Saturday, February 06, 2016


The Independent lists some of the literary pilgrimages of the year:
Charlotte Brontë was born on 21 April 1816 in Thornton, West Yorkshire, though bicentenary celebrations are centred on the Brontë Parsonage Museum (01535 642323; bronte.org.uk; £7.50) in nearby Haworth, where the sisters spent most of their lives. Tracy Chevalier (Girl With a Pearl Earring) has curated its exhibition, Charlotte Great and Small.
The real star of the Brontës' stories is the haunting moorland, evoked in Charlotte's Jane Eyre and Emily's Wuthering Heights. Guided Brontë walks (01274 532425; helensheritage walks.co.uk/bronte-walks; from £7.50pp) take in Haworth, Top Withens – possible inspiration for Wuthering Heights – and more.
In London, Celebrating Charlotte Brontë: 1816–1855 is a free exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (020 7306 0055; npg.org.uk; 22 February to 14 August). (Paul Bloomfield)
Tracy Chevalier takes the #MyBradford project on a walk around the exhibition on the right. On BBC Look North there is also another brief sneak peek.

The Yorkshire Evening Post informs of the Heritage Lottery Fund received by St Peter's Church in Rawdon:
A church thought to have been attended by Charlotte Brontë has received £104,800 to secure its immediate future.
St Peter’s Church, Rawdon, was given the Heritage Lottery Fund grant to conserve the Grade II listed building.
Repairs to its tower, roof and gable ends will take place to stop rain water leaking in and further destroying stonework.
The project will also include a visual educational programme in the adjoining St Peter’s Room, with teachers from local schools for children aged five to 11 year olds.
Visitors to the church itself will be able to learn about the history of the village through an audio resource focusing on people who lived in or are associated with Rawdon.
These include Charlotte Brontë who is thought to have attended services when she served as governess to John White, a wealthy cloth manufacturer. Others include Frances Layton, Master of the Jewel House for King Charles I and King Charles II, and benefactor for the building of St Peter’s Church.
Grough is also concerned about the Lancashire Council's plans to stop looking after Wycoller Hall:
“Wycoller and Beacon Fell country parks are the council’s flagships, and there are numerous other sites, close to urban areas, which provide health and happiness to thousands of people.
“We believe that if these cease to be available and maintained it will have a devastating effect on the wellbeing of the population.”
Wycoller was regularly visited by the Brontë sisters, who made the journey over the moors on foot from Haworth in neighbouring Yorkshire.
Wycoller Hall, part of the council-maintained country park, was the model for Charlotte Brontë’s Ferndean Manor in Jane Eyre.
Lancashire County Council has begun a consultation on its plans for the countryside sites it manages. (Bob Smith)
This is an extract from a recent speech given by the UK Schools Minister, Nick Gibb:
And due to a long process of examination reform which is only just coming to fruition, the examinations that children are taking are becoming more academically ambitious, not less. Since September, pupils have been studying the reformed English literature GCSE for the first time, including the study of both a 19th-century novel and a modern text. Instead of a strict diet of Steinbeck, pupils can read George Orwell and Jane Austen, Kazuo Ishiguro and Charlotte Brontë - and they will be reading the whole novel, not just extracts.
Sydsvenskan (Sweden) discusses the upcoming Malmö production of Jane Eyre:
Maria G. Francke: Är du också kär i Mr Rochester?
Kristin Nord: Nä. Alltså…nä! Du och dessa 1800-talsmän i trikåer. [Till läsarna, i förtroende: Maria är besatt av Mr Darcy, men bara när Colin Firth spelar honom]. Fattar inte grejen. Förklara!
Francke: Jag är besatt av Mr Darcy även när Jane Austen skriver om honom. Vill bara få det sagt. Men alltså kär och kär…men Rochester är ju urtypen för trulig och troubled karl med en massa kärlek inom sig som bara vill förlösas. Det är liksom helt oemotståndligt, med eller utan trikåer. Och hela Jane Eyre är en underbar historia, jag tröttnar aldrig på den.
Nord: För mig är Mr Rochester en språngbräda, något som Jane kan studsa emot i sin utveckling framåt och vidare. Det är ju kvinnorna som är de intressanta karaktärerna i detta kärleksdrama. Särskilt kvinnan som aldrig syns. Om en vecka har Jane Eyre premiär på Malmö stadsteater, du och jag fick se ett litet smakprov på föreställningen nu i veckan. (...) (Translation)
The Yale Herald reviews The Moors by Jen Silverman:
The Moors, directed by Jackson Gay, at the Yale Repertory Theater, which I attended in previews last Fri., Jan. 29. The anachronistic plot, mapping women with American accents and 21st century concerns onto a setting lifted out of Wuthering Heights, privileges quirkiness over emotional honesty. While most of the acting in The Moors was admirable, the production strains itself in an unremitting quest for laughs, making for a night of improbably boring theater.  (...)
Wistful for the England of the Brontë sisters (while making parallel commentary about the treatment of women by 19th century social convention), the script dips in and out of English character conventions. Agatha, for example, longs for fame and a world beyond her ancestral mansion. She wishes for attention as a famous author. But she also, late in the play, leaps ahead to the 20th century when she sings an absurd “power ballad,” abruptly tearing us from the carefully constructed setting. It’s a cheap gag: the anachronism tries too hard to make us laugh. In working so hard to be fun, the actors become campy. The script sucks out much that is central to the characters in the Brontë sisters’ novels earnestness, atmosphere, and a clear struggle within their oppressive cultural context—and replaces it with empty conceits. (Lora Kelley)
CBC asks the writer Anita Rau Badami about her favourite novels:
I've always been an intense reader, so thoroughly involved with the characters and incidents in a book that the rest of the world falls away from me. So it was with Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, which I read when I was 11 or 12. I was Jane Eyre, the sturdy, independent-minded orphan. I was willing to be orphaned and penniless and lovelorn just to be her. I loathed her nasty relatives, sobbed over the death of her poor consumptive friend Helen, hated and then fell violently in love with the dour Mr. Rochester. I felt a guilty satisfaction when poor, mad, imprisoned Mrs. Rochester died in the fire. I confess I changed my mind about Rochester and his tragic wife when I read, many years later, Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. Jane Eyre, though, I still feel for her.
London Loves Business says that
London has a proud literary history. Everyone from William Wordsworth to Dylan Thomas, Charlotte Brontë to Karl Marx has enjoyed Soho and the West End, whilst centres of the written word, such as the legendary Fleet Street, have become synonymous with printing and publishing on a global scale.
Charlotte Brontë was indeed in London but enjoying the West End is not really a good description of her visits there.

The Guardian asks historians and biographers why history books are still mainly written by men:
I did my PhD and first book on the Victorian governess because I wanted to use the figure of these excluded citizens as a way of unpicking the social, economic and political forces at play in the construction of bourgeois Victorian Britain. In fact, what I mostly get asked about is how likely it was that Mr Rochester would fancy Jane Eyre. (Kathryn Hughes)
Publishers Weekly discusses the life and work of Peter Straub:
Straub was born in Milwaukee in 1943 and lived there until he was 18. After college and grad school, he returned to teach English at his high school alma mater. He then enrolled in University College, Dublin, to earn a doctorate. But instead of writing his Ph.D. dissertation (“It was supposed to be about D.H. Lawrence, then mutated into being about the Brontës and Trollope, and after that it was given a merciful execution,” he recalls), he wrote his first novel, Marriages(1973), over a summer, and was lucky to have it accepted by the first publisher he sent it to, Andre Deutsch. After his agent suggested a change to horror, he produced Julia in 1975, followed by 1977’s If You Can See Me Now, both published in the U.S. by Coward, McCann and Geoghegan. (Lenny Picker)
The Daily Beast carries an article about Orson Welles:
His Rochester in Jane Eyre (1943) opposite Joan Fontaine is still the gold standard. (Jack Schwartz)
Go386 describes a Valentine event taking place in Daytona Beach:
Cinematique invites you to go all in for Valentine’s Day with a screening of PBS Masterpiece Classic “Wuthering Heights,” adapted from Emily Brontë’s only novel. Dress up in period attire of the late 1700s and head to the cinema for a pre-movie cooking demonstration that includes door prizes, a recipe card, food samples and a themed drink.
The movie details the angsty love affair between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, whose separation in social status forever keeps them apart. Heathcliff is but a servant, and by the time he acquires wealth of his own, Catherine has married another. This sets Heathcliff on a path of vengeance and pining misery, and the effects of both parties’ actions carry over to their descendants.
It’s not the most heartwarming tale, but it does invite plenty of discussion afterward, led by City Island librarian Deborah Shafer.
The event kicks off at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, at Cinematique, 242 S. Beach St. in Daytona Beach. Admission is $10. Advance ticket purchase is suggested by calling 386-252-3118 or at cinematique.org. (Suzanne Hirt)
The San Jose Mercury Superquiz includes a Brontë question:
 9. Heathcliff, Cathy, Edgar (novel/film).
Is this really Ph.D. level?

More Valentine's day tips: Peru.com (Peru) recommends Wuthering Heights:
Es una historia de amor y tragedia escrita por Emily Brontë, la cual trata de darle otro ángulo al romance. Es un clásico de la literatura inglesa. (Translation)
Penguin Clothbound Classics War and Peace,
For anyone hooked on the BBC’s adaptation who hasn’t quite got round to reading Tolstoy's epic, this is a tome that will look good on the shelf. If Russian shenanigans aren’t their thing, other titles in Penguin’s decorative range include Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby and Frankenstein, all with striking cover designs.  (Rebecca Reid in The Independent)
Kidzworld and The Philadelphia Enquirer review Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the film:
The movie is set up for sequels but, after zombie themes are exhausted, what? Something like “Jane Eyre Vs. Sharknado”…or the like?
The result is effective if hardly subtle: The ironic contrast between the decorum and repressed sexuality of the world of Austen or Brontë makes for a ticklish contrast with the blood-spurting, sexually explicit, screaming goings-on of the typical horror story. (Tirdad Derakhshani)
The Fandom Post reviews the manga comic Victorian Romance Emma Vol. #02 by Kaoro Mori:
Kaoru Mori does a fabulous job of crafting a new story that keeps the spirit of the works of Jane Austen and the Brontes. (Josh Begley)
The Belfast Telegraph finds Heathcliff in the Milk Tray man:
So far, so thrilling for those of us who've been inspired by the announcement to check out old Milk Tray ads on YouTube and discovered that Eighties' Milk Tray man James Coombes - who looked a bit like a young Laurence Olivier in Heathcliff mode - might actually have provided an early template for our ideal physical specimen. (Jane Graham)
Scadconnector tries to improve the Twilight saga:
Twilight” is almost unanimously considered one of the blandest love stories ever told. Bella, the lip-biting klutz with an affinity for Brontë novels is an uninspiring protagonist whose insufferable narrative voice carries the four-book series to its anticlimactic end, but under the underwhelming tale of a boring girl falling in love with an equally boring vampire is material for a much more interesting story. (Tonesa Jones)
Emily Brontë mentioned as a famous Yorkshire daughter in The Midlands Express & Star. In the same newspaper:
Should the Great British weather deign to grace you with some sunshine, or at least not rain, the nearby North York Moors or Yorkshire Dales are within driving distance, perfect for a proper escape to the country, or to channel your inner Cathy à la Wuthering Heights. (Alex Binley)
Eurasia Hoy interviews the poet and writer Marta Ortiz:
[T]ambién “Rebecca” (Daphne du Maurier), que sí leí, y varias veces, una historia inquietante publicada en 1938, llevada magistralmente al cine en 1940 por Alfred Hitchcock; “Cumbres borrascosas” (Emily Brönte (sic)), leído y releído en diversas etapas de mi vida. (Rolando Revagliatti) (Translation)
A Valentine's tea for 'fans of Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë' in Fort Collins, CO via Times-Call Entertainment.

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