Friday, August 06, 2010

The Madwoman in the Basement

Let's begin with some Brontëites found in the press today. The Age talks with the eminent biologist Suzanne Cory:

Good science teaching is critical for inspiring young people, she says from experience. At school, her passions were for English and history. ''I wanted to be a writer from when I was quite small. I imagined myself as Emily Brontë or Jane Austen.'' (Deborah Smith)
And The New York Times talks to writer Mona Simpson:
What have you been reading or recommending lately?
Allan Gurganus once said that he reads what he needs for his work the way you might crave a food that relieves your mineral deficiency. I’ve been reading “Vilette,” [sic] the last novel written by Charlotte Brontë, and it’s exactly what I need right now. It’s about a woman who comes to romance relatively late in life, a woman who based her life on other aspirations. An editor once told me what my work lacked was a sense of vibrant romantic hope. I want this new book to have that.
The Telegraph (India) publishes a lukewarm review of Jude Morgan's The Taste of Sorrow.
"Oh, my children. Oh, God, my poor children.” A Taste of Sorrow bursts into life with this racking lament from Maria Brontë, dying of what was later perceived to have been ovarian cancer. The cry foretells both the theme and the tone of the novel, a fictional account of the lives of the Brontë siblings that Jude Morgan decided to write “with as little fiction as possible”.
The temptation to write fiction about historical figures is always double-edged, and in the case of the Brontës, particularly dangerous. Jude Morgan (a pseudonym of Tim Wilson) is keenly aware of the danger. “The story of the Brontës is so known,” he tells himself in alarm when the idea of writing a novel about them occurs to him. Besides, he finds that the “hard-working, dedicated and thoroughly professional authors” have been changed into “mythical creatures”, inspiring more “silliness” and speculation than any other major English literary figure.
Yet Morgan finds through his research that the “true drama of [the] amazing human narrative” is yet to be told. The prolific writing of and about the Brontës has ultimately produced a “few stark and simple tropes” soaked in melodrama. Maybe the real story here lies in Morgan’s inability to free himself from the Brontës’ spell, drawn as he is, like many others, to the apparently inexplicable phenomenon of path-breaking creativity in three sisters brought up in narrow surroundings, with limited exposure and the constant proximity to death. It is not just that their mother dies early, followed by the two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, long before they themselves go to their early graves, preceded by their brother Branwell. It is also that Haworth Parsonage, their home, jostles on one side with the graves that come right up to its uncurtained windows. Their father was too scared of fire to allow curtains.
Morgan weaves each such detail into his narrative to give depth to his characters, for that is where interpretation has its strongest role. He seems at his best in the first section that begins with Maria Brontë’s death and ends with Charlotte unwillingly leading her remaining siblings behind Elizabeth’s coffin. (Read more) (Bhaswati Chakravorty)
Tribune finds a curious Jane Eyre inversion in Christopher Nolan's film Inception:
If I were Dom’s mark, I might be alarmed by all these strangers in my dream, as if I had sub-contracted my subconscious. As for the mad woman below stairs – the inversion of Jane Eyre’s Mrs Rochester – what’s she all about? (Patrick Mulcahy)
Hugo Heppell, head of production of Screen Yorkshire, talks to the Yorkshire Post about the consequences of the axing of the Film Council:
As the head of production at SY, Heppell has been a key player in making movies happen in the region. With filming recently finished on the television sequel of This is England and filming about to start on Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights, Heppell says commitments made to films about to happen will be fulfilled, but the future is less clear.
Palo Alto News talks about volunteers taping books for blind people:
[Jane] Seaman records in four-hour sessions three times a week. She is currently reading a biography of Charlotte Brontë and short stories for a literary anthology.
Birmingham News (Alabama) announces the 2010/11 season of Theatre Downtown which includes a production of Wuthering Heights. Gutenberg auctions a copy of Swinburne's 1877 A Note on Charlotte Brontë; The Yellow Brick Road posts in Croatian about Emily Brontë; A Stroll Through My Rose Garden is posting her top ten of Broadway Musicals, number 9 is for Gordon & Caird's Jane Eyre; Of Writerly Things reviews Joan Soward's Chocolate Roses; Follow the Sky chooses Jane and Rochester as the her favourite book pairing; Oops... Wrong Cookie reviews the upcoming The House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle and The Sparklife Blog continues blogging Wuthering Heights (part 8 already).

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