Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Jewish Chronicle reviews Samantha Ellis's biography of Anne Brontë, Take Courage.
Ellis’s book doesn’t uncover much that is new but that isn’t really her objective.
Instead, she walks the streets Anne walked, and seeks to understand the youngest Brontë sister: What motivated her? What were her dreams and desires? How did her relationship with her sisters — the troubled Emily and (in Ellis’s view) the condescending Charlotte — shape her writing? How much of her experience as a governess did she bring to Agnes Grey; how much of herself did she see in Helen, who becomes the mistress of her own life?
It’s a fascinating exploration, even if you’re not a Brontë obsessive (if you are, this may not be the in-depth study for you). Ellis frames her chapters with the different influences in Anne’s life, from brother Branwell to aunt Elizabeth; her professional life; and her sisters and their childhood games. She traces how Anne grew as a writer and poet, how she committed her hopes and dreams into fiction but never lost herself to it, in the way that Ellis suggests Emily and Charlotte could. Most of all, this is an enthusiastic celebration of a forgotten powerhouse of Victorian literature; a woman who should be remembered for her own work, and not just as the sibling of two more famous writers. [...]
She only occasionally strays into the personal with Take Courage, which is a shame as the book would have been richer for it; after all, she makes a virtue of how Anne poured out her soul on the page. Nonetheless, Take Courage is a refreshing, accessible piece of literary scholarship. (Jennifer Lipman)
Vagabomb celebrated Anne's birthday yesterday by listing '10 Anne Brontë Quotes That Might Just Place Her above Her Sisters' while Books Tell You Why tried to guess how Anne spoke. On Facebook, The Brontë Society shared a picture of flowers on the Parsonage doorstep with this caption:
Flowers for Anne's birthday. Thank you very much to the person who sends them every year - they are much loved.
It is a lovely detail.

Sheila Kohler writes about telling the truth for Psychology Today.
As a fiction writer I have often been asked the question: how much of this is true? People seem drawn to know what lies behind the stories I have told, how much of my life lies in them. I think this is a legitimate question and one that interests me with other writers. In a way what is being asked is: how do you do it? How do you take the raw matter of life and transform it into fiction? How much truth is here?
It is a question I have asked in some of my historical fiction. In "Becoming Jane Eyre" the question I asked was how did Charlotte Brontë go from writing unsuccessful fiction to her great novel "Jane Eyre," almost overnight.
Dawn finds a Wuthering Heights enthusiast in poet and playwright Irshadullah Khan.
Q: What books are you reading currently? A: I do not get to read much because I am concentrating on my writing. I have written 27 volumes of poetry and four plays and my new book just came out. My work has been performed in 35 countries and translated in many languages. That said, I went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and my subject was English Literature, so over the years, I have read quite a lot, all kinds of literature. My favourite book is Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. I identify with the main character, Heathcliff. He is almost like me, particularly his total love for the woman he loved. This was the most important aspect. And then the way he faced various problems that came his way and were [created for him], which can be taken as a symbol for the problems which society sometimes creates for you.
These are people whom you expect to be on your side and you find that they are not. In Pakistan you are oppressed for many reasons, for example the poor and middle class are being neglected and our society is being totally destroyed, which affects you as a poet. Heathcliff represents a character that stood against his oppressors. (Syeda Shehrbano Kazim)
The Guardian welcomes Penguin's new Book of Dutch Short Stories. There is a problem with Dutch literature:
The reason we don’t know Dutch literature over here, according to Zwagerman, is because they barely know it themselves. The Dutch language has been in such constant flux over the past few centuries, he writes, that “many great works of 17th- and 18th- and 19th-century Dutch literature have to be translated into modern Dutch to make them accessible to the average reader”. Laurence Sterne? Jane Austen? Charlotte Brontë ? Imagine them all lost to us! (Jonathan Gibbs)
The Guardian also features newly-appointed BBC chair David Clementi, who
described himself as an avid TV watcher, saying his “specialist subject is BBC1 and BBC2 between 8pm and 11pm”.
He cited Sherlock, the Agatha Christie adaptation The Witness for the Prosecution and Brontë sisters drama To Walk Invisible as examples of distinctive programming produced over Christmas, and added that the “sheer quality” of other BBC dramas made them distinctive. (Jane Martinson and Jasper Jackson)
The New York Times reviews the New York City Ballet revival of La Sonnambula (choreographed by George Balanchine, with music from Bellini, of course) and wonders,
Is she the Baron’s wife, kept out of sight because she is no longer in her right mind? (Sleepwalking and lunacy have long been linked, as Arlene Croce observed in a 1987 New Yorker essay.) Is she like the first Mrs. Rochester in “Jane Eyre”? No answers are known. (Alastair Macaulay)
The Upcoming reviews Flo Morrissey and Matthew E White's music album Gentlewoman, Ruby Man.
When they’re not covering Rob Ayers’s Everybody Loves the Sunshine, the duo take on Frank Ocean’s Thinking Bout You, from his critically acclaimed album Channel Orange. What Ocean is able to achieve and convey all on his own, the pair share in equal measure, with White’s gravelly voice being the perfect soundboard for the English songwriter’s folksy tone, which at its top end is akin to Kate Bush on Wuthering Heights. (Yusuf Tamanna)
Balivernes posts in French about Wuthering Heights and Greene County Public Library is in the second week of their Online Book Club read of Wuthering Heights.

Finally, here's day 11 of Behind the Scenes at the Brontë Parsonage Museum. Intriguing!


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