Monday, April 17, 2017

The Guardian adds Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Brontë to their 100 best nonfiction books list:
Charlotte Brontë, who died in 1855 aged 38, might almost have been an Elizabeth Gaskell heroine. Like Margaret Hale in North and South (1855), or Molly Gibson in Wives and Daughters (1864), she’d had to look after a widowed and cantankerous father in very difficult circumstances, facing the grim realities of sickness and death. Perhaps it was this that inspired an extraordinary friendship between two great Victorian writers, which would ultimately blossom into one of the most remarkable literary biographies in English prose.
The two novelists first met in the Lake District in the summer of 1850. They were, in many respects, polar opposites. Gaskell was beautiful, worldly and dizzyingly public: a mother of four; familiar with Florence Nightingale, Ruskin, Thomas Carlyle, and even Dickens, with whom she did not get on (“If I were Mr G,” exclaimed Dickens, “oh heaven, how I would beat her”). By contrast, Brontë (pseudonymously hiding behind “Currer Bell”) was a sickly, self-effacing, reclusive woman, appalled by children, who hardly ever ventured into literary London. Yet each was fascinated by the other.
Brontë had soon invited Mrs Gaskell to Haworth, a rare honour, and Gaskell was also deeply impressed by her new friend. “Such a life as Miss Brontë’s I have never heard of before,” she marvelled to one correspondent. (...)
Gaskell is much more comfortable at Haworth than in literary London, and she paints an unforgettable portrait of the home life of the sisters in general, and Charlotte in particular. Her use of the letters of Ellen Nussey, a family friend, illustrates her determination to present an overall picture of the artist growing up in an emotionally starved, and tortured domestic society that remains both fascinating and appalling. Gaskell’s account of Haworth was both the making of the Life, and the source of an ongoing controversy. The facts remain that the terrible sequence of the deaths of Branwell, Emily and Anne, braided with a life overshadowed by the tyrannical “eccentricities” of their father, placed an almost unimaginable burden on the mind of a deeply sensitive and thoughtful novelist.
Gaskell herself was certain she had done her best. She wrote to Nussey that “I weighed every line with my whole power and heart” to fulfil the biographer’s “great purpose of making her known”. For some, indeed, Gaskell’s Life is her best book. (Read more) (Robert McCrum)
Columbia Daily Tribune interviews Lyndsay Faye, author of Jane Steele:
Jane Steele” initially was a “thought exercise” springing from multiple re-reads of Brontë’s classic. In that work, a young Jane Eyre stands up for herself, calling out the hypocrisy of adults who label her wicked.
As an adult, that scene resonated differently than it did when Faye read it as a child. Eyre’s reply seemed a bit preternatural or “precocious.”
Children are “much more inclined to absorb the things adults are saying about them — particularly when there’s a consensus on the subject, that she’s a terrible person,” she said.
What if, instead, Eyre swallowed that diagnosis and owned it? What if she wandered into morally ambiguous ground, killing people under circumstances that blurred lines between provocation and justification, cold-blooded intent and self-defense? These are the questions at the heart of “Jane Steele.” (Aarik Danielsen)
Bleeding Cool reviews the Dr Who comic series: A Matter of Life and Death:
The five-part series is written by George Mann and drawn by Emma Vieceli and features the 8th Doctor arriving at a cabin he owns that a painter named Josie Day is squatting in. He’s there for a copy of an Emily Brontë book where he finds a list of space coordinates that a different version of the Doctor left for him. (Dan Wickline)
As you can see, it is not Emily Brontë, but Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre the book the doctor is looking for.

Counting the words 'he' and 'she' in a book could be a curious thing to do, to elaborate a gender-oriented theory around it seems a rather more bizarre thing to do. Nevertheless, Ben Blatt does it in  Los Angeles Times:
There has been some progress, however. I compared the books on the AP exam for the most recent seven years to those from the first seven years for which data is available. Between 1976 and 1983, only two books by women made the cut — “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë and “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë — and all the books by men had more “he” than “she,” by a collective ratio of more than 3 to 1.
Mashable lists editions of classic books with beautiful new covers. Including
Jane Eyre (Penguin Drop Caps) , a series of 26 books that highlight one great author per letter in the alphabet, may be the most Instagrammable books ever created. The cover of each simply features the first letter of the author's last name, but each uniquely designed to fit the tone and context of the book. With a stately B for Brontë going up in flames, this book is the right way to read Jane Eyre. (Christine Wang)
Olivia Loksing Moy publishes an interesting article on Public Books about to discuss or contextualise the Brontës among Taiwanese students:
On the occasion of Charlotte Brontë’s 200th birthday, I did not make a literary pilgrimage to her family home in Haworth, England, but instead traveled to the cities of Taipei and Kaohsiung, where I had been invited by several universities to lecture on Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. Because the distance between the Brontës and these Taiwanese students included not just linguistic but also vast geographical and temporal barriers, I found that the most effective way to close the gap—between Currer and Ellis Bell writing in the 1830s–1840s and university students in 2016 Kaohsiung—was through adaptation rather than translation. In my guest lectures and the group conversations that followed, we discussed relatively recent Asian and Asian American novels based on Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, namely Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel (2002) and Patricia Park’s Re: Jane (2015)
El Universal (México) explores the tropes of the western genre in film:
Del mismo modo en que la ira de Heathcliff en la novela Cumbres borrascosas se identificaba con los truenos y nubarrones de los páramos de Yorkshire, en Inglaterra, y enmarcaba un romanticismo caracterizado por la identificación de las emociones humanas con las fuerzas de la naturaleza, estos forajidos eran hombres convincentemente desapegados y nómadas, que dominan su trama y contexto natural salvaje y engañoso; entre sus largos viajes a caballo bajo las estrellas y el sol, se identifican más con la vagancia del coyote o la impía y escurridiza serpiente del desierto. (Daniel Sánchez Poitevin) (Translation)
Message F. Leigh (in Japanese) has visited Haworth; AnneBrontë.org posts about Anne, Easter and bluebells.

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