Sunday, April 10, 2016

Tracy Chevalier writes in The Observer about Charlotte Brontë's 200th anniversary and her own role as a curator:
How do you celebrate the important anniversary of an iconic figure in the British cultural landscape? Apart from the usual TV drama-docs, the radio programmes, the plays, the biographies and novels, the exhibitions? With quilts, is one answer. With knitting, another. Throw in some tiny books, a tea party and a quiet wreath-laying at Westminster Abbey. (...)
It was only on rereading Jane Eyre last year that I recognised something of my own heroine Griet in Girl With a Pearl Earring; she too comes from nothing and quietly stands her ground. This is a common enough trope in writing now, but it was groundbreaking when Jane Eyre was published to instant acclaim in 1847.
While working towards the bicentenary, I often pondered why the Brontë sisters (Charlotte, Emily and Anne) are so popular and revered in the UK. I grew up in the US, not reading Jane Eyre until I was at university, so did not imbibe Brontë mania with my mother’s milk. It was only after living here for years that I began to understand that the Brontë family – in particular the novels Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights – are part of the furniture of the house that makes up Britain. (...)
Partly they are famous because of the sheer improbability of what they accomplished. Picture your siblings: how likely is it that you could all produce novels within the same year, which are still classics 150 years later? Not only that, but they were all women, at a time when women were not encouraged to write, much less publish. Charlotte didn’t even tell her father Jane Eyre had been published until six weeks after the event. (Read more
More on the signs and vandalism in Top Withins. In the Sunday Express:
 The ruins of a farmhouse, believed to have been the model for the Earnshaw family home in Emily Brontë’s novel, have been damaged by tourists removing stones from the walls.
Children climbing on the remains of Top Withens near Haworth in West Yorkshire have further eroded the building, which has become a popular destination for fans of the author. (...)
Fears for the stability and safety of the ruins prompted Yorkshire Water to put up signs warning people not to climb on the ruins, not to remove stone and to supervise all children.
But they were criticised by community leaders who felt the signs were an eyesore not in keeping with an area of outstanding natural beauty.
When I first saw them I said it was typical of a large organisation that can’t think outside the box
In light of the complaints the water company has now decided to replace them with signs more “sympathetic” to the location, which will first be approved by the Brontë Society.
Bradford councillor Glen Miller said: “When I first saw them I said it was typical of a large organisation that can’t think outside the box.
"They are a large landowner in the area and they dropped a clanger. It looks like the feedback made them think again.”
On the vandalism, fellow councillor Russell Brown added: “This wanton damage is clearly reducing the time before the building will need renovation or even be closed to the public.” (Jon Coates)
The Yorkshire Post republishes an article from April 9, 1945 on the increase in visitors to the Brontë Parsonage Museum:
The remarkable increase of from under 10,000 to over 21,000 in the number visitors to the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth last year was referred to at the 51st annual meeting of the Brontë Society, held in the Leeds Civic Hall on Saturday.
Mr Donald Hopewell (President), who presided, said he thought this was almost the most encouraging thing that could have happened. The increase was partly due the fact that because, with transport difficulties, people could not go far afield at present, and more people than formerly were compelled to learn something about their own neighbourhood. Another reason was the very large number of men and women in the Forces who, in their leisure hours, had visited the Museum. It all showed how great was the interest taken in the life and work of the Brontës. (...)
Mr W.L. Andrews, hon editor of the Transactions of the Society, and chairman of the Council, reported how paper and printing labour difficulties had been overcome in producing the Transactions, mainly through the efforts of Mr H. Outhwaite.
Mr Wyndham T. Vint (hon curator of the Brontë Museum), after referring to the record number of attendances, dealt with the question of the reopening of the Bonnell Collection. Now that war risks were very much reduced, he hoped it would be possible to reopen the Bonnell Room during the current year.
The Roanoke Times reviews Catherine Lowell's The Madwoman Upstairs:
Catherine Lowell in her debut novel, “The Madwoman Upstairs,” swims comfortably in the ocean of myth, legend and fact
cters on a level with Jane Eyre and Rochester, Cathy and Heathcliff.” (...) surrounding the Brontë sisters, their novels and their less well-known brother Branwell. Important to Lowell’s novel too is the realization that unlik“popular chara
e most other authors, here legend competes with the work. As Lucasta Miller astutely observes in her study, “The Brontë Myth,” the three sisters of Haworth have become a’s developing mania for answers drives the action of novel. Among other things, her father left her a bookmark with a quotation from Edgar Allen Poe asking “whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence.” What lengths will she go to in order to find the answers she seeks? In fact, again as her father had said, real courage becomes necessary. The plot device proves powerful, too, for “the spectacle of fixation has the quality of contagion,” as Charles Baxter states. “It is hard not to pay attention to obsessions.” (Lawrence Wayne Markert)
The Kansas Star Tribune reviews Pat Barker's Noonday:
As a parallel to the more well-bred characters, Barker introduces Bertha Mason, a popular medium (with a Brontë-esque name). Kit, Paul and Elinor continually think of departed family members; in an even more disabling way, Mason cannot control the voices speaking through her, some of which abuse and threaten her. Her “gift” — or, more accurately, her illness — is a concentrated form of the national sense of loss. (Tom Zelman)
One wonders who misreads whom in this article on Pantheon:
I noticed recently that even in many groundbreaking works of feminist fiction, the ultimate conflict often ends up being a romantic one. Stories of female empowerment often involve the female empowerment to choose the man she wants, to stick it to the puritans and find a sensual paradise in the arms of a man (as Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar famously mis-read Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre as doing). (Rebecca Bratten Weiss)
The Brontës as synonyms withVictorians is not the best of associations but The Bangkok Post (Thailand) uses it:
It's not just your mode of dress, dear reader … or rather, dear female reader. Even if you do cover up in the style of the Brontë sisters, you are not permitted to dance in a sexy manner in public. We've had all sorts of trouble with this in the past, with scantily-clad local girls gyrating to techno music. (Andrew Biggs)
The Island (Sri Lanka) discusses Virginia Woolf:
When she argues that a woman needs "50 pounds a year and a room of her own" to survive as a writer of fiction, and when in the next few pages she goes on criticising the likes of the Brontë sisters (who survived as governesses and unmarried women) for what she thought to be disproportionate rage against men, we saw that despite her feminist leanings, she couldn’t resist implying that a woman who was poor and was against patriarchy could never hope to be a good writer. (Uditha Devapriya)
What's on TV has some info on the upcoming (next Saturday, April 16) episode of the BBC1 TV series Casualty:
Rita is at her nursing best while she attends to a young woman calling herself Jane Eyre, who’s been involved in a traffic accident. But Rita’s left in shock when Jane’s boyfriend is later admitted and it turns out to be Rita’s ex-husband, Mark (Joel Beckett), who destroyed their relationship when he had a sexual relationship with one of his underage students. Shock then turns to horror when Rita discovers eighteen-year-old Jane’s real name is Fiona, and she’s the pupil former teacher, Mark had his paedophilic affair with!
We find this image taken from Donald Trump's Second Life Mansion strangely upsetting. On Kotaku:
 Books and alcohol seem to be a theme in the Second Life Trump Mansion. Here a copy of Wuthering Heights overlooks a well-stocked bar. (Mike Fahey)
The Huffington Post (Germany) reviews Das Geheimnis von Digmore Park by Sophia Farago:
Für Liebhaber von Jane Austen und den Brontë-Schwestern wird dieser Roman eine faszinierende Ergänzung sein. (Detlef Knut) (Translation)
The favourite book of this reporter of North Devon Journal is Wide Sargasso Sea; Rereading Jane Eyre posts about... well, Jane Eyre.


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