Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Jezebel's Pictorial has a lovely article on the exhibition Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York.
“In Memory of Charlotte Nicholls,” the plainly printed, black and white memorial card from 1855 reads. The card, which is included at the end of the Morgan Library and Museums’s exhibition, “Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will,” is almost startling to see, a simple reminder that the author of some of English literature’s most enduring female protagonists had, at the end of her life, taken a new name. Virtually nobody recognizes the name Charlotte Nicholls, though that was who Charlotte Brontë, recently married to Arthur Bell Nicholls, was when she died at the age of 38. Though Brontë had many names—from Mrs. Nicholls to Currer Bell—what endures is her particular boldness.
“My goal was to present ‘bold Miss Brontë’ not ‘poor Miss Brontë,’” Christine Nelson, the curator of the exhibition told Jezebel. “Poor Miss Brontë,” Nelson notes, is how Elizabeth Gaskell described Brontë to her friends as she was preparing The Life of Charlotte Brontë, a salaciously fun biography that became the source for some of the most enduring Brontë stereotypes. Gaskell’s Brontë was simultaneously an otherworldly creature reared at the gloomy Haworth Parsonage, a tragic figure whose life was defined by loss, and a socially awkward small-town writer. How much of Gaskell’s portrait of Brontë is accurate is debatable yet her rendering abides.
The Morgan’s exhibition offers a different image of Brontë, done to commemorate the author’s 200th anniversary. “As interesting as her personal story is and all the losses and the pain, I decided that I really wanted to focus on her development as an artist,” Nelson said. She spent two years planning the exhibition, drawing from the Morgan’s own extensive collection of Brontë manuscripts and borrowing objects from the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth, the National Portrait Gallery in London and the British Museum. “They never lend [these] things,” Nelson said, “so it was an extraordinary opportunity to bring these to America.”
Nelson has gathered nearly every relic associated Charlotte Brontë—from Branwell Brontë’s portrait of his famous sisters to the miniature books, fair copies of the novels, letters, and watercolor paintings—and framed them with an appealing installation and intellectual narrative. (Stassa Edwards) (Read more)
Socialist Worker reviews To Walk Invisible from a socialist point of view.
To Walk Invisible is a thoughtful TV drama but the turmoil and struggle of the time Charlotte, Emily and Anne wrote about doesn’t get a look in [...]
The Bronte sisters are often characterised as using their bleak West Yorkshire surroundings to write brilliant novels. The much bleaker personal circumstances that drove them to write is less talked about. [...]
Having said that, the Brontës were well off. Their lives were nothing like the lives of most women in the early 19th century.
It is striking that Charlotte complains to Emily about life being so much harder for women before casually asking, “Are you still going to Paris?”
The dialogue is good and there’s humour in it. It feels true to life—as the women felt their novels were, compared to the sanitised novels of the time.
Their determination to succeed—sending manuscript after manuscript to different publishers—is impressive. They have to dupe the postman in order to get the replies, which are of course addressed to men who don’t exist.
But Emily is characterised as more likeable than Charlotte, who is the most determined. It isn’t clear if this is a judgement on how women should behave.
And there isn’t much detail of their work in the programme, save for some of Emily’s poems.
The Brontës wrote at a time of social turmoil and class struggle.
There is little reference to this besides Charlotte noting that one reviewer described the author of Jane Eyre as linked to revolution in Europe and Chartism, a huge working class movement that put fear in the heart of the British establishment.
There’s a question over whether the settings are too sanitised—there are no open sewers in the street, for instance. And there’s an awful sentimental scene nearer the end.
But none of this should put you off watching this moving and thoughtful programme. (Sadie Robinson)
We haven't seen it yet but bearing in mind that Sally Wainwright wanted to escape from the 'chocolate-box' image of the Brontës, it is strange to see the production labelled as 'too sanitised'.

So here's a not too sanitised at all headline and article courtesy of Bustle: 'How Jane Eyre Pooped — And More Horrifying Facts About Life In Victorian England'. It's an article by Therese Oneill, author of the book  Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage and Manners.
[Charlotte] Brontë, who wrote Jane Eyre in 1847, could not write explicitly about pooping either. But she did take pains to show the grittier, shittier side of life. She wrote about characters who had sex off-page, with prostitutes even. People who got drunk to deal with their lot in life. Children who were beaten, or who died slow deaths. Brontë let the ink of reality stain her pages. (A very personal reality; much of Jane’s life was a retelling of Charlotte’s own). Jane and everyone around her suffers, as humans do, especially in the cold and dirty decades that composed the 19th century.
I have always been interested in the blood, bile and bite beneath the surface of sanitized stories. So I’ve searched, and believe I can help fill in a few blanks about the daily details of Victorian life that Brontë’s readers would have already known, but have long since been forgotten: (Read more)
Bustle has also compiled a list of 'The 14 Most Toxic Male Characters Of All Time'.
1. Heathcliff
Yeah, Cathy is worse. But Heathcliff is bad. Like, yes, Heathcliff, your childhood was no good, but that does not give you license to be an abusive father to Linton and all those other Next Gen Wuthering Heights kids. Heathcliff and Cathy have this whole "romance" that's pretty much just them gaslighting each other and making out. After Cathy dies, Heathcliff becomes even worse, and forces his son Linton to marry Cathy's daughter, Cathy Jr., making Heathcliff notable because he is both a terrible boyfriend and a terrible dad.[...]
4. Mr. Rochester
...what was going down in the Brontë household? No, really. Charlotte and Emily, are you guys OK? Because both of you seem to think that "angry" and "alcoholic" and "borderline violent" are sexy qualities in a man. I love Mr. Rochester with all of my dorky fangirl heart, but dude locked his wife in the attic for years and never told his new girlfriend? That's not cool, man. Bertha needs a psychotherapist, not a locked attic room. Jane Eyre deserved so much better (but not St. John Rivers, stay away from me, St. John Rivers apologists). (Charlotte Ahlin)
And then there was Anne to prove that those aren't sexy qualities in a man in the shape of Arthur Huntingdon.

Back to the usual sort of list now, with this selection of '9 Utterly Romantic Books To Lose Yourself In Over The Holidays' from AmReading.
1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Emily Brontë’s only novel, this is one of the most intense relationships to be found in literature, firmly dividing readers between those who love it and those who hate it. What cannot be denied is the passion between Catherine and Heathcliff. Perfect for a stormy winter’s night in. (Nicole Nolan)
Poetry Foundation asks contributors to share what thay have been reading lately poetry-wise.
Elizabeth-Jane Burnett
On my desk right now are: The Empathetic Store by Jackie Kay, Lara by Bernardine Evaristo, Correspondences by Nisha Ramayya, and 199 Japanese Names for Japanese Trees by Sascha Aurora Akhtar. I bought the Jackie Kay book at an event we read at, at the Migration Museum in London. The venue was running an exhibition with artwork from the Calais Jungle. It was an intense evening during which Kay’s poem “Would Jane Eyre Come to the Information Desk,” featuring a Jamaican woman called Bertha having trouble getting past Heathrow airport security, provided a burst of gallows humor. (Lindsay Garbutt)
BookRiot has tips for bibliophiles on how to 'Read Through a Season of Family Gatherings'.
8. Go to bed early.
No one is going to fault you for being exhausted at, say, 9pm. Especially when you’ve been travelling for infinity squared hours, waiting in ungodly lines and lugging a sleigh’s worth of presents halfway across the world. So don’t stay up to wait for Santa. The kids are in bed (hopefully) and you can be in bed too. No one needs to know that you’re going to spend a couple of hours reading Jane Eyre for the eleventeenth time. (Bronwyn Averett)
Northen Ballet's take on Jane Eyre has made it onto The Guardian's list of 'top 10 dance shows of 2016'.
10. Jane Eyre
Cast, Doncaster, and UK tour
There were moments when Cathy Marston’s new work for Northern Ballet got lost in the detours of Charlotte Brontë’s plot, but it kept exemplary and imaginative faith with the prickly independence and righteous anger of its heroine. Marston displayed a novelist’s attention to nuance as her choreography charted Jane’s journey from the jagged tantrums of her childhood, through the wary self-containment of her adult self, to finding tenderness in her closing love duet with Rochester. (Judith Mackrell)
The Inquirer reviews the Star Wars film Rogue One and wonders:
The marvelous British actor Felicity Jones, whose talents were wasted in the Dan Brown snoozer Inferno, stars as rebel youngster Jyn Erso. (Is it just me, or does that sound an awful lot like Jane Eyre?) (Tirdad Derakhshani)
El Periódico (Spain) selects Jane, le renard et moi as one of 40 comic books and graphic novels recommendations for the holiday season. Staff from the Brontë Parsonage Museum as well as other lucky people attended last night's screening of To Walk invisible in Hebden Bridge and were enthusiastic about it on Twitter.


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