Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Emily B. - A Review

Our thanks to Editions Memory Press for sending us a review copy of this book.

Emily B. et autres contes d’automne
Dominique Jacques
Editions Memory Press
Collection Nouvelles
Format : 11 x 19 cm
Nombre de pages : 96
ISBN : 2-87413-130-X
Prix de vente public : 13 €
Date de parution : septembre 2009
Dominique Jacques performs a double invocation in this little book. To the spirits of Catherine Earnshaw and her creator Emily Brontë. Her particular ouija is the autumn wind which transports through time and space the ghosts of both creature and demiurge.

The author negotiates with the voices of her ghosts through a poetical prose full of alliterations and repetitions which provide a musicality to the text not far from minimalism. Almost as if a John Adams or a Philip Glass had decided to put the wind in a pentagram not full of notes but of words(1).

Dominique Jacques's voice is mixed with the wild, full of life and most of and above all, free Catherine Earnshaw and the repressed Emily Brontë. Her thesis is that Emily Brontë succumbed to her own lack of freedom and ability to trascend her enclaustred life. Catherine Earnshaw has to rescue her creator and incarnates in the author of this book in order to fully realise herself, themselves. Through Heathcliff, the savage stranger who is able at the same time of giving purpose to Catherine/Emily/Dominique and of ravaging and breaking all the rules and shaking the very foundations of the establishment.

But even as we recognise the purpose of the author as legitimate and coherent, we cannot agree with some of her sometimes too-easy images. We realise that the author's intention portraying the Parsonage as a castrating and repressive environment is to use it as a symbol of the oppression of women particularly (but the metaphor is more universal and can be also read as the social repressions that all of us carry with us). But when Emily Brontë is used as a symbol of that repression we are bound to disagree. If anything the Parsonage was an island of freedom and creativity. It was not a wall against the moors, the fact is that the moors begun in the Parsonage rooms(2).

A pity that the bitter taste that such generalisations leave impregnates the powerful appearances of Catherine Earnshaw looking for her Heathcliff. Showing off her femininity, the Byronic force of her passions, the magnitude of her titanic fight against the chains that try to bound her to earth when she belongs to the wind.

The book is completed with two additional short tales, not directly related with Emily Brontë but perfectly coherent with the stylistic trends and personal world of the author.

Notes

(1) Not a musical piece but a series of paintings have been inspired by this text. Janine Descamps, Olivier Jadoul and Odile Goffin presented her works in an exhibition in Arlon, Belgium: Autour d'Emily. One of them appears in the cover of the present book.

(2) Even Patrick Brontë, in the worst Gaskell tradition, is given the oppressor's role. Knowing as we know how much he had to endure with the death of all his family it's hard to read things like:
Un seul survivant: lui, le pasteur. Votre père. Un seul. Celui qui tenait les clefs du presbytère. Barbe-bleue. Pas de traces. Les corps vont bien au cimitière.
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