Sunday, March 17, 2013

Full top in the shape of a tiny heart

Perspectives: The Brilliant Brontë Sisters will be shown on ITV1 next March 31st (10.00 PM). The presenter Sheila Hancock talks about her love for the Brontës in The Telegraph:

“I find the work of the Brontë sisters shocking, erotic, profoundly moving and quite wonderful,” she says. “In fact, I rate each of them among the greatest novelists I have ever read.”
Waterstones, then, should stock up on copies of Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and the lesser-known Tenant of Wildfell Hall – written respectively by Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Hancock, after all, is about to present a documentary about the three of them called, compellingly, The Brilliant Brontë Sisters.
Forming part of ITV’s Perspectives series – in which various public figures explain their passion for an aspect of the arts (Michael Portillo on Picasso, Jonathan Ross on Hitchcock, for example), Hancock argues her case so persuasively that nearly two centuries after the Brontë’s penned their masterpieces, they might well top today’s bestseller lists. “Oh, yes, I’d love the programme to make people read the books because they’d be amazed at what they’d find,” Hancock says when we meet at a hotel near her home in Chiswick, west London. “They weren’t written today yet they still speak completely to a modern audience. They are savage, funny, perceptive and extraordinary in ways I hadn’t fully appreciated when I read them as a young woman.
“So re-reading them now and finding out about the lives of the Brontës became an amazing journey of discovery for me. I became so besotted with the subject, I could easily have made a whole series.”
Still, Hancock’s achievements in the hour-long documentary are formidable. She asks questions about how three spinsters who spent most of their lives in a remote parsonage on the edge of the Moors could have written such insightful and steamy novels.
Her journey includes trips to the parsonage at Haworth, to Brussels and to the British Library. Along the way, she debunks the myth that the Brontës were just three poorly educated, unworldly innocents who conjured up their novels from sheer imagination.
“They actually enjoyed an excellent if unconventional education and although, astonishingly, girls weren’t allowed in libraries in those days, their adored brother Bramwell (sic) went for them and they read incredibly widely,” she says.
Nor the documentary suggests were they quite the blushing virgins we imagine. When Charlotte and Emily stayed in Brussels to improve their French, the former fell passionately in love with her married tutor, Constantin Heger. Although unlikely that the love was consummated, the British Library holds parchment letters ripped up by Heger to avoid detection and carefully sewn back together by his nosy wife, in which Charlotte makes her ardour plain.
During the documentary, indeed, when one piece of correspondence is enlarged for the camera, Charlotte’s final full stop emerges in the shape of a tiny heart.
“That was an incredibly exciting moment, not just for us but for the British Library, because it had never been spotted before,” Hancock says. “It’s just a small detail, but it tells us so much about Charlotte and her love for this man, who became the template for Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre. She was every bit a sensual woman.”
There were rumours, too – not included in the documentary – about Emily’s love life. “We were told by a local that she’d had a lover in a house on the Moors, but we couldn’t prove it,” Hancock says. “Still, it’s hard to believe Emily created a character as tricky, dangerous and beguiling as Heathcliff from imagination alone. Could she really have written so vividly?”
The airbrushing of the Brontë’s image, Hancock contends, was due to Charlotte’s desire to protect her sisters. After they both died from TB – Emily aged 30, and Anne, 29 – Victorian society was scandalised to discover posthumously that books about unbridled passion – and, in the case of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, alcohol and drug addiction – had been written by three women.
Charlotte pleaded innocence and ignorance for them all and may have gone much further. “Driven by grief at losing her sisters and the public attacks on them, she probably also destroyed the manuscript of a second novel that Emily had been working on. If so, it’s a very great tragedy for us all.” (...) 
Village Magazine interviews the writer Kevin Barry:
It all began – well it all began with reading Wuthering Heights, but what doesn’t? It all began when in his twenties he wanted to become the next great American-Jewish writer. (Maggie Armstrong)
Cool Age talks about a play performed by the students at the Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi:
After only a few practices, things finally came together to be presented in form of a play called "The Curious Case of Julius Caesar"
A dinner party hosted by Oscar Wilde to celebrate Julius Caesar's victory was organized. The guest list was quite exotic with invitees like Cleopatra, Brutus, Poirot, Dickens, The Red Queen, Collins, Voldemort, Emily Brontë, Professor Sybil Trelawney and Gatecrashers like Sherlock Holmes and James Bond along with the darling butler, Jeeves. (Asia Syeda)
Tidningen Kulturen (Sweden) publishes an article about Herman Melville's Moby Dick. The last paragraph goes like this:
Starbuck träder snarare allt mer i förgrunden när man/jag tänker efter. Vem är/var han? Och Q? Och Ahab och Moby Dick? Och havet och himlarna och fåglarna? Som om inte detta vore nog, leds åtminstone mina tankar till inte bara Mary Shellys Frankenstein och Emily Brontës Wuthering Heights (1847 ) , utan även till Goethes Faust och Mefistofeles. (Carsten Palmer Schale) (Translation)
The Morning Call asks a local business man about his current reads:
Do you like books on CD? I recently listened to "Jane Eyre," by Charlotte Brontë. It was absolutely superb!
The Bollywood fans will be glad to know that Aamir Khan visited the Brontë Parsonage Museum in one of his visits to Bradford as told by The Guardian:
On another occasion I joined Amir Khan on a trip to the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth. Not only did their visits to Bradford put the city on the Bollywood map but, most importantly they helped changed perceptions after the city suffered from the seismic shock of riots and negative media coverage. (Irfjan Ajeeb)
The Sunday Times carries the story of the writer Clive James and his daughter Claerwen James, artist:
Claerwen was a bright girl - her passions went from Jane Eyre to the atomic bomb -but with both our daughters, Prue and I were careful not to overwhelm them. (Ria Higgins
Paraiba announces a free screening of Jane Eyre 1944 at the Estação Cabo Branco in João Pessoa (Brazil) (March 17, 16:00 h); in Verona (Italy) Wuthering Heights 1939 will be screened at the Teatro Scientifico-Teatro Laboratorio (March 17, 16:30 h); Marina Saegerman from the Brussels Brontë Group has given a talk about the Brontës in Aalst (Flanders); T&T Book Reviews posts about Jane Eyre; 1001 könyv, amit el kell olvasnod, mielőtt meghalsz (in Hungarian) talks about Villette; I.D. Blind briefly posts about The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

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