Who Were The Real Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell? - When the Bell brothers published their book of poetry ‘Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell‘ in 1846 it seemed to be an act of little significance, report...
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There is nothing new about the effects of alcohol, as Anne Brontë’s classic The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall makes clear. Anne, who had seen the effects of alcohol and opium addiction on her brother Branwell, writes about the alcohol-fuelled cruelty Arthur Huntingdon inflicts upon his wife, Helen.
When she sees her husband is trying to coax their son into joining his drinking games, Helen snaps, and takes her son and goes into hiding, knowing that if her husband finds her he could kill her.
It’s a brilliant study of how a seemingly charming man can turn into a monster under the influence of drink.
Once Woolf has invented Judith Shakespeare, the poet’s sister who eventually kills herself, she can embark on a review of the creative lives of her great predecessors – Jane Austen, George Eliot, and the Brontë sisters, of whom she wrote, that Charlotte Brontë, burnt by rage, died “at war with her lot… young, cramped and thwarted”. (Robert McCrum)
Le Chat, Emily Brontë (1842)
An essay, written in French while Brontë was studying in Belgium. In it, Brontë defends the cat, stating that their self-reliance is far better than the hypocrisy of humans. Quite. (Marc-André)
Once these works are open to free flowing inquiry, the power structures they replicated, espoused and enforced could be questioned. This gave rise to hitherto silenced, marginalised voices. In the process, we gained brilliant rewritings, exhilarating revisions. Entirely new disciplines were born, with their promise of unchartered territories and endless potential. Jean Rhys could challenge the ‘natural’ centrality of a white woman’s story in Jane Eyre in her Wide Sargasso Sea; Chinua Achebe could use a phrase from an Irishman’s poem predicting a Christian apocalypse to tell the story of a Nigerian village threatened by colonisers in Things Fall Apart; Jane Smiley could interrogate the simplistic binaries of good daughter/bad daughter in King Lear to come up with A Thousand Acres, visibilising the structures that sustain gender oppression. These works would not have been possible without scholars and critics who took on revered canonical literature. (Neha Yadav)