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Three things you didn't know about Jane Eyre:This columnist from the News Tribune picks Jane as one of her top 10 favourite fictional characters.
One hundred and sixty-six years ago today, Smith, Elder and Co. offered Charlotte Brontë's classic Jane Eyre to the reading public. If you studied the book in school, or if you've watched one of the many movie adaptations, you might feel like you know Jane, up close and personal. But here are three factoids you might have missed, tidbits that you won't find in your well-thumbed copy of CliffsNotes.
• Royal lovebirds love Jane Eyre. No, not Kate and Will. We're talking about Victoria and Albert, of course! The queen read the book to her prince over the course of many evenings, even staying up quite late because it was "most interesting." She noted in her diary that Jane Eyre was "really a wonderful book … powerfully and admirably written." Perhaps Victoria identified with the diminutive heroine. By all accounts, Victoria was plain like Jane, while Albert was not only as worldly as Edward Rochester, but also quite the heartthrob.
• Not all of Jane Eyre was fiction. Lowood Institution, that horrible charity school that Jane attended, well, gulp, it really did exist. When The Rev. Patrick Brontë's wife died, leaving him with five young children, he decided to send his four daughters to the Clergy Daughters School at Cowan Bridge. The students at Cowan Bridge were so cold and malnourished that many of them, including Charlotte's two sisters, became ill and died. But did their headmaster despair? No, he did not! In fact, he rejoiced because he was sending his students "to heaven." And what exactly did heaven look like to the girls of Cowan Bridge? Since 70 students were forced to share a one-seat outdoor toilet, the Pearly Gates are probably doors to private commodes.
• Jane Eyre's Edward continues to inspire. When she wrote Twilight, Stephenie Meyer named Edward Cullen, a vampire, after Edward Rochester, also a slightly creepy hero. Both men are described as depressed and brooding when they arrive on the scene. These tortured heroes frighten the heroines — Bella and Jane, respectively — with their volatility. Both Edwards reject shallow and empty-headed socialites, choosing instead to love two young women who are insecure about their looks.
A century and a half later, readers are still discovering Jane Eyre. The classic continues to win new fans. Not bad for a book that Charlotte Brontë called "a plain tale with few pretensions."
Joanna Campbell Slan is the author of The Jane Eyre Chronicles, a series that picks up where the original Jane Eyre left off. The first book in that series — Death of a Schoolgirl — won the 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence for Historical Romantic Suspense. Kirkus Reviews has noted that Slan has refashioned "a beloved heroine as a surprisingly canny detective." Death of a Dowager is the second in the series. (Joyce Lamb)
7. Jane Eyre: She survived a loveless childhood and grew into a hard-working, smart, opinionated woman. Jane manages to succeed and thrive despite the obstacles. (Shannon Crawley-Serpette)Express Milwaukee doesn't seem to know much about Jane Eyre, at least judging from this:
Apparently every generation needs its own version of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Jane Austen’s Jane Eyre and now Steven King’s Carrie. (Lisa Miller)No generation ever has had Jane Austen's Jane Eyre, though.
In your book “Literary Identification from Charlotte Brontë to Tsitsi Dangarembga,” you talk about literary identification. How do you define literary identification?The Atlanta Magazine finds a Brontëite in Lynn Cullen, author of the novel Mrs Poe.
By literary identification, I mean the emotional bonds among readers, characters, and authors that can form from reading certain kinds of novels, particularly what is known as the Bildungsroman, or novel about a character's growth and development. In a Bildungsroman such as Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre or, to give a more recent example from my book, Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions, readers are drawn by those bonds to lend our own emotions to a character’s fictional situation—searching for love in a loveless environment (in Jane Eyre) or searching for justice in an unjust environment (in Nervous Conditions). Not all of the characters with whom we identify will be examples of empathy; Jane Eyre, for one, is pretty self-centered. But repeated experiences of literary identification—of putting oneself in another’s shoes, encountering new moral quandaries, societal demands, or individual desires almost as if they were one’s own—may well make readers more disposed to take more seriously other peoples’ point of view. And that is the root of empathy. (Joe O'Connell)
Inspiration I adore Penelope Lively. My favorite of her novels is Heat Wave. I read it whenever I get stuck. The other book I read to get unstuck is Wuthering Heights. I modeled my Poe somewhat on Heathcliff, whom I find incredibly sexy. (Teresa Weaver)The Wall Street Journal reviews the novel The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.
In such riffs on Victorian tropes—including bits of Moari and Chinese that echo the untranslated French and Latin found in Thackeray and the Brontës—Ms. Catton seems to be amiably deconstructing her 19th-century predecessors. There is a ludic quality in all this that is infectious: You pick up the author's joy in her enterprise. (Martin Rubin)
Die Laufente, der geniale Coup des Krimi-Debütanten, entspricht Krügers verspieltem Autorencharakter. So wie die Mixtur des Buches: Emily Brontës "Sturmhöhe" und Dantes "Göttliche Komödie" begegnen darin literweise Asia Orchidee Schaumbad mit Bambusextrakt, einem gespenstischen Kreis von Altnazis und einem Finale furioso à la Indiana Jones. (Martin Fröhlich) (Translation)Smålandsposten reports on a concert where Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights was played.
Elisa Einsarsdotter, Olle Steinholz och Margareta Bengtson överraskade med allt från Kate Bush till tonsatta dikter av Karin Boye i programmets 16 stycken. [...]The Huddersfield Daily Examiner features bridal gown designer Adam Shaw who created the wedding dress for Wuthering Heights 2009. Jayne's Books gives a 3 out of 5 to Agnes Grey.
Efter att Bengtson sjungit: ”Heatcliff, It´s me, Cathy, I´ve come home?…” är det Karin Boyes tur att få bli hågkommen genom Einarsdotters vackra tonsättning av dikten:?Du ska tacka dina gudar.../ Det blir en blues i vilken Bengtson fäller ut ett magnifikt färgregister i ett solo som gungar skönt. Vid det laget vill publiken bara ha mer och det blir det: En gammal och lite vemodig sång från Malung, och därmed klingar harpan ut. (Tina Persson) (Translation)