Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015 10:41 am by Cristina in , , , , , , ,    2 comments
Well, the news of the day is still of course the new Brontë items acquired by the Brontë Society. But there are a few more things to be reported today.

The Telegraph gives 4 out of 5 stars to Claire Harman's biography of Charlotte Brontë.
Charlotte’s experience in Brussels remains central to Harman’s version of the story, which in other ways cuts a refreshing swathe through what cannot be known with a portrait that makes fewer claims on the imagination than Gordon’s and adheres more closely to the fragmentary nature of the evidence. Conflicting impressions of the author are laid alongside each other.We see Charlotte Brontë at her most inept, closing her eyes in a possibly drug-induced trance against the schoolchildren she hated teaching, and then we read of renewed offers of work from the same loyal headmistress under whose watch she had broken down. We are told of her awkwardness when Thackeray invited her to a dinner party in 1850 with various luminaries. But we also learn of Brontë’s capacity for intimate friendships with other female lions, notably Harriet Martineau and Mrs Gaskell. If the pieces don’t add up, this makes the story more like life than not.
Harman is less tentative in her treatment of the books. She renders the fiction fresh with a careful interweaving of what shocked critics then with what surprises the reader still. Her discussion of the juvenilia highlights a satirical vein that later disappeared, except for the uneven comic treatment of the curates in Shirley. Harman’s concentration on the early work also emphasises Charlotte’s closeness to Branwell, the sibling with whom she collaborated on stories and poems about the fantasy kingdom of Angria while Emily and Anne developed the parallel world of Gondol [sic]. The collaborations worked in part by allowing for the miraculous resuscitations of favourite characters, and Harman compares the siblings’ absorption to “a sort of compulsive 'gaming’, 200 years before the appropriate technology had been invented”.
Charlotte was still absorbed by the “game” during her time in Brussels. If she is thought to have been the coldest to Branwell after she returned from Brussels to her longed-for home, only to find it darkly dominated by her brother’s decline into alcoholism, the reason may be that she was the one who missed him most. She was also the best at turning loss into gain. Branwell’s withdrawal gave Charlotte a clear run at a new sort of writing. When her first attempt at a realistic novel under the male pseudonym Currer Bell was rejected, while those written by her sisters as Ellis and Acton found a home, she learnt from their strengths, and Jane Eyre (1847) was the result. (Claudia FitzHerbert)
Agyness Deyn continues connecting the main character in Sunset Song - which she plays in the new screen adaptation of the novel - to Jane Eyre. From The List:
 'She's so inspiring,' she says. 'As a woman, I would want to watch that story. And I think it's important to have stories like that around for young women. I remember reading Jane Eyre for the first time: one of the earliest punks, in a way! I feel like Chris has that energy.' (James Mottram)
MoviePilot lists several details which viewers may have missed from episode 6 of American Horror Story: Hotel.
I was glad to see the touching scene when Liz gives Tristan some books by Brontë (Jancy Richardson)
and Wilde; it hasn't escaped my notice that Liz Taylor is very well read
This article on 'proper books' from Parade has one of those blunders that make us laugh out loud:
So you can imagine my pleasure when I found in my mail a package containing several beautifully bound books from The Folio Society, a London publisher that crafts gorgeous tomes of great classics ranging from Frank L. Baum’s The Wizard of Oz and Jane Austen’s Jane Eyre [!] to more contemporary classics like Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning novel, The Man in the High Castle (which is currently a series on Amazon). (K.L. Connie Wang)
Northern Ballet will perform Wuthering Heights at the Alhambra in Bradford and The Telegraph and Argus has an article about it.
Wuthering Heights is one of those books that people think they've read, even if they haven't.
"You've hit the nail on the head," says David Nixon, artistic director of Northern Ballet, which brings its haunting adaptation of Emily Brontë's masterpiece to the Alhambra this month.
"People think they know it because it's such a familiar story. It's 'in the air'. But often people know Cathy and Heathcliff and the moors, and that's it.
"When you do read Wuthering Heights it's not a novel you just put back on the shelf. It's a story that absorbs you, comes back to you, and stays with you long after you turn the last page.
"It's such a big story; with any adaptation you have to make a decision about what you want to take from it. When I started working on it with Patricia (Patricia Doyle, who has since worked with Northern Ballet as dramaturge and co-director on productions such as Cinderella, The Great Gatsby and Cleopatra) we had to work out where to go.
"The second half of the book makes you hate Heathcliff; he's a tortured soul and he's cruel and violent. After Cathy dies he lives on for another 30 years and he's empty without her, just yearning for when they can be together again.
"I wanted to bring to life the key elements of the narrative, focusing on the intensity and devastation of the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff. I focused on when they were young, innocent of the complications of adulthood. They were inseparable as children and their love is overwhelming. They believed they would always be together." [...]
Wuthering Heights returns to the Alhambra 13 years after its world premiere there. It was David's first creation for Northern Ballet and his first collaboration with composer Claude-Michel Schönberg, best known for West End and Broadway hits Les Miserables and Miss Saigon.
"Claude-Michel had this score for Wuthering Heights that he didn't know what to do with. He sent it to us and I loved the music. I said, 'I'd love to do the ballet'. I adore him as a composer, his music is very passionate and gives the story a sense of accessibility. His magnificent score, combined with the dramatic talent of our dancers, draws the audience into the heart of the love story."
While the production remains faithful to the period of Brontë's story, this recently revived version, which includes an additional scene, has a more contemporary feel.
"It's a timeless story," says David. "And it's inter-wound with nature. Cathy and Healthliff's [sic] love is a devastating force, as dangerous and untameable as the moors that surround them." [...]
[David Nixon] remains fascinated with Wuthering Heights. One of the most widely read novels ever, it has been translated into around 30 different languages and adapted for countless stage and screen versions, including a Cliff Richard musical, a silent film, a Kate Bush classic and a TV drama re-working the story with Heathcliff as a woman.
It has been endlessly debated, yet remains a puzzle, refusing to fit into any one genre and defying anyone to pin down its real meaning.
"Essentially it's a love story, and it has endured because it is all-consuming and ultimately tragic," says David. "It's deeply rooted in the Yorkshire moors but it has its own mythic landscape. It is other-worldly."
"The passion is a main appeal too. There is no bossy narrator telling us what to think - we have to find our own way through
"At one point we have Cathy considering the idea of marrying Edgar and taking Heathcliff as a lover. That would be shocking even today. Where did that come from? How did Emily Brontë, a woman we assume never even had sex, understand that passion of the heart?  
"The enigma of Emily is what fascinates people, as much as the story she created." (Emma Clayton)
A.V. Club features Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights.
Wuthering Heights,” really didn’t sound like anything that was supposed to be popular: highly dramatic art pop, sung in a powerful high-pitched yelp that can still make first-time listeners giggle (especially when accompanied by the wild gesticulations of Bush’s music videos and early TV appearances), until they find themselves captivated. It topped the British charts.
Kate Bush was all of 19 then. This is important, because though “Wuthering Heights” is a really confident piece of songcraft, it’s also unmistakably something written by a teenager in one sitting at the family piano. Bush was first exposed to Wuthering Heights through one of its many adaptations, having caught the end of a rerun of the BBC miniseries, which starred an unrecognizably young Ian McShane as Heathcliff, the complicated romantic anti-hero of Emily Brontë’s novel. (The Gothic and supernatural tradition in British film and TV is one of Bush’s big influences [...]
“Wuthering Heights” is based on a moment in one of the early chapters of the novel, which, in the great rococo-framing-device tradition of 19th-century fiction, are narrated by one character (Mr. Lockwood) about another character (Heathcliff), but are really about an absent third, Catherine Earnshaw. Bush sings from Catherine’s perspective—which is to say, from the point-of-view of a ghost beckoning from a window, which is how Catherine first appears in Wuthering Heights, having died 17 years earlier. Re-tellings often say a lot about the teller, and Bush’s streamlining betrays identification: with the romanticized ghosts of Gothic fiction, with Catherine, and with Emily Brontë herself. (Possible contributing factors: Bush’s first name is Catherine, and she and Brontë share a birthday.)
This is the kind of claustrophobic self-discovery-through-art that is the unique domain of weird book-and-theater teens who express themselves mostly through affectation. Music made by teenagers is some of the purest stuff around, but it’s rarely backed by such a strong personality—young enough to be weird, confident enough to risk being off-putting, turning something as personal as a reader’s imagination into potent pop drama, a voice rising in pitch as though over a fog. (Ignatiy Vishnevetsky)
Wuthering Heights is also one of '25 Books You'll Want To Curl Up With In A Reading Nook' selected by The Huffington Post. LouReviews posts about Wuthering Heights 1992.


  1. Harman seems more interested in Charlotte's books than her life and the book is more interesting in those places . The life part is a revival of Mrs Gaskell's view, particularly in her treatment of Rev Bronte and Haworth. In her acknowledges Harman is laudatory to Bronte authors of the past, but makes no mention of the one she is most indebted to imo,...Gaskell.

  2. Wuthering Heights continues to be misinterpreted in a parasitic way by the pseudo-artisitic moths of ignorance, picking and choosing what suits the coffers of the box office instead of serving the gestalt of the full narrative art.

    "I wanted to bring to life the key elements of the narrative, focusing on the intensity and devastation of the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff."

    No, you moronic swain, you miss the importance of the contrast between stasis and evolution, between the confides of ideals vs nature between sin and redemption. The second part of the book is as or more important than the first. You cannot have a book of such artistic worth without that narrative arc. It's not a love story. There are love elements but that is not the core of its meaning. Charlotte didn't think so, and she was in the room when it was written.

    You should also consider that the book cannot be understood in its full meaning without reading ALL the bronte works, including the Juvenelia, nor without understanding what they read and wrote when they were young, from Branwell's Rogue and Northangerland to some of James Hogg and German Folktale and a few others.

    Quit the false romanticizing. Give us the true romance.