Thursday, October 06, 2016

In The Conversation, a scholar whose thesis is on 'The Brontës and Masculinity', which 'examines representations of heroic, domestic, and professional masculinity in the Brontës' works' discusses the unmasking of Elena Ferrante's identity and its parallels with Charlotte Brontë's story.
In many respects, Ferrante’s story mirrors that of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë. The Brontë sisters published their novels Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall under the masculine pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Like Ferrante, they published under pen names to ensure their privacy and to eschew celebrity. In an interview earlier this year, Ferrante stated that she chose to write under a pseudonym so she could “concentrate exclusively and with complete freedom on writing and its strategies”.
The Brontës wrote as men because their novels examined subject matter which was “unfeminine” for their early Victorian readers: sexual passion, slang, alcoholism, domestic abuse and violence. Nevertheless, commentators were quick to accuse the “Brothers Bell” of being women writers, or equally using their writings to affirm that they must be male. Mr Rochester’s slang and sexual exploits were said to prove Jane Eyre’s male authorship, while the detailed evocation of Jane’s psychology and emotions gave away the woman’s hand in the novel. [...]
The novelist Elizabeth Gaskell took part in the parlour game of guessing who the Bells really were. When she discovered the truth, she wrote a triumphant letter to a friend: “Currer Bell (aha! what will you give me for a secret?) She’s a she”. In writing The Life of Charlotte Brontë, following Charlotte’s early death in 1855, Gaskell strategically positioned Charlotte as a pious and self-sacrificing daughter, as well as a talented novelist.
Gaskell’s biography also began a trend that haunts the Brontës to this day. She located the “originals” of the characters and locales in the Brontës’ novels in the people and geography of their native Yorkshire. The Brontës’ novels have been read through their lives ever since. These readings deny the Brontës’ genius, imagination, and literary skill. [...]
The Brontë sisters had more control over who knew their secret than Ferrante has done. The critic George Henry Lewes, later to become the partner of novelist George Eliot, praised Jane Eyre in print and corresponded with “Currer Bell”. But Lewes earned Charlotte’s scorn when he criticised her second novel, Shirley, as the product of a woman’s pen, after learning she was a clergyman’s daughter. Charlotte responded with a blistering one-line note: “I can be on guard against my enemies, but God deliver me from my friends!”.
Ferrante’s story raises important questions about how we read and value women’s writing and authorship. Ferrante has stated that in part she wants to protect the Neapolitan community she writes about in her novels, just as Charlotte wanted to write about Yorkshire clergymen she knew without fear of discovery. The latter failed. Haworth locals gleefully identified some of the characters drawn from life in Shirley. If known, with a past to be examined, Ferrante’s novels could be subjected to the flattening biographical readings the Brontës’ works have long been subjected to. [...]
How Elena Ferrante’s works will be received now that their author is, perhaps, known, is yet to be seen. The Brontës’ story could serve as a warning never to lose sight of the work itself. (Erin Nyborg)
New Statesman discusses the matter as well:
The scholar Katherine Angel, who had been brought in to defend the right of authors to invent things, was clearly baffled but made her opinions clear. Ferrante, she said, had done nothing wrong. The writer does not owe the reader anything beyond her work.
This is the truth of it. In the age of the Kardashians and compulsive self-revelation, it is ever more important that art be allowed to speak for itself. The Brontës made themselves Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, knowing that in the 19th century their gender would stand in the way of their work. J K Rowling tried to escape her blinding fame by publishing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith – but she, too, was “unmasked” before long. (Erica Wagner)
The Times reviews the West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Villette and gives it 2 stars out of 5. Here's how the review begins:
In an episode of Friends, Jennifer Aniston’s character, Rachel, attends an adult education class on Jane Eyre. She hasn’t done the homework, so her friend Phoebe fools her into believing that Charlotte Brontë’s novel is a futuristic tale about a cyborg. “It’s so ahead of its time,” Rachel blags to her teacher. “The feminism?” “Yes, but also the robots.”
In the latest instalment of its Brontë season, the West Yorkshire Playhouse appears to have given Brontë’s later novel, Villette, the Rachel treatment. (Kate Maltby)
The Village Voice interviews film director André Téchiné.
Over the years, you've collaborated on screenplays with many people who later became directors, like Olivier Assayas and Jacques Nolot. What do you look for in a collaborator? My choice of a collaborator is always dependent on the specific project. Every type of film that you make has its own inherent rules, its own inherent demands. For me, it's important when I choose to work with someone that they can bring something to that particular kind of a film. With Céline, I've already discussed what specifically she was able to bring. For The Brontë Sisters, I needed somebody who knew something about the nineteenth century and that setting, so I worked with Pascal Bonitzer. [...]
In researching your work over the years, I found a review in the Village Voice that you had written of Jim McBride's Glen and Randa, from 1971. How did this happen? I don't remember what I actually wrote in that review. [Laughs] But it was a funny experience for me. The story behind it is that I was working on the first version of the screenplay for The Brontë Sisters, which I later did with Pascal Bonitzer. But I was working with Marilyn Goldin on it at the time, and I happened to be in New York with her. That's how I got to write that article, but what I said in it I really don't remember. (Bilge Ebiri)
Out looks back on his filmography and considers Les soeurs Brontë one of his masterpieces.
The Brontë Sisters (1979) - An experimental bio-pic exploring the interwoven emotional ties of the legendary literary family. A sumptuous costume drama with gorgeous stars: Isabelle Adjani as Emily, Isabelle Huppert as Anne, Marie-France Pisier as Charlotte; Pascal Greggory as their brother Branwell, and Roland Barthes (Téchiné’s mentor) as Thackery [sic]. (Armond White
BBC News features another film director with a Brontë film: Andrea Arnold.
Arnold also employed first-time actors in her previous films, Wuthering Heights and Fish Tank, and admits: "I like it because they provide a faithful representation of the world that I am seeking to portray.
"It's often easier to use 'real' people; you can genuinely believe it's the life they have led just by looking at their faces. Sometimes I feel I am making life difficult for myself, as they never do quite what you expect them to do.
"But they never repeat themselves, they bring something different and no take is the same." (Emma Jones)
This columnist from Town Topics is reading a beautiful edition of Jane Eyre.
As I read Jane Eyre ahead of a visit to Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will at the Morgan Library and Museum, I find myself imagining Jane as the ideal librarian, someone like Dudley Carlson. Parents whose children came of age in the Princeton Public Library during the eighties and nineties will know what I’m talking about. My son was fortunate enough to have two inspirational librarians; in addition to Dudley Carlson, who made him feel at home with books, there was Terri Nelson, who understood and encouraged his sixties lifestyle. [...]
The Jane Eyre I’m reading, by the way, is from the edition of works by the Brontë sisters illustrated by Edmund Dulac in a more realistic mode than the lavish style of The Kingdom of the Pearl. For the record, I found the Brontës at the Wise Owl, a dream bookshop in Bristol. Each copy bears the book plate of The Catholic Library, Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs, Cambridge. (Stuart Mitchner)
Bustle lists '7 Reasons 'Harry Potter' Is A Must-Read For Every Serious Book-Lover'. Among them is the fact that,
It References Many Other Works Of Literature
Book-lovers will notice references to many other works of literature in the series, and Harry Potter has been compared to everything from mythology and folklore to The Sword in the Stone and Wuthering Heights. (Julia Seales)
Graphic Policy reviews Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1:
The opening pages are reminiscent of a frontispiece of a Victorian penny dreadful with its combination of architecture (especially window) porn, fine art, and a shrieking woman in a nightgown. Like Wuthering Heights or Northanger Abbey (albeit in a more parodic way), they and Vaughn make the Glencourt mansion a character of its own while keeping the setting’s time period ambiguous for quite some time thanks to Sam and Berenice’s love for all things vintage, including automobiles. (Logan Dalton)
Cyprus Mail interviews teen novelist Antonia Kattos:
Favourite film of all time? Jane Eyre has to be one of my favourite films, the plot of the story and the amazing acting add up to an extremely intense and emotional film experience without it becoming melodramatic. I was in tears.
Alyssa Hollingsworth lists Jane Eyre as one of '17 Autumn Books to Read Before Halloween'. The Written Word Remains uses Heathcliff as an example of a character who changes for the worst. The Sisters' Room (in Italian) has a post on the Brontë Society Conference in August.


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