Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Guantanamo Heights

Writer Sabin Willett discusses Wuthering Heights in connection to his novel Abide with Me in The Huffington Post:

Guantanamo Bay was a strange place to think about love, I'll admit. But it was there, beneath Cuba's astonishing stars, that I conceived a novel, a love story, in the spirit of Emily Brontë's classic, Wuthering Heights.
You might ask what Wuthering Heights has to do with Guantanamo Bay, much less our modern moment.
I began asking that question at the base, where I used to go as a lawyer. Our clients were captured in error in the fog of war, and then became political pawns in Congress and the courts (as many prisoners remain today). During long hot days I would visit them in the prison --"Detention Facility" was the euphemism -- and during long hot nights, I sat outside the "Combined Bachelors' Quarters" across the bay, thinking about what I'd seen and felt. [...]
And so to Brontë. Wuthering Heights is about a return home, an obsession with place and a woman left behind, about lovers fused in spirit but separated by every other barrier. That is what I was after in Abide with Me: love restless and relentless, frustrated by barriers of place and class. For when I imagined the return of the men in each of the Guantanamo uniforms, I did not think it would go well.
Heathcliff is a wild boy, adopted and brought to Yorkshire. His past is never explained. Cathy is the daughter of a landed family, but the daughter, too, of the moor: she breathes its wild spirit. The pair are together in youth and separated in adolescence. When he returns, dangerous and potent, scarred and enriched by years abroad, Cathy has married another from her class. Why she has married doesn't matter -- Brontë cares only for the essential: the forces loosed by the collision of Heathcliff's return. [...]
The fabric of Brontë's story is woven from universal thread: a complicated family, an ancient but fallen house, a mysterious lover, a restless setting out, a relentless coming home again, all building to collision. This became the model for Abide with Me.
I have to admit that I had some fun dropping Brontë homages into Abide with Me. Readers will find many I have not mentioned here, but the central homage is thematic: the dangerous magnetism of an obsessive love, and the collisions set off by return. Times change, but the way an obsession leaps across a social boundary, or the Internet, or a span of years is a constant. Obsessive love draws us like a match flame. That fascination is why people still read a novel set in a lonely moor in a far-off time, and it is, in part, why I wrote Abide with Me.
90.9 Wbur shares an excerpt from Emily Bazelon's book on bullying Sticks and Stones:
For centuries if not forever, children have bullied each other, and for almost as long, adults have mostly ignored them. The concept that children deserve special protection—as opposed to serving as a source of  cheap  labor—didn’t  exist until  the  nineteenth  century.  At that point, child-rearing manuals began urging parents to teach their children Christian kindness, making clear, for example, that an older brother who scalded his little sister’s kitten (after she used his kite to make a muff for it) was to be sternly instructed in the wrongness of his ways. Even then, though, bullying wasn’t considered worthy of much comment by adults—with the exception of a few sharp-eyed novelists. Only in the fiction of the era have I found tales of bullying that read like the real-life stories we tell today. Charlotte Brontë, for ex- ample, made her readers feel Jane Eyre’s misfortune by showing her cowering before a vicious older cousin: “He bullied and punished me; not two or three times in the week, not  once or twice in the day, but continually: every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh on my bones shrank when he came near.” [...]
These fictional kids—stand-ins for the real children left out of the history books—suffered their cuts, burns, and hurt feelings while the adults  stood by. No  teacher  or  parent  helped  Tom  or  sympathized with Laura. When Jane’s aunt interceded, it was to lock up her niece for defending herself. Fiction reflected a cold underlying fact of life: bullying was a matter of course. 
Metro chooses the 'Top 10 British women playwrights'. Among them is
April De Angelis
De Angelis began her career as an actress in the 1980s but by 1987 she’d already won an award for her playwriting. British history has proved a touchstone for her creativity: 1993’s Playhouse Creatures, for instance, was about Restoration-era actresses. She has also created some notable stage adaptations, such as 2008’s Wuthering Heights, and turned opera librettist in 2007 for The Silent Twins. But it is her latest, acidly funny play, Jumpy – about a beleaguered woman suffering a mid-life crisis – that has been her biggest hit, winning a West End transfer with Tamsin Greig in the lead role. (Siobhan Murphy)
One more sad chapter to add to the Brontë birthplace debacle, as reported by The Telegraph and Argus:
A senior councillor is calling on Bradford Council to explain its policy on granting loans after it refused to save the Thornton birthplace of the Brontes but gave a £200,000 loan to Bradford Bulls.
Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Jeanette Sunderland has written to the Council’s chief executive Tony Reeves saying she was “astonished” at the decision.
It is understood that Bradford Bulls has been granted a £200,000 commercial loan – which must be paid back with proper interest. The Council would not give financial support to help Brontë Birthplace Trust buy the Thornton property, which is valued at about £120,000, and preserve it as part of Bradford’s cultural heritage.
In her letter to Mr Reeves, Coun Sunderland says: “I understand that you have refused to loan money to the group in Thornton who want help to purchase the Brontë birthplace in Thornton, so they could secure the finance to preserve this important piece of their heritage.
“Where has the Council published a policy that supports professional sports clubs with working capital loans and not residents who want to protect our heritage or any other group for that matter? I am astonished by the decision to loan to one group and not to the other. Please can you offer an explanation?” (Dolores Cowburn)
Speaking of property, WhatHouse features a group of Cheltenham Homes with literary names, including Brontë. EmmaBookBlogger discusses film adaptations of Jane Eyre and the 1983 adaptation. Ragdoll Books Blog posts about Wuthering Heights.

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