Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Brontë Homeland with a trailer and an audiobook

Let's begin with a couple of awards:
Syrie James's The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë audiobook read by Bianca Amato has won the 2011 Audie Award in the Romance category.

And this 30'' "TV Spot- Escape" trailer of Jane Eyre 2011 (Focus Features, Kinetic Trailers) has been nominated to the Best Independent TV Spot at the 12th Annual Golden Trailer Awards. The results will be known next June 29th.

The Vancouver Sun has visited the Brontë Homeland in Banbridge, County Down, Ireland (Picture source):

It’s an auto tour, clearly signposted with brown shingles, along a 16-kilometre circuit south and east of Banbridge and in the shadow of the famous Mountains of Mourne. This is where Patrick Brunty (the name change came later) taught school (and romanced one of his students!) and preached his first sermon after he was ordained in 1807. “Patrick was a very talented man in his own right. The girls got the talent from the father; it was in the genes,” says Jason Diamond of Banbridge District Council, who helps publicize the tour. “Here’s a man who came from a two-room stone cottage in Ireland and he produced not one but three of the greatest authors in the canon of famous literature.” (...)
One of the schoolhouses where Patrick taught, at Drumballyroney, has been restored to its late 18th-century appearance. There’s a blackboard, desks, manikins of a teacher and students and, rather incongruously, a wedding dress in a glass case. “That’s a replica of Charlotte’s wedding dress,” says Diamond. “Notice how thin she was.”
Nearby is the church where Patrick preached his first sermon after returning from his university schooling in Cambridge. This building, now deconsecrated, has also been restored to look as it did in Patrick’s time.
The original Glascar School, where Patrick first taught, was long ago replaced by a more modern building. As we view it, Diamond tells how Patrick was dismissed from his post there because he and a student had become too fond of each other. Not as serious as it seems, however, for Diamond explains that the girl was a senior and just two years younger than her 20-year-old teacher.
Our next stop is the cottage, still standing, that was the childhood home of Patrick’s mother, Alice McClory. Her parents disapproved of the romance so she and Hugh Brunty eloped.
On, lastly, to the Brunty birthplace. Only the ruins of the two-roomed cottage in a glen at Emdale exist now. The site is cared for by the Bronte Homeland Trust and a plaque marks the spot.
The district council has provided a picnic site along the route, with views across the rolling hills to the Mountains of Mourne, the sights Patrick Brunty would have seen. It’s unlikely he would ever have stopped here, however, for the site was a shebeen, an illegal drinking den, in his time. (Mitchell Smyth)
The Scotsman reviews the Glasgow performances of Polly Teale's Brontë by Shared Experience:
A series of short, sometimes impressionistic scenes, Brontë merges practical reality, fictional invention and erotic dreaming, as the sisters endure the emotional and physical deprivation of their motherless lives at Haworth Parsonage, fail to find conventional ways of expressing the fierce erotic drives women of their time were not supposed to have, and strive to "make life bearable" through their common gift for passionate storytelling.
Even in the enforced absence through injury of the actor playing Branwell – with a last-minute replacement reading the part – the performances of the young cast are strikingly open, heartfelt and true; Kristin Atherton's Charlotte is strong, touching and complex, Elizabeth Crerar's Emily a passionate portrait of a near-autistic soul full of greatness.
What's never clear about this thoughtful and decent show, though, is why it exists at all. Nancy Meckler's production is full of tired 1980s conventions, with constant energy-sapping fades to black between scenes, and odd bits of ineffectual expressionistic movement thrown into the text at strange angles. The play tells us nothing about the Brontës that is not already well known. And, above all, it never addresses the key question about this kind of biographical drama, which is why – when it's the work that makes them great – we seem increasingly unable to digest the stories these great writers had to tell, and are ever more interested in their lives, at the expense of their work. (Joyce McMillan)
Michael Cunningham remembers in The Guardian the reasons and the difficulties of writing his personal take on Virginia Woolf, The Hours:
At that point, I pretty much decided to let it go, and write another book instead. But one morning, sitting at my computer, I allowed my mind to wander into questions about why Woolf meant so much to me, enough that I'd spent the better part of a year writing a doomed novel about her and her work. OK, sure, I loved Mrs Dalloway, but every novelist has loved any number of books, and few of them have felt the need to write new books about the older ones (the only exception that comes to mind is Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, which is, of course, a retelling of Jane Eyre from the point of view of Bertha, Mr Rochester's first wife).
The Quietus interviews Luke Williams, author of The Echo Chamber:
Mad women. Attics. Discuss.
LW: First of all I’m not so sure that Evie is mad. Eccentric, yes, deluded – possibly. But mad? I’ll leave that to the reader. The point of the attic for Evie is a retreat from the outside world into one of her own organisation. Something akin to the womb, I guess, but with more clutter. So she’s different from the original madwoman in the attic – Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre, and later, following Jean Rhys’ amazing reclamation of Bertha’s story, in Wide Sargasso Sea — because she hides away up there through choice. As opposed to Bertha, who’s shut up (in more ways than one) against her will. Though I suppose there is a parallel between Evie and Bertha/Antoinette in that they end their stories by starting a fire.
A curious controversy is going on at the Guardian about Heathcliff's character. It all began with a question in a crossword: (May 31):
11 Hero of Wuthering Heights (10)
To what a letter to the Guardian was sent and published:
Since when is a wife-beater, kidnapper and property thief a "hero"? (Quick Crossword, 31 May). (Marilyn Chorley Clegg, Carshalton, Surrey)
And now an editorial in the newspaper makes use of it:
Controversy lurks where you least expect it: in, for instance, 11 across in Tuesday's Guardian quick crossword. The clue was: "Hero of Wuthering Wuthering Heights"; the solution, "Heathcliff". "Since when," our reader Marilyn Chorley Clegg of Carshalton objected, "is a wife-beater, kidnapper and property thief a 'hero'?" The answer to that, perhaps regrettably, is: since the beginning of time. In some contexts, certainly, a hero or heroine is a person of moral character whom we should all wish to emulate. But in others the hero is more an epic protagonist, a prime mover in great events.
The student newspaper The Bardvark reviews Jane Eyre 2011:
The film is wonderful for both Jane Eyre diehards and first timers who are just dipping their toes into the world of English aristocracy. It was an astute portrayal of the ageless romance by Charlotte Brontë complimented by an avante garde approach by Fukunaga and Mia Wasikowska’s haunting portrayal of Jane Eyre. (Madeleine Webber)
Other reviews: Sum Up Film,

The premiere of X-Men: First Class with Michael Fassbender generates comments about Michael Fassbender's Rochester:
sexy when suffering as he was in Jane Eyre. (Leah Rozen on Anglophenia)
Fassbender broods, suffers, and rages far more compellingly than he did as Rochester in Mia Wasikowska's overmannered adaptation of Jane Eyre[.] (Jay Gabler in Twin Cities Daily Planet)
The actor wowed in Jane Eyre earlier this year[.] (Joel D.Amos in She Knows)
[H]is romantic role in the Charlotte Brontë adaptation “Jane Eyre”. (Mark Rozeman in emorywheel)
Rochester in this year's excellent "Jane Eyre". (Tom Charity in CNN)
Michael Fassbender is magnetic; he captivates much as he did in Fish Tank and Jane Eyre[.] (James Berardinelli in Reelviews)
Michael Fassbender, brooding Rochester in the new Jane Eyre, in mod turtlenecks and sideburns[.] (Steven Rea in The Philadelphia Enquirer)
He's having a great year, given his superb performance as Rochester in that elegant Jane Eyre revival.  (Times South Africa)
Also in the X-Men universe takes place the comic series Daken: Dark Wolverine which is reviewed on io9:
Pretty much every paranormal romance story, from Wuthering Heights to Twilight, features the Brooding Man With the Violent Past. Heathcliff, from Wuthering Heights, was a poor orphan who gained wealth and power and sought terrible revenge on the family that had betrayed him - except for Cathy. (Esther Inglis-Arkell)
Nouse recommends a visit to the Brontë Parsonage:
Out on the wild and windy Yorkshire Moors, the Brontë family lived, married and died. Getting to Haworth – a town with a huge number of bookshops itself – might not be easy but is well worth the trip if you have any literary interest. Touring the Brontë Parsonage and graveyard opens up the domestic affairs of the infamous family in a way that no guidebook can. After touring the house where literary classics were written, you can step into the museum and brush up on Brontë trivia. Outside, the Yorkshire Moors stand as the biggest inspiration. (TC)
Brooklyn Rail reviews a performance/exhibition by Musa Tseng: Stella which contains a Brontë reference:
Tseng occasionally plays a recording of her own voice narrating details of Stella’s life. At one point, a projector is rolled out in front of one of the white screens for a slideshow presentation of “Stella’s Truisms,” which include the following phrases: “NO BAD TASTE,” “Read Emily Brontë, not Amy Tan,” and “Education is a girl’s best friend.” (Christine Hou)
Amaranthine interviews the author Grace Langdon:
K: Trust is never easy, is it? What would you say is the one defining moment that changed your life?
G:
Sounds funny to say, but when I was in school, my teacher gave me a copy of Jane Eyre and it changed my life. I’m not kiddin’ you.
The writer Antonio Muñoz Molina has visited the NYPL exhibition, Celebrating 100 years and writes about it in El País (Spain):
Pero antes ha transitado, a lo largo de unos cientos de pasos, por algunos de los episodios decisivos de la escritura y de la lectura, y no solo de ellas, también de la música y de las formas diversas de anotarla y reproducirla, y del influjo inmenso que algo tan intangible como las palabras escritas puede tener sobre las vidas de millones de seres humanos, a través de los siglos: y un paseo también por los objetos que atestiguan esas vidas, alguno de ellos tan escalofriante como una túnica y una capucha del Ku-Klux-Klan, o tan peregrinos como el abrecartas de marfil al que Charles Dickens le añadió a manera de mango una pata disecada de su gato favorito, o tan conmovedores como la escribanía con pluma y tintero de Charlotte Brontë[.] (Translation)
Luis María Ansón talks about the poet Almudena Guzmán in ABC:
Siente en el cuerpo el frio de las catedrales y se ha convertido en Jane Eyre, encerrada en el cuarto rojo. (Translation)
Ideal (Spain) reports again the casting process of the new film by Pablo Berger: Blancanieves:
Su versión será «muy libre, oscura y sombría, más cerca de 'Rebeca' y 'Cumbres borrascosas' que de los dibujos animados». (O.L.Belategui) (Translation)
Laura Ramos writes in Clarín (Argentina) about Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall:
Al enterarme de la reedición en castellano de La inquilina de Wildfell Hall , de Anne Brontë, me inquieté sobremanera. ¿Cómo será leída esta rareza pornocalvinista en mi tierra natal? Esta edición, por el hecho de que desde hace mucho tiempo yo leo los libros de las hermanas Brontë en mis propios términos, unos términos configurados por mi imaginario más secreto y particular, me produjo la turbación que podría haberme causado la publicación de mi diario íntimo.
Wildfell Hall fue considerado demoníaco, basto y brutal cuando se editó por primera vez en Inglaterra en agosto de 1848, unos meses antes de que su autora muriera de tuberculosis, a los veintinueve años. La crítica del Spectator declaró que su autor (Anne Brontë lo había firmado con el pseudónimo masculino de Acton Bell) mostraba “un mórbido amor por la brutalidad”, que el libro develaba “el vicio al desnudo” y “un sustrato repulsivo y libertino”. El crítico G.H. Lewes lo encontró “tosco y bestial incluso para hombres; basto y grosero en lenguaje y en concepción”. (Read more) (Translation)
Trouw (Netherlands) thinks that Cathy might have ADHD (and Emily, Asperger's)
Autisme of ADHD is niet nieuw. VAnmiddag luisterde ik naar het nummer "Wuthering Heights" door Kate Bush. Ik besefte dat de hoofdpersonen in het twee eeuwen oude boek als kind een soort van ADHD-gedrag vertoonden, en dat schrijfster Emily Brontë zo ongelooflijk teruggetrokken en literair begaafd was....(ik plak op niemand een etiketje omdat ik geen psychiater ben, maar zij leek waarschijnlijk in de verte op een vrouwelijke bezitter van Aspergertrekjes...oei, wat ben ik als amateurschrijfster jaloers op haar!). (AnnaPO) (Translation)
Malin Lindroth complains in Göteborgs Posten (Sweden) about the absence of madmen in the attic literature:
Det saknas inte galna män i litteraturhistorien. Alla som kan sin Jane Eyre vet hur illa det kan gå när en romantisk manshjälte tappar greppet. Likt en litteraturens Josef Fritzl låser Rochester in Bertha Mason på vinden. Ändå är det inte han utan Bertha som har blivit känd som vansinnets delegat. (Translation)
Book Rat posts about Charlotte Brontë; RobadaDonne Magazine (Italy) has an article about Emily Brontë; Kristin Berkey-Abott reports a Jane Eyre discussion on a local bookclub; Belle's Bookshelf reviews Jane Eyre 2006; the Brontë Sisters posts about Keeper. A tweet from Venus DeMileage in the #sitcomnovels hashtag: The Fresh Prince of Jane Eyre; Siracusa News reports a literary/musical event organized by Senonoraquando di Siracusa which contained readings, among others, from Wuthering Heights by Erika Barresi and Doriana La Fauci.

Finally, the Brontë Parsonage Blog is posting daily reporting from the Brontë Society Annual Weekend.

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