Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Entrancing Spell

The Telegraph & Argus recommends a couple of activities for this weekend at the Brontë Parsonage Museum:

As part of Brontë Parsonage Museum’s summer activities there are two workshops on Saturday, August 17.
Heaven is a Home is a free workshop at 11am to create a mini-Victorian house and decorate it with period-look wallpaper and create tiny furniture.
From 1pm to 4pm there’s a chance to create miniature houses from clay with artist Rachel Lee.
Finished pieces will be fired and glazed in the artist’s studio to be collected later.
The cost is £15 and places must be booked in advance online at bronte.org.uk
DVD Talk reviews the Blu-Ray release of Les Soeurs Brontë 1979:
But the film as a whole isn't simple at all. Téchiné and Bonitzer go at their pared-down narrative obliquely, sumptuously; what they've is almost excised specimen-episodes from what is known of the Brontës' experiences to hold up to very careful, very detailed scrutiny, and they are in no rush to add it all up or connect the dots for us. Their selection of story-pieces don't have a literal-minded, direct, cut-and-dried, cause-and-effect relationship to one another; they are rather placed side by side with sometimes startling, puzzling ellipses, and played out with indefatigable, patient, calm assurance and striking beauty that leaves a deep, niggling, unshakeable impression of the physical textures, the inescapable formality and inevitable curiosity and yearning of the sisters' lives inside a well-appointed, cloistered bastion of "civilization" -- their father's warm, well-lit house -- sitting unstably amid a wild, windswept, terrifyingly beautiful Northern-England vortex of untamable Nature. (...)
Once you've finally roused yourself from the film's entrancing spell, you probably wouldn't be able to draw up a dated chart of the Brontës' existences and works. What you are left with is something much deeper, much less expressible, much more valuable: You can honestly claim, after your immersion in the aura carefully created by all involved in each of the film's narratively minimalist, seemingly dissociated episodes, not to have learned about some famous 19th-century novelists like a literary-history lesson, but to have been well embedded within, if only for a couple of hours, the sensibility and physical character of the place and time they inhabited, to have experienced the actual feel and flavor of their world as it shaped them and provoked their strange genius. (Christopher McQuain)
Concerning the extras:
Feature audio commentary with critic Wade Major and Brontë scholar Sue Lonoff de Cuevas. (...) Cuevas tells us whether this or that event or costume is historically accurate or if poetic license has been taken), but they seem disorganized and sometimes work at cross-purposes, frustratingly interrupting or trailing off lines of thought. It's a conversation worth dropping in on, but not necessary to hear in its entirety.
--On the other hand, Dominique Maillet's 2012 documentary The Ghosts of Haworth (60 min.) -- which covers the conception, making, and reception of The Brontë Sisters through interviews with Téchiné, co-writer Pascal Bonitzer, Brontë-specializing academician Claire Bazin, costumier Christian Gasc, and actor Pascal Gregory (Branwell Brontë). (Christopher McQuain)
JustPressPlay reviews the film too:
Téchiné is technically accomplished and his beautiful camera work is shockingly well remastered on this Blu-ray. The dialogue and the acting, however, approaches self-parody with poetically loaded lines spat out in dully read French. It isn't entirely silly, this is impressionism, not expressionism, so Les soeurs Brontë does provide some dramatic range, but when a character falls into a romantic rage, they do tend to swoon. (Jason Ratigan)
Kirkus Reviews posts about Black Water by Alison Croggon:
Black Spring shares its basic format and storyline with Wuthering Heights—a stranger rents a place in town, has a run-in with his somewhat terrifying landlord, and then is treated to the back story by the housekeeper, Anna—the setting is similarly atmospheric; while the story has fantasy trappings, Croggon’s prose reads more like historical fiction, and the combination of her vocabulary, rhythm and voice results in a story that feels like it was written in another era; the relationship between Lina and Damek is as stormy as you’d expect; and as in the original, there’s revenge and horrid behavior galore.
Here’s where it diverges: This is Lina’s story, and this is Anna’s story. It’s not so much Damek’s story. He’s an integral part, of course, but yes: For once, Wuthering Heights is about someone other than Heathcliff. Don’t get me wrong! Lina, like Catherine Earnshaw, is not a hugely likable character: She’s entitled and mercurial, prone to tantrums, violent rages, and more frightening, to rageless, borderline-sociopathic violence. (Leila Roy)
The novel is also reviewed by January Magazine.

The Austen-banknotes affaire is discussed by The New Yorker:
Among literary figures, the Bank of England did not chose to honor Charlotte Brontë, whose unparalleled heroine, Jane Eyre, declares herself “a free human being with an independent will.” (Rebecca Mead)
The Yorkshire Post presents the biographical book Who’s the Daddy?: The Life and Times of Shirley Crabtree by Ryan Danes:
Shirley Crabtree Jr was born in Halifax on November, 14, 1930, the oldest of three brothers. It’s not clear where such an unusual boy’s name came from though Jane believes the story that Granny Crabtree’s favourite book was Charlotte Brontë’s novel Shirley, and she named her 
son after it and he passed it on 
to his son.
Flavorwire is alarmed that Amazon has bought the rights to publish any Kurt Vonnegut-related fiction:
Take, for example, one of the great novels of the 20th century, Wide Sargasso Sea. Though Jean Rhys did not announce it as such, the 1966 book is a sort of prequel to Jane Eyre. It’s about Mr. Rochester’s wife and her former life in the Caribbean, and what led her to be locked up in that attic. Feminists and post-colonialists believe the book to be a classic because the book, by exploring Bertha’s story in further depth, illuminates some of the assumptions embedded in Charlotte Brontë’s romance: namely, that women are crazy, and that West Indian women are even crazier by virtue of geographical location.
Rhys was lucky; any copyright Brontë had would have long since expired when she wrote Wide Sargasso Sea. Even if it hadn’t, she probably would have been OK with the doctrine of fair use in copyright law, because writing a novel that critiques another novel is likely to be viewed as a “transformative use,” sufficient to keep anyone from having to pay a licensing fee. (Michelle Dean)
Today's New York Times crossword contains the following:
7D. With 2-Down, book that includes the line “Conventionality is not morality” (Erik Wennstrom) (via The New York Times Crossword in Gothic)
Canberra Times reviews an episode of True Blood:
I still don't understand how he can have been in love with someone who didn't exist for 6000 years, but he's obviously sensitive, reads Emily Brontë, so whatevs. (Natalie Bochenski)
If you are a fan of Bachelorette you will probably understand this Brontë reference in the Hollywood Life review of the season finale:
That is exactly the type of love you have with Chris! Had you ended up with Brooks, you would have had a Heathcliff and Cathy style volatile romance, and you deserve to be happy, not tormented. (Eleanore Hutch)
The Madeleine Project interviews the YA writer Amy Carol Reeves:
With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?  That’s easy. I would love to sit down and talk to Jane Eyre. I love that she chose Rochester over St. John Rivers. I’d like to tell her so, and, maybe, after coffee, have a glass of wine (or perhaps two) with her. I’d like to ask her what she really thought about Rochester’s mad wife in the attic!
An Italian Miss who reads Wuthering Heights on AbruzzoWeb;  GraphoMania (also in Italy) mentions Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights on its list of the most beautiful love books; A Bit About Britain posts about Anne Brontë's grave in Scarborough; sara-sundries is reading Jane Eyre.

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