Friday, January 13, 2017

Inspired by Samantha Ellis's biography of Anne Brontë, Take Courage, Claire Harman writes about the youngest Brontë in The Guardian.
Separating a Brontë from the family context is hard to do, but ever since the first separate biography of Anne in 1959 by Winifred Gérin, a cult within the cult has grown of Anne as the connoisseur’s choice among the sisters. There is plenty to admire in this supposed literary wallflower. It was Anne who, in Agnes Grey, addressed issues of female self-worth and autonomy before Charlotte jazzed up the same themes in Jane Eyre, and Anne who powered on through the commercial failure of her first novel to write about the horrors of living with a man on the skids (based on her brother, Branwell), urging an important moral message on “the young and thoughtless traveller”. It was Anne, the least neurotic or peculiar inhabitant of the parsonage, who bucked the family trend and stuck at a job she hated for five years, who understood Emily best, got on with things unobtrusively, was tenacious, loyal and dutiful.
The playwright and journalist Samantha Ellis is the latest to promote Anne Brontë’s excellence, which, as a recent convert from Emily fandom, she does with neophyte fervour. As with her last book, How to Be a Heroine, Ellis weaves her thoughts on literature into a personal narrative, this time taking stock of her life and achievements aged 40 as she edges hesitantly towards emotional commitment and marriage. “If ... I can arrive at any kind of truth about Anne, what will I learn?”
Ellis mines Anne’s poems, two novels and five surviving letters for clues, and finds a woman of penetrating intelligence and courage, whose riposte to critics on the question of the sex of “Acton Bell” was superbly pithy: “I am satisfied that if a book is a good one, it is so whatever the sex of the author may be.” She is good on all aspects of Brontë’s bravery in her works and her relentless self-questioning in private, as in a marginal note in her bible: “What, Where, and How Shall I Be When I Have Got Through?” This echoes through Ellis’s account of her own questioning of focus and priorities, all assiduously tagged to the research for her book. Might she end up living in Haworth, like uber-Brontë biographer, Gérin? Probably not. “Anne realised that at some point you have to stop living in someone else’s stories and write your own.” [...]
Sally Wainwright’s bracing characterisation of Anne in her recent TV drama To Walk Invisible got quickly to the heart of the author’s intelligence and sympathy, but did so by eliminating the factors which, in life, prevented those qualities from being readily evident; the intense reserve, the plainness, the speech impediment, the habitual near‑silence. Non-fiction needs to be less idealistic. Publisher George Smith’s impression was of “a gentle, quiet, rather subdued person”, whose “manner was curiously expressive of a wish for protection and encouragement”; Charlotte spoke of “a sort of nun-like veil” over her sister’s feelings, rarely lifted. To ignore these testimonies is to miss the essence of Anne Brontë’s life, the huge gulf that existed between how she felt and how she behaved, how she lived and what she wrote. Her “art of life” was to conduct most of it in writing.
Samantha Ellis herself has written a piece for Foyles.
When Anne Brontë died of TB at just 29 in 1849, her bold second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, was already a bestseller. The first edition had sold out in six weeks. Her debut, Agnes Grey, wasn’t doing too shabbily either, and her poems were being published in literary magazines. So why did she fall into obscurity? How did she become 'the other Brontë'? Why have neither of her novels hit the big screen, let alone inspired a hit song by Kate Bush? Why does she have a reputation for being the dull, less talented Brontë? Why does hardly anyone read her?
When I started writing my book, Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life, I had a hunch that maybe it was because Anne was just too radical. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’s heroine Helen starts out like all the Brontë heroines, falling for a sexy, dangerous cad. But he turns out to be an abusive alcoholic, and she leaves him. In 1848, this wasn’t just unusual; it was illegal. Helen spends most of the book as a fugitive, on the edge of society, casting a merciless eye on men.
This would have been shocking from a male writer, but from a woman it was unforgiveable. Although Anne and her sisters had published under androgynous pseudonyms — Anne’s was Acton Bell — the critics suspected that they were women. They found Jane Eyre revolutionary (and not in a good way), Wuthering Heights coarse, and  The Tenant of Wildfell Hall simply 'unwomanly'. One publication even warned its readers 'especially our lady-readers' to avoid the book altogether. But that didn’t stop it selling. And it might have gone on selling, if it weren’t for the fact that Anne’s older sister Charlotte didn’t like it either. (Read more)
Express reviews the book The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin and finds 'A real Eyre of Brontë about this killer plot'.
Annaleigh is a foundling, adopted by kindly portrait painter Jared Calvert whose surname she takes. Devoted to Jared’s stepson Kit, Annaleigh is heartbroken when she realises that Jared and his wife Melisende intend for Kit to marry a girl with better prospects.
She decides to flee not just from the Calverts’ house but from London, taking a position as housekeeper in remote Yorkshire house White Windows. Used to the hustle and bustle of London streets, Annaleigh hates the desolation of the Yorkshire moors and takes no comfort from the myriad colours that her painter-trained eye sees in the landscape.
And her job proves to be anything but a sinecure. She is a maid of all works rather than a housekeeper, expected to cook, scrub floors and lay fires in a house which makes Wuthering Heights look welcoming. She is disturbed by the abandoned clothes of her predecessor who left White Windows suddenly under a cloud. Her only companions are two surly servants, Christopher Sorsby and his French wife Jeanne. (Charlotte Heathcote)
Awesome Gang has interviewed writer Nikita Goel:
What authors, or books have influenced you? I am a die hard fan of Brontë Sisters. My favourite books include- Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, John Keats, Paulo Coehlo and Robin Sharma have influenced my life to a great extent through their writings.
Waiting for Godot” is another book that changed me as a person.
El Comercio (Perú) shares an excerpt from the beginning of Por breve herida, a novel by Margo Glantz.
El opio en la Inglaterra de su tiempo se vendía en las farmacias y era muy barato, se usaba universalmente por todas las clases sociales. Las damas de compañía y las nanas les daban gotas de láudano a los ancianos y a los niños para adormecerlos.
Los juegos de infancia de los Brontë fueron intelectuales desde muy temprano. Existen numerosas pruebas de su precocidad: sus obsesiones, presentes en las novelas de las tres hermanas, ya se revelaban en los cuadernillos que escribieron cuando eran niñas. En ellos destaca la figura diabólica y vampiresca de Lord Byron. Branwell, considerado como el más dotado de los hermanos, y cuyo desastroso final es típicamente romántico y literario, muere de tuberculosis. Al igual que sus famosos contemporáneos, era adicto al opio, distribuido en forma de gotas o de píldoras económicas que el joven compraba a seis peniques la caja en una farmacia que visité cuando estuve en Haworth, pueblecito inglés cuyo cementerio está situado frente a la casa donde vivieron, murieron y escribieron Ann [sic], Charlotte y Emily.
En el establecimiento donde Branwell compraba sus remesas de láudano, se venden ahora manitas de jabón color de rosa que de manera extraña simulan muñones. (Translation)
New Statesman describes Tom Hardy's character in Taboo as
Bill Sykes, Sherlock Holmes, Hannibal Lecter, Heathcliff, Dr Faustus and Donald Duck all rolled into one. OK, not Donald Duck. But you get the picture. (Rachel Cooke)
The Hindu discusses how we relate and react to fictional characters.
The question becomes more specific when it asks whether the emotions that you experience while watching a movie or reading a book are real? How come then you can munch into caramel popcorn while watching a murder scene? Does that not mean the emotion of fear that you face in real life is quite different from a similar experience a fictional character goes through?
Kathleen Stock answers with an example, “My favourite book is ‘Jane Eyre’. In the first half of the book, it is harrowing for the reader for Jane goes through a tough time…If you find a person who responds to fear and pity in a fellow human in real life, but does not to Jane Eyre…that would something unimaginable…ordinarily, emotions with respect to people around us, not fictional characters, seem to exist with some properties…let us concentrate on fear and pity. When you fear something, characteristically you believe that thing exists and you believe that is threatening in some respect. So there is a rational basis for your emotion. Equally when you pity someone, you believe the situation exists, and you believe they are deserving of pity. So that is one characteristic that is absent in terms of fiction.” (Sudhamahi Regunathan)
According to The Telegraph and Argus, 'Visit Bradford is urging locals and visitors to see what the area has to offer'.
The destination marketing organisation for Bradford Council said the district was "a paradise" for walkers, cyclists and those simply seeking to escape everyday stresses for a few hours.
It highlighted Brontë Country, which has seen a surge in visitors following the screening at Christmas of the BBC drama To Walk Invisible, about the lives of the famous Haworth family.
Ironically its plea comes as public consultation gets underway into the future of the council's tourism service, including controversial plans to close Haworth Visitor Information Centre (VIC).
A review commissioned by the local authority is recommending that Bradford VIC should be retained, at the expense of the district's three others – Haworth, Ilkley and Saltaire.
Campaigners have vowed to fight the move. (Alistair Shand)
Actualidad literatura (Spain) looks at some of the actors who have played Rochester on the big screen.

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