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In an interview at the Royal Geographic Society on Tuesday about his career, Naipaul, who has been described as the "greatest living writer of English prose", was asked if he considered any woman writer his literary match. He replied: "I don't think so." Of Austen he said he "couldn't possibly share her sentimental ambitions, her sentimental sense of the world".We like the 'unequal' bit because it reminds us of Miss Deborah Jenkyns from Cranford (straight from the pen of another woman writer he surely despises too though: Elizabeth Gaskell):
He felt that women writers were "quite different". He said: "I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me." (Amy Fallon)
Miss Jenkyns wore a cravat, and a little bonnet like a jockey-cap, and altogether had the appearance of a strong-minded woman; although she would have despised the modern idea of women being equal to men. Equal, indeed! she knew they were superior. (Chapter II)Anyway reactions to his words haven't taken long. Salon opts for a bit of snark:
The Brontë sisters didn't either, although their alter egos Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell sure pulled the wool over a few eyes in their time -- even if they couldn't have fooled a lady-sniffing genius like Naipaul. (Mary Elizabeth Williams)The London Evening Standard takes him for a much-needed ride among the best women authors:
You really can't dismiss women writers simply because of their domestic bent, what Sir VS calls their narrowness. The age when women novelists really were as fine as their male counterparts was when they were confined to the domestic sphere but George Eliot and Emily and Charlotte Brontë could hardly be said to have been limited by that environment, though Mary Shelley was perhaps another matter. You could say, indeed, that a novel like Silas Marner is admirable precisely because it is grounded in the hearth. (Melanie McDonagh)Of course he may think what he likes and let's not forget that time is a great judge: it remains to be seen where Mr Naipaul will be in two centuries - widely read all over the world like these women authors he dislikes so much? In the meantime, we would send him a copy of A Room of One's Own but then again he may find it unequal to himself being written by a mere woman scribbler like Virginia Woolf.
Nowhere, perhaps, is this sense of ancient templates more obvious – and to a certain extent, more debilitating – than in the arts. In literature, painting and sculpture it was an age of unparalleled luxuriance, the inspection of which was calculated to leave the generation that followed in its wake with a disagreeable sense of its own insignificance . It would be perfectly possible to argue, for example, that the late 1840s, which brought the publication of Dombey and Son, Vanity Fair and Jane Eyre, was a high-water mark in the history of the English novel which no subsequent tide has come anywhere close to surpassing. Even more significant is that the big beasts of the early Victorian era were genuinely popular, borne out of an authentic compact between the novelist and the constituencies that sustained him. (DJ Taylor)The Scotsman comments on the not-so-great Victorian 'care' institutions:
ON WEDNESDAY evening, I made a routine journey to Glasgow to see a play about the lives of the Brontë sisters, visiting the Citizens' Theatre.By the way, the Citizens' Theatre has uploaded to Flickr a set of pictures from the Brontë production.
It wasn't the greatest of shows, but it aroused some powerful memories of the role played by the great novels of the Victorian age in shaping the social priorities of the Britain I grew up in, 50 years ago. Like Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë had a great gift for portraying the horror and cruelty of Victorian "care" institutions, funded by the coldest of charity, so that if Dickens's Dotheboys Hall was the school from hell, Bronte's Lowood - where little Jane Eyre is sent, after her parents' death - was the orphanage of nightmares, run by a gang of coldly self-righteous female thugs. [...]
Either way, though, it seems to me that what was lacking at Winterbourne View was exactly the same thing that was lacking at Charlotte Brontë's Lowood. It was love, and the capacity to give love. (Joyce McMillan)
The character of Heathcliff, the brooding romantic hero of Wuthering Heights, was first dreamt up by Emily Brontë when she was a teenager, a new exhibition will reveal. Juvenilia by the author, her novelist sisters Charlotte and Anne and their brother Branwell, which include stories and pictures of the imaginary kingdoms they created, Gondal and Angria, are finally to be put on show to the general public. The Gondal poems of Emily, written when she was about 18, feature the wild scenery and romantic themes central to her only novel and characters similar to its doomed lovers, Cathy and Heathcliff. Ann Dinsdale, of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire, said: “Queen Gwendolen is like Cathy and one of her lovers is wild, dark and passionate like Heathcliff.” In one of the poems, the teenage Emily writes of “high waving heather, ’neath stormy blasts bending” and then of “wind and rain and fervent heat caressing”, descriptions that echo the evocative Yorkshire landscapes depicted in Wuthering Heights, published when she was 29. The manuscripts also give an insight into the minds of the creative family. “They all really began writing in their teens after their mother and two siblings had died,” said Lucasta Miller, author of The Brontë Myth. “It was their own little world, and was probably driven by psychological needs.” The works, which have been hidden for decades in the vaults of the British Library in London, are part of the Out of this World exhibition, which opens at the library on Thursday. (Richard Brooks)A few poems by Emily Brontë are then quoted.
The desperately stiff Capt. Von Trapp, who was forced to say such wretched lines as, “Fraulein Maria, did I or did I not say that bedtime is to be strictly observed in this household?” was a frustrating role for Plummer.The Times of India features a group of musicians who compare their dilapidated palace to Wuthering Heights.
“We were all trapped,” he said. “I think the writer had Rochester in mind from Jane Eyre but he got stuck somewhere. I don’t think anything could help it, and as a film, once you were in it you were in prison.” (Lorenza Muñoz)
The Warren Township Library Book Club is taking a turn, discussing the film adaptation of Wuthering Heights to bolster the club members' discussion of the book. Stop by at 6:30 p.m. to enjoy the show—and a stimulating discussion. (John Patten)We wonder which adaptation that is though.