Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Nine days left until Charlotte Brontë's 200th birthday and it looks as if the celebrations and tributes are slowly beginning now. Claire Harman has written a short article for the BBC.
In an age which claims to have solved certain issues such as equal rights and promotes 'empowerment' through striptease, Jane Eyre reproaches our complacency about social and sexual politics on almost every page.One way to keep the message of a book alive is to put it back into the context of the author's life, which is what I hope to have done with my new biography, Charlotte Brontë: A Life.
Brontë's tragic but triumphant story has fascinated readers from Gaskell onwards, but I tried to put aside the idea of her as 'a famous writer' and think of Brontë as much as possible from her own angle, unknown and (most of her life) unpublished, increasingly frustrated by the prospect that lay ahead of her, of hard work (as a governess and teacher), genteel poverty and wastage of genius.
Over three years, I tried to get under the skin of this troubled young woman, go to the places she went to, read the books she read, study her manuscripts and pore over her possessions.
Every researcher will find something different in such resources; I found a person who both longed to be 'forever known', but clung to anonymity in order to achieve it, a woman much more concerned about truthfulness than personal fame and someone who felt compelled to put into words her own terrible sufferings (most notably her bereavements and her agonising unrequited love) as being the only way to deal with them.
That's why I don't believe that Jane Eyre is a novel that will ever sit quietly in its classic status or lose its power to disturb people. And if Jane's fieriness of spirit seems to belong more to our own times than to hers, it could be because her ardour came straight from her author, and Charlotte Brontë intended to keep us listening.
Claire Harman’s Charlotte Brontë: A Life is out now in paperback, published by Penguin Books. Claire will also be taking part in a special Jane Eyre Live Reading in London on 21 April.
That page also contains a roundup of all the Brontë-related events on BBC radio, television and iPlayer.

BBC also has a remarkable article by Samantha Ellis on 'the greatest heroines of all time'.
A hundred years ago, Virginia Woolf sat down to re-read Jane Eyre for Charlotte Brontë’s centenary. She was worried it would seem antiquated, but instead, she was so absorbed and exhilarated she couldn’t put it down, and when she did, she wondered how Charlotte had done it.
How had she written a novel that still seemed so fresh after so many years? The secret was, she decided, the heroine, who pervaded every line and every image. “Think of Rochester,” wrote Woolf, “and we have to think of Jane Eyre. Think of the moor, and again there is Jane Eyre. Think of the drawing-room, even, those ‘white carpets on which seemed laid brilliant garlands of flowers’, that ‘pale Parian mantelpiece’ with its Bohemia glass of ‘ruby red’ and the ‘general blending of snow and fire’– what is all that except Jane Eyre?”
Another hundred years have gone by, and Jane feels just as present. Her demands for justice and for happiness seem just as authentic, as vital, as urgent as they did to Woolf and, perhaps, to Charlotte herself. (Read more)
Keighley News reports on the recent launch of the book Reader, I Married Him.
A sell-out audience greeted the Haworth launch of a new book of stories inspired by Jane Eyre.
Reader I Married Him features the work of 21 writers commissioned to respond to Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel.
The book was the brainchild of bestselling novelist Tracy Chevalier, the Brontë Parsonage Museum’s creative partner for the centenary year of Charlotte Brontë’s birth.
The book was published in the UK on April 7, and three contributors gathered to read from the book at the Old School Room where Charlotte once taught.
Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveller’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry, attended in place of writer Salley Vickers, who was ill.
Helen Dunmore and Audrey read their contributions to the collection to a captivated audience and then Tracy led a discussion about Jane Eyre and its place in English literature.
Guests then returned to the Brontë Parsonage Museum for wine, book signings and a look at the Charlotte Great and Small exhibition.
Museum arts officer Lauren Livesey said: “Welcoming three leading figures from the world of contemporary literature to Haworth was a huge honour and hearing them read in the place where Charlotte was very special.” (David Knights)
BBC News reports that this year's Hay Festival (26 May to 5 June) will include
a bicentenary celebration of the birth of Charlotte Brontë, led by Tracy Chevalier, Lionel Shriver, Kirsty Gunn and Joanna Briscoe.
The Guardian reviews Lena Coakley's Worlds of Ink and Shadow.
And Lena Coakley spins this masterful story about their origin entwined with aspects of family love and loyalty, and the stories we have the ability to weave.
Worlds of Ink and Shadow starts off when the Brontës are just teenagers – normal teenagers who spend their days learning, painting, attending church and occasionally shifting over to their own fictional world: Verdopolis. [...]
Haunting, magical, beautifully written, Worlds of Ink and Shadow is a masterful debut that will leave you wondering long after you’ve put it down. (Book Worm_98)
The Federalist thinks that Nicholas Sparks is 'bad for romance' and offers a romantic reading list that is 'emotional porn' and which includes
Jane Eyre,” by Charlotte Brontë. In which two people discover what it means to exercise restraint and moral courage in the face of passion, and grow stronger in their own personal lives for the journey. (Gracy Olmstead)
Germaine Greer doesn't seem to find much romance in the Brontë novels actually according to The Sydney Morning Herald's recap of ABC's Q&A.
Referring to the Brontë novels, Greer said: "It seems to me that there is another story here about women… they're always on the lookout for Mr Wrong. For the guy who was exciting, who's taciturn, who's difficult, and potentially violent," she said.
"And they always think that they can save him," she said. (Kate Aubusson)
La Razón (Spain) looks at revenge in movies and books and describes Wuthering Heights as
la obra maestra de las venganzas rebuscadas e indirectas. (Carlos Sala) (Translation)
IndieWire's Press Play thinks that, 'In Andrea Arnold's 'Wuthering Heights,' Music Is the Film's Soul' and has a video about it.
Emotions cannot always be expressed in a straightforward conversational manner. We gesticulate, we make facial expressions, we shift our body language... or perhaps we sing. Usually the singing is self-directed, and the emotion being expressed isn't necessarily nameable. There are many moments in Andrea Arnold's 'Wuthering Heights' when characters simply sing, either to themselves or to each other. This new video essay by Filmscalpel gathers together some of these moments, and the overwhelming sense one gets, in watching the moments unfold, is that the chief emotion being expressed is a desire for contact, for recognition, above and beyond the emotion being expressed. And what more basic emotion could there be for a human being to express, either in public or in private? (Max Winter)
El Mundo (Spain) features writer and translator Toni Hill, who once translated Jane Eyre and now that novel has influenced his latest book.
Me apetecía probar con el novelón gótico", admite Hill, que, como traductor, tuvo que enfrentarse, hace unos años, a la Jane Eyre de Charlotte Brönte [sic]. "Cuando traduces una novela así, pasas tanto tiempo en el universo de la autora, que es como si hubieses vivido en él, y me apetecía volver para crear allí, en un universo parecido, mi propia historia", cuenta. (Laura Fernández) (Translation)
Of course the Daily Mail would pick up the story about vandalism and warning signs at Top Withens. The Brussels Brontë Blog posts a poem inspired by the Brontës. Musings of a Bookish Kitty interviews Rita Maria Martinez and Everything Distils Into Reading reviews her book of poems, The Jane and Bertha in Me. Becca and Her Books posts about Wuthering Heights. Enzuigirly briefly reviews Jane Eyre.


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