Sunday, July 07, 2013

Beneficial Invisibility

The Hindu talks about male pseudonyms in the Victorian era:
For women writers in the Victorian era who dared defy acceptable tenets of femininity, the male pseudonym became a visor that separated the authorial voice from the pure, self-effacing feminine self. Writers like Charlotte and Emily Brontë as well as Marian Evans published their work under male pseudonyms, (Currer and Ellis Bell, and George Eliot, respectively), in a symptomatic reaction to a century eager for their literary brilliance, but unable to grant them authority over the moral and social creed their literature attempted to cull out of ambiguities.
Charlotte Brontë, author of what was to become a stupendous bestseller Jane Eyre, found a way out of the impoverishment the Brontë sisters wallowed in, when she discovered her sister Emily’s verse about the inhabitants of her fantasy kingdom Gondal. She decided to send the poems to a publisher, along with some more of her own and her sister Anne’s. However, she bestowed upon the three writers androgynous noms de plume — Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. She explained, “What author would be without the advantage of being able to walk invisible?”
A beneficial invisibility, or a discomfort with their feminine selves as writers because writing was considered a male undertaking, was a predominant anxiety with these authors, whom ironically, their readers perceived as women right at the outset of their careers. Catherine A. Judd, in her essay, “Male pseudonyms and female authority in Victorian England” (Literature in the Marketplace: Nineteenth-Century British Publishing and Reading Practices), argues, “Jane Eyre, for example, was seen as a revolutionary book in terms of the history of the British novel, precisely because it articulated the passions and desire of a specifically feminine experience.” The book, even for contemporary readers, resounds with what Virginia Woolf described as “the genius, the vehemence, the indignation of Charlotte Brontë.”
The frothy, sentimental concoctions that lady writers were supposed to produce meant that those who went against the grain must necessarily masquerade as androgynous. Charlotte Brontë, who admired her sister Emily’s verse, for it had, “a peculiar music — wild, melancholy and elevating,” was acutely conscious that these were not the characteristics of a feminine writer. In a letter to her publisher, she wrote of her sister’s poems, “I know no woman that ever lived who wrote such poetry before.” (Rhadika Oberoi)
Victorian-themed weddings in Trinidad and Tobago? We knew that you were expecting this:
Stationery—In your invitations and programmes, perhaps you can use quotes from poets and writers from the Victorian era, some of the more popular ones were: Charles Dickens, Emily Brontë, Lewis Carroll, Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti and Rudyard Kipling. (Trinidad & Tobago Guardian)
Another unexpected one. Wuthering Heights meets Alice in Wonderland? The Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka) has it:
Edmund Miller believes that the two Alice books should be treated as a whole and suggests that the resulting two-volume work has much in common with the early Victorian novel, particularly, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. He claims that “both works are infused with the sentiments of the age and yet combine traditional materials in completely original ways.” (Shireen Sanadhira)
The Sunday Times lists a couple of literary homes for sale. Including Ponden Hall:
In the 19th century, Emily Brontë would visit Ponden Hall to use its library. The grade II* listed eight-bedroom house, near Stanbury, is also thought to have inspired scenes in Wuthering Heights
Perfil (Argentina) talks about Wide Sargasso Sea:
Al menos para mi generación, es muy probable que una persona medianamente educada haya leído Cien años de soledad y no Jane Eyre. (...) Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë, 1847) es una novela extraordinaria y tuvo una reencarnación a contrapelo llamada Ancho mar de los Sargazos (Jean Rhys, 1966). La de Rhys es una de las biografías más curiosas que haya dado la literatura. (...)
 La protagonista de [Después de dejar al Señor] Mackenzie comparte con Jane Eyre el orgullo y la obstinación por no dejarse humillar por los hombres ni por las jerarquías sociales. Pero a diferencia del personaje de Brontë, que tiene como horizonte la adaptación a la vida británica, sabe que ser mujer, pobre y extranjera hará de ella una marginal en una sociedad a la que desprecia.
Tras dos novelas que giran en torno a la destrucción de mujeres que no pueden soportar ni la vida en Europa, ni a los hombres, ni la falta de dinero, Rhys desaparece de la escena y sobrevive en condiciones durísimas, afectada por la mala salud, el alcoholismo y su vocación pendenciera. En 1956 una de sus novelas es objeto de una versión radial y alguien averigua que aún vive y está escribiendo una novela. Tardará diez años en publicar Ancho mar de los Sargazos, donde toma el personaje de Bertha Mason, la loca encerrada en la torre de Thornfield en Jane Eyre. La novela de Rhys corrige a la de Brontë y muestra que Bertha, nacida en las Antillas no se llama Bertha sino Antoinette, es una mujer hermosa, inteligente y sensible, que nunca estuvo loca y que por ejercer su libertad es la víctima de la estrechez de miras y la cobardía de su marido, el hombre que Jane Eyre, encerrada en el marco de los valores imperiales, veía como un dechado de coraje y virilidad. Refinada y poderosa, Ancho mar de los Sargazos reúne además los rasgos de modernidad, anticolonialismo y feminismo que la convirtieron en un gran éxito. La autora tenía setenta años y el mundo cultural la celebró hasta su muerte quince años más tarde con elogios, premios y hasta un título nobiliario. Paradójicamente, Rhys había logrado salir de la pobreza y como Jane Eyre ser aceptada en sus propios términos por la sociedad que tantas trabas le puso. Es posible, incluso, que la popularidad de Cien años de soledad en el mundo académico haya influido en el éxito de Rhys y su relato caribeño. Pero lo que la une con Brontë, algo que el masculino universo del boom latinoamericano siempre disimuló –además de un enorme amor por la literatura– es que ambas mostraron que el problema del escritor es su dificultad casi absoluta para escapar de la clase de los sirvientes. (Quintín) (Translation)
Wuthering Heights as an example of unreliable narrators in La Crónica del Quindío (Colombia); Gently Mad reviews Wuthering Heights; The Frist looks for the inspiration for Lowood School in Jane Eyre; Debiutext (in Polish)  reviews The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; The Grove Bookshop Twitter has pictures of Ann Dinsdale (another one here).

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