Monday, November 26, 2012

Jane Eyre as a water pump

The Chronicle Herald discusses The Flight of Gemma Hardy with Margot Livesey herself.

“I read Jane Eyre for the first time when I was nine years old,” she says. “I picked it up because it had a girl’s name on the cover. To my delight, it was about a girl a little older than me. On that first reading I had lots of ways to understand the novel because the boys school where my father taught was like the one in the novel, and we had moors round our house, and then I had a very severe stepmother who seemed a lot like Jane Eyre’s severe aunt.” [...]
Years later, as an adult living in Boston, Livesey had the opportunity to lead a book club discussion about Jane Eyre. The American readers she encountered led to a new appreciation for the story’s reach.
“The room was full of opinionated readers who had no biographical elements in common with Jane Eyre. I was really interested in this group of people who, 160 years later, on a different continent, identified so passionately with this novel written by a young English woman in a very cold house in Yorkshire.
“And I kept thinking about the enduring appeal of Jane Eyre. What would it be like to ask the same question today that Charlotte Brontë asks, which to my mind is something like, ‘How can a girl, no family that she knows of, and no special talents and no money, make her way in the world? How is that to be accomplished?’”
“It’s still a great question.”
Livesey originally conceived of setting the novel close to 2000, but as she began working on it she became convinced that moving it back, just before the great wave of feminism broke over North American and Europe in the ’60s, would be more rewarding for the reader. (Megan Power)
The Washington Times reviews Alice Munro's Dear Life and, as previous reviews, finds echoes of Jane Eyre.
Indeed, in “Amundsen,” shades of Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester linger in the cold sanatorium for children with TB, witnessing the courtship of the brusque and charismatic doctor and the inexperienced and bookish young teacher. (Claire Hopley)
The Los Angeles Review of Books has an article on Everything and More by David Foster Wallace.
For instance, Jan Christoph Meister, in his essay “Tales of Contingency, Contingencies of Telling,” imagines a Story Generator Algorithm, or SGA, capable of passing a literature-specific Turing test. Imagining such a machine, he claims, allows literary theorists to be more precise about what, exactly, a literary character is. To that end, his essay is replete with diagrams of the SGA, each accompanied by vigorous arrows leading from “Ontology” to “Goal-Setting Interface” and on down to “Recruiter,” “Verbalizer” and other carefully labeled boxes. His definition of subjectivity is timid and hamfisted; he writes: “Filtering and constraining the flow of information by a mediating instance necessarily results in a certain normative and cognitive bias, which, to repeat, we generally interpret as a sign of subjectivity,” which makes Jane Eyre sound less like a person and more like a water pump. (Kyle McCarthy)
The National Post makes a similar point on a wholly different matter: David Petraeus's infidelity.
When it comes to the complexities of the human heart, however, literature may be a better guide than science. Tristan and Isolde, Rochester and Jane Eyre, Gatsby and Daisy, Humbert and Lolita — these relationships will not be explained by brain-scans. Neither will that of David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell. (Ira Wells)
The Patriot Post quotes from Robert Barnard's The Case of the Missing Brontë:
As far as academic types go, I recently read a fine description of them in Robert Barnard's "The Case of the Missing Brontë," in which he has a Scotland Yard detective observe: "Of course, you could say I don't as a rule see them at their best; mostly when I've met them it has been in connection with some kind of offence or other -- thieving from bookshops, mostly; or sexual offences of a slightly ludicrous nature. But I have to admit that they have seemed the most sniveling, self-important scraps of humanity you can imagine, and as windy and whiney a bunch as ever demanded special privileges without doing anything to deserve them." (Burt Prelutsky)
The Brontë Weather Project's archive is now finished. Zakurzona półka and Popularna Klasyka both write in Polish about The Professor. A Happy Flower shares her recording of Emily Brontë's Sleep Brings No Joy to Me. Moss Green Ink has watched In Search of the Brontës 2003. Novel Readings and Bernur (in Swedish) both post about Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. Cocktails and Books reviews Jane Laid Bare. Kid Lit Geek posts about Tina Connolly's Ironskin.

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