Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sarah Hughes writes in The Guardian about 'Why those subversive Brontë sisters still hypnotise us':
They are beloved by everyone from misunderstood teens and fools for love to the serious-minded middle-aged and those of a critical bent. Now the Brontë sisters are taking centre stage again as the bicentenary of Charlotte’s birth next month brings a host of events at their Yorkshire home and elsewhere. (...)
So why exactly do the Brontë sisters, these rural curate’s daughters with only a handful of novels between them, continue to fascinate us? From the moment Jane Eyre was published in 1847 they have exerted an almost hypnotic pull: where other literary sensations flash bright, then fade to earth, the Brontës endure, their stories adapted again and again for both stage and screen Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.“I think a lot of it is that we’re fascinated by the idea that these three women living in a cold, cramped house in Yorkshire wrote these extraordinary novels about the most intense human experiences,” says author and playwright Samantha Ellis, whose book, Take Courage, about Anne Brontë, will be published early next year. (...)
Indeed, the most striking thing about the Brontë novels is how subversive they are. On the surface these might seem like tales of love lost and won, of happy endings and reader, I married him, but they are also strange and spiky tales. “There’s a lot of wanting and yearning, not all of it romantic,” says Ellis. “These are difficult books to contain. They’re over-egged and weird and often troubling.” Thus Jane takes Rochester once he has been crippled and blinded, unable to exert his male power. Wuthering Heights is less the story of wild romantic love as much as a tale of abuse, madness and unfettered rage, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is more concerned with the act that frees Helen, her slamming of the door against her drunken husband, than it is with her conventional end. (...)
Nor is it just women who respond to their work. “I know lots of men who love the Brontës,” says Ellis. “There’s a bit of myth that they’re writers for women, that it’s all about Heathcliff and Rochester, but more men read them than you’d think.”
Yet whoever is reading them, they’ll always have one sister they think of as “theirs”. “Definitely,” says Ellis. “You’re either Charlotte, Emily or Anne and you can tell a lot by which book someone claims as their own. I was doing a reading in London last year about Jane Eyre versus Wuthering Heights and a teenage girl came up to me afterwards and said to me, ‘I will never give up Cathy and Heathcliff, not now, not when I am 40.’ And that’s how it should be. Your passions are your own.”
The Telegraph reviews Being the Brontës:
Conceptually it felt hammy. When striding together across the moors or gathering in the sisters’ writing room, Kearney did a lot of the talking. Oyeyemi was shy and wide-eyed. Mangan played the “unwuthering” pragmatist to Kearney’s airy (Eyrey?) romantic. In the hallowed parsonage at Haworth the latter felt that they were somehow communing with the sisters. “Nonsense,” said Mangan, not getting into the spirit at all. (...)
Aficionados of Wuthering Heights  or Jane Eyre might not have learned  a great deal new (no attention was paid to the question of Heathcliff’s ethnicity, for instance), but Anne was  another matter. It was a stretch to describe the structurally gauche  Agnes Grey as “one of the greatest novels in the English language”, but Mangan’s tour of the governess’s  world it describes was deftly done.  In fact, it persuaded me that the book is ripe for adaptation. A compelling Victorian take on the iniquities of  the wealth gap. No one could say it wouldn’t be timely. (Jasper Rees)
Grough describes a walk that many Brontëites around the world have taken some time or another. From Haworth Parish Church to Top Withins:
The moors around the Pennine village of Haworth provided inspiration for the settlement’s most famous family, the literary Brontë sisters, and 200 years after the birth of the celebrated writers, latter-day visitors can still revel in the bleak beauty of the hills that provided the setting for novels such as Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s the Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
This walk takes the visitor to Top Withins, the ruined farmhouse which many believe to be the setting, if not the building, which inspired Emily’s best known book. (Bob Smith)
USA Today recommends both Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye and The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell:
On the 200th birthday of Charlotte Brontë, two clever new novels riff on Jane Eyre, her much-loved classic about a mistreated orphan who becomes a governess and falls in love with her boss, the unattainable Mr. Rochester. It’s a love story that has launched dozens of films, plays and blog postings, not to mention myriad romantic fantasies. (...)
There’s no need to know Jane Eyre before reading these novels, but Steele and Madwoman could inspire you to seek out the self-empowering girl who inspired them. (Patty Rhule)
The Denver Post reviews Claire Harman's Charlotte Brontë A Fiery Heart:
Do we need another Bronte bio, given: the dozen or so captivating meditations that have followed Elizabeth Gaskell's brilliant and gossipy pioneer study, published in 1857? Of course we do. Harman's story is about how writers write. Her subjects are not accidental geniuses, rather women with time. Yes, the sisters are socially isolated in Haworth. Yes, they are burdened by a pompous, needy father who places his faith in his fragile son. Yes, they endure their brother's drug addiction and craziness — and use it in their books. Branwell set fire to his bed, and five minutes later, Bertha Mason did the same in the attic of Charlotte's fictional Thornfield Hall. (Laurie Stone)
The Sunday Times reviews Lyndsay Faye's Jane Steele:
Lyndsay Faye gleefully parodies Jane Eyre in a heady mix of pastiche and thriller. (Nick Rennison)
Culturopoing reviews André Téchiné's Quand on a 17 ans:
Téchiné conserve des dimensions baroque et romantique, bien assumées. Il traite même son intrigue avec une relative abstraction, rythmique, colorée et picturale, au risque d’aboutages très singuliers et de ruptures intrigantes. A travers Tom, inspiré du personnage d’Heatcliff, c’est à nouveau Emily Brontë qui est convoquée avec « Les Hauts de Hurlevent ». (William Lurson) (Translation)
Le Bien Public (France) interviews Guillaume Musso:
Comment passe-t-on de prof à écrivain ?(Thierry Meissirel)
J’étais un lecteur de BD et un téléphage. Et un jour, chez mon grand-père à Antibes, à l’âge de 11 ans, il y a eu une panne d’électricité, alors j’ai pris un livre, et c’était Les Hauts de Hurlevent d’Emily Brontë. Ça a été un point de départ : grâce à ma mère qui était bibliothécaire, j’ai autant lu les classiques que les romans populaires… Ensuite, j’ai commencé à penser à des sujets de roman. J’ai publié un premier livre qui n’a pas vraiment marché. Puis j’ai eu un grave accident de voiture, qui m’a donné le point dedépart du suivant, Et après, qui a vraiment fonctionné au-delà de mes espérances.  (Translation)
ABC (Spain) has an article about the dangers of the political correctness censorship, particularly in the college campus:
La profesora Joanna Williams, de la Universidad de Kent, en el Sureste de Inglaterra, es la autora del libro «Libertad académica en la era de la conformidad: el miedo al conocimiento». Parte de la obra evoca su intento de estudiar literatura inglesa cuando tenía 19 años y se encontró con que todo iba de «feminismo, historicismo, posmodernismo, marxismo, estructuralismo y posestructuralismo». Cuando llegaron a la novela «Jane Eyre», le pidieron un ensayo explicándola desde «una perspectiva feminista». Su diagnóstico de lo que está ocurriendo es sencillo: «En lugar de fomentar la solidez intelectual para cuestionar y debatir, se está diciendo que las palabras pueden ejercer la violencia y deben ser censuradas». (Luis Ventoso) (Translation)


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