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Imperialism, Reform, and the Making of Englishness in Jane EyreSue Thomas’s new book continues and broadens her previous works on decolonizing literatures and particularly Jean Rhys’s works. This new work adds up to several other post-colonial approaches to Jane Eyre that have been a favourite of critical studies in the lasts decades. Imperialism, Reform… is a fellow traveller of other contributions: Carl Plasa’s Charlotte Brontë (2004), Jenny Sharpe’s Allegories of Empire: The Figure of Woman in the Colonial Text (1993), Susan Meyer’s Imperialism at Home: Race and Victorian Women Fiction (1996) or the pioneering works of Gayatri C. Spivak (1).
Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan
30 Apr 2008
But such matters are not important. In fact it is clear that the action is set thirty of forty years before publication, and that further precision is no part of Charlotte Brontë's purpose. (Jack, Jane and Smith, Margaret, 'The Chronology of Jane Eyre', Jane Eyre. By Charlotte Brontë. Ed. Jane Jack and Margaret Smith. Oxford: Clarendon, 1969, 610-14).We don't agree with the first part of the quote. Such matters are important, but we rather agree with the second part, we don't think that Charlotte Brontë's purpose was a careful dating. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the surrounding historic and social issues don't somehow impregnate the novel. And Sue Thomas, applying her worlding technique aptly and eloquently, resurfaces some of the most evident and not so evident.(5)
The most glaring anachronism of Brontë in my dating is Bessie Lee's singing of Edwin Ransford's song 'In the days when we went gipsying', a song published in 1839.(5) One of the most interesting re-interpretations that Thomas suggests refers to is the use by Jane of the word charter in a key conversation with Rochester (vol 2, ch. 9). Editors traditionally have interpreted charter as a reference to the Chartist Movement whereas Thomas suggests that charters were also legal instruments of imperial governance and refits the reference into the colonial context.