Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Great news for The Brontë Society! As Keighley News reports,
The Brontë Society is to receive almost £1 million funding from the Arts Council.
The organisation, which runs the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, will spend the cash over the next four years expanding its work amongst young people, new audiences and online.
The £930,000 boost comes as a result of the Brontë Society being adopted by the Arts Council as one of its National Portfolio Organisations (NPO) from 2018 to 2022.
The society, one of the world’s oldest literary societies, applied to the NPO programme following the Arts Council’s decision to integrate museums into the portfolio.
Kitty Wright, the society’s executive director, described the decision as tremendously exciting.
She said: “The funding will enable us to deepen our work for and with young people and help us reach new and diverse audiences.
“We also look forward to developing our digital offer, so that we can share our work with those currently unable to access it due to distance, disability or other barriers.
“Applying for funding is always a very competitive process and while we recognise that not all of our fellow museums and arts organisations will be as fortunate as ourselves today, we are extremely proud and delighted that the Arts Council has chosen to support our vision and ambition.”
Brontë Society chairman John Thirlwell said the “fantastic” news was particularly welcome as the society was in the midst of celebrating the 200th anniversaries of Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne’s births.
He said: “It’s the icing on the cake and will provide a huge boost to our mission to bring the Brontës to the world and the world to Yorkshire. I look forward to working with everyone at the museum to help us bring all our plans to fruition.” (David Knights)
The Telegraph and Argus also mentions the wonderful news in passing and more in depth in an article about the three local organisations that have now joined the National Portfolio.

The Telegraph and Argus has also spoken to Pete Massey, north director for the Arts Council England.
"And while the Brontë Society has previously received Arts Council support to fund programmes surrounding the bicentenaries of Charlotte, Branwell and Emily Brontë, it now also formally joins our national portfolio.
"It may not be a large attraction in a town or city, but the independent Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth punches far above its weight in terms of visitor numbers and reach – and it’s an important player in the cultural tourism industry in West Yorkshire.
"Bradford Literature Festival and the Brontë Museum are part of a very strong, and thriving, literature sector in the North. We’ve got stories to tell, and our own way of telling them. (Claire Wilde)
The Paris Review comments on the recent article on him published by The Guardian:
Poor Branwell Brontë. He had three brilliant, literary sisters. He had a way of courting misfortune. And, worst of all, he had a first name that sounds like an off-brand cereal from the health-food store. But now that Branwell’s siblings have ascended into the highest reaches of the canon, Emma Butcher argues that we’ve failed to give him his due: “We remember him as the failure of the family. Despite being a passionate poet, writer and artist, he failed to hold down conventional jobs, and repeatedly succumbed to vice. Finally, his world fell apart after the end of an affair with a married woman, Lydia Gisborne, which accelerated his dependence on opiates and alcohol. He died at the young age of thirty-one from the long-term effects of substance abuse … Life threw repeated punches at Branwell, but within this series of unfortunate events there was happiness and worth. We must not forget that the Brontë brother grew up in the same literature-charged environment as his three siblings … Although his influence was not always positive, Branwell remained a primary muse for his sisters, and we should remember him as a major cog in the Brontë writing machine—even if his own work was always ‘minor.’ And the story of a young, talented fantasist failing to make his way in the world resonates with our experiences of hardship and lost dreams.” (Dan Piepenbring)
BookPage reviews The Secret History of Jane Eyre: How Charlotte Brontë Wrote Her Masterpiece by John Pfordresher.
Jane Eyre, which is subtitled “An Autobiography,” is, in many ways, also an autobiography of Charlotte Brontë. Rochester is based in part on Charlotte’s great unrequited love, Constantin Héger, and Charlotte’s sister Maria was the model for doomed little Helen Burns. But in The Secret History of Jane Eyre, John Pfordresher explores how Jane Eyre is more than a superficially autobiographical novel; it is a complex emotional self-portrait of the author. Pfordresher, a professor of English at Georgetown University, is obviously a great admirer of Charlotte, and he uses her letters, earlier work and life experiences to explore his topic. But he also uses the novel itself as a kind of treasure map to find where Charlotte has hidden herself in Jane’s story. In an especially interesting section, Pfordresher uses his expertise in Victorian art to show how Jane’s drawings, as described in the novel, express Charlotte’s deep and turbulent emotional life. The moon, used in many key scenes, is symbolic of Charlotte’s yearning for the mother taken from her at a young age.
This is a fascinating and authoritative book, written with intelligence, wit and affection, and full of surprises. Reader, I recommend it. (Deborah Mason)
While John Pfordresher himself has written on 'Charlotte Brontë’s Teaching Career' for Lapham's Quarterly.
Beginning life as a governess was far more unpleasant for Charlotte Brontë and her sister Anne than it was for Jane Eyre. When only a little more than eighteen years old, Anne served for nine months (April–December 1839) as governess for the Ingham family in charge of their two oldest children. Her novel, Agnes Grey, recounts her disillusionment as she begins to learn what being a governess actually entails.
It opens with its eponymous heroine ironically recalling her happy anticipations: “How delightful it would be to be a governess! To go out into the world; to enter upon a new life; to act for myself; to exercise my unused faculties; to try my unknown powers.” In considering sources for John Reed, we have already met Agnes’ pupil Tom Bloomfield who introduces himself by showing her his trapped birds that he happily tortures. His sister Mary Ann, a six-year-old child, ignores her teacher, literally lying on the floor much of the time. Their mother persistently sides with the children and limits Agnes’ efforts to discipline them. A half year later, Anne Brontë became governess at Thorp Green Hall, where she was happier and remained for several years. After she left she began writing her governess novel Agnes Grey, which Charlotte had read before starting Jane Eyre.
Years later Charlotte Brontë, discussing Agnes Grey with Elizabeth Gaskell, told her: “none but those who had been in the position of a governess could ever realize the dark side of ‘respectable’ human nature…daily giving way to selfishness and ill-temper, till its [i.e., “respectable human nature’s”] conduct towards those dependent on it sometimes amount[s] to a tyranny.” Here she echoes Jane Eyre’s description of John Reed’s “violent tyrannies,” and she remembers as well the ruthless power of his mother Mrs. Reed. Charlotte thought about liberty and justice frequently throughout her adult life. In a letter from 1848, she repeats similar assertions saying that a governess lived “a life of inexpressible misery; tyrannized over, finding her efforts to please and teach utterly vain, chagrined, distressed, worried—so badgered so trodden-on, that she ceased almost at last to know herself…her oppressed mind…prisoned,” and so became unable to imagine that other people might treat her with respect and affection. Here the whole repertoire of Jane Eyre’s first scenes—tyranny, shame, imprisonment—reappears in Charlotte’s summary of what it means to be a governess. She remembered her experiences, and those of her sister Anne, as she sat down to write that novel’s first chapters. (Read more)
Vox has an article on Margaret Atwood now that she's finally 'having her pop culture moment'.
Atwood briefly considered skipping college and supporting herself by writing pulp — “True Romances,” she writes in her essay collection In Other Worlds, “seemed easy enough, as they were all basically some variation of Wuthering Heights, in which the girl wrongly falls for the guy with the motorcycle instead of the one with the steady job at the shoe store” — but she found that she didn’t believe in the genre enough to pull it off. Later, she would give that career to the heroine of Lady Oracle and the hero of The Blind Assassin, both of whom joyfully plow through formulaic plot after formulaic plot and support themselves comfortably in the process. (Constance Grady)
We have a couple of reviews of the film Lady Macbeth from down under:
By contrast, handheld camerawork is used to inject visual energy whenever Catherine gets a taste of freedom – meaning that Oldroyd seems poised midway between preserving the mouldy conventions of British "heritage" cinema, and overturning them as Andrea Arnold did in her bold if not fully successful adaptation of Wuthering Heights. (Jake Wilson in The Sydney Morning Herald)
If anywhere was going to physically represent the repression of a person, it’s the gloomy landscapes of Northumberland. Recalling the bleakness of Wuthering Heights, the long and wind-chilled moments of the first act are a study in arrested development and sexual frustration. The film cuts loose as Katherine does, with a key sequence of the Lady discovering what ‘the help’ get up to marking a turning point for the narrative. Passionate sex is juxtaposed with stately tea with the vicar, and she becomes capable of doling out cruelty with equal relish. (Richard Gray on The Reel Bits)
Another film, The Beguiled, is reviewed by Monkeys Fighting Robots:
The viewers know the underlying jealousy between the girls and it makes every glance much more uncomfortable. Not since Jane Eyre has glancing and small touches meant so much. (EJ Moreno)
Both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are among '200 Awesome books for women' (apparently, the list was 'compiled based on votes from the Goodreads community'). as reported by Medium.

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