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Tales of Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal
Selected Early Writings
by The Brontës
Edited by Christine Alexander.
Oxford University Press (Oxford World's Classics)
23 September 2010
640 pages; 1 map; three MS facsimile pages
I'm just going to write because I cannot help it. Wiggins might indeed talk of scriblomania if he were to see me just now, encompassed by the bulls (query calves of Bashan), all wondering why I write with my eyes shut - staring, gaping. (Charlotte Brontë, Roe Head Journal)Brontë-wise, Tales of Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal is definitely one of the stellar Brontë releases of the year. Not just for making the juvenilia accessible to all sorts of readers and not just the scholar kind, but also because Christine Alexander is in charge of the edition and if anyone knows anything about juvenilia, then that is Christine Alexander.
Their juvenilia represent the apprentice works of writers who produced such renowned novels as Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; but they are also important documents in themselves: evidence of the making of literary minds, the collaboration and particularly the rivalry of writers--that 'intelligent partisanship' with which the Brontës imitated and 'played at' the lively publishing scene of the nineteenth century. The Brontë juvenilia provide the richest record we have of youthful literary activity: a fascinating uncensored world where the young writer can create a parallel political and social space, experiment with adult relationships, test genre and technique, and experience the power of the author and editor.In short, without the juvenilia we wouldn't in all probability have Jane Eyre and definitely not Wuthering Heights. What Christine Alexanders has put together is a compact, readable collection of writings that should both dispel and increase the myth of the Brontës, paradoxical as that may sound. A Brontëite's library is no longer complete without it.
Whether it is right or advisable to create beings like Heathcliff, I do not know: I scarcely think it is. But this I know: the writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he is not always master - something that, at times, strangely wills and works for itself.(4) Emily made fair copies of her poems and divided them into two notebooks. One famously inscribed Gondal poems (which is at the British Library in London) and another one inscribed E.J.B. and known as the Honresfeld manuscript, which is usually understood to contain poems of a more personal nature, but that is not exactly known. The Honresfeld manuscript is unfortunately lost, although a facsimile of it was made prior to that.