Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bypassing the classics

Several education-related mentions of the Brontës today. The Philadelphia Inquirer looks at a charity website with resources for teachers. A local teacher says,

"I'm trying to develop their love of reading with a nonconventional high-school book," he said. Classics like Jane Eyre are still wonderful, he said, but a more modern entry into literature may do the trick. (Regina Medina)
It may also depend on the child's taste, of course.

Gaelick discusses the transition from school to college for LGBT students:
What about the college’s attitude to gay issues?
Well, I have a personal anecdote to tell you about that too! Because I’m doing English, we were given a reading list for the semester and I was both shocked and overjoyed to see that Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson was on the list, right there alongside other great coming-of-age novels like Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
For those of you who don’t know, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is the story of a lesbian girl who grows up in a very religious society in England. As far as I know, there has been no fuss whatsoever kicked up over this and (just like Rainblah), the whole notion of it is currently being treated very nonchalantly. (Agnes Von Kenn)
Coincidentally, Jane Eyre is mentioned in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.

Gazeta (in Polish) looks at a small, very nice-looking street library.
Pracownicy szkoły wciąż podrzucają do biblioteczki pozycje i po polsku, i po angielsku (jeszcze w piątek kusiła z niej gratka dla romantyczek: "Wuthering Heights"!). (Joanna Klimowicz) (Translation)
Austin Culture Map asks Libba Bray about her new YA novel Beauty Queens.
CM: In Beauty Queens, the satire really comes out swinging. People have asked you about gender in your books before, and also the critique of consumerism — is that something you feel really strongly about? [...]
I thought, why is there so much misogyny? I mean, I know that misogyny is always with us, but why is there so much misogyny? And at the same time I had a lot of questions about gender. One of the things that I enjoy about writing is that it forces me to question my own status quo. It is really easy to get complacent and think, well I believe this, or I think this.
And when you start getting in there and digging around in the guts of the story, you're like, I thought I believed this, but I don't know... I think sometimes in literature we kind of police ourselves. I know a lot of people talked about Twilight, and they would say, oh, but the heroine, she lets this man make her decisions. And I thought, that may not be the particular fantasy or trope that works for me.
But listen man, I read Wuthering Heights. I wanted me a little Heathcliff action. I mean, why can't we indulge that fantasy and also be like, “And now I would like the ERA passed, please. Also, this lipstick is fuckin' killer.” (Amy Gentry)
The New Zealand Herald asks a few bookish questions to writer Charity Norman.
The book that changed me is ... Many have had an impact, but perhaps especially Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.
The Union Weekly discusses the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon.
First of all, let’s acknowledge that the middle-aged are a fucking busy age group. They have a lot of shit going on, a lot more than they get credit for. So they really do not have the time to sit down and contemplate Emily Brontë or John Steinbeck. That would actually take time and effort to fully digest what those authors have to offer. Because of the basic sentence structure and surface level plotline, 50 Shades allows for dear old Mom to pick up and put down the book at her leisure without missing out on any underlying brilliance hidden within enriched text. It doesn’t feel like such a commitment this way. Because I’m pretty sure after a full day of work, toting little Jimmy to and from soccer, making dinner, and balancing the checkbook, Mom isn’t up for discussing the underlying themes and motifs in Of Mice and Men. No. She wants basic writing spoonfed to her that she can comprehend in between spoon-feeding the baby. (Amy Patton)
Charles Moore makes a similar point about TV vs books in his Telegraph review of the adaptation of Parade's End.
As a result, film and telly tend to be more fun when you are tired but, in the end, more restricted than novels or poetry. They are more literal-minded, less imaginative. We shall never know what Odysseus or Heathcliff looked like, and so we can think more deeply about them than we can about Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca or Lara in Doctor Zhivago.
We know what he means but we don't fully agree. How a character looks like is not the only field for thought and reflection about said character.

WQXR's Operavore shares an anecdote about Bernard Herrmann's Wuthering Heights opera.
I’ve heard of Bernard Herrmann’s Wuthering Heights described with the same label by Minnesota Opera artistic director Dale Johnson, who said of the company’s 2011 production of the work, "It's one of those cult operas that everyone talks about but nobody stages.” Certainly, Brontë’s characters bear similar traits to our other misfits. 
Melodika shares a press release reporting the fact that Haworth's Ashmount Country House has 'won the prestigious AA Rosette award for excellence in hotel food and housing services'. Kliknieuws (in Dutch) has an article on a new cafe's opening where, among others, excerpts from Wuthering Heights were read. The Daily Mail reviews Jenny Uglow's The Pinecone and quotes from Simone Jenkins's description of Sarah Losh as ‘a Charlotte Brontë of wood and stone'. Greater Kashmir has an article about reading Jane Eyre while On My Honor has compiled several images of things inspired by or related to the novel. Ez a mese... posts in Hungarian about the 2011 adaptation. Diary of a Writer discusses Charlotte Brontë's writing. The Vintage Reader reviews two Wuthering Heights adaptations: 1939 and 1992.

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