Thursday, October 08, 2015

Here's a challenge for our fellow Brontëites reading this. The Telegraph lists '11 things you didn't know about the Brontës' but we are pretty sure they are common knowledge for readers of this blog., aren't they? We think the most obscure item might be this one:
10. Branwell Brontë was burned in effigy
Branwell was burned in effigy during the 1837 elections in Haworth for his support of the Tory candidate. Enraged at hearing the politician howled down by the crowd, Branwell intervened. The local populace demonstrated their displeasure by burning an effigy of Branwell himself, shown holding a potato in one hand and a herring in the other in allusion to the Brontës' Irish heritage. (Amy Blumsom)
The list has been compiled because of the publication of Claire Harman's new biography of Charlotte Brontë which is reviewed by Samantha Ellis in Literary Review:
Why did the sheltered daughter of a Church of England minister, brought up to be deeply suspicious of Catholics, take the drastic step of walking into a Brussels church, finding a confessional and opening her heart? And what did she tell the priest? Claire Harman opens her biography, written in time for Charlotte Brontë’s bicentenary in 2016, with her protagonist in crisis. It’s not just that the 27-year-old student is in love with her married professor, Constantin Heger, but also that she is, Harman perceptively notes,
struggling with the larger issue of how she would ever accommodate her strong feelings – whether of love … or her intellectual passions, or her anger at circumstances and feelings of thwarted destiny – in the life that life seemed to have in store for her, one of patchy, unsatisfying employment, loneliness and hard work. What was someone like her, a plain, poor, clever, half-educated, dependent spinster daughter, to do with her own spiritual vitality and unfettered imagination? Harman suggests the relief of confessing ‘gave her an idea not just of how to survive or override her most powerful feelings, but of how to transmute them into art. Within a year she was writing her first novel.’ For Harman, Brontë’s novels are ‘revolutionary’ because they express feelings we usually suppress. In other words, she lets us all into the confessional. (Read more)
Northern Ballet's take on Wuthering Heights on stage at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury until Saturday October 10 is reviewed by Kent News.
The book translates perfectly into the dramatic art form of ballet, and Northern Ballet’s production, directed by David Nixon, is captivating. [...]
They are portrayed brilliantly during both stages of their lives - with Rachael Gillespie and Jeremy Curnier playing the young pair and Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batley playing their adult counterparts. (Molly Kersey)
Kent Online reviews it too.
So it’s all the more of an achievement then that by the end, it wouldn’t be an understatement to say we were completely enthralled.
It was hard to decide which couple’s dancing was the more captivating to watch: the young Cathy and Heathcliff (Rachael Gillespie and Jeremy Curnier) or the grown-up pair (Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batley).
The scene where the older Cathy and Heathcliff danced after her wedding was so emotionally-charged it felt like the audience was being carried along with them.
The calibre of the dancing was first rate with no-one putting a foot wrong, from particularly smiley Hironao Takahashi as Edgar Linton and Hannah Bateman as Isabella Linton to the other dancers who played maids with humorous moments, to wedding couples, perfectly in time with each other.
The setting was appropriately low-key, although atmospheric, and the production overall was an interesting mix of modern and period.
Its final scene, complete with incredibly lighting and beautiful but poignant choreography, was just breathtaking. (Angela Cole)
And The Huffington Post mentions the take on the novel by the National Youth Theatre, throwing in a blunder:
In other words, it's a valuable institution. How valuable, however, comes into question when this year's London season at Ambassadors Theatre includes an evisceration of Charlotte Bronte's (sic) great and gloomy Wuthering Heights. It's tempting to call this revision inexplicable, but, as it happens, there is an obvious explanation for Stephanie Street's obscenity-ridden reimagining of the ill-fated Catherine Earnshaw-Heathcliff love affair in windswept northern England.
The NYT's slogan -- or one of them -- being "We are classics reimagined," Street has gone about reimagining a modern-day version undoubtedly because she and director Emily Lim believe that getting young audiences interested in attending theater requires speaking to them in a contemporary vernacular. Hence, the woebegones Cathy and Heathcliff liberally salt-and-pepper their speeches with four- and seven-letter words. (There are no 12-letter words included, and thank heaven for small mercies.)
This means that at one point Cathy strikes out at her nanny Ellen by calling the vigilant woman "a f*****g drama queen." On the other hand, Street never mentions moors and leaves out Cathy's declaration, "I am Heathcliff." Shame on her for so cavalierly trashing one of literature's greatest novels.
Street's notion to have Cathy and Heathcliff each played in today's street clothes by five actors isn't a bad one and conveniently gives roles to that many more members of this year's good-looking and promising troupe. Cathy is Francene Turner, Megan Parkinson, Grace Surey, Paris Iris Campbell and Lauren Lyle. Heathcliff is Gavi Singh Chera, Conor Neaves, Luke Pierre, Oscar Porter-Brentford and Oliver West.
Were there such a thing as a literary police force, paddy wagons would be pulling up to the theater right now. (David Finkle)
More on Crimson Peak. A warning from Time magazine:
Though Guillermo del Toro’s new ghost film, Crimson Peak, may be inspired by Gothic Romances like Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, don’t expect a brooding man to come to the heroine’s rescue. A hasty marriage is just the beginning of heroine Edith’s problems. (Eliana Dockterman)
Interesting as neither Jane Eyre nor Wuthering Heights feature 'a brooding man [who comes] to the heroine’s rescue'.

Revista Arcadia (Spain) focuses on Guillermo del Toro's intentions.
Las alusiones literarias son frecuentes en la película, como Jane Austen o Mary Shelley, que la joven Edith quiere emular, incluso Thomas pronuncia un monólogo de "Jane Eyre" de Charlotte Bronté [sic].
"En definitiva, la película tiene una impronta literaria de los libros que yo leía de pequeño y de joven. Yo descubrí a Shelley y Austen al mismo tiempo, y el romance gótico se quedó en mi cabeza desde que vi a los cuatro años en el cine 'Wuthering Heights' (1939) acompañado por mi madre", recuerda. (Translation)
A (completely different) film with a Brontë twist is Miss You Already, reviewed by Stuff (New Zealand).
However, underneath that patina of predictability and preachiness, lies an anarchic BFF tale, helped greatly by the casting of Collette (Mental, Lucky Them) and Barrymore (Whip It, Charlie's Angels). Their Wuthering Heights-obsessed duo spark well off one another, reminding one of the Collette-Rachel Griffiths pairing all those years ago in Muriel's Wedding. (James Croot)
And Hampton Roads reviews another film which includes a Brontë reference: Big Stone Gap, in which
[Ashley] Judd's poor character wants a man who will kiss her like Heathcliff or Rhett Butler. She is advised that there is a difference between lust and love: "true love energizes you; lust just exhausts you." (Mal Vincent)
The Huffington Post interviews writer Frederic Forsyth. We don't quite agree with this, though:
What's the most important lesson you've learned about writing?
Keep it simple.
We all write in different ways. Some writers use flowery language and have beautiful prose. I write like a journalist. There are no frills. Keep it understandable. The guy on the commuter train doesn't have time to admire beautiful Brontë-esque prose. He wants the story. If I were to divide a novel into parts, it would be like this: twenty percent would be characterization, descriptive passages, dialogue, and prose style. Eighty percent would be plot.
I'm basically a storyteller. (Mark Rubinstein)
The guy on the commuter train may or may not have the time to admire the prose. There are plenty who do.

The Telegraph and Argus reports that, 'Proposals to build a second wind turbine at a prominent site overlooking the Worth Valley have been rejected'. The Book Wars reviews Black Spring by Alison Croggon. Discover the Jane Eyre droplet on ThirsttpopOptiq reviews a couple of Val Lewton's productions, including I Walked with a Zombie 1944.


Post a Comment