Saturday, May 31, 2014

Understandbly, not everybody is happy with the new GCSE texts:
If Gove’s ideas about British imperial history are amnesiac, he also seems to forget that English literature was always worldly. In a well-known essay on Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the literary critic Gayatri Spivak wrote that “it should not be possible to read 19th century British literature without remembering that imperialism, understood as England’s social mission, was a crucial part of the cultural representation of England to the English”. One might say the same about Shakespeare’s The Tempest – a play that stages the politics of colonial dispossession and cultural imperialism using the conventions of a courtly masque. (Stephen Morton, Professor of English at University of Southampton in The Conversation)
But one of the perpetrators, Jonathan Bate, seems to talk about a quite different reform. In The Guardian:
In my mind's eye, I saw a multi-ethnic inner-city academy school comparing Shakespeare's Othello and Zadie Smith's White Teeth in the light of questions of race, then using the poetry of John Clare as a way of exploring the profound connection between human society and the natural environment. Meanwhile, those in the class of a technological disposition could discuss Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the dangers of modern science, while those more interested in affairs of the heart could read Jane Eyre. No one would be bored.
Elizabeth Blackwell in Salon is a bit tired of juvenile heroines that are 'tough as men are':
The heroines of classic literature we still read and adore today — Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre, Scarlett O’Hara — never won a fistfight or led a revolution. But they are still “strong” characters, women we root for and cheer on, even though their victories are quieter and more domestic. I have no problem with modern pop culture telling women they can be as tough as men, but not when “toughness” is measured solely in male-oriented characteristics. 
The Washington Post invites to visit the exhibition  A Shared Universe: The Art of Comic Books where
Kate Beaton (...) offers a feminist quick take on “Jane Eyre”. (Mark Jenkins)
The Miami Herald reviews The Vacationers by Emma Straub:
Jim and Franny, a freelance food writer, are Upper West Side literati whose teenage daughter Sylvia is prone to babbling, when nervous, about which Brontë is most underrated and who compares her mother’s writing style to “Joan Didion, only with an appetite, or like Ruth Reichl, but with an attitude problem.” (Hannah Sampson)
And the London Evening Standard reviews the film Maleficent:
Admittedly, recasting a villainess as a victim isn’t especially original. Jean Rhys got the ball rolling with her brilliant 1966 novella Wide Sargasso Sea (a mischievous prequel to Jane Eyre, that made us look at the first Mrs Rochester in a whole new way). (Charlotte O'Sullivan)
Read more here:
The Advertiser tells the story of three members of the same family that have won a local writing contest:
There must be something in the water at the Frantzen household. Or perhaps Lafayette is birthing something akin to the Brontë family.
Three Frantzen children have taken first place in the annual Letters About Literature writing contest sponsored by the Louisiana Center for the Book of the State Library of Louisiana. The latest winner was Arden Frantzen this year. (Cheré Coen)
The Boar mentions a far-too-usual experience downloading ebooks:
Although you can download free e-books, in my experience these are often poorly duplicated, as I found to my distress upon discovering html coding text in the middle of Jane Eyre. (Samantha Hopps & Lizzie Vallen)
Jornal do Brasil talks about a theatre play which references Emily Brontë:
Idealizada pelos atores Rodrigo Fagundes e Wendell Bendelack, a peça 'O Incrível Segredo da Mulher Macaco' fará uma curta temporada no auditório de Furnas, em Botafogo, no Rio de Janeiro. A peça é uma mistura de terror e comédia e uma grande homenagem aos clássicos como Agatha Christie e Emily Brontë. (Translation)
Terra Cultura (Spain) gives you some hints for choosing books at the current Feria del Libro in Madrid:
3. Si te has leído ‘Jane Eyre’ de Charlotte Brontë, ‘Demasiada felicidad’ de Alice Munro o ‘La señora Dolloway’ [sic] de Virgina [sic] Wolf [sic]... (Translation)
The Telegraph & Argus publishes a picture of knitters creating woolly wheels at the Brontë Parsonage Museum;  The Times lists the best Monty Python sketches and, of course, the Semaphore version of Wuthering Heights is quoted; A Life Among the Pages reviews Wuthering Heights; Brontë country pictures on Flickr's fiskhals; Book O Meter videoreviews  Jane Eyre with great enthusiasm.

Finally, remember that today, May 31, at the Brontë Parsonage Museum:
Saturday 31 May, 2pm
West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth

On a pilgrimage to Top Withens, Samantha Ellis found herself arguing with her best friend about which heroine was best: Jane Eyre or Cathy Earnshaw. She was all for wild, passionate Cathy; but her friend found Cathy silly, a snob, while courageous Jane makes her own way. And that's when Samantha realised that all her life she'd been trying to be Cathy when she should have been trying to be Jane. So she decided to look again at her heroines - the girls, women, books that had shaped her ideas of the world and how to live. Join Samantha as she discusses her new book which explores the role of heroines, and our favourite books, in all our lives - and how they change over time, for better or worse, just as we do.


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