Thursday, August 12, 2010

Yann & Édith's Les Hauts de Hurlevent - Volume 2 - A Review

We are very grateful to Éditions Delcourt for providing us with a copy of this comic.

Les Hauts de Hurlevent, d'Emily Brontë. Volume 2
Date de parution : 07/04/2010
ISBN : 978-2-7560-1381-7
Scénario : YANN
Dessin : ÉDITH
Couleurs : ÉDITH
Éditions Delcourt
Série : Hauts de Hurlevent, d'Emily Brontë (Les)
Collection : EX-LIBRIS
This second installment of Yann & Édith's Wuthering Heights adaptation: Les Hauts de Hurlevent keeps plenty of the good qualities that we already highlighted in our review of the first volume: good delineation of characters, a coherent earthly approach to the story and an interweaved combination of naiveness in the drawing and thorough work in the light and colours used. It is also marked by the same limitations (not in a pejorative sense): reduction of the mythical elements of the novel in a down-to-earth reformulation(1) which simplifies of the closely-woven fabric of narrators and stories within stories that constitute the original novel in favour of a more transparent narrative.

The volume begins with Heathcliff returning after three years and if the first volume, albeit narrated by Catherine(2), shared the protagonism between Catherine and Heathcliff, this one is practically monopolised by the larger-than-life character of Heathcliff. This is a Heathcliff who hangs dogs (and even a rabbit), who mistreats the young Cathy Linton, who burns her books and forces Cathy to cut firewood(3). His obsession with revenge is adequately transposed to his figure. Always menacing, often delivering furtive sybilline looks which make our blood run cold.

Although ellipses are obviously needed to incorporate Emily Brontë's novel into the dimensions of a comic, they are not particularly annoying. Heathcliff's taking of all the Linton's possessions and also taking over this particular volume create an ominous atmosphere of doom and inevitability that conducts the story tightly until the necessary finale. The final wedding between Hareton and Cathy is celebrated in magnificent weather with a bright blue sky and a change of light suggesting a happy ending. Nevertheless the comic ends with a coda which rhymes nicely with the beginning of the first volume(4).

This comic adaptation is one of the best examples of the fact that adapting a novel of the richness of Wuthering Heights works better inasmuch it is faithful to a personal reading and interpretation. Édith & Yann have their own, centered on the cruelty of nature and the power of intense feelings, and have recreated their very own Wuthering Heights. And it is one of the most idiosyncratic and creative we have read of late.

Notes
(1) Although in this second volume we see the ghost of Catherine as seen by a clearly perturbed Heathcliff. There's also the account of the young boy at the end of the comic telling that he has seen the ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine (an irruption which also subverts the presumpted happy ending). The boy is given the look and the name of one Branwell Brontë (Brandwell in the comic).
(2) This second volume also starts narrated by Catherine but after her death the narrator becomes omniscient and undetermined.
(3) These elements are not present in the novel. As much as Heathcliff is vilified, Hareton is given more redeeming qualities.
(4) Nature is a cruel and pointless battle and human emotions are nothing more than another manifestation of its meaninglessness.

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1 Comment
Sophia said...
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I wish I could read the graphic novel in English!

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