Monday, September 01, 2014

'From dusty set-text into something vital and affecting'

A short article in The Guardian praises the British Library's Discovering Literature website.

If it hadn't been for a well-timed family visit to the Brontë Parsonage Museum, I doubt I would've finished Jane Eyre before my GCSE English literature exam. Simpering St John bored me, and I already knew the ending, having watched the film in class. Going to Haworth and seeing Charlotte Brontë's childhood writings, her letters and drawings, and the journal she kept as a young teacher, renewed my interest. Understanding the author and her times turned the novel from dusty set-text into something vital and affecting.
Now anyone with access to the internet can experience the same connection. Exhibits from the Brontës' childhood home can be viewed on the British Library's new website, Discovering Literature, along with William Blake's notebooks, an early draft of The Importance of Being Earnest, and thousands more pages from the library's Romantic and Victorian collections. There are also teaching notes, 150 articles by leading academics and videos including Simon Callow on Dickens as a performer.
While Discovering Literature is an important cultural resource that can be enjoyed by all ages, it has been carefully tailored to appeal to GCSE and A-level students. The British Library's research among teachers showed that original manuscripts, with their edits and revisions, dodgy grammar and messy handwriting, can be a powerful way of engaging pupils. Contextual material can also be a source of inspiration, and the site is packed with items such as letters, diaries, dictionaries, newspapers and illustrations that illuminate the historical, social and political contexts of classic works. An 1809 dictionary of underworld slang sheds light on Oliver Twist, for instance.
With education such a battlefield, and learning so geared to exams, it can be difficult for teachers to get on with their main job: to inspire. Anything that makes that task easier deserves to be celebrated. (Anna Baddeley)
The Warrington Guardian lists several events which took place in 1853 - the year that newspaper was founded. One of which is of course:
Charlotte Brontë had her novel Vilette [sic] published.
The Baltimore Sun looks at 'lodgings for literature lovers' and recommends Nora Roberts's Inn BoonsBoro.
On the other side of the state, the Inn BoonsBoro in Western Maryland is owned by best-selling author Nora Roberts, who undertook a restoration of the historic building. Many of the inn’s eight graciously appointed rooms and suites bear the names of literary lovers. Think Elizabeth and Darcy from “Pride and Prejudice,” Jane and Rochester from “Jane Eyre,” as well as Shakespeare’s Titania and Oberon from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” (Donna M. Owens)
Estense (Italy) reviews the film 3 Coeurs and concludes that,
La fine è alla Wuthering heightsCime tempestose, l’unico, sublime visionario romanzo fuori dal tempo e da ogni schema di Emily Brontë, trasposto in tante versioni cinematografiche ad iniziare da quella di Buñuel del 1953. (Translation)
The Times states that 'summer is Fomo – Fear of Missing Out' and includes Kate Bush's comeback concerts as one of the things that you shouldn't have missed.

Coincidentally, many news outlets today such as The Telegraph report that,
Kate Bush becomes the first female artist to boast eight albums in the top 40 chart simultaneously [...]
She became the first female artist in history to score a UK number one single on the Official Singles Chart with a self-penned song. Wuthering Heights went on to top the chart for four weeks, becoming the first of Bush's 26 top 40 hits. (Elliot Pinkham)
Libran Writer interviews writer Martina Devlin.
Who are your favourite writers? Charlotte Brontë because she did something radical – she had Jane Eyre step out from between the pages of a book and speak directly to us: “Reader, I married him.” In those four words, Brontë dismantled one of the barriers between writer and reader. I visited Haworth Parsonage in Yorkshire, where she lived, and had to be dragged away by the others in my party, who wanted to do perfectly natural things like find somewhere to eat. I stood in the dining room where Brontë wrote, and imagined her pacing the table’s circumference at night, reading her own words aloud to herself (as we’re told she did). And missing her siblings, how she must have missed them – but carrying on. Until she married, when it all went dreadfully wrong.
The Brontë Sisters posts about Helen MacEwan's The Brontës in Brussels. Behold the Stars reviews Wuthering Heights.

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