Monday, May 11, 2009

Curiosities from Brontëland

The Wall Street Journal reviews John Sutherland's newest book: Curiosities of Literature: A Book-lover's Anthology of Literary Erudition. Many of the curiosities told in the book are remarked on, such as the following:

Mr. Sutherland has some delightful material on names. I knew that the father of the Brontë sisters, an Irish-born Anglican clergyman named Patrick Prunty, changed his surname to distance himself "from his Ulster origins." (Charles Harrington Elster)
NPR reviews another book: Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín. In this case, however, it is Maureen Corrigan who brings up a Brontë 'connection', not the book itself.
It's a quandary that even the best novelists have a hard time writing their way out of: How do you tell a story about a main character who's "ordinary" without making that character "extraordinary" simply because he or she is always in the novel's spotlight?
Think about it. If, as a reader, you stick with Ishmael or Mrs. Dalloway or Plain Jane Eyre long enough, you come to see them as uncommon in some way — maybe especially perceptive or plucky. But, in his latest novel, Brooklyn, Colm Toibin places his mundane heroine under some kind of magical force field that rebuffs all our desires to mistakenly "read more" into her.
The band The Jezabels choose their 'secret playlist' for Faster Louder. It includes...
Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights
A critic once said of my own singing style that it was ‘histrionic’. It was meant to be an insult. Maybe if said critic had recalled that the female throughout the ages has been physically, emotionally, sexually and spiritually oppressed, he would have allowed that at times one needs to overtly express that one is at total war with one’s emotions. Wuthering Heights (both song and the Bronte novel) remind me that I am not alone.
According to an article on Michael Fassbender in the Belfast Telegraph, he's 'lined up to play the role of Heathcliff in a new film version of Emily Bronte’s classic love story Wuthering Heights.' He did talk about it quite recently.

The blogosphere brings a little bit of (almost) everything today: Jane Eyre is reviewed by Bonnie's Booklist and Great Christian Fiction and other tales. And See Michelle Read and Su desgracia es mi sueldo (in Spanish) both write about Wuthering Heights (albeit the latter seems to have read quite a confusing summary of Emily's life). Poem of the Day has picked Matthew Arnold's Haworth Churchyard. And Scribbles has read and liked Justine Picardie's Daphne and - like the rest of us - has been unable to resist the urge to read up on all on the subjects it touches upon.

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4 comments to “ Curiosities from Brontëland ”
JaneGS said...
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I listened to the NPR review of "Brooklyn" and caught the Jane Eyre reference. Brooklyn itself sounds like an interesting novel.

Cristina said...
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You're right - Brooklyn does sound like an interesting book, with or without the Jane Eyre reference.

Anonymous said...
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Sorry to say, I've just read Brooklyn and found it incredibly disappointing (and I say this as a great Toibin fan). Any likeness to JE stops at the NPR description of the 'ordinary' heroine (not that I cared about that). Characters you feel affection for, but Toibin never finds a story and seems never to have been in Brooklyn itself (you get no real picture of it, although he's clearly done his research on the period). His 'The Master' is one of the great novels of the last few years, though.

Cristina said...
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Yeah, well - we are used to 'likenesses' stopping at the reviews, but we ARE disappointed to hear that the book sounded better than it actually seems to be. Thanks your your input though!

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