapeley Park Gardens by the ChapterHouse Theatre Company; Quite as Mouse reviews Jane Eyre; Tony Walker uploads some recent pictures of Top Withins.

Auditions in Edmonton

Auditions for a Jane Eyre. The Musical (Gordon & Caird version) production in Edmonton, Canada:

Theatre Alberta

We are presenting this musical in an in-concert, semi-staged setting (like we did with Titanic back in 2012) at Myer Horowitz Theatre. Those cast in the production need to be available for a daytime technical rehearsal on November 18th and a school matinee on November 19 at 10am, in addition to the 2 evening performances on November 18 and 19.

There will be two evening rehearsals and one Sunday afternoon rehearsal starting in September.

Show dates and tech details:

Tech rehearsal from 8am – 4:30pm on November 18th.
November 18th at 7:30pm
November 19th at 10am and 7:30pm


Thursday, August 28 from 7-10pm
Friday, August 29 from 7-10pm

Saturday, August 30, 6-10pm

Location: 5951-103A Street (use 58 Ave for access, the studio is located between Calgary Trail and Gateway Boulverad, first bay in an orange roof industrial bay complex)

Director: Linette Smith
Musical Director: Daniel Belland
More information.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grumpiest Plaque Award

The Telegraph & Argus talks about last Sunday's BBC Radio 4 programme Open Book who was devoted to the moors as literary landscape:

The trio discussed the sense of freedom the moors provided for the Brontë sisters, and how these authors personified the wild landscape in some of their own literary characters.
John Bowen, a professor of 19th century literature, who took part in the programme, said Haworth Moor during the Brontë's time would have seemed relatively untouched by the modern world, despite being on the edge of a village that was being rapidly changed by the Industrial Revolution.
Mrs Frostrup joked that the Brontë Society plaque at Top Withens, which explains that this building has no resemblance to the Earnshaw Home in the novel Wuthering Heights, could qualify as a winner of the "grumpiest plaque award". (Miran Rahman)
Vanora Bennett discusses Kate Bush songs in The Guardian. Wuthering Heights is not her favourite one but, nevertheless, she says
For instance, her 1978 No 1 single Wuthering Heights rescued Emily Brontë’s novel from languishing dustily on school exam syllabuses, unloved by unmotivated teenage readers, and gave it a new generation of admirers. The plaintive refrain, “Heathcliff, it’s me, I’m Cathy, I’ve come home,” brought chillingly back to life the uncanny nightmare episode at the start of the book.
Les inRocks (France) has something to add about the song too:
Dans ce décor sur mesure, Kate Bush cultiverait à l’abri des regards sa psyché torturée de demi-sœur Brontë, elle dont la chanson talisman s’intitule Wuthering Heights (“Les Hauts de Hurlevent”), improbable premier single qui attira vers elle tous les projecteurs lorsqu’elle avait à peine 19 ans. (Christophe Conte) (Translation)
USA Today features a conversation between writers Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jayne Ann Krentz:
JAK: It's the fact that the reviewers are comparing Heroes Are My Weakness to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and even to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre that made you go out and buy a new one, right?
SEP: A girl can't have too many tiaras, and it was the perfect excuse. Heroes is a modern take on those classic Gothic novels we loved.
The Mirror talks about a recent survey about Britain's most popular childhood holiday destination. Scarborough is the fifth most popular:
I haven’t mentioned the magnificent Rotunda Museum housing Gristhorpe Man, a Bronze Age local, the Stephen Joseph Theatre where Alan Ayckbourn’s plays are premiered, writer Anne Brontë’s grave in St Mary’s churchyard, or the spa where the waters have been taken for 300 years, or the shows or the brilliant pubs like the Alma Inn. (Paul Routledge)
Augusta Magazine has an article about TB:
When we think of tuberculosis, we think of Old West outlaws, novels set in 19th-century Europe and afflicted geniuses. We think of Doc Holliday, the Georgia-born dentist and gunfighter who went to the Southwest in hopes of extending his life. We think of Marguerite Gautier, the heroine of Alexandre Dumas’s novel, The Lady of the Camellias. We think of Emily Brontë and George Orwell. (Lucy Adams)
A column in The Herald (Ireland) about why women like helpless guys:
The mismatch between capable, get up and go women and less-than-motivated men is the theme of countless romance novels and even romantic comedies.
Stubborn Mr Rochester, who finally recognises Jane Eyre's love for him when he is blinded and needs a carer.
On Vibe Ghana we read Kwesi Atta Sakyi chronicle his school days:
We had abridged versions of novels by Shakespeare, Emile [sic] Brontë, Charles Dickens, Arabian Nights, Daniel Defoe, Enid Blyton, Sheila Stuart, and of course, our Fante Fie na Skuul Readers by J.A. Annobil, and the Fante Grammar of Function or Mfantse Nkasafuwa Dwumadzi by C.F.C Grant, Nana Bosompo, Prama, and the Nkwantabisa Weekly newspaper.
Novostia (Serbia) talks about an exhibition in Belgrade by the photographer Tomislav Grujičić Ravanjac:
Pomalja se Radnička ulica, simbol Stare Čukarice, sa iščezlim kućercima, "Lazarevački drum sa Đurinom pekarom", fotografija koja ima istorijsku vrednost, dok "Stara zgrada u Zimonjićevoj ulici" kao da je ilustracija za neki roman Emili ili Šarlote Brontë. Na ovom mestu srela su se dva sveta, dva veka, dva načina života. (Translation)
El Diario de Huelva talks about the essay Marco Antonio en Actium by José Orihuela:
Por el ensayo circulan los pensamientos y la palabra escrita de Homero, Plutarco, Pompeyo, Cátulo, Aquiles, Hector, Shakespeare, Hegel, Dumas, Julio Verne, Charlot [sic] Brontë, Pascal, Kovaliov, Fuller, Rostovtzeff, Gracia Alonso, Jordi Cortadella, Margaret George, Massie, Antonio Aguilera, Vicente Picón o el cineasta Joseph L. Mankiewicz entre otros muchos. (Paco Huelva) (Translation)
Che Donna (Italy) lists disastrous marriage proposals:
St. John Rivers e Jane Eyre: pur volendo mettere da parte la consapevolezza che la protagonista del romanzo è destinata a sposare il ricco e affascinante Mr Rochester, l’impacciata proposta del missionario, totalmente priva di qualsiasi romanticismo, può, nel migliore dei casi, limitarsi a strappare un sorriso al lettore e, nel peggiore, far nascere in lui serie perplessità sulla presenza di anche solo un grammo di fascino nell’uomo. Il sunto della proposta sona infatti come “sto per partire missionario e ho bisogno di una compagna, Dio vuole che quella donna sia tu”: ma non era meglio un bel mazzo di fiori e una semplice “vuoi sposarmi”? Almeno rimaneva il dubbio di un sincero sentimento. (Francesca) (Translation)
Nos Folies Littéraires (in French) and Luke McGrath post about Wuthering Heights; Little Miss Trainwreck reviews The Poetic World of Emily Brontë by Laura Inman.

Hospitality and Treachery in Wuthering Heights

An alert for tomorrow, August 27, from Dorset, Vermont:
Green Mountain Academy of Lifelong Learning
Hospitality and Treachery in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 4:30-6 pm
Equinox Village

Description: In a lecture drawn from his new book, Hospitality and Treachery in Western Literature, James Heffernan re-examines two famous nineteenth century English novels. By showing what hosts and guests do to as well as for each other in these two novels, he aims to shed light on what they can tell us about property, possession, and power.

James A. W. Heffernan is Professor of English Emeritus at Dartmouth College since 2004. He is the founding editor of Review 19 an online review of books on nineteenth-century English and American literature. He is the author of several books including the forthcoming, Hospitality and Treachery in Western Literature, Yale University Press, 2014. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Heathcliff after a Tesco trip

Lucy Mangan in Radio Times talks about her Radio 4 programme Literary Solutions to the Economy:

I’ve always loved reading. From the back of the cornflake packet at breakfast, to the newspapers, websites and books I read for work, to the 3ft pile of to-be-reads waiting for me on my bedside table at night, I always have something on hand. My bookshelves are crammed with everything from Jane Eyre to Jack Reacher. The only thing I had, until recently, never touched were the newspapers’ economic and business pages. Impenetrable, I thought, and nothing to do with me.
Rowan Pelling in her Daily Mail sex column:
I have no doubt your husband would be highly agitated if you told him your plan. Who could blame him? You don’t reflect on what would have happened, had the relationship run its course. Would you still feel like Cathy and Heathcliff after 20 years of Tesco trips and TV suppers?
EuroSport reminds us of the mythical Ayrton Senna-Alain Prost rivalry:
That Wuthering Heights-esque grand passion, though, is very different to what we see at Mercedes at the moment.  (Carrie Dunn)
Les inRocks (France) interviews the actress Adèle Haenel:
Travailler avec [André] Téchiné, de toute façon j’aurais dis oui direct sans lire le scénar. J’avais vu Les Témoins, Les Roseaux sauvages, Ma saison préférée, Les Sœurs Brontë, et je me suis dit que j’avais intérêt à envoyer. (Serge Kaganski) (Translation)
We think that La Jornada (México) exaggerates a bit too much when it comes to Jane Eyre's influence:
Si Charles Dickens logró cambiar con su Oliver Twist las leyes que martirizaban a los inglesitos pobres y Jane Eyre, de Charlotte Brontë, hizo que las mujeres de Inglaterra se convirtieran en propietarias de tierras, así como García Márquez puso a América Latina en el escenario del mundo con Cien años de soledad, ojalá Ladydi [by Jennifer Clement] consiga cambiar la condición de las niñas mexicanas y centroamericanas robadas y traficadas sexualmente. (Elena Poniatowska) (Translation)
daeandwrite posts about Jane Eyre; the Brontë Parsonage tweets a 1844 drawing by Branwell Brontë.

Brazilian Nails

Apparently these are not the only Brontë-inspired nail varnishes.  In Brazil we have found a couple more:

Granado Pharmácias

Esmalte Charlotte
Descrição da cor: bege acinzentado. Enriquecido com Vitamina E, cálcio e proteína da seda, fortalece as unhas, deixando-as saudáveis e protegidas, evitando assim a quebra e descamação. Não contém tolueno, parabenos, formaldeído, cânfora e DBP, ingredientes que podem causar alergia e o ressecamento das unhas. Produto de alta cobertura com brilho extra e secagem rápida.

Esmalte Emily
Descrição da cor: violeta vivo

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bloody Amateurs

Julie McDowall in The Herald on Sunday talks about the latest installment of Dr Who and, in general, about fans:

But perhaps that's the way the fans like it: they want their own tight-knit community packed with in-jokes and references which we outsiders won't get. And that's fine. I respect that. I get the same sense of exclusivity when my resident geek confuses Emily and Charlotte. I can stroke my laminated Brontë Society membership card and think 'Hah! Bloody amateurs.'
The Greenville News reviews a local production of Charles Ludlam's The Mystery of Irma Vep:
 The magic involves two actors portraying eight characters, male and female, in this farce by Charles Ludlam that zestfully satirizes Victorian melodrama and dark-hued films such as “Wuthering Heights” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca.” (Paul Hyde)
Sheila Kohler's Psychology Today article talks about why are we fascinated about celebrities:
 In my own case I was fascinated by Charlotte Brontë, another heroine from my youth who had first written a book, “The Professor” which few people have read, which was turned down by publishers again and again and even humiliatingly rejected when her two younger sisters’ books, “Wuthering Heights” and “Agnes Grey” had been chosen. Yet she then went on to write “Jane Eyre,” sitting in a darkened room beside her bedridden father when he had his cataracts removed. What enabled her to go from this first novel, written from the point of view of a rather unsympathetic man, to “Jane Eyre” where she dared to write in the first person, as a woman, a governess, taking on a persona nearer to her own?
Points Communs (France) highlights the importance of John Irving's The World According to Garp:
 "Le Monde selon Garp est le roman qui fit le plus de bruit dans les années 70 et apporta à son auteur un succès plus que mérité. Un des quelques livres que je relis épisodiquement sans me lasser (avec Le livre qui fit le Jane Eyre… eh oui !). (repassera) (Translation)
Kölner Stadt Unzeiger reviews a concert of the band Get Well Soon:
Zufällig ist an diesem Abend nichts. Selbst der Song, der läuft, bevor das Light im Saal gedimmt wird, ist mit Bedacht augewählt. Es erklingt "Wuthering Heights" von Kate Bush, und sofort  ist man noch besser eigenstimmt auf das, was kommen wird. (Martin Weber) (Translation
The Daily Telegraph describes as 'winsome' Juliette Binoche's take on Cathy in Wuthering Heights 1992; Reading Bukowski vlogs (not a typo) about Brontë Country.

Buffy's Phrenology (and more)

Recent Brontë-related talks at different conferences and workshops:
Nineteenth-Century, Energies Annual Conference Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies
March 27-30, 2014
University of Houston

Moderator: Melissa Gniadek, Rice University

Written in the Schoolroom: Charlotte Brontë’s Unpublishable Schoolgirls” | Ashly Bennett, Haverford College

Moderator: John Kucich, Rutgers University

“‘The Toad in the Block of Marble’: Animation, Petrification, and Imprisonment in Charlotte Brontë’s Figures in Stone” | Susan B. Taylor, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Moderator: Ashley Miller, University of Texas, Arlington

Subversive Phrenology in Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of  Wildfell Hall” | Shalyn Claggett, Mississippi State University
Children's Literature Association. 41ts Annual Conference
University of South California
June 18-21, 2014

14D.Reading from the Canon
Chair: Marilyn Bloss Koester, University of Memphis

C. Anita Tarr, Illinois State University (retired)
Jane Eyre for Children?”
University Writing and Research Conference
The George Washington University, Washington DC
February 27-28, 2014

Panel: From Books to Film, From Landscapes to Lessons

Veronica Hoyer –"Just an Old Wives’ Tale" Nominating Professor: Katherine Howell
This essay compares the use of British folklore in Brontë's Jane Eyre and Cary Fukunaga's 2011 film adaption. It analyses the film adaption's interpretations of British folklore within the novel Jane Eyre with conclusions that speak of the harmony between the adaptation and the historians who have traditionally recorded the stories with disdain—scorning the druid, pre-Christian enlightenment beliefs as mere superstitions—and not as Brontë incorporated them within her plot and characters. The essay explores theories of filmic adaption to compare the two pieces and to understand the aim of the partial integration of the different Gothic elements setting the mood of the film, focusing on the legend of the Gytrash and the appearance of Mr. Rochester as expressed in both mediums.
The 6th Biennial Slayage Conference on the WhedonversesCalifornia State University-Sacramento
19-22 June 2014
T.4—Love, Romance, and Vampires in Classic and  Contemporary Texts
Eva Hayles Gledhill, Chair

Eva Hayles Gledhill, “Wuthering Revello Drive: Eroticism, Romance, and Time in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight and Wuthering Heights