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Where to start? With a Conservative-led coalition running scared of Ukip, perhaps it was inevitable that this should be a Little England list in which Meera Syal and Kazuo Ishiguro stand as the sole representatives of a rich, multi-cultural alternative.Please remember all those columnists who in the last few days have been exulting over the fact that kicking Steinbeck and Harper Lee out would make room for George Eliot for instance. Well, she's still been left out - what to say now, eh?
Dickens makes it, twice, with Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol, but the rest of AQA's 19th century list reeks of compromise. Sober Charlotte (Jane Eyre) Brontë not crazy Emily (Wuthering Heights) Brontë. Frankenstein (why not Dracula?) but no Middlemarch. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (RL Stevenson) but not The Way We Live Now (Trollope). (Robert McCrum)
“World literature can’t be excluded any more than Dickens or Hardy. Jean Rhys’s post-colonial Wide Sargasso Sea, is as significant and worthy as Brontë’s Jane Eyre that inspired it”, Thea Dunne, first year English student, told us. (Talia Zybutz)While The Telegraph shares a different sort of anecdote:
I’ve quite often had bright A level pupils come up to me once exams are over and announce something like this: “Thanks for all those helpful handouts, Sir. You do realise I never actually read ‘Tess’, ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Middlemarch’ (delete as appropriate).On the other side of the pond things are not so great, either. As The Weekly Standard reports,
Their smug self-satisfaction never fails to irritate. And their reluctance to read anything longer than a SparkNote or two, even at the highest academic level, could carry far-reaching consequences. (Boarding School Beak)
The New York Times recently ran a story about college students requesting “trigger warnings” to alert them that something in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or The Great Gatsby might freak them out. Such warnings would alert a student that The Merchant of Venice contains anti-Semitic elements and that Mrs. Dalloway deals with suicide. The issue of trigger warnings has been raised at schools as varied as Oberlin, Rutgers, and the University of Michigan. [...]The American Conservative quotes from Jacob Burak's short story Escape from the matrix published in Aeon magazine.
There is more. Innocent, pyrophobic co-eds could easily be spared the trauma awaiting them in Jane Eyre if the novel came with a warning: “Hero locks up scary wife in wing of castle. Oh, and another thing, she sets the house on fire and gets burned to a crisp.” (Joe Queenan)
FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) [is] the latest cultural disorder that is insidiously undermining our peace of mind. FoMO, a spawn of technological advancement and proliferating social information, is the feeling that we’re missing out on something more exciting, more important, or more interesting going on somewhere else. It is the unease of feeling that others are having a more rewarding experience and we are not a part of it. According to a recent study, 56 per cent of those who use social networks suffer this modern plague.The Guardian reviews the book Hans Christian Andersen: European Witness by Paul Binding.
Of course, that sense of missing out is nothing new. An entire body of literature describes the heart-wrenching conflict between romantic aspirations and social conservatism. Edith Wharton, Charlotte Brontë and Stendhal, to name but a few, described the angst of missing out long before we could look up high-school friends on Facebook.
But while 19th-century protagonists spent a lifetime grappling with a single missed opportunity, today’s incessant flow of information is a disturbing reminder of the world rushing by.
In Binding's infectiously enthusiastic view, there are traces of Andersen everywhere in 19th-century literature, from Wuthering Heights to Nietzsche. (Suzi Feay)Bleeding Cool interviews comic illustrator Jacqueline Monroe.
MB: It seems to have a darker tone, especially starting out with the parents arguing with each other and not paying attention to Nell – can we expect a more serious tale with Nell? JM: Nell’s story is definitely darker and more somber in tone than Saints & Sinners, mainly because I love Gothic Literature like Charlotte Bronteë’s Jane Eyre. (Michele Brittany)Complex brings Heathcliff into a discussion of NBC's Hannibal:
‘Had I been born where laws are less strict and tastes less dainty, I should treat myself to a slow vivisection of those two, as an evening's amusement.'”—Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights, Ch. 27 [...]Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights is among those voted by readers of The Guardian for the 'can't live with or without you songs'.
More important, we would be doing him a disservice not to recognize that a core part of his character remains his disdain for rudeness; his behavior indicates an exquisite awareness of social norms relating to proper manners. (Side note: one wonders how he would treat another exemplar of the genre, Emily Brontë’s infamously rude Heathcliff. I suspect the net result would be a particularly refined variant on Irish stew. Does anyone else play Literary Deathmatch with Byronic heroes? Don’t answer that question.) (La Donna Pietra)
“It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now,” says Cathy, and Heathcliff overhears that much and no more, triggering the central tragedy of Wuthering Heights, and proving that eavesdroppers never hear good of themselves. It’s that tragedy that Kate Bush turned into her debut single, singing the part of Cathy’s ghost out on the moor as she begs Heathcliff to open the window and let her in. They can’t get free of each other even after death.Granma (Cuba) also lists Catherine and Heathcliff as one of literature's best known impossible love stories.
Good things come in threes.Dolls, Books, and Things that Matter posts about Wuthering Heights. The Brontë Sisters mourns the death of Brontë enthusiast Georges Renaux. Finally, an alert for later today from the Brontë Parsonage Facebook page:
Consider this: how many important decisions are made with the simple rock, paper, scissors game?
There were three wise men, three Brontë sisters, and three musketeers. (Carolyn Henderson)
Hear our Collections Manager, Ann Dinsdale give a talk about the Brontes focusing on Anne. Friday [...] 12 30 at Scarborough Art Gallery.
Scarborough Art Gallery:Something Beautiful introduces the 'Jane Eyre June'.
Our popular Lunchtime Talks series continues with some facinating speakers, chosen especially to tie in with our collections and exhibitions. Booking is essential as places are limited. Tickets cost £3.
Lunchtime Talks dates:
30th May 12.30pm
Ann Dinsdale of the Brontë Society talking on the Brontës including Anne Brontë's time in Scarborough!