Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The fashionable death

The Daily Mail has some bookish ideas for Christmas presents. Among them is The Brontë Collection.

Is there a woman alive who doesn't adore Jane Eyre? Well, yes, actually. A bright teenage acquaintance once took a withering look at my lovely, must-have reprint of Charlotte Bronte's classic (available as part of The Bronte Collection, Vintage £20) and sniffily sneered: 'Puh-lease! All that frustrated passion and melodramatics! What is their problem? 'Jane and Rochester love each other madly, he has loads of money, so why don't they just gallop away together, leave the mad wife in the attic with her nurse and to hell with what the servants might say?'
Hmm. That's one view, I guess. Alarmingly, for a generation that knows no fear of breaking the Ten Commandments, the moral struggle in Victorian fiction must seem impenetrable. But I will love Jane Eyre for ever. So there. (Carla McKay, Sara Lawrence and Val Hennessy)
On the subject of recommended books, The Buffalo News reviews The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows and includes a list of related books, which are basically those mentioned throughout the novel, the Brontë sisters' works among them.

The Aurora Advocate has an article on the diary left by her father to a local resident where, among other things, he jotted down his thoughts on books such as Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

Reading the selected writings of Cornel West, Scott McLemee from Inside Higher Ed is not so sure Wuthering Heights is an example to follow.
“The basic problem with my love relationships with women is that my standards are so high -- and they apply equally to both of us. I seek full-blast mutual intensity, fully fledged mutual acceptance, full-blown mutual flourishing, and fully felt peace and joy with each other. This requires a level of physical attraction, personal adoration, and moral admiration that is hard to find. And it shares a depth of trust and openness for a genuine soul-sharing with a mutual respect for a calling to each other and to others. Does such a woman exist for me? Only God knows and I eagerly await this divine unfolding. Like Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship in Emily Bronte’s remarkable novel Wuthering Heights or Franz Schubert’s tempestuous piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat (D.960) I will not let life or death stand in the way of this sublime and funky love that I crave!”
No doubt this is meant to be inspirational. It is at any rate exemplary. Rendered more or less speechless, I pointed the passage out to my wife.
She looked it over and said, “Any woman who reads this needs to run in the opposite direction when she sees him coming.”
Twilight fans intent upon its Brontë influences may of course disagree, as sort of does author Anuja Chauhan in Mail Today (India):
Author Anuja Chauhan says though she's not a huge fan of the series she understands one basic fact-the best romances in the world are those stories where the love is not consummated.
"A good love story is exciting till the point the lovers are kept apart, till there are forces that drives them in different directions. Once the lovers get together the story loses its charm. And if you have a male lead that has dark traits the story becomes even more compelling for a woman reader. It's a bit like what Wuthering Heights did to the female psyche." (Haimanti Mukherjee)
Others take a completely different approach to Wuthering Heights, such as Theatre Northwest according to The News Tribune.
... with Lee and Larsen writing ever-more-satirical productions like “Charm School” in 2007 (two bigoted white guys attend mandatory diversity training) and in 1998, “Wuthering Heights! The Musical” (self-explanatory). (Rosemary Ponnekanti)
The Telegraph has an obituary on Sir John Crofton who
pioneered one of the great medical breakthroughs of the 20th century when he led a team of scientists which developed a cure for tuberculosis by using a combination of three antibiotics; the "Edinburgh Method", as it became known, saved millions of lives and provided a model for similar combination therapies used in the treatment of illnesses such as cancer and HIV.
What's funny, though, is what he thought of artistic celebrities falling prey to this then incurable illness.
John Keats, Frederic Chopin and Emily Brontë were among the many who succumbed. "No self-respecting artist or poet dreamed of dying of anything else," Crofton observed.
Finally, The Brussels Brontë Blog posts about a recent talk about the Brontës in Brussels: Ecriture et Imaginaire chez les Brontës by Dominique Jean, a translator of Brontë works.
Dominique Jean, professor of English literature, translator and director of the Pléiade editions of the Brontës had come over from Paris on the occasion of the publishing of the second volume dedicated to the works of the Brontës in that prestigious collection. It contains a new translation of Jane Eyre and a translation of the Juvenilia. [...]
The lecture was illustrated by readings of extracts from the juvenilia and more conventional pieces by Annette Brodkom, a very talented reader. The lecturer showed the different strategies implemented by each of the four authors to convey his/her perception of the world with words.
What I found particularly interesting was the analysis of the texts through the critical eye of a translator. For example, even though he is a fervent admirer of Charlotte, he did not hesitate to show the sometimes over-emphatic aspects of her early style, the accumulation of adjectives, the numerous references and quotations, revealing perhaps an exacerbated sensitivity and desire to display her literary skills. M. Heger had not given her his wise advice yet…
I was also struck by one poem describing a landscape closed up by mountains and scattered with rocks, in complete contrast to the open moors of Haworth. (Myriam Campinaire) (Read the full post here)
Mildly Free posts a few 'thoughts on Wuthering Heights'.

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