Friday, April 01, 2016

The Telegraph and Argus has a series of pictures showing the progress of the Brontë Parsonage replica that is being built on the moors for Sally Wainwright's To Walk Invisible.
It may look a little out of place amidst the bleak Yorkshire moorland, but this bare timber structure will soon set hearts soaring.
When finished, television viewers won't be able to tell it apart from the stone-built Brontë Parsonage in nearby Haworth, former home of the Brontës.
The exterior replica of the Parsonage is taking shape on Penistone Hill, chosen by film location experts to better resemble the original 1840s setting for a major new BBC drama. [...]
Although the unpainted timber structure is currently a "monstrosity", according to local councillor Glen Miller, the short-term pain will be worth it in the end.
"It looks a monstrosity but is going to be painted and will bring future benefits," he added.
"When the drama goes out at Christmas, it will bring in more footfall into the district. I also hope the BBC will donate the surplus wood to local charities."
Councillor Miller (Con, Worth Valley) said the Penistone Hill location was actually more authentic because the real Parsonage was surrounded by trees which weren't present in the 1840s.
"The legacy of this production will be good for the area, not just for Haworth but for Bradford as well."
Parish council chairman John Huxley is just as enthusiastic about the three-storey timber structure, which can be seen from Top Withens and the route to the Brontë Waterfalls.
He said: "There is no doubt it will become an attraction in its own right. There has been an increase in the number of programmes about the Brontës because of the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë's birth [on April 21 this year].
"The Brontë legacy for the village is very important."
Meanwhile, the BBC is continuing preparation for filming in June by which time Main Street in Haworth will be restored to its 1840s appearance.
Part of the street will be closed during the first full week of June. Interior sets will be built in Manchester because filming is not possible inside the real Parsonage. [...]
Brontë experts are assisting the BBC with preparations.
Sarah Laycock, library and collections officer at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, said: "We’re really happy to be assisting the BBC with their preparations for To Walk Invisible.
"Over the last few weeks, members of the production crew have spent a lot of time looking at our collection in order to reproduce replica artefacts to use as props or as part of the set. The attention to detail is incredible.
"We’re all looking forward to the drama itself and in the meantime are enjoying seeing the replica Parsonage and other buildings being erected on Penistone Hill.
"My colleagues and I take regular walks up there to monitor progress - it’s fascinating and we can’t wait to see the finished building." (Andrew Robinson)
There are several reviews of Brontë-related books today. Let's have a look, shall we?

Tampa Bay Times reviews the US edition of Claire Harman's biography of Charlotte Brontë.
Harman begins her biography with Charlotte's unrequited love for Heger, and of course Jane Eyre and Emily's Wuthering Heights are the ur-romances that spawned an entire genre of novels about love that conquers daunting obstacles. (Interesting that both were written by women who, at the time of writing, had never had any real romantic relationships. Emily, who was formidably odd and private, seems to have had her warmest bond with her fierce mastiff, Keeper.)
But as the title of this biography suggests, Thackeray put his finger on Charlotte's essence. Jane Eyre is a romance, yes, but it is more than that. It is a book that is defined by a woman's voice — a woman who refuses to defer.
Jane Eyre was among the first novels to use direct first-person narrative, not couched as letters or memoir but expressed by the speaker as events take place. That grants it an immediacy and emotional resonance that are still effective today — and that make Jane strikingly individual.
And Jane, make no mistake, is angry. Virginia Woolf wrote that she is an example of "an overpowering personality, so that, as we say in real life, they have only to open the door to make themselves felt. There is in them some untamed ferocity perpetually at war with the accepted order of things."
Jane Eyre is plain, she is poor, she is powerless, but she never surrenders. Like her creator, that unlikely genius who spent a life fighting to be read, Jane demands that her voice be heard and her worth be measured. Charlotte Brontë may be turning 200, but she's a woman for this century as well. (Colette Bancroft)
Tampa Bay Times has also selected several recently-released novels connected to the Brontës:
The bicentennial of Charlotte Bronte's birth has inspired these salutes to her great work, Jane Eyre.
Jane Steele: A Novel (G.P. Putnam's Sons) by Lyndsay Faye (The Gods of Gotham) is an outrageously satirical thriller-romance mashup set in the 19th century that recasts the long-suffering Jane Eyre as a ruthless serial killer trying to solve a mystery while concealing her own identity — and falling in love.
The Madwoman Upstairs (Touchstone) by Catherine Lowell is a comic contemporary mystery about Samantha Whipple, a young woman who is the last living descendant of the Brontë family, sent on a literary scavenger hunt for a mysterious estate by her father's sudden death.
Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre (William Morrow), edited by Tracy Chevalier, gathers 21 short stories by women in honor of Brontë's novel, ranging from Helen Dunmore's chilling Grace Poole Her Testimony, about Rochester's first wife, to Francine Prose's sly look at what happens to Jane after she marries Rochester in The Mirror. (Colette Bancroft)
Claire Harman herself reviews the collection of short stories Reader, I Married Him, edited by Tracy Chevalier for the Evening Standard.
When Jane Eyre says “Reader, I married him” at the conclusion of her stormy story it’s both triumphant and comically terse but no simple happy ending. Not surprisingly, many of the stories here revolve around marriage and weddings, notably Tessa Hadley’s terrific opener, My Mother’s Wedding, Namwali Serpell’s Double Men and Jane Gardam’s melancholic It’s a Man’s Life, Ladies.
Some riff on the novel itself, with a wonderfully witty version from Helen Dunmore, as told by Grace Poole (“She may marry Mr R. She may take him for all that there is left in him. She will never stop him dead and make him tremble all over, as I did, before he ever touched me”). Francine Prose imagines Jane’s marriage being deliberately scuppered by her dream man and Salley Vickers also looks beyond the supposedly happy ending, but this time in the character of Mr Rochester, burdened with guilt towards his first wife and regretting his manipulation by the nutty governess.
Kirsty Gunn takes things a stage further: her Mr Rochester is a dangerous dog who needs sympathetic training, while Emma Donoghue takes a real person, Minnie Benson, and looks at her strange marriage in terms of suppressed sexuality. Susan Hill (who has not read Jane Eyre) also chooses to fictionalise a real life, writing about Wallis Simpson and the difficulty of being the object of a consuming love.
Perhaps she could have benefited from the précis given by one of the characters in Chevalier’s own story, Dorset Gap — a Jane Eyre obsessive — who explains that the story is about “a governess full of inner strength who marries a completely inappropriate man”. “Oh. Right” her would-be suitor says hesistantly. Later, he charms her by misquoting the famous line as “Reader, she married me,” closing the gap between them, but only, one feels, temporarily.
Chevalier likens her challenge to a stone thrown in a pond, with some of the ripples moving quite far from the epicentre; certainly, if they weren’t included in this book, you’d have trouble connecting several of the stories with Jane Eyre at all. Evie Wyld’s atmospheric Behind the Mountain needs an explicit nudge in the final paragraph to remind the reader of any connection, while Elif Shafak’s story A Migrating Bird has a similarly eliptical relation. But the context does the trick and it’s quite amazing to see the quality of work on show. Lionel Shriver’s The Self-Seeding Sycamore would be an asset to any collection, and Elizabeth McCracken’s Robinson Crusoe at the Waterpark is simply one of the best short stories I’ve read in ages.
The Daily Mail reviews the collection as well.
The stories vary hugely in content and style. Some are closely attached to Rochester, Bertha and Jane, adding new slants on a well-loved story.
Others, such as Elif Shafak's student romance, seem only delicately connected to the more general theme of love.
One of the best is Francine Prose's The Mirror, which pitches a narrative voiced by Jane Eyre into another psycho-dimension.
Tessa Hadley's My Mother's Wedding is a vivid and amusing examination of a rather wayward family dynamic. There is something here for everyone.
A dazzling array of writers tackle mostly governesses, orphans and marriage, but above all, the nature of love. (Imogen Lycett Green)
Sydney Arts Guide reviews the Shake & Stir's Wuthering Heights performances:
Unfortunately, I was extremely disappointed in this production. Individually various elements were great but the production was quite uneven. There was no real spark or sense of passion, the fight scenes were almost farcical, it isn’t sure of the time period in which it was set and there was an over reliance on exciting theatrical effects and the use of technology though it has to be said that the finale with the rain and snow was magnificent. (Lynne Lancaster)
South China Morning Post gives 5 stars out of 5 to an audio version of Jane Eyre read by Juliet Stevenson.
Author anniversaries are all the rage – 2016 is, apparently, the year of both Shakespeare and Charlotte Brontë, genuinely great English-language writers separated by a couple of centuries. Brontë’s great book, Jane Eyre, is a staple of literature courses the world over. Frequently marketed as a romance – thanks to the central on-off-off-off-off-on relationship between Jane and Mr Rochester – the story is really anything but. Jane’s history is defined by tenacity and survival: orphaned, she endures an appalling step-family and a punitive school, then works as a governess for a manipulative near-psychopath, meets a cold-hearted evangelical and, Reader, wins out in the end. As befits a classic classic, there are any number of audiobooks. I plumped for Juliet Stevenson, largely because her deep, velvety tones could read the instructions for a flat pack bed and hold my attention. She catches Jane’s suppressed sadness (“dreadful to me was the raw twilight”) effortlessly. The clarity of her narration convinces of the clarity of Jane’s mind within the torment of her life. And yet she is just as good when describing the cruel comedy of Rochester’s inquisition disguised as a gipsy or the dramatic fire started by Bertha Mason on Jane’s wedding day. Listener, I loved every minute of it. (James Kidd)
There are also some essays of interest today: Slate Plus has an article on Victorian governesses which mentions Jane Eyre. The Boar wonders whether marrying off the heroine can still be considered the 'right' happy ending. Science Magazine wonders in passing whether Jane Eyre is a person or a symbol. The Times has an article on 'Charlotte Brontë and her taste of London life', reviewing the Charlotte Brontë at the Soane exhibition:
Fiona Wilson is enchanted by a show charting the Yorkshire author’s five visits to the capital during her career.
According to those who had met her, the problem with George Richmond’s famous 1850 chalk drawing of Charlotte Brontë was that it just wasn’t ugly enough. Elizabeth Gaskell, her biographer, described her subject as having “a reddish face; large mouth & many teeth gone; altogether plain”. William Thackeray’s daughter, Anne, recalled “there was a general impression of chin about her face”. Her friend Mary Taylor went farther: “I had rather the mouth and eyes had been nearer together, and shown the veritable square face and large, disproportionate nose.” Friends: you can always count on them. (Fiona Wilson)
The literary canon is discussed by The Conversation.
A swift study of high school literature curriculums undertaken in the same year revealed that many other Australian states and territories had published high school English curriculums featuring up to 70 percent of texts by male authors.
This is not the intellectual legacy of the historical fact of patriarchy. Rather, in reading through the density of curriculum documents, an uneasy sense emerges that as the old Feminist Canon – comprising Jane Austen, George Eliot and the Brontës, for example – comes off the curriculum, the so-called “dead white women” are not being replaced by contemporary female – let alone Indigenous or poly-ethnic – authors but by contemporary male ones. [...]
I also teach Adaptation, focusing attention on writers adapting work from out of the canon, or ‘writing back’ to it. This might include adaptions of Jane Austen, from Rajshree Ojha’s Aisha to Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice (2004).
It might include novelistic adaptions such as the Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), Jean Rhys’ haunting portrait of Bertha Rochester, better known as the mad woman in the attic in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847) (who resurfaces yet again as the eponymous character in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (1938)). (Camilla Nelson)
Judging by this interview to Gwyneth Paltrow in The New York Times' By the Book, she is quite the Brontëite.
What’s the greatest love story in literature?Jane Eyre.” I read it for the first time when I was 11 years old and have read it many times since. The longing and heartbreak and redemption. . . . Forget it. [...]
Whom would you want to write your life story? Charlotte Brontë.
GeekDad has an article on children's fantasy worls in which the Brontës' Verdopolis is mentioned. Danielle's Imagining is preparing a Wuthering Heights party. Adventures of a Bibliophagist posts aabout Emily Brontë's novel and Twilight. I've Just Finished Reading... reviews The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell. Bookfan posts about Lyndsay Faye's Jane Steele.

Finally, The Sampler Girl begins a Brontë project for this April:
Want to join me in a Charlotte Brontë themed knitting AND reading project this April?
In honor of Charlotte Brontë's 200th Birthday on April 21, 2016, this shawl design, in mystery knit a long style, invites the knitter to the Yorkshire Moors - to fancy a look back into Jane Eyre's story - to wander the windy, green landscape, harsh and beautiful - to step into the novel, this time with yarn and needle.

Here are all the details:

KNIT - On the Moors with Jane Eyre
READ - any of Charlotte Bronte's books, I will be re-reading Jane EyreJoin in the knitting and reading discussion on The Sampler Girl Ravelry group where we will be chatting about the project and the book.


Post a Comment