Saturday, October 03, 2015

First, a couple of unmissable articles in The Times Literary Supplement on the (in)famous T.J. Wise and Clement Shorter team (thanks to alert reader Elizabeth for pointing to it):
The unholy alliance of Clement Shorter and T. J. Wise, and how they profited from ‘the first family of English literature’ (...)
In the spring of 1914, one of the most famous images of authorship in English literary history went on public display for the first time. Branwell Brontë’s portrait of his sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, had been discovered in Ireland, on top of a ward-robe at Hill House, Banagher, formerly the home of Arthur Bell Nicholls, Charlotte Brontë’s widower, together with a portrait fragment of Emily Brontë from a lost work by Branwell, known as the “Gun Group” (Nicholls had cut the fragment from the painting and destroyed the rest).
Hurriedly purchased by the trustees of the National Portrait Gallery in London, at “a very moderate cost”, and relined but not restored, the heavily creased painting of the three sisters – folded at one time to an eighth of its original size – was hung next to a portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson. The portrait of Emily, purchased at the same time, was displayed directly beneath. As the public flocked to see the two paintings, articles in the press focused on “The Three Sisters” group, marvelling at its chance rediscovery, “negligible” status as a work of art, and compensating value as a historical relic. A few dissident voices attacked the late Mr Nicholls for his neglect of the painting and the consequent damage to it, as well as for his desecration of the “Gun Group”. “Oh, the barbarism of Charlotte’s husband”, lamented a reporter in the Daily Graphic. (Read more) (Mark Bostridge)
In the same TLS issue, Claire Harman  expresses her doubts that this photography which is believed to be of Charlotte Brontë is really her:
Not until 1985, at any rate, when it was rediscovered in the Seton-Gordon donation. No one seems to have recognized Ellen Nussey’s distinctive handwriting, or if they did, they willed “Within a year of CB’s death” to mean “CB within a year of her death”: two quite different things. But Ellen’s label makes it clear that the subject is not “CB”, and the existence of an identical carte de visite in the Brontë Parsonage Museum, inscribed in pencil in an unknown hand “Miss Ellen Nussey, friend of Charlotte Brontë , c.1860”, leaves little doubt as to the sitter. Ellen lived long into the age of photography and proved very keen on having her picture taken. Lined up next to later images, the Seton-Gordon carte certainly looks like a younger version of the same person: well fed, nice-looking, genteel. No massy brow, large nose or luminous eyes; no agitation, no charisma. The presence of the photograph in Smith’s archive can be accounted for by Ellen’s involvement in the preparation of The Life of Charlotte Brontë and her protracted efforts to get her own Brontë material published in the 1860s, 70s and 80s (see the article by Mark Bostridge).
The Yorkshire Post traces a profile of the writer Caryl Phillips, author of The Lost Child:
The two may seem worlds apart but Caryl Phillips’s latest novel takes Wuthering Heights as its starting point before charting the struggles of a single mother struggling to bring up her children on a bleak Sixties housing development. The result is a startling exploration of alienation and family breakdown that highlights the continuing relevance and originality of Emily Brontë’s work.
The Lost Child begins with a traumatised Heathcliff, the offspring of a wealthy merchant and a former slave woman, struggling to support his ailing mother on the Liverpool docks. It examines Emily Brontë’s own dysfunctional relationship with her father, Patrick, but the juxtaposition of the story of Monica Johnson’s failed marriage to a Caribbean graduate student is a reminder that Yorkshire novelists also changed the literary landscape in the 20th century.
The Frisky talks about the recent Reddit thread on favourite female literary characters:
It’s not until pretty far down on the list that you come across characters like Scout Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Cathy Ames from Steinbeck’s East of Eden, or Charlotte Brontë’s titular Jane Eyre – that is, female characters who aren’t in genre fiction novels and graphic novels. (Rebecca Vipond Brink)
Financial Times reviews Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life by Jonathan Bate:
Bate draws, as closely as he is legally able, on Hughes’s dream journals to argue that he was haunted by her. The image that recurs — one that was played with by Ted and Sylvia in their early relationship — is Wuthering Heights. He is “Hughescliff”, she is Catherine, the ghost who will never let go. Bate also suggests, rather less credibly, that Hughes’s “infidelity in later relationships was partly a function of his fidelity to the memory of Sylvia”. Certainly in his years of fame, married to Carol, his infidelities went beyond flagrant into something resembling satyromania. It is not easy to see it as fidelity. (John Sutherland)
Den of Geek! lists Andrea Arnold as one of the 25 great directors outside mainstream:
Yet she kept her naturalistic style for her Wuthering Heights adaptation, a move that did alienate audiences expecting your normal middlebrow Austen film. (Will Jones)
The Northumberland Gazette publishes an account of a recent talk at the Glendale History Society on Thomas Bewick:
His natural history prints are well-known. He has been described as the David Attenborough of the 19th century and one of the top 100 Geordies. He was well known to authors and artists. Charlotte Brontë, who wrote Jane Eyre, said: “Each picture told a story ... with Bewick on my knee I was happy.”
The Telegraph reports the shooting of the new Cary Fukunaga film which seems to be a real (physical) challenge:
Fukunaga’s previous film was an adaptation of Jane Eyre, in which the biggest challenge had been leaving the requisite 90 minutes between takes for Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender to change costumes. From his sweltering sick-bed in Accra, Thornfield Hall seemed a very long way away. (Robbie Collin)
Daily Mail on haunted homes:
At this point, you're probably imagining the sort of dark, foreboding property that might loom from the pages of Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre or one of the classic English ghost stories by M. R. James. (Peter James) (Translation)
The Sydney Morning Herald reviews The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud:
Like Foe, like Wide Sargasso Sea, The Meursault Investigation is very much in the line of post-colonial narratives that recast classic metropolitan literature (if that is what The Outsider is) to reveal its blind spots and prejudices and let the subaltern speak. (Owen Richardson)
Irish Examiner and Scandinavian interior style:
I sank back against a sheepskin tossed over a 70s leather sling-chair feeling very Jane Eyre. (Kya deLongchamps)
The Australian publishes a fragment of a Charlotte Brontë letter included in the recent Letters of Note,  compiled by Shaun Usher.

El País (Spain) has an article promoting Ángeles Caso's Todo ese Fuego (the first chapter of the novel can be read, for instance) and summarises the Brontë story:
¿Quién dijo que las hermanas Brontë no se enamoraron?
La bruma sobre el milagro literario que protagonizaron Charlotte, Emily y Anne entre 1846 y 1847, en su casa rodeada del viento frío a orillas de los páramos y del cementerio de Haworth, se despeja cada vez más. Allí, en esa casa del condado inglés de West Yorkshire, vivieron y en ese breve lapso escribieron algunos de los clásicos universales del Romanticismo: Jane Eyre, Cumbres borrascosas y Agnes Grey.
Contrario a lo dicho, “sus novelas estarían basadas en sus experiencias amorosas y en la educación intelectual que recibieron con la complicidad del padre, el reverendo Patrick Brontë”. Lo recuerda Ángeles Caso, luego de investigar varios años el misterio de las Brontë y de tener en cuenta los últimos hallazgos e hipótesis de expertos. A partir de ahí, la escritora, expresentadora de televisión y licenciada en Historia del Arte, novela la vida de esa familia bajo el título de Todo ese fuego (Planeta). (Winston Manrique Sabogal) (Translation)
Gente Digital (Spain) interviews the author, Ángeles Caso:
Tres escritoras en un mundo de hombres, ¿por qué has rescatado ahora su historia?
Me impresiona mucho la vida tan dura y tan limitada que tuvieron y cómo, a pesar de eso, supieron alimentar desde niñas el talento que tenían. Además, todas las horas que dedicaron a sus novelas, las tres en la misma habitación, son como un milagro de la historia de la literatura y de la historia de las mujeres. (A.B.) (Translation)
artPapier (Poland) publishes an interview with Eryk Ostrowski, author of the controversial (but by no means original, the dubious honor of the Charlotte is the only author of everything idea should  go on John Malham-Dembleby) Charlotte Brontë i jej siostrach śpiących. He enriches his colourful hypothesis attributing Branwell Brontë the authorship of Wuthering Heights (been there, read that) and threatens to publish a new Branwell biography in the near future:
Michał Paweł Urbaniak: Twoja ostatnia książka – pierwsza polska biografia Charlotte Brontë – odniosła niewątpliwy medialny sukces. Życie i twórczość trzech uzdolnionych pisarsko, przekraczających swoje czasy córek pastora, wciąż fascynuje kolejne pokolenia czytelników, literaturoznawców i artystów. W „Charlotte Brontë i jej siostrach śpiących” niszczysz tę piękną opowieść, przeganiając z panteonu pisarzy Emily i Anne Brontë…
Eryk Ostrowski: Uważam, że historyk literatury powinien kierować się dokumentami, a nie wiarą, czy pragnieniem, by coś było takie, a nie inne – a tak jest z legendą Emily, a także Anne Brontë. Historia literatury to nie mitologia. Można, oczywiście, osnuwać legendami biografie pisarzy, ale w tym wypadku nie chodzi o życiorysy, lecz autorstwo dzieł i, w moim odczuciu, tu obowiązuje trzymanie się faktów, a nie mgły nad wrzosowiskami. (...)
M.P.U.: Dużo miejsca w swojej nowej książce poświęcasz „Wichrowym Wzgórzom”. Kontrowersje wokół autorstwa od zawsze towarzyszą tej powieści. Choć przypisano ją ostatecznie Emily, niektórzy współcześni rodzinie Brontë twierdzili, że autorem (lub współautorem) jest Branwell. Co tu jest legendą a co faktem?
E.O.: Legendę stworzyła Charlotte w „Szkicu biograficznym Ellisa i Actona Bellów” oraz swej przedmowie do „Wichrowych Wzgórz”. Są to bardzo poruszające i zarazem niezwykle enigmatyczne teksty, w których całkowicie przemilcza istnienie brata, z którym przez wiele lat była przecież najbliżej związana. Ich wspólne marzenia o literackiej sławie przypisała siostrom, które nigdy takowych nie miały. Po śmierci Branwella jego przyjaciele opublikowali wspomnienia, w których ogłosili, że to Branwell jest autorem „Wzgórz”. Teksty wywołały sensację i za wszelką cenę usiłowano podważyć ich wiarygodność (wówczas rozpoczął się już kult Emily Brontë). W związku z tym Francis A. Leyland, brat najbliższego przyjaciela Branwella Brontë, opublikował biografię Branwella. Poświęcił w niej osobny rozdział kwestii autorstwa „Wichrowych Wzgórz”, pokazując, że istnieje realna możliwość, iż kontrowersyjna hipoteza jest prawdziwa. Kilkadziesiąt lat później wątek ten rozwinęła Alice Law w pierwszej dwudziestowiecznej biografii Branwella. Oboje przedstawili przekonujące dowody powołując się na rozmaite dokumenty, w tym utwory literackie Branwella. (Translation)
Sicilia Journal interviews the Italian publisher Surya Amarù:
Ultima domanda, anzi è più una curiosità. Qual è il tuo libro preferito?
«Ci sono due libri in particolare a cui sono molto legata, che ho letto in gioventù, uno è “Cime Tempestose” di Emily Brontë e l’altro è “L’amore ai tempi del colera” di Gabriel Garcìa Màrquez. Ma in realtà sono un po’ snob nelle mie letture perché vado sempre a ricercare libri particolari e autori poco conosciuti; però questi due testi sono quelli che ho amato sin da subito e che mi porto dietro da sempre» (Agnese Maugeri) (Translation)
Lifeboxset (Spain) has no idea about who Heathcliff really is:
Heathcliff (Lawrence Olivier) en Wuthering Heights: en una historia de amor desgarradora este hombre es el ejemplo perfecto de lo que significa ser cool y clásico al mismo tiempo. (Translation)
The Ruination of Wycoller Hall on English Histroical Fiction Authors.


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