Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pop-culture Brontës and other news

Today's news are nothing if not diverse, though they include the compulsory sprinkle of Twilight, of course.

Apparently, the film Bright Star is bringing attention to TB. But we are sorry to inform Madeleine Bunting from the Guardian that Charlotte Brontë did NOT die of TB, but, in all probability, of hyperemesis gravidarum, which is excessive vomiting during pregnancy. The rest of the siblings did die from TB so it's a shame she had to go and pick the only one who didn't as an example.

Consumption carried away many young lives in the 19th century, killing Keats at 25 before he could ever glimpse the public acclaim for his work. It also claimed Charlotte Brontë, and in the 20th century George Orwell died of the disease, having suffered terrible side effects from the treatments then being pioneered.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Gutmann from the Telegraph thinks that Susan Boyle's story is reminiscent of the Brontës.
(There is also the poignant, Bronte-like subplot which resonates powerfully with anyone who’s dealt with faltering parents: Susan, who was quite foxy in her mid-twenties and of course quite talented, put it all aside and cared for her ailing mother until her death. She did not apply to go on Britain’s Got Talent until released from her daughterly duties. Careers don’t always wait, but, poetically, novelistically, providentially, this career waited.)
And also the Telegraph features an article on Alan Bennet.
There are stylistic tricks involved in this, of course, such as his recourse to bathos (for example, “she made the corpse of Emily Bronte seem like something out of No, No, Nanette”). He is loved for these faintly camp one-liners, at their most brilliant in his historical cavalcade Forty Years On, but the nobler part of him lies in his ability to capture the dignified resilience that underpins characters such as the women of Talking Heads for whom life has proved a frustrating and disappointing business. (Rupert Christiansen)
Onto something else now, as Central Jersey has a couple of paragraphs on Wide Sargasso Sea.
Another beautiful piece built on a beloved classic is “Wide Sargasso Sea” (paperback edition, Buccaneer Books, 1999), credited to Jean Rhys and Charlotte Bronte. Ms. Rhys tackled the unfinished business of Bronte’s “Jane Eyre.” What is behind Rochester’s terrible secret of the madwoman in the attic? Ms. Rhys constructs a tale told in two parts by Antoninette Cosway, a Creole heiress, with the middle section told by her husband. Through this narrative, Ms. Rhys spins the tale of a descent into madness.
Ms. Rhys had some success in the 1920s and 1930s with novels of women seeking economic and emotional salvation through marriage to a dashing European. When such romances fell from favor, she languished for decades until she took on exploring how to tell the story of the woman Jane Eyre called “Bertha.” When the book was first published in 1966 to great praise and literary awards, Ms. Rhys, then 70 years old, bitterly observed that fame had come too late. She died months later. For many in the literary world, however, “Wide Sargasso Sea” remains an outstanding example of a parallel novel and what has been classified as Caribbean Gothic. (Joan Ruddiman)
The Mr Rochester in Wide Sargasso Sea was quite different from the Mr Rochester in the original novel, which is the one used to make a point about fragrances on DC Fragance Examiner.
"This scent is neither of shrub nor flower, it is-I know it well-it is Mr. Rochester's cigar." This is the musing of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre as she detects the presence of her beloved through the aromas that signal his arrival even before their paths collide. The fact that she is so keenly in tune to his personal scent belies the sexual tension that this imparts. Such is also, the message of the fragrance one wears. It becomes a signal to those who have an intimate understanding of who the wearer may be. Because of the pleasant association of tobacco with the traditional scent of a man, through his cigar or pipe, an entire olfactory fragrance family has been dedicated to the blending of these notes to form colognes of great distinction. (Liza Wade)
Pits'n'Pots realises that the Brontës and other big names of English literature are not featured on a BNP-connected website.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian gives more information about the John O'Keefe's The Brontë Cycle 1988 play readings:
"Shakes 'Super' Intensive + Bronte Series" Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship, 1924 Cedar, Berk; (510) 275-3871. $8. Mon, 7:30pm, through Dec. 14. Subterranean Shakespeare presents weekly staged readings of classic Shakespeare plays, followed by a staged reading of Jon O'Keefe's complete play about the Bronte sisters. (Molly Freedenberg)
And now for pop-culture Brontës.

Brooklyn Vegan reviews Röyksopp's recent shows at Webster Hall where they
rolled out with the surprise of the night, a note-for-note cover of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights," she put on a dead-on Kate croon. (Erez Avissar)
Poptimal is looking forward to Ed Westwick playing Heathcliff.
Ed Westwick – I have to say, Mr. Westwick’s 2010 project excites me more than just a little. Wuthering Heights is one of my all-time favorite books. Definitely in my top five, and strangely enough, I can see him playing Heathcliff. Chuck Bass and Heathcliff actually have much in common and I am excited to see him translate the character. Since Bella reads the book obsessively in Twilight and has made it a best seller again worldwide, look for the Twilight audience to attend this film. Starring opposite Ed is up-and-comer Gemma Arterton, the Bond girl from Quantum of Solace. Look for her in The Prince of Persia, slated for early summer 2010 as well. The previews look impressive. (Trisha Huntsman)
A bit of Twilight in there and a bit of Twilight in The Reflector.
While "New Moon" is not comparable to "Wuthering Heights" or "Pride and Prejudice" as an epic romance, it certainly improves upon its predecessor in every way possible. (Hannah Rogers)
As for blogs, Cheerful Cynicism posts about Wuthering Heights, the novel, and Classic Movies Digest writes about Wuthering Heights 1939. Our Love is Amazing has a post on Jane Eyre and sarah ch0_o is in love with Mr Rochester. Books I Have Read reviews Jennifer Vanderver's The Brontë Project. And finally, Chris from Book-a-rama posts at length about Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Bronté.

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