Saturday, December 27, 2014

Caitlin Moran vindicates the young adult novels on BBC News:
Moran, a self-confessed "snob" in her reading preferences as a teenager, explains she purposefully read novels from the 19th and early 20th centuries as a girl, rather than those which would now be classed as young adult fiction - all in an attempt to feel more sophisticated.
"But now if I look at those books - Gone With the Wind and Jane Eyre, everything by the Bronte [sisters], all the [Jane] Austen novels - the female characters in them are teenagers," she says.
The teenage Moran was "inadvertently reading young adult fiction". And perhaps many of the adults who scorn the likes of The Fault in Our Stars and The Hunger Games are doing exactly the same. (Adam Eley)
The Financial Times' Quiz of the Year contains a Brontë-related question. Not the hardest of the quiz, by the way:
14. May 14 1979 saw the death of a Caribbean-born, British-based author whose best-known book was inspired by a Brontë sister’s novel. The same day marked the last date in a tour by a British pop star who wrote a song inspired by another Brontë novel and didn’t play another headline show until this year. Name both. (Ludovic Hunter-Tilney)
Howard Jacobson writes in The Independent a poignant Christmas story where somehow he is able to mix his own life, Joe Cocker's recent death and Charlotte Brontë:
We were of the same generation and roughly from the same neck of the woods, Joe Cocker and I, he a wild man from Sheffield, I a wild man from Manchester, though I suspect I read more Charlotte Brontë than he did. Every Saturday night I drove through Sheffield with my father on the way back from Worksop market, and in those days the flames still leapt with hellish allure from the city’s steelworks. What if I left school, got a job as a gas fitter, and followed the smell of sulphur? Didn’t happen. Jane Eyre won over Cocker. And the fires of Sheffield consumed me not.
Flavorwire reviews two 2014 novels: Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey and All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld:
There’s a section of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre that often gets glossed over in discussion, in favor of the novel’s central gothic romance. After Jane realizes her intended, Mr. Rochester, is a bigamist, with a mad wife in the attic, she runs away. She does this without much money, and quickly loses what money she does have — she finds herself utterly destitute, hungry, and exposed to the elements, wandering around the moor towns for days with almost no human contact except for begrudging, halfhearted charity.
Finally, she lies herself down on the earth, wishing to give up but unable to do so.
And I sank down where I stood, and hid my face against the ground. I lay still a while: the night-wind swept over the hill and over me, and died moaning in the distance; the rain fell fast, wetting me afresh to the skin. Could I but have stiffened to the still frost — the friendly numbness of death — it might have pelted on; I should not have felt it; but my yet living flesh shuddered at its chilling influence.
Rather than sheltering her, nature punishes her. But Jane was resolute. She chose this fate over her previous life in a prison of her womanhood, where she has been chained over and over to domineering men, and left powerless.
Of course, she’s saved from the brink, but not after being ill to the point of catatonic for weeks.
Jane’s short and harrowing journey into the semi-wilderness came to my mind this past month when I read two of 2014’s acclaimed, and arguably feminist, novels by women: Evie Wyld‘s All The Birds, Singing, and Catherine Lacey’s Nobody is Ever Missing. (Sarah Seltzer)
Bristol 24/7 lists the best of the year in local theatre:
3. Jane Eyre, Bristol Old Vic - February-March
“The best thing that's been on Bristol Old Vic’s main stage for years,” enthused our reviewer. Epic and ambitious, demanding of its audiences over its two parts, Jane Eyre used the stage well in its depth and width and sweep as a story. A strong ensemble cast was admirably directed by Sally Cookson, including a passionate and mesmerising performance from Madeleine Worrall as Jane. (Steve Wright)
Ben Stephenson, BBC Controller, announces (once again) the end of the period dramas at BBC. In The Telegraph:
In years gone by, viewers enjoyed a staple of adaptations from the works of authors including Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Charlotte Brontë, with some of Britain's finest acting talent from Colin Firth to Emma Watson gracing its screens.
Now, its most popular dramas include the gritty Happy Valley, The Fall and The Missing, with a modern focus on appealing to viewers from all walks of society with edgy "risk-taking" plotlines.
While period dramas have been commissioned for next year, including Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Andrew Davies' adaptation of War and Peace, Stephenson said they were only broadcast if they showed something exceptional, surprising or "take massive risks with tone". (Hannah Furness)
And The Austin Chronicle lists what their staff is going to read:
Texts From Jane Eyre: Mallory Ortberg's hilarious exploration of what it would be like if some of the greatest characters in literature expressed themselves through text messages, essentially making them more like us. It's a great way to brush up on – or discover! – the classics, from Greek tragedy to Dickens. The coolest inside joke for English majors and book bugs alike. (Danielle White, proofreader)
The Halifax Courier recommends walking for burning those extra Christmas calories:
For those wanting a quieter walk visit Deanhead Reservoir, Scammonden, Huddersfield, from where there are spectacular views from the valley and new footpaths.
Digley offers an invigorating walk, running along lanes, fields and over open moorland in Holmfirth.
Or why not visit the Pennine Moors, near Howarth (sic).
The wild moorland and heather was an inspiration for the Brontë sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne.
The paths and tracks on this route provide views up to Top Withens ruins, connected locally to Emily’s famous novel Wuthering Heights and the surrounding moors.
Rebecca Hardy tells the story of her family and their one-hundred year piano in The Guardian:
Minnie used to play at her “musical evenings”, while her sister Emily sang. We still have the Edwardian songbooks crammed into the piano stool. Somehow, the music carries the spirit of the time, conjuring up the spectres of ancestors I never knew: my great-great-grandfather James Bowling Clabor, a self-made and fearsome man, according to my mum. I imagine him as a cross between Heathcliff and a mill owner out of an Elizabeth Gaskell novel, all whiskers, flat vowels and bristling with Victorian respectability.
'White curriculums' is the subject of this article in The Frisky:
It was also around that time that I started delving more deeply into English courses in the hopes of finishing a minor, and was faced with two different sets of English students and scholars: On the one hand, you had the Hispanic grad student who taught a course on rhetoric and framed Plato’s writings around gang rhetoric, and a Black woman grad student who taught women’s literature, careful to include Zora Neale Hurston, bell hooks, and Alice Walker along with Virginia Woolf and Charlotte Brontë. On the other hand, you had the White alt-lit writer who was a full-time staff member rather than a grad student, who taught mainly white, male authors from the 90s – his peers at publications where he’d worked – in a creative nonfiction workshop. (Rebecca Vipond Brink)
Art Daily reminds us of the last days to visit the British Library's exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination (until January 20):
Alongside the manuscripts of classic novels such as Frankenstein, Dracula and Jane Eyre, the 'perversely enlightening' exhibition brings the dark and macabre to life with artefacts, old and new. Highlights of the exhibition include a vampire slaying kit and 18th and 19th century Gothic fashions, as well as one of Alexander McQueen's iconic catwalk creations. Also on display is a model of the Wallace and Gromit Were-Rabbit, showing how Gothic literature has inspired varied and colourful aspects of popular culture in exciting ways over centuries.
Rereading Jane Eyre, the blog of Luccia Gray (author of All Hallows on Eyre Hall), posts about Christmas in Jane Eyre.


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