Friday, September 09, 2016

As you know, the exhibition Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will opens today at the Morgan Library in New York. The New York Times is quick to review it.
The dress — a floor-length blue-on-white petal print with little round buttons up the bodice and a tight collar — is tiny, tailored for a woman 4 feet 9 inches tall. The wearer was Charlotte Brontë, and her demure day dress, just about big enough for a 12-year-old girl, was the plain wrapping that encased an enormous talent, a bubbling blend of ambition, passion and literary genius.
Like a disembodied spirit, the dress stands at the entrance to “Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will,” which opens at the Morgan Library & Museum on Friday and runs through Jan. 2. Timed to the 200th anniversary of Brontë’s birth, the exhibition offers a compact, sensitively arranged and surprisingly comprehensive tour of the life and work of one of the Victorian era’s most beloved writers, an object of fascination from the moment that “Jane Eyre” was published under the pen name Currer Bell in 1847. [...]
The passage — one of the sizzlers that made “Jane Eyre” an eyebrow-raiser in its time — may be read in the novel’s bound manuscript, on view for the first time in the United States, and opened to the relevant page. Christine Nelson, a Morgan curator, secured the loan from the British Library and, to complement the Morgan’s deep holdings of Brontë manuscripts, books and drawings, arranged to borrow other items from the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, Yorkshire.
The exhibition, tracing a fluid, chronological circle, begins by establishing the location. For nearly all her life, Charlotte lived in a modest parsonage in Haworth, northwest of the urban and industrial Bradford and Leeds, perched on the edge of a wild moor. (William Grimes) (Read more) also recommends the exhibition and Lotus Editions shows a couple of pictures of the exhibition. And back on this side of the pond, The Huddersfield Daily Examiner reports that Brontë enthusiast Imelda Marsden will be visiting the exhibition and more next month.
A Brontë expert is heading for New York – and could get to see a reputedly haunted staircase transported to the USA from Mirfield.
Imelda Marsden, 70, is a renowned Brontë enthusiast and last month helped set up the Kirklees and Calderdale Brontë Group.
Through her connections to the Brontë Society, Imelda has secured an invitation to the prestigious Morgan Library and Museum in New York next month. [...]
Imelda said: “It’s a great honour to be invited and something I just couldn’t turn down. I’ve never been to New York before. It should be a great experience.”
Imelda, of Mirfield, will be in New York for three days and hopes to fix up a visit to see an historic – and reputedly haunted – staircase which has Brontë connections.
The wooden staircase from Blake Hall in Mirfield pictured at the former home of Gladys Topping in Quogue, Long Island, New York.
The hand-carved yew staircase came from the former Blake Hall in Church Lane, Mirfield, where Anne Brontë worked as a governess to the Ingham family in 1839.
After the house was demolished in 1954 all the fixtures and fittings were sold off and the staircase was bought by opera singer Gladys Topping and her husband Allen who were building a house in Quogue, Long Island.
The staircase was installed in the house and in September 1962 Mrs Topping reported that she had seen a ghostly figure of a woman on the stairs.
Spooky tale of 'haunted' staircase from Blake Hall in Mirfield with Bronte links - which has turned up in New York
She was convinced the “pensive” figure with her hair in a bun and dressed in a shawl and long flowing skirt was Anne.
She told a local newspaper at the time that when she asked in her mind who the figure was she was told: “Anne Brontë.”
Though the house has changed hands since the staircase remains and Imelda hopes to go see it.
“I am in touch with the owners of the house and hope to arrange to visit,” she said. “But I’ve no intention of bringing any ghosts back with me!”
Imelda is also hoping to bring a stage performance of Brontë Boy, a play centred on Brontë brother Branwell, to the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, next year.
The play, written by former journalist Michael Yates, will run for three nights and Imelda wants to find business sponsors to help cover the costs. (Martin Shaw)
And more travelling, as The Sydney Morning Herald reviews Wild Island by Jennifer Livett, which is subtitled 'A novel of Jane Eyre and Van Diemen's Land',
Mixing real history with classic fiction, Wild Island imagines Jane Eyre and Rochester making their long passage to Van Diemen's Land. It is the 1830s – dramatic times. Lives were short, and in a brief space of time, everything could be lost: fortunes, husbands, health, entire families, or, as Jane Eyre's Bertha Mason experienced, the mind. [...]
The further he travels from England, the sicker Rochester becomes until, such is the fear for his welfare, they are forced to turn back. But our key narrator, Harriet, continues to the colonies with the task of finding a missing person, and as the intricate story of political intrigue, lies, betrayals and accidents begins to unfold she is quickly caught up in life on the island. [...]
Jane Eyre is the jumping-off point but her significance to the story wanes. (Louise Swinn)
Evening Standard describes The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride as follows:
Imagine Jane Eyre crossed with the less murdery bits of Last Tango in Paris in the context of claustrophobic rehearsal rooms, dingy pubs and Camden bedsits.
We follow the girl through her first year at acting school, a Stanislavskian training camp similar to the one where the writer herself studied. An early encounter with alcohol is rendered as “my mouth swings wide with unutterable shite. Laughing lots too, like it’s true. Worldening maybe, I think. I hope. Certainly serving to get me bold and fit for whatevers come”. Our heroine is an innocent who has suffered childhood sexual abuse and is now looking for sex on her own terms.
In the end, she entrusts her virginity to a charismatic older actor whom she meets in a bar. An ex-junkie estranged from his family, he has all the rough charm and intrigue of a modern-day Rochester. And while they bond over film and music, it’s sex — painful, disappointing, passionate, redemptive — that becomes their primary means of communication, a way of achieving intimacy without having to put their private traumas into words. But the truth can only be withheld for so long and in an unforgettable middle section, the actor confesses his disturbing past. (Johanna Thomas-Corr)
Soft Revolution (Italy) features the collection of short stories edited by Tracy Chevalier, Reader, I Married Him.
Molte delle autrici che hanno partecipato all’antologia non sono mai state pubblicate in Italia, altre come la scrittrice turca Elif Shafak (La bastarda di Istanbul) e l’americana Audrey Niffenegger (La moglie dell’uomo che viaggiava nel tempo) sono abbastanza conosciute. C’è anche Emma Donoghue, autrice del romanzo che ha ispirato il film Room (2015). I racconti dell’antologia sono molto diversi tra loro, anche se alcuni hanno degli elementi in comune.
Cinque hanno per protagoniste delle donne che hanno un’origine molto diversa da quella di un’istitutrice inglese dell’Ottocento: Ayla di A Migrating Bird di Elif Shafak è turca e porta lo hijab; Teresa di The China from Buenos Aires di Patricia Park è una ragazza nata in Argentina da genitori coreani che si trova nella New York degli anni Ottanta senza sapere bene l’inglese; la Party Girl di Nadifa Mohamed abita nel Regno Unito ma è di origine somala; la protagonista di The Mash-Up di Linda Grant proviene da una famiglia di origine ebrea e si sposa a Londra con un ragazzo di origine iraniana; Mama Lota e Nanjela di Double Men di Namwali Serpell sono due donne di mezza età che vivono in Zambia. Patricia Park peraltro è autrice di Re Jane, una re-interpretazione contemporanea del romanzo di Charlotte Brontë, in cui la protagonista è una coreano-americana.
Sette racconti della raccolta invece provano a raccontare la storia di Jane Eyre dal punto di vista di un altro personaggio, o immaginando il seguito della storia raccontata nel libro – come già l’ottimo romanzo per ragazzi di Bianca Pitzorno La bambinaia francese, la cui protagonista è Sophie, un personaggio secondario di Jane Eyre. Alcuni di questi racconti (Grace Poole Her Testimony di Helen Dunmore e Reader, She Married Me di Salley Vickers) cercano di dare giustizia al personaggio di Bertha, la moglie “pazza” di Edward Rochester, che meriterebbe un trattamento molto migliore di quello che riceve nel libro, possiamo dire oggi. The Orphan Exchange, il racconto di Audrey Niffenegger, invece è una versione di Jane Eyre ambientata in un futuro semi-apocalittico dove una grande guerra infuria negli anni dell’infanzia di Jane: la storia prende una direzione diversa in questo racconto e così l’idea di matrimonio.
La maggior parte dei racconti del libro contiene una visione particolare del matrimonio, anche se nessuno di essi si propone di dare un significato preciso a questa istituzione, piuttosto ne raccontano diverse versioni, positive o meno. Jane Eyre unisce, ma è solo un punto di partenza, tanto che in alcuni racconti non c’è nessun riferimento alla sua storia. In fondo al volume le biografie delle autrici raccontano le loro esperienze con Jane Eyre e anche queste sono molto diverse: ad esempio, Namwali Serpell lo ha letto a 15 anni in Zambia, mentre Elizabeth McCracken (autrice del racconto Robinson Crusoe at the Waterpark, che parla di matrimonio tra uomini) lo ha letto solo dopo i 30 anni. Susan Hill (autrice del racconto Reader, I Married Him, la cui protagonista non è Jane Eyre ma un personaggio storico che non si dice perché no spoiler) ha detto di non aver mai letto Jane Eyre. Lionel Shriver (autrice del racconto The Self-Seeding Sycamore) ha confessato di aver riguardato delle trasposizioni televisive per ricordare la storia del romanzo. (Ludovica Lugli) (Translation)
American Theatre features Jen Silverman, author of the play The Moors which
opens up in the style of a Brontë novel, with a governess showing up at an English manor, expecting to find her Mr. Rochester. Instead, it’s a house of women and she falls for the lady of the house, giving this Victorian setting a queer edge. The play also features a talking dog and moor hen. (Diep Tran)
Film School Rejects traces the origins of the new film The Disappointments Room back to Jane Eyre and illustrates the story with a picture taken at the madwoman's room in Norton Conyers.
The popular propagation of this bizarre treatment seems to have started, at least in popular fiction, with Bertha Mason in Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre. Savagery, in the Victorian mindset, sprung from mental illness led to her confinement and ultimately tragic death. Social critique comes in hot and heavy for her depiction, especially when the trope it formed (The Madwoman in the Attic) rears its ugly head, but it has later been reclaimed as a barb at the sexism and discrimination bred by the financial elite. (Jacob Oller)
The Jewish Chronicle has an article on Samantha Ellis and her play How to Date a Feminist and mentions her forthcoming book:
Ellis was able to put all this aside, however, while writing her second book - or at least most of it. Take Courage, which comes out next year and has the slightly daunting subtitle of Brontë and the Art of Life, focuses on the lesser known, youngest of the Bronte sisters, Anne.
"There's scant information on Emily and Anne, though tons on Bramwell (sic) and Charlotte," says Ellis. "So it's a journey in search of Anne. Have you read her second novel? It's about a woman who falls for a sexy cad." (John Nathan)
North Leeds Life Group reviews Northern Ballet's Wuthering Heights.
Another triumph for Northern Ballet and what a great opening to the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Brontë Season.
Wuthering Heights was moody, passionate and full of drama. Claude-Michel Schönberg’s score conjured up the wildness of the moors, youthful joy, jealousy, passion and despair so effectively you were transfixed.
Javier Torres as Heathcliffe (sic) was such a powerful presence. He just smouldered, so much so I feared he might spontaneously combust – but he just held it in check. The sequence with Isabella (Rachael Gillespie), after he had been rejected by Cathy (Dreda Blow), was almost frightening in its intensity.
As Cathy and Heathcliffe, Dreda and Javier performed so beautifully – from being so gentle and affectionate, to outright passionate rage and despair. (From my point of view she definitely made the wrong choice, but I don’t suppose we can change the story now!)
The stage design by Ali Allen was superb. It was pared down and simple with magnificent backdrops of what looked like contemporary landscapes made up of great brush strokes of moorland colour – greys, purples etc. This was so effective in the open misty scene. A sole, windswept tree emphasized the bleakness of the terrain. But with small additions the space was transformed into a home, a bedroom and a grand terrace.
Choreographed by Artistic Director David Nixon, who also designed the costumes, Wuthering Heights is a stunning production on every level and I urge you to go and see it if you can. (Brendan)
North West End gives it 4 stars.
Northern Ballet, under the direction of Nixon and dramaturge input from Patricia Doyle, certainly works very hard to draw out the emotions from all the characters involved and creates the intensity and intrigue expected from the story.   There is a lot to pack in the two and quarter hour ballet and not once did it compromise the characters, the storyline and its emotive themes.
Allen’s sets are certainly of stark contrast but appropriate; the scenes swiftly switches in sequences between the sunshine, colourful and tame life of Thrushcross Grange to the isolated, dark and bleak landscape of the moors and Wuthering Heights. Alastair West’s revived lighting is appropriately applied and captures the moods of all the scenes.   Special effects are used as weather elements when Cathy and Heathcliff meet expressing their love and Heathcliff’s contemplation as an old man during the Epilogue.
Schönberg is well known for the music he composed for Les Misérables and Miss Saigon. His creative genius captures the plot, characters and the explorative emotions for Wuthering Heights. Soft piano music and melodious instrumental tunes are played during the scenes at Thrushcross Grange and hauntingly dramatic, melancholic and fast paced music is applied for Wuthering Heights and the moors scenes. (Dawn Smallwood)
Movie Morlocks  has selected Andrea Arnold's take on Wuthering Heights as one of 52 remarkable films by women.
Wuthering Heights (Dir. Andrea Arnold; 2011)
Emily Bronte’s classic novel has been adapted for the screen many times but no one has wrestled with the material in such a stark and unforgiving manner. Director Andrea Arnold (Red Road; 2006, Fish Tank; 2009, etc.) forgoes the usual romantic tropes and accentuates the rugged living conditions of the period focusing her constantly shifting camera on the misty moorland landscape and the dirt drenched figures that populate it. The characters in this tragedy are more ghostlike than human, embodying the internal themes that envelope Bronte’s work. In turn, the film is able to relay the darker and more troubling aspects of the story in a way that few other adaptations have.
Arnold employed two black actors (Solomon Glave and James Howson) to portray the tortured Heathcliff, consumed by his unfulfilled passion for Cathy (Shannon Beer & Kaya Scodelario). The casting exemplifies Heathcliff’s position of servitude and makes his plight seem more urgent. Arnold’s directing is confident and she makes bold choices with an avant-garde sensibility that confused and frustrated many critics when it was released. For better or worse, William Wyler’s Academy Award nominated 1939 version of Wuthering Heights has become somewhat of a gold standard that all other versions are compared to but Arnold’s film rejects that template completely and I found it incredibly refreshing and deeply rewarding. (Kimberly Lindbergs)
And Másdearte (Spain) mentions the influence of Emily Brontë on Sam Taylor Wood's work.
En este proyecto, música y arte audiovisual se nutren en una doble dirección: si la composición de Dudley es el hilo de Suspiro y marca su duración (que es de ocho minutos), a su vez la compositora se inspiró a la hora de crear esta banda sonora en una anterior serie fotográfica de Taylor-Wood: la célebre The Ghosts, que a su vez bebía de una fuente literaria, la proporcionada por Emily Brontë en su Cumbres borrascosas, en un interesante juego de mutuas influencias entre diversas disciplinas artísticas.
El resultado: si aquella obra de Brontë remite inequívocamente a los páramos de Yorkshire donde esta escritora se crió, la banda sonora de Suspiro puede evocarnos también sus páramos vacíos, como las manos de estos intérpretes. La ausencia de instrumentos musicales en la obra motiva que las expresiones de sus rostros parezcan dramatizadas cuando, únicamente por mostrarnos el objeto, nos resultarían naturales. (Translation)
A tribute to reading on eNCA:
If I can imagine what it is like to be Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (1848), or Milkman Dead in Song of Solomon (1977), it is because I can read, and because I read.  The sadness of contemplating burned books is not lessened, but I feel slightly better for trying to figure out why it happened.
I can read.  I read. (Angelo Fick)
Público's Ctxt (Spain) has an article on Brontë country:
Keighley es, a primera vista, una pequeña ciudad adormecida del norte de Inglaterra, una parada más en una de las líneas de trenes regionales que recorren Yorkshire y, posiblemente, un lugar al que nadie iría si no tuviese para ello ciertos motivos. En las páginas oficiales de turismo de la zona es posible descargarse un trayecto turístico para hacer un recorrido por sus calles y ver los edificios más destacables en, prometen, unos 45 minutos.
La localidad, que vivió tiempos de esplendor en la época victoriana y eduardiana gracias al boom de la industria textil, tiene un par de calles con la arquitectura de esa era y el regusto de la Belle Époque, pero lo que importa al turista sobre Keighley y lo que hace que uno acabe allí tras dejar atrás el tren que viene de Leeds es que la ciudad es el punto de partida para el peregrinaje a la casa de las hermanas Brontë.
De la estación de autobuses de Keighley parte el oficialmente llamado Brontëbus (el nombre está bien visible en la carrocería exterior y en varias partes del interior, donde también opera la Brontëbus Free Wifi, para navegar por la red del siglo XXI cortesía de Anne, Charlotte y Emily), que recorre las serpenteantes carreteras y deja al turista en Haworth, el pueblo en el que crecieron y murieron (salvo Anne) las hermanas, antes de seguir camino hasta otros pueblos (o al menos eso prometen en la oficina de turismo de Leeds) bonitos y pintorescos. (Read more) (Raquel C. Pico) (Translation)


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