Sunday, January 08, 2017

Sunday, January 08, 2017 11:18 am by M. in , , , , ,    1 comment
More reviews of Samantha Ellis's Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life. The Telegraph has a lukewarm reception:
Ellis’s light and wide-ranging study is a mix of textual criticism, biographical shavings (Anne’s letters have not survived) and Ellis’s musings about her journey towards her subject. She is least persuasive when in championing Anne she is dismissive of her sisters. She criticises Emily for “escapism” and failing to emerge from the fantasy of the juvenilia, and Charlotte for having recourse to the supernatural. (...)
Ellis’s main case is that Anne has been misrepresented as morbidly religious and retiring when, in fact, she was full of attack, better than her siblings at life and better, in her work, at remaining true to what she knew. Wildfell’s “relentless realism means that no one can read it and say it could never happen”.
Well, yes and no. In Wildfell, Anne takes all sorts of chances – giving startlingly credible portraits of the deterioration of Arthur Huntingdon, Helen’s first husband, while the violent temper of her second spouse, the farmer Gilbert Markham, lies like an unacknowledged shadow across that apparently successful union. But it is as though Anne only dares these plot lines by making Helen blameless to the point of lifelessness.
With the priggish Agnes Grey, the problem is more extreme – as Agnes tells all of her own story, there is no escaping her tone of querulous complacency. It is hardly surprising that her employer begged her not to be so “touchy”. A greater novelist might be refusing the easy path of likeable heroines, as Austen could with Fanny Price. But if all we had by way of Austen’s heroines was Fanny Price with the wicked Mary Crawford as foil, then perhaps we would be less forgiving of the experimental Mansfield Park.That Anne Brontë’s novels are more interesting than her sister allowed doesn’t mean they are as interesting as Ellis would make them. She was a different sort of novelist from either Charlotte or Emily, one whose piety sometimes got in the way of her imagination, who was temperamentally more attuned to wrongs than rights. It may be that she is the least read of the three for the good enough reason that her daring has dated in ways that theirs has not. (Claudia FitzHerbert)
The Guardian is more positive about the book:
 In this sprightly book, Samantha Ellis sets out to give Anne her due. Ellis is a practitioner of a new genre – chick-lit-crit. In her previous book, How to Be a Heroine, she mashed up literary criticism with an essay on self-help. In Take Courage, she mixes her own story in with Anne’s. As she begins, Ellis is single, going on 40, prone to seizures and anxious about all three conditions. By the end, she’s marrying a good man and feeling because “there’s nothing that can soften this. Nothing. She didn’t even make 30.” But Anne’s sad ending is balanced by her own happy one. “Take courage” were Anne’s last words. Ellis comes away uplifted.
She uses the vocabulary of popular journalism: “eye-watering”; “phenomenal”; “achingly fashionable”. She is given to speculation – the words “Anne must have” recur – but Ellis has done her research. She starts off acting wide eyed but soon she is giving us sensational and pertinent extracts from the writings of William Carus Wilson, the founder of the school in which the two eldest Brontë girls died. She demonstrates that the mournful sequence of Brontë deaths is an instance of a ghastly historical reality (the average life expectancy in Haworth in Anne’s lifetime was 26) and material for the maudlin contemporary cult of the happy deathbed. “Anne didn’t want to die,” writes Ellis. “Of course she didn’t.” Her indignation is salutary. (...)
She is combative on Anne’s behalf. As her champion, she identifies Charlotte as her opponent. Anne died at the age of 29. Charlotte lived another six years, during which she changed her youngest sister’s poems, disparaged her novels (“Wildfell Hall, it hardly appears to me desirable to preserve”) and belittled her personally. Anne lived, wrote Charlotte, “in the shade”, covered “with a sort of nun-like veil”. Ellis argues that it was Charlotte who cast the shade and drew the veil. (Lucy Hugues-Hallett)
The Independent (Ireland) lists some wellness breaks:
This is one for budding hill-walkers with a yen for English literature and history. The seven-day guided walking holiday in the Yorkshire Dales combines a good mix of challenging walks, exploring the wild countryside and spectacular limestone scenery, home to famous Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, with historical locations and charming villages. Daily walks average approximately eight to 18km and include a good dose of downtime. Highlights include walks in Top Withens, inspiration for the novel Wuthering Heights, and a visit to the Brontë Parsonage, where the sisters lived.
Also in The Independent (Ireland) a brief review of To Walk Invisible:
Written and directed by Sally Wainwright, To Walk Invisible  told the story of how the three Brontë sisters struggled to cope both with the additively self-destructive behaviour of brother Branwell and with the publishers of the masterpieces they wrote while purporting to be male authors.
As portrayed by Adam Nagaitis, Branwell was so whingingly self-obsessed that you wondered why anyone put up with him even for an instant, but when the drama focused on the sisters, it became utterly absorbing - not surprising to anyone who has marvelled at Wainwright's depiction of the women characters in both Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax.
Chloe Pirrie was a gauntly spirited Emily, Finn Atkins a determinedly steely Charlotte, and Charlie Murphy had a lovely presence as the gentler Anne, with fine support from Jonathan Pryce as the father of these three geniuses and of the intolerable Branwell. (John Boland)
Vertigo24 (in Italian) also reviews To Walk Invisible:
La delicatezza della narrazione, della regia, e di una fotografia perfettamente in linea con l’ambientazione vittoriana, ci trasporta per due ore in uno spaccato di vita tutt’altro che facile da osservare e comprendere. L’arte ha sempre avuto i suoi nemici, primo fra tutti l’incomprensione del suo valore, pressoché considerato personale o destinato a svanire. In questo caso, la prova dell’eternità delle sorelle Brontë è più che attuale, ed è con tenerezza che ne osserviamo le origini in una ricostruzione televisiva. (Daniela Giacipola) (Translation)
Not everyone is happy about the production. Some mumbling nonsense and silly nitpicking complaints here and here.

All about Romance reviews the Manga Classics edition of Jane Eyre:
The entire team behind this book has done a great job capturing the many spirits of a huge, thoughtful work. Jane’s coming-of-age story, the Jane/Rochester love story, themes of class and religion – it’s all there. I loved this adaptation and highly recommend it. (Caroline Russomanno)
The Express Tribune mentions the Brontës:
We were very lucky to have had dedicated teachers who certainly knew their subjects. Two of them, Mr Sacket and Mr Llewelyn, were rather friendly and now and then came up with a droll story. They were also sticklers for adhering to the syllabus. That year we had Robert Louis Stevenson and I believe one of the Brontë sisters. And in the poetry department there was Wordsworth, Byron and Macaulay. (Anwer Mooraj)
Elle (Vietnam) lists classic novels about love. Wuthering Heights is on the list
1. Đồi gió hú (Wuthering Heights)
Tình yêu trong tác phẩm văn học Đồi gió hú là mối tình tay ba giữa Heathcliff-Catherine Earnshaw-Edgar Linton. Heathcliff vốn là đứa trẻ mồ côi được cha của Catherine- ông Earnshaw nhận làm con nuôi. Catherine với tính cách phóng khoáng và hoang dại của mình đã nhanh chóng thân thiết với Heathcliff. Tình yêu giữa họ cũng bắt đầu nảy sinh từ đây. Nhưng do chênh lệch địa vị xã hội, Catherine chọn lựa thân thiết với Edgar Linton (cậu con trai cả hòa nhã và có học thức của nhà Linton) và cuối cùng chấp nhận lời cầu hôn của Edgar.
Catherine cưới Edgar Linton, khiến Heathcliff đau khổ và tuyệt vọng. Sau khi bỏ đi và tạo dựng được tài sản, Heathcliff quay trở về để trả thù. Chính sự mù quáng trong tình yêu của Heathcliff đã gây nên chuỗi ngày đau khổ cho tất cả mọi người, người Heathcliff ghét, người ông ta yêu và cho chính bản thân mình. Không chỉ dừng lại ở đó, Emily Brontë còn khai thác triệt để sự thù hận trong con người Heathcliff. Những nỗi đau do tình yêu và thù hận sinh ra bị Heathcliff đẩy lên thế hệ tiếp nối của các nhận vật chính trong chuyện. Sự oán hận tình yêu trong Heathcliff chỉ thực sự chấm dứt ông ta được chôn cạnh Catherine.
Toàn bộ câu chuyện diễn ra ở vùng đồng cỏ hoang vắng xứ Yorkshire nước Anh cùng lượng nhận vật ít. Thế nhưng Emily Brontë lại tạo ra một bi kịch quá lớn do tình yêu cuồng si, do cách đối xử tàn nhẫn giữa con người với nhau. Đây là tác phẩm văn học duy nhất trong cuộc đời của Emily Brontë, và cũng được bình chọn là tác phẩm xuất sắc nhất của chị em nhà Brontë. Tác phẩm xuất bản lần đầu tiên vào năm 1847 và được tái bản lần thứ hai sau khi Emily qua đời. (Linh Trang Trần) (Translation)
MeltyFashion (in French) recommends books to read if you like Jane Austen:
Le classique : Jane Eyre (par Charlotte Brontë)
De quoi ça parle ? - Une jeune gouvernante tombe amoureuse du père des enfants dont elle s'occupe. Elle fait de son mieux pour réfréner ses sentiments et finit par découvrir que la première femme de Rochester est en réalité enfermée par son mari à cause de sa folie.
Pourquoi faut-il le lire ?- Au delà du fait que cela soit l'un des plus beaux livres de la littérature anglaise, il faut savoir que l'histoire de Jane Eyre est vraie - le personnage étant Charlotte Brontë elle-même. Jane Eyre est un beau mélange de passion, de drame et de récit autobiographique et ce simple cocktail en fait un livre à lire absolument. (Marine Pineau) (Translation)
Malaysian Meanders has visited Haworth and the Parsonage; Mysterious Soul reviews Jane Eyre.

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting how to make a case for one's favorite Bronte,people often feel the need to disparage the others.Is it a contest? Indeed, Emily never left Gondal, but she was happy with such a life and also very effective in her every day one.That sounds like a success to me. Branwell couldn't leave the inward scenes of their childhood either. However he insisted on mixing that world with his physical existence and with disastrous results. Part of what took Charlotte so long to decide to marry Arthur Bell Nicholls was she needed that time to cobble together a way out of Angria once and for all to accept the half full cup and be very glad for it. Anne seems to be the only Bronte sibling who left their" under world" of her own volition.

    Certainly no other Bronte could have stuck with a governess job like Anne did! There was Bronte steel within that breast. It makes one think of Patrick's earlier struggle to rise in the world at Cambridge and his studies were far more congenial to him than Anne's chores at Thorpe Green!

    The lack of understanding between Charlotte and Anne seems to stem in part from the fact the adult Anne needed no interpreter between herself and the world. CB liked to be in charge of that and for the sake of peace,and because she was busy at Thorpe Green, Anne allowed it. However once she left the Robbinson's , Anne takes command and makes her own decisions; such as staying with Newby ,writing Wildfell despite ill health and CB's opposition and getting herself , her sister and Ellen to Scarborough at the end. Tough battles she fought and won. Anne had the full measure of the stubborn Bronte streak and how! We cannot judge what was within Anne as a writer since she died in a writer's infancy....we are left with what she wrestled from working full time, indifferent health and fate . It's impressive.Wildfell is a marvel and Anne was the most published Bronte sister at the time of her death. In later years, Anne's brother in law, Rev Nicholls , said the " gentle Anne " persona wasn't true. Anne was a full blooded Bronte indeed.

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