Saturday, June 22, 2013

Banknotes, Penguin Popular Classics and Zombies

The Irish Times has an interesting article about the changes that ebooks are bringing to the book industry:

The first was the news that Penguin was calling time on its Popular Classics range. You might have seen them, these snappy paperbacks in green and white jackets (at least in recent years), printed on thin paper but priced very competitively, at about €3. Hard to beat if print is your thing and you want a quick infusion of Twain or Brontë, Verne or, as this is the season for it, Joyce.
The company has, unsurprisingly, not abandoned classics altogether. No, Penguin will still publish its Modern Classics series, but it is killing the popular classic at the low price and abandoning this space in the market to Wordsworth Classics, which publishes an extensive list at a similarly low price, and to ebooks.
In the same newspaper we found this review of Terry Eagleton's How To Read Literature:
Riding to the rescue of “slow reading,” a bid Eagleton makes as if it were heroic, is not urgent. But he does well to describe a normal seminar, where a few students sit around a table discussing Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. Student A says: “I can’t see what’s so great about Catherine’s relationship with Heathcliff. They’re just a couple of squabbling brats.” Student B: “Well, it’s not really a relationship at all, is it? It’s more like a mystical unity of selves. You can’t talk about it in everyday language.” Student C: “Why not? Heathcliff’s not a mystic, he’s a brute. The guy’s not some kind of Byronic hero; he’s vicious.” Student B retorts: “OK, so who made him like that? The people at the Heights, of course. He was fine when he was a child.” So it continues.
Eagleton asks us: “What is wrong with this discussion?” His answer, much to the point, is that if you were listening to the discussion and had never heard of Wuthering Heights, you would “find nothing to suggest that it was about a novel”. It could be gossip about some friends of the students.
Eagleton’s point is valid. Literature is literature. The only trouble with his intervention is that the way the students talk about Wuthering Heights is the way Eagleton himself writes about every novel he supposedly analyses in the present book and in Heathcliff and the Great Hunger (1999). (Denis Donoghue)
Leslie Salzillo in The Daily Kos talks about her love for Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights:
Damn You, Emily Brontë
Oh, the bittersweet pain of it all. I could so easily let myself be consumed by the lovely and ridiculous drama, and just cry. Cry now as I did years ago, and as I will years from now. The words are excruciating. It’s as if Emily Brontë reached inside me, ripped out my heart, threw it on the floor, and stomped on it. And I love her for it.  (...)
Reading Wuthering Heights was a turning point for me. It’s when I came to the realization that deep down (and I can admit it now) I crave stories about tormented, passionate, and unrequited love. Love that exists, yet can never be. Love that, with a single touch, can lift you into the clouds, or with a single word, slam you back down to the ground, causing you to ‘take to the bed’ for days, maybe weeks. Love that is without pride... (Read more)
Publishers Weekly reviews the audiobook edition of I.J. Miller's Wuthering Nights:
This isn’t quite the beloved Brontë classic you read in high school English class. But it’s not a bad retelling of it either—that is, if you don’t mind adding a healthy dose of erotica. In Miller’s version, the relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff becomes more elicit and a much more sexy. Narrator Joy Pratt brings a distinct femininity to the book, her accented voice ably capturing the spirit of the prose. Pratt’s delivery is flawless; her tone and pronunciation perfect. And, she manages to convey both the newer material and the original text in a similar manner. A Grand Central paperback.
The Times talks about the mystery woman who will fight against Churchill for the new £5/£10 notes:
The Bank declined to reveal who the mystery character was, stating that it "would be likely to have the unfortunate effect of prejudicing any future selection process". However, it will commission a design for an alternative banknote to Churchill's.
The undisclosed woman is almost certain to be among a list suggested by the public and compiled by the Bank. Among the 83 names are Jane Austen, Emmeline Pankhurst, the Brontë sisters and Ada Lovelace, the world's first computer programmer. The final choice of historical figures rests with the Governor, who is advised by Chris Salmon, the chief cashier, and the Bank's note division. (Alex Ralph)
The Telegraph talks about the film World War Z and begins by making an introduction into the zombie genre:
A decade later, for Val Lewton’s eerie 1943 production of I Walked with a Zombie, directed by Jacques Tourneur, screenwriters Curt Siodmak and Ardel Wray updated the plot of Jane Eyre and transposed it to the West Indies, thus demonstrating that mash-ups of 19th-century English literature and zombies didn’t begin with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. (Anne Billson)
The journalist insists on Jacques Tourneur's film:
I Walked with a Zombie: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies isn't the first mash-up of 19th century Eng Lit and zombies. It's 70 years since legendary RKO B-movie producer Val Lewton asked screenwriters Curt Siodmak and Ardel Wray to update and transpose the story of Jane Eyre to a Caribbean island. "There's no beauty here, only death and decay," says a plantation owner to the nurse who has come to the island to care for his sick wife – but Jacques Tourneur's directing ensures this is the most hauntingly beautiful zombie film ever made.
Coincidentally, Catholic Online (of all places...) also makes a top ten zombie list with I Walked with a Zombie on number 2:
Described as "Jane Eyre in the West Indies," this subtle - but still effective spooker from producer Val Lewton has a wife investigating some odd goings-on at her husband's island plantation. Her walk through the jungle undergrowth to the sound of voodoo drums is a classic!    (Greg Goodsell)
Los Angeles Times has its own list:
During the 1940s, Val Lewton produced a series of subtle, brilliantly effective low-budget horror films such as 1942’s “Cat People.” One of his best was this poetic horror film that is a loose variation of “Jane Eyre.” Frances Dee as a Canadian nurse hired to take care of the wife of a sugar plantation owner on a Caribbean island and ends up resorting to voodoo to try to cure her. (Susan King)
And Filmoria:
One of the interesting aspects of the zombie movies is how easily it can be fit into other narrativie structures. This 1943 film has more than a few nods to Jane Eyre, including narration by the female protagonist. Oddly, this zombie, called a zombie throughout the film, is not a flesh hungry monster but an unfaithful wife in a catatonic state. When a nurse is brought to the house to care for the wife, she learns of the woman’s history and eventually that the woman has been cursed with a voodoo curse. (Lesley Coffin)
The Atlantic explains how reading makes us more human:
From Great Expectations I learned the power the stories we tell ourselves have to do either harm and good, to ourselves and to others; from Death of a Salesman I learned the dangers of a corrupt version of the American Dream; from Madame Bovary, I learned to embrace the real world rather than escaping into flights of fancy; from Gulliver's Travels I learned the profound limitations of my own finite perspective; and from Jane Eyre I learned how to be myself. (Karen Swallow Prior)
Whatculture! gives some reasons why Jane Eyre is not suitable to be adapted into a film:
Detailing the life of its title character from childhood through her first love, Jane Eyre is the most famous book to come from the powerhouse Brontë sisters and a classic of English literature. Bringing themes of morality and spirituality to the fore, it helped bridge the gap between poetry and novels. But everyone in the English speaking world already knows that.
Why It Shouldn’t Have Been Adapted: The issue here is less with adapting Jane Eyre in general (it has been done well before, such as the 2006 BBC miniseries), but with putting it in cinemas. The story covers a lengthy time period, forcing directors to cut important parts of plot. The book’s most famous elements with Mr Rochester and Thornfield Hall don’t appear until a good way through the tale, but many adaptations will quickly jump there for the typical love story. This also lets in another problem. Jane is written to be rather plain, with Rochester also not overwhelmingly attractive, something a big production couldn’t afford to do. With a good third of the story involving children and unattractive leads, Jane Eyre just isn’t made for Hollywood. (Alex Leadbeater)
The Guardian lists some consequences of wet summers:
If things get really stormy, you could retreat to a rain-battered tent and have a go at Wuthering Heights. (Homa Khaleeli and Emine Saner)
The Windsor Star interviews Ken Ludwig Brown, author of How To Teach Your Chilcren Shakespeare:
"You don't understand Jane Austen really well unless you understand Shakespeare. She was a huge Shakespearean fanatic. I'm rereading Wuthering Heights at the moment, and the book is filled with Shakespearean references."
Diario de León (Spain) interviews the writer Javier Pérez:
—¿Qué libro no dejarías de leer o leerías por segunda vez?
Cumbres borrascosas, de Emily Brönte (sic); El Gatopardo, de Lampedusa. (Translation)
The Shelter Island Reporter has a funny Brontë reference in an article about kitchen remodeling:
These Manhattan kitchen remodels are something of a rite of passage in the city. They are nerve-wracking, disrupting, dirty and behind schedule. During ours, I was working during the week in Philadelphia so I would return to find a wife who had been driven wild by the demo and construction. (There is a scene in Jane Eyre that comes to mind.) (James Bornemeier)
The Oregonian has a weird metaphor:
Great romances -- "Phantom of the Opera," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "Wuthering Heights" -- prove you can't always tell what's inside by looking at the packaging. But who thought that was true for coleslaw or a million other packaged "healthy" foods that fill grocery-store shelves? (Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Mike Roizen)
Keighley News talks about the Brontë harness races that will be held in Haworth next June 30; Marina Saegerman and Helen MacEwan write in the Brussels Brontë Blog about their recent experiences at the Brontë Society AGM; Leggere che Passione... (in Italian) and Estante Íntima (in Portuguese) review Wuthering Heights; Coffeebeings reviews Jane Eyre 2011 and John Guy Collick shares his thoughts about Arashi Ga Oka 1988; A Little Shelf of Heaven posts a review and a giveaway of April Lindner's Catherine.

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