Who Were The Real Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell? - When the Bell brothers published their book of poetry ‘Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell‘ in 1846 it seemed to be an act of little significance, report...
22 hours ago
"Russell Brand and Dizzee Rascal join Shakespeare and Brontë as A-level English set texts” was the horrified headline in yesterday’s Daily Mirror. [...]Laura Barton from The Guardian is not too concerned either.
I’m trying to picture the scene when the OCR exam people met their partners in this initiative, the English and Media Centre, to devise the syllabus for the new A-level. Their brief was to bring something fresh to the study of English language and literature, by giving pupils “a better opportunity to analyse a range of texts – whether spoken or written, literary and non-literary”. It’s just an add-on thing. Pupils won’t cease to study the Bard and the Brontës – they will just be given other modes of language and expression to study alongside them. But devising a programme of contemporary “spoken or … non-literary” texts gave the syllabus-makers a great chance to scare Middle England.
Of course the OCR syllabus will also draw on more traditional texts – the works of Charlotte Brontë, George Orwell and William Shakespeare are there, as is the poetry of Emily Dickinson and William Blake and the Diary of Samuel Pepys, alongside more contemporary work from Jez Butterworth, Jhumpa Lahiri and Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel Persepolis.Allison Pearson from The Telegraph, however, thinks that, 'Young minds deserve better than Russell Brand'.
Asking teenagers to analyse the linguistic contortions of a self-styled jackanapes like Russell Brand is akin to feeding them a cheeseburger when there is fillet steak there for the feasting. Ofqual, the exams regulator, still has a chance to block this fatuous new OCR course. Instead of patronising young people with Dizzee “If you believe you achieve” Rascal, our exams system should stick up for the best that has been thought and said. If it doesn’t, well, here are some questions from the forthcoming exams that have fallen into my hands:We suppose neither Russell Brand nor Dizzee Rascal made it into John Sutherland's How to Be Well Read, which is reviewed by The Spectator.
1. Compare and contrast the ill-fated marriage of Rochester and Jane Eyre to the nuptials of Katy Perry and Russell Brand. Was there a first Mrs Brand, for instance, and where is she hiding now?
He begins his entry on Wuthering Heights (1847) with an admirable piece of pedantry, pointing out that the Oxford English Dictionary is unable to come up with a convincing example of anyone using the word ‘wuthering’ before Emily Brontë. He’s right. The OED entry for ‘wuthering’ comes under the head-word ‘whither (verb)’. So perhaps the publisher should have changed the title to Whithering Heights. Sutherland poses a perplexing puzzle about Heathcliff, the anti-hero of the book: ‘Why are we so drawn, sympathetically, to this brute of a man (if that is what he is), who beats up women and, cardinal sin, kills puppy-dogs out of sheer malice and abuses children?And, quite likely, kills people.’ Sutherland says he has never found a satisfactory answer. He even published a book in 1996 called Is Heathcliff a Murderer? The lack of an answer is, he suggests, a reason that he and others read the novel so often. (Christopher Howse)Greater Kashmir has an article on Wuthering Heights too.
The abject dryness of the storyline is aptly compensated by the heart-warming and vibrant expressions besides the highly exalted diction that Emily was abundantly gifted with. On the whole the novel is one of distress where every character is capable of some coarseness and hence requires a bit of sunshine to eliminate the gloom and dingy atmosphere that pervades the novel. It is the unprovoked vengeance in Heathcliff that provides a meaninglessness to his actions. Even the tender emotion of love that resides in his heart for Catherine - the elder fails to soften the baseness and ruggedness of his character. In the novel, we come across the passions that are thwarted, the relations that are averred, the bonds that endorse selfless love and devotion and of evil rage reached to its gigantic excess. The ill forces in Heathcliff finally turn his heart into an earthly hell which even the mighty downpour cannot neutralise. The novel at large portrays humanity at its best and at its worst. (Asma Zahoor)20 Minutos (Spain) is trying to choose the best endings in literature and Wuthering Heights can be voted as one of them.
En Regreso a tu piel su autora reflexiona sobre el concepto de la vida y la muerte en la España de finales del siglo XVI, con un estilo melódico y sensual, y a la vez trepidante, en el que hace gala de un gran derroche de pasión literaria; una novela envolvente, adictiva, poética y romántica (con guiños a novelas de impacto como Cumbres borrascosas --Emily Bronte, 1847-- y hasta con sugerentes notas de novela gótica, como Manuscrito encontrado en Zaragoza, --Jan Potocki, 1805--). (Luis Negro Marco) (Translation)The Weekender reviews ‘Black Rose’ by Thomas A. Cerra:
In attempting to summarize the entirety of Cerra’s “Black Rose,” I quote Anne Brontë, who wrote: “[h]e who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.”The Montreal Gazette recommends Penny Dreadful, which premieres this Sunday.
Why it matters: High-minded, ambitious, deadly serious and rooted in realism, Penny Dreadful aims to do for Gothic horror stories what Downton Abbey did for upstairs-downstairs stories of class distinction in post-Edwardian England. As art, Penny Dreadful plays more like Jane Eyre than it does camp productions such as Dark Shadows and Tales from the Crypt. (Alex Strachan)Teen Ink has an article on Jane Eyre. The Dragon's Cache discusses 'Anne Brontë and the Power of Rumors'. You can see how a brass warming pan which used to belong to the Brontës and has been recently loaned to the Brontë Parsonage is well looked after on the Brontë Parsonage Facebook page.