Monday, June 16, 2008

There are people that simply don't get it:
There are some books, however, which the author appears to have written not because he wanted someone to read it but because he wanted an editor to commission it. It's into that category, I fear, that Patrick Brontë: Father of Genius must fall. How many, of even the most ardent lovers of Victorian fiction, will want to read tens of thousands of words on Charlotte and Emily's dad when there are already hundreds of thousands of words by Charlotte, Emily, Elizabeth, the other Charlotte (M. Yonge) and George Eliot to delight in, and that's before you even get to the men.

There has been a spate of this stuff recently - biographies of Charles Darwin's wife, studies of Virginia Woolf's servants, lives of Henry the Eighth's second wife's sister-in-law (Lady Rochford, as it happens). Publishers are clearly in the market for niche lives of those whom history has hitherto neglected. But I, for one, don't want the story of the other Boleyn girl, the father of genius or the auntie of greatness. I want the Big Life, Well Told. Which is why I'm looking forward so much to Richard Holmes's Marlborough... (Michael Gove in The Times)
Is it necessary to say once again that such biographies and studies are addressed to a public with quite definite interests? Is it necessary once again to say that sometimes the boundaries of history are as definitory of an era as the Big History of great men/women and Big Events?

The Reno Gazette-Journal asks several booksellers and readers for a list of summer readings:
Victoria Davies of the University of Nevada Press:
13. Davies' second pick is "The House on Fortune Street" by Margot Livesey (Harper, $24.95 hardcover).
"The House on Fortune Street," she said, "goes back and forth in English literature. Part of the plot mirrors 'Jane Eyre,' part of it 'Great Expectations.' I think it will be a fun summer read."
The Times briefly reviews Anne Donovan's Being Emily:
“Following the events of a single day,” says the blurb on the back, “her family can never be the same.” Why not just come out with it? The protagonist's mother dies in childbirth. Now that's out of the way, we're free to enjoy Donovan's wonderfully fresh and moving writing. Fiona is a confused, clever teenager, fascinated by Emily Brontë. But she must struggle to find a direction for herself within her fractured family. (Anne Saunders)
Also in The Times we found a review of several recent nature books. Talking about David & Andrew Lack's Redbreast: The Robin in Life and Literature:
Other robins comfort prisoners - or unhappy monks - at their cell windows. Ted Hughes gives his robin a “flaming shirt”. Emily Brontë puts her finger on a paradox of the robin's song when she calls it “wildly tender” (just like her novel?), while Edward Thomas brings out another paradox when he writes of the robin's “sad songs of autumn mirth”. (Derwent May)
The poem in question is Redbreast, early in the morning (1837).

Bibliobibuli talks about the lauch of the most recent book by Shirley Geok-lin Lim, The Princess Shawl:
To write the love story between Princess Hang Li Po and her Sultan, Lim said that she went back to reread Jane Eyre! She also seems to have had delicious fun making the good women get younger, and the bad women get older!
The reviewer of The New Yorker is able to link the Brontës and the film Brick Lane (2007):
Nazneen (Tannishtha Chatterjee), a beautiful Bangladeshi girl who, in the nineteen-eighties, gets sent to London to marry an established businessman, settles into Brick Lane, a traditional immigrant enclave. Her good-humored but pompous husband, Chanu (Satish Kaushik), is a classic postcolonial subject—he thinks that the British will accept him if he has read Brontë and Thackeray. (David Denby)
In other news: 411mania finds a Jane Eyre reference in Wesley Snipes's direct-to-DVD film The Contractor (2007). Several Wuthering Heights appearances on the blogosphere: Commenti-arte in Italian, Jeraluna is re-reading it and Goddess of Imaginary Light has some notes on Cathy's character. Changing subject, Talesfromthebookshelf talks about The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

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