Saturday, June 04, 2011

Wuthering Heights. The Wild & Wanton Edition. A Review

We are very grateful to Adams Media for sending us a review copy of this book.

Wuthering Heights. The Wild and Wanton Edition
Annabella Bloom and Emily Brontë
Adams Media
January 14, 2011
ISBN-13: 9781440506598
ISBN-10: 1440506590
The nature of Catherine and Heathcliff's relationship is one of those topics that has been explored from almost any perspective. Is it a bigger-than-life, passionate sexual love, a kind of transcended love beyond the physical boundaries and, therefore, basically asexual(1)? Is it a narrative full of psychoanalytic hidden sexual messages through its many (and meaningful) mentions to windows, keys or doors, bleeding metaphores (from teen menstruation when trespassing Thrushcross Grange or from castrated/frigid fears of sexuality in the visit of a female ghost in Wuthering Heights)? Is the sexuality presented in this book is infantile and doesn't it evolve as an adult one? Does it have a sadomasochistic substratum and/or fetishes in the Freudian sense(2)?

Nevertheless, the present book, Emily Brontë's & Annabella Bloom's Wuthering Heights. The Wild and Wanton Edition is not exploring any of them. The blurb of the book is quite representative of the author's intentions:
Catherine and Heathcliff may have been doomed sweethearts from the start, but that's no reason to keep them from consummating their desperate desire for one another. In this smoldering, expanded edition of the brooding masterpiece, you'll discover the star-crossed lovers seal their fiery fate with lovemaking as wild as the moors.
In this unexpurgated version of the steamy classic, literature’s most libidinous couple unleashes the sexual obsession that marks their lives forever—in and out of the bedroom. From the first time the rough-and-tumble Heathcliff takes the haughty young Catherine in his arms, to their final lingering embrace beyond the grave, Wuthering Heights: The Wild and Wanton Edition reveals the the true depth of the ruinous passion that has always haunted you, with all the sultry, sensual, satisfying sex scenes you always secretly knew you missed!
There are so many things wrong with the above summary that discussing them is useless. Furthermore it is not important. The book is designed to satisfy its main target: the consumers, basically female, of steamy/erotica romances(3). Emily Brontë's text is maintained almost verbatim adding whole sections or chapters with the corresponding descriptive erotic scenes. The fact that all the additions made to the text are in bold is welcome and, frankly, quite honest too. We are not talking here of a revision/retelling/adaptation... this is Emily Brontë's book with additives presented in a very nice edition with a deckle edge(4).

Do the additives work? Not really. They trivialise Lockwood, who seems quite obsessed with the pleasures of self-gratification(5) and even more stupid than Emily Brontë portrayed him. Hareton and Cathy's sexual encounters are entirely anticlimactic (within the logic of the original narrative) and the sexual encounters in general are a bit repetitive and rigidly mainstream(6). Nevertheless we have to point out two curious moments which, had full advantage been taken of them, could have led the book to more interesting paths: the encounter between Hindley and Frances which is a politically correct game of domination but which in a way could have found echoes with the currents of sadism that cross the original novel and, especially, the first sexual (!) encounter between Heathcliff and the ghost of Cathy is one of the most psychotronic and hilarious moments ever. A pity that the next additions do not follow this kind of approach and opt for the easier, mainstream, conventional route.


Notes
(1) A sort of Sieglinde-Sigmund (in Wagner's tetralogy) precedent including incestuous parallel echoes.
(2) Among many others: Koskinen, Maria. "Sex and Death in Wuthering Heights." English Studies and History. Ed. David Robertson. Tampere, Finland: University of Tampere, 1994. 207-222; Robin DeRosa, "To Save the Life of the Novel": Sadomasochism and Representation in Wuthering Heights" , Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association, 2004; Reeves, Amy Carol, "Emily Brontë's pedagogy of desire in Wuthering Heights", Victorian Newsletter 109, pages 16-20 (2006).
(3) Annabella Bloom is the pseudonym of Beth Williamson who writes historical and contemporary romances but also cowboy erotica romances (under her name or the pseudonym Emma Lang).
(4) The only exceptions are several clarifications here and there about some of the less evident elements of Heathcliff and Catherine's relationship which in a way show a lack of confidence in the target audience of the Wild & Wanton series.
(5) Is shaft the only slang term used in the 19th century for penis? At least it would seem so after reading it more than twenty times.
(6) We are far from the regions of the transgressive and disturbing Reader I Married Him by Janet Mullany for instance. And, by the way, once again Nelly is vindicated as a sexual icon. Here and in Wuthering Bites, Lockwood is not able to resist her charms.

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