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Of course the real debate was about the differences that lay in Brontë and Austen’s treatment of their shared central subject: love and marriage inside (for Austen) and outside (for Brontë) the bounds of “decent” society. The great Austen vs Brontë boxing match came in for another round this week, this time involving younger sister Emily in a public debate led by Kate Mosse for Brontë, John Mullan for Austen, and organised by Intelligence Squared with an Oxford Union-style address: the authors advocated, the actors (Dominic West, Sam West and others) re-enacted and the audience voted on a winner.One more very positive review of Sally Cookson's stage adaptation of Jane Eyre: The People's Daily Morning Star gives it 5 stars.
Was it unfair that Emily Brontë’s one and only novel, Wuthering Heights, was pitting against Austen’s body of six, and that the former author died before she could perfect her fictions as Austen was able to? Not a bit for Mosse, who referenced unbridled passions and strong-willed Cathy, who doesn’t play piano or titter behind handkerchiefs but streaks off across the heath with her “moor” of a lover. How punk is that?
Not so much, when we’re reminded by Professor Mullan that Cathy dumps Heathcliff and runs back to marry middle-class Edgar. Mosse comes at it with endearing memories of Kate Bush (“It’s me, Cathy, I’ve come home”) and the claim that Brontë invented with a bigger, fiercer imagination. “For all her wit and style, Austen seemed to me a writer of observation rather than of imagination.” That did it for Mullan. Wasn’t the Good Woman of Bath responsible for inventing the free indirect speech style that was taken on by the likes of Flaubert and Kafka? Wasn’t she the consummate stylist with a perfect ear for dialogue? Yes, said Mullan, author of What Matters in Jane Austen?, who re-reads her oeuvre every two years.
Even so, I’m with Mosse. Not because of any one debate in any one room but because it comes down to loyalty. If Wuthering Heights ranks among your top three novels (time for a disclaimer), if the novel of romantic rebellion marks you at a point in your teens when the idea of romantic rebellion is at its most potent, no amount of Intelligence Squared will convince you otherwise. Mullan’s argument about Brontë’s single, technically imperfect novel makes perfect sense. But does technical perfection create a perfect work of art?Wuthering Heights strives for other things. Its characterisation is daring, its “unreliable narrations” ambitious, with flashbacks and reported stories – a story about its telling. It also captures the sharp, sadomasochistic, cruel edge to love.
But none of this matters: what does is that literary loyalties often remain blind, because they are tied into the emotional life of the reader, not just aesthetic appreciation. It might also be worth questioning why we continue the war that Charlotte Brontë began with her acid words, which may have hidden a North-South rivalry. Emily Brontë and Austen were majestic and imperfect in own ways. So an impasse, and a draw. A show of hands can never decide it. (Arifa Akbar)
Sally Cookson's fluent and imaginative direction of her 10-strong cast, including four musicians, successfully attempts to show that Bronte's tale is larger than a love story, more a life in the shaping, which really necessitates both parts being seen together. [...]Female First interviews writer Louise Walters, quite the Brontëite:
Atmospheric lighting captures and frames key moments as the actors' explorations of the multilayered set suggest time passing, Jane's endurance and the scale of Rochester's gothic mansion. Constantly lurking in the background is the contrasting red-clad figure of Rochester's first wife (Melanie Marshall). Her rich and powerful vocals infuse Jane's traumatic life journey with Benji Bower's largely original score, which only occasionally strikes a discordant note with the inclusion of well-known songs.
With the cast working tirelessly as an ensemble it's hard to highlight any individual performance, although Craig Edwards's faithful hound is the essence of fitful doginess and Felix Hayes, a blunt and brooding Rochester, provides moments of real intensity in his emotional outbursts to Jane.
At the heart of the piece though is Madeleine Worrel's captivating performance as the enduring eponymous heroine, whose determined sense of what is right and just, simmering just below the surface of her largely inscrutable demeanour, shapes her indomitable spirit. (Simon Parsons)
Who are your favourite reads? Joyce Carol Oates, Maggie O'Farrell, the Brontës, Jane Austen, Rumer Godden, Raymond Carver, John Steinbeck, Penelope Lively, to name a few. (Lucy Walton)And another Brontëite writer in The Reedley Exponent: Summer Lane.
Q. Do you have any favorite authors and, if so, why do you admire them?The Indiana Daily Student makes a very simple yet powerful recommendation: go and read a book. The columnist even has a few suggestions:
A. Growing up, I was a voracious reader. In high school, I was in love with Charlotte Bronte and her novel ‘Jane Eyre.’ I loved the classics. I had fun with Daniel Defoe’s books, and, as I got older, I started reading modern novels like ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins and ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel. Anything with adventure or survival was my favorite.
I think I admired Charlotte Bronte most of all. She was a woman writing books in a time when females weren’t necessarily expected to do so. She was fearless. (Felicia Cousart Matlosz)
The books on the “10 Books You Must Read to Your Daughter” list were typical. They were what every little girl should have on her shelf — “Anne of Green Gables,” “Little Women” and “Harry Potter.” But there were also some interesting choices as well, like “Kristen Lavransdatter” and “Jane Eyre.” (EmmaWenninger)The Telegraph reports that there's a growing market for illegal slaughter of sheep in Brontë country. The scene is set:
This, the tourist brochures will tell you, is Brontë country. The parsonage at Haworth is just a few miles away and the ruins of the 16th-century manor house Wycoller Hall, a stone’s throw from Hodgson’s farm, was the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in Jane Eyre. (Joe Shute)The Lincoln Journal Star has an article on a recent tour around Ireland which included
an extra hour driving unmarked farm roads, but the effort was worth it to see the rugged coastal views of the Cliffs, where possibly every Brontë and Austen character I have ever loved came alive. (Susie McMullen Bruning)