Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wuthering Heights is number 13

We find it strange to call the Brontë Society the 'Brontës' fan club' - even if it is that - as the Yorkshire Post refers to it in the headline of an article about its 120th anniversary.

Members of one of the world’s oldest literary societies, established in West Yorkshire in 1893, are celebrating its 120th year with events at home and abroad.
The Brontë Society, believed to be the earliest literary society in the English speaking world, was established in Bradford on December 16, 1893, at a Town Hall meeting attended by more than 50 people. Its reach is now global, with members in America and Australia.
The society is devoted to the legacy of the literary sisters, whose work includes Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, and it also runs the Brontë Parsonage museum in Haworth, which attracts thousands of scholars and book lovers from across the world.
A series of events celebrating the 120th year will be launched in London on February 19.
The chairwoman of the Brontë Council, Sally McDonald, said: “Members of the Brontë Society are very proud to be celebrating their 120th anniversary this month and will be celebrating not only in Haworth but around the world.
“We see ourselves as having a unique role, being simultaneously a literary society and a charity that owns and runs a world-renowned museum – what an achievement, what a responsibility. From the start members have come together to promote interest in the lives and works of the Brontës but today activities are not limited to Haworth.”
She added: “The society is delighted that members in London, Northern Ireland, Europe, America, Canada and Australia each put together annual programmes of activities – the editor of our newsletter lives in New England and the editor of our academic journal is based in Calgary.”
The Brontë Society’s executive director, Ann Sumner, said: “We are delighted that the Society is flourishing and looking forward to a year of exciting activity to mark such a special anniversary.”
You can also read more about it on the Brontë Parsonage website. The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page also shares some pictures from last weekend's Victorian Christmas event.

Jane Eyre was number 12 and now Wuthering Heights is number 13 on The Guardian's list of '100 best novels'.
The above image of Emily Brontë – endlessly reproduced – is less a portrait, more an icon. Intense, fierce, inward, solitary, elusive and unknowable: the young author of Wuthering Heights in profile is of a piece with her first, and only, novel.
Her elder sister's work – Jane Eyre (no 12 in this series) – hypnotises the reader through the calculated force of its tone, its "suspended revelations", and its hints of suppressed eroticism. It builds, slowly, to a poignant climax in which, finally, its protagonists are redeemed, though not in a way that's conventional. Wuthering Heights, by contrast, plunges impetuously into a wild and passionate exploration of love in all its destructive manifestations.
Brontë's narrative – fragmented, discordant and tortuous – revolves obsessively around a single, explosive transgression, and the theme of jealousy in the lives of Heathcliff and Catherine, before making a calmer return to the theme in the often neglected second half. (Robert McCrum) (Read more)
Speaking of the storm Emily, the Irish Independent summarises the novel in quite a different way.
The storm is named after 'Wuthering Heights' author Emily Brontë, who died 165 years ago on Thursday, when the storm is set to touch down. Her most famous novel also features constantly bad weather.
The bit about 'her most famous novel' is also quite hilarious.

So So Gay wonders,
What's more entertaining than an Eastern European puppet reenacting 'Wuthering Heights' by Kate Bush? Very little. Boris and Sergey's Vaudevillian Christmas Adventure by Flabbergast Theatre centres around the disastrous duo of Boris and Sergey, who delight the audience with various outlandish sketches and acts. (Charlotte Higgins)
Perfect timing for this review of the Blu-ray edition of Jane Eyre 1944. From The Morton Report:
What’s immediately most striking about this Jane Eyre is the heavily gothic atmosphere, almost evoking the mood of early horror films. The North Yorkshire, England setting (all filmed on effectively-dressed sets) is a spooky landscape of shadows and fog. Controversy has persisted over the years regarding how much of the film was a result of director Stevenson’s vision and how much was possibly contributed by star Orson Welles. Whatever the case, it’s a visually arresting film. At Lowood, Jane is psychologically abused and harshly disciplined. She survives, which is more than can be said of her best friend, Helen (an uncredited Elizabeth Taylor). [...]
Originally beginning life as a David O. Selznick production, which some have cited—along with the presence of Fontaine—as an explanation for the film’s relatively superficial similarities to Rebecca, Jane Eyre moves along fairly briskly, packing a good deal of plot elements into 96 minutes. Full disclosure, I’ve neither read the original novel, nor seen any of the other filmed adaptations. Obviously I can’t comment on the nature of its faithfulness to the source, but I will say Eyre runs out of steam after we learn the primary secret of Thornfield. Jane’s comings and goings are a bit scattershot the way they’re presented, losing sight somewhat of what was a very hard-earned romantic relationship between she and Rochester. The wrap-up is naggingly pat, but not to the point where it keeps Jane Eyre from being an involving film. Both leads are in top form, with Fontaine (who passed away at age 96 on December 15, 2013) more than holding her own against the domineering Welles.
Twilight Time’s Blu-ray offers a passable high definition image. A message on the Screen Archives website reminds us that Jane Eyre has been brought to Blu-ray using the “best source material available.” While I don’t doubt that, the source print was apparently not in great shape. Imperfections abound and contrast is inconsistent. We never really get deep, solid black levels. It’s not a difficult presentation to watch, it just leaves something to be desired. The DTS-HD MA mono track is effective. Dialogue is clean and clear. Bernard Herrmann’s stirring score is also well served by the simple mix.
Speaking of Herrmann’s score, it’s presented as an isolated DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. (Chaz Lipp)
In case you are interested, we have added several more comments to our post on the death of Joan Fontaine.

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