Monday, March 06, 2017

Okay, this could be a gag from Monty Python's Flying Circus, but it's not. It's quite real. The Guardian introduces us to the Naked Boys Reading... the Brontës:
And now for a nude lifeguard reciting Jane Eyre … my night with Naked Boys Reading
They stroll on stage and read passages from classics naked. Our writer catches a Brontë reading with a difference in Yorkshire
The Naked Boys Reading collective is what it says on the tin: a literary salon in which naked men read. They are based at the Ace Hotel in London where they have a bimonthly residency; I saw them read in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. Fittingly for Brontë country, the event was themed around sisters, with three naked men plodding on stage with a work by Charlotte, Anne and Emily. The atmosphere was both spirited and academic; themed cocktails were clutched in the hands of the female dominated audience, with a fair bit of jovial heckling in between readings. Watching Naked Boys Reading is an experience akin to a hen do hijacked by a spoken word event: a unexpectedly cerebral night of nude performance art.
“This is a male voice reading a female text written under a male name,” says collective co-founder and self-styled “drag know-it-all” Dr Sharon Husbands, after his reading of the closing passages of Wuthering Heights. “It’s problematic.” Husbands has a PhD in gender and sexuality, and speaking with him before he gets on stage it becomes clear very quickly that Naked Boys Reading is an intellectually considered affair; not least when Husbands solemnly says things like: “The nudity provides two things: a new lens and modality for the texts, and the care-giving experience of being read to.” (...)
But sitting in the audience of Naked Boys Reading, gazing at the naked male body still leaves me tentative. Are the books just a conduit for staring at a bloke’s nethers? Does literature permit this gaze somehow? Either way, I couldn’t help but wonder what the Brontës might have thought. (Lara Williams)
The Inquirer (Philippines) covers the recent presentation (video here) of the digitally restored version of  Hihintayin Kita sa Langit 1991:
Pardon filmmaker Carlos Siguion-Reyna if he cannot help getting finicky while watching the digitally restored version of his 1991 film, “Hihintayin Kita sa Langit.”
During the unveiling of the restored film last Feb. 27 at the Glorietta 4 Cinema, a series of “what-could-have-beens” ran rapidly through his mind.
“I saw some missed opportunities,” he later shared with the Inquirer. “I should have used acoustic music, instead of synthesizers. I should have done the film with original sound instead of dubbing afterwards. I should’ve covered that moment from another angle…and so on.”
But then again, he acknowledged that the film is exactly as it should be, presenting a “picture of me at the time.”
“I really wanted to do the story (a takeoff from Emily Brontë’s ‘Wuthering Heights’), with all the scope and intensity of its characters’ passions and cruelty, the themes of love and revenge, even as we emphasized the class politics,” he said. (Bayani San Diego Jr.)
Los Angeles Review of Books reviews Exquisite Masochism: Marriage, Sex, and the Novel Form by Claire Jarvis:
Reading across novels from Emily Brontë to D. H. Lawrence, Jarvis tracks the career of what she calls “the exquisitely masochistic scene”: “a decadent, descriptive scene of sexual refusal.” The plots of novels from Wuthering Heights to Jude the Obscure, she shows, are wound around erotic tableaux in which women perpetually withhold their erotic favors, while men perpetually enjoy the agony of suspense. Jarvis sees such scenes of refusal as permitting the novelist to talk about sex while “still maintain[ing] a decent distance from pornography.” “Withholding sex, in the Victorian novel, is a perverse way of having it,” she claims.
All of the readings in Exquisite Masochism are variations on Jarvis’s opening case, Catherine’s power over Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. In a scenario that serves as the paradigm for the rest of Jarvis’s book, Catherine reduces Heathcliff to a condition of palpitating anticipation:
Heathcliff had knelt on one knee to embrace her; he attempted to rise, but she seized his hair, and kept him down.
“I wish I could hold you,” she continued, bitterly, “till we both were dead! I shouldn’t care what you suffered. I care nothing for your sufferings. Why shouldn’t you suffer? I do! Will you forget me — will you be happy when I am in the earth?”
Against critics who read Catherine as masochist and Heathcliff as sadist, Jarvis emphasizes the power of Catherine’s imperious grasp to turn Heathcliff to jelly. (...)
But in what Brontë calls the “strange and fearful picture” of Catherine and Heathcliff’s charged encounter, Heathcliff proves able to return icy grasp for icy grasp: “[S]o inadequate was his stock of gentleness […] that on his letting her go, I saw four distinct impressions left blue in the colourless skin.” While masculine submission is a prerequisite, it is not the whole story, since on Jarvis’s account exquisite masochism allows for an “[o]ngoing negotiation” of exchanges of power and erotic energy. If Catherine is Jarvis’s prototypical figure of female control, these scenes suggest that Heathcliff and Catherine take turns turning one another into marble.
“For Brontë,” Jarvis writes, “the masochistic contract is so forceful that it eventually drains people of blood […] While their eventual union is promised, the only way for Catherine and Heathcliff to reach it is to become statues, to die.” Sexy statuary was something of a trend in the late Romantic and early Victorian period, appearing most uncannily in E. T. A. Hoffman’s “The Sandman” (1816). In Théophile Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835), published about 10 years before Wuthering Heights, the hero opines, “Sculpture differs from your veritable mistress only in this, that she is a little harder and does not speak — two very trifling defects!” By showing Wuthering Heights’s yearning to make people into erotic statuary, Jarvis helps us see some aesthetic and erotic preoccupations running from Romanticism all the way to the rise of “sexology” at the end of the 19th century, the period conventionally associated with “masochism” as a social and sexual phenomenon.
From exquisite masochism’s emergence in Wuthering Heights, Jarvis tracks its permutations in Anthony Trollope’s Can You Forgive Her? (1865) and The Way We Live Now (1875). (...)
I am not sure why Jarvis insists on this. Many of the scenes she describes, from Wuthering Heights on, do indeed elicit sensations akin to suspense, rather than sleepiness, in readers. (Does anyone get bored reading about Catherine and Heathcliff?) (Len Gutkin)
The New Yorker has an article on The Invention of Angela Carter by Edmund Gordon:
All of this fed into her developing feminism. She became an ardent feminist, but not an orthodox one. Her concern was not with justice; she hated the idea of put-upon, suffering women, and implied that they had it coming, by being such weaklings. She wanted women to seize what they needed—power, freedom, sex—and she saw no fundamental difference between the sexes that could prevent that. As she wrote to a friend, Carole Roffe:
Somebody asked me who my favorite women writers were the other day, meaning, I guess, some kind of writers who expressed a specifically feminine sensibility—I said Emily Brontë, who’s pure butch, and cursed myself afterwards because the greatest feminine writer who’s ever lived is Dostoevsky, followed closely by Herman Melville, who has just the kind of relish of beautiful boys that emancipated ladies such as yourself express. And D. H. Lawrence is infinitely more feminine than Jane Austen, if one is talking about these qualities of sensitivity, vulnerability and perception traditionally ascribed by male critics to female novelists. . . . D. H. Lawrence’s tragedy is that he thought he was a man.
I don’t know what she means about Dostoyevsky, but her general statement should sound familiar in our day of loose gender definitions. (Joan Acocella)
History Channel reminds us of the fact that on a day like yesterday (March 5, 1839), Charlotte Brontë refused the marriage proposal of Henry Nussey:
Charlotte Bronté (sic) writes to the Reverend Henry Nussey, declining marriage. The 23-year-old Bronté told him that he would find her “romantic and eccentric” and not practical enough to be a clergyman’s wife. Rather than marry, Bronté struggled as a teacher and governess to help support her brother Branwell’s literary aspirations. In the end, Branwell’s excesses destroyed him; his sisters, though, all became literary figures. (Shamini Sellvaratnam)
Keighley News talks about  Sally Cookson's Jane Eyre production which is being performed in Leeds this summer:
Sally Cookson’s energetic and imaginative new adaptation of the literary masterpiece has now been recast, with Nadia Clifford taking the central role of Jane Eyre. Tim Delap plays Rochester, the wealthy but reclusive owner of the moor-top mansion where Jane goes to work as a governess.
This year also marks the 170th anniversary of the first publication of Jane Eyre, and the stage production will visit the Grand Theatre in Leeds from July 31 to August 5. It can also be seen in Salford, Sheffield and York.
The Oregonian recommends the Bag&Baggage production of Polly Teale's Brontë in Hillsboro
The Brontë sisters - Charlotte, author of "Jane Eyre"; Emily, author of "Wuthering Heights"; Anne, also a novelist - were known for their romantic, passionate, even erotic writings despite their sheltered lives as the unmarried daughters of a Yorkshire clergyman. In this Pacific Northwest premiere, the sisters become possessed by their characters as they struggle to cope with a family disgrace. (Amy Wang)
Harper Bazaar's has a list of ten books you should read in your lifetime:
No reading list would be complete without Emily Brönte's (sic) gothic romance, Wuthering Heights. Written as a reaction against the popular romantic fiction of Jane Austen, it is an altogether darker and more complicated tale, set within a frame narrative and spanning two generations. Featuring some of the most beautiful prose in the English canon, its depiction of Heathcliff and Cathy's doomed love affair haunts the reader long after putting down the book. (Rebecca Cope)
Beds and Bedrooms in the Ripon Gazette:

For the servants, of course, it was more likely to be an iron bed in an unheated garret and a cold basin in which to wash that was their lot. It was in such a room at Norton Conyers that the mad servant who inspired Charlotte Brontë to write Jane Eyre was confined. 

The concept of micotravel in The Globe and Mail:
Visitors to Britain now often look for nuanced travel experiences that focus on particular neighbourhoods instead of whole cities, or to explore architectural styles or take targeted walking tours. They can embrace their love of fine china with a visit to the country’s famous potteries or hike through Brontë country. (Barbara Ramsay Orr)
The Guardian interviews the film director Anne Biller:
Her next project, then, initially seems a bit of a curveball. “It’s a Bluebeard movie! I’ve always loved Bluebeard movies, or movies of that kind of plot – Gaslight, Caught, Jane Eyre – all those movies where women are terrified of their husbands, whether the husband’s evil or not, like in Suspicion or Rebecca. The new wife, the new husband – the unknowable male.” Maybe not such unfamiliar turf, then. She nods, chewing the fat. “All women’s pictures. That’s where I’m headed next.” (John Patterson)
No Solo Leo (in Spanish) reviews Jane Eyre 2011; Of Scripted Shadows and Painted Words posts about Wuthering Heights. AnneBrontë.org reviews the Mansions in the Sky exhibition at the Parsonage.

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