Saturday, July 08, 2017

The London Review of Books Blog has a fascinating article on a dinner service created by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell which included
50 Wedgwood plates illustrated with portraits of famous women from history – 12 writers, 12 queens, 12 beauties and 12 dancers or actresses, and one of each of the artists, painted by the other. ‘It ought to please the feminists,’ Bell wrote, offhandedly, to Roger Fry.
The service vanished in the 1980s, last seen in the Normandy home of Clark’s second wife, who was presumed to have sold it. Anyone interested in it has had to make do with black-and-white photographs in which many of the plates are stacked up, their faces hidden. But it recently resurfaced in the collection of an undisclosed European collector, who has now put it up for sale. It was displayed by Piano Nobile at the Masterpiece fair this month, and will be shown in the autumn at their London gallery. (Francesca Wade)
And while we see what it's meant here we wouldn't exactly describe Charlotte Brontë's marriage to her father's curate as something risky to her reputation or resulting in an 'unconventional domestic arrangement'. We would hazard that that's not what had Charlotte Brontë included in the set.
Many of these women risked their reputations with unconventional domestic arrangements, from dalliances with royalty to secret weddings. George Eliot lived openly with a married man, whom she called her husband; Charlotte Brontë, who (Woolf writes) was ‘made to stagnate in a parsonage mending stockings when she wanted to wander free over the world’, rebelled against her father to marry Arthur Bell Nicholls; Elizabeth Barrett Browning (depicted here with her dog Flush, of whom Woolf was writing a mock-biography in 1933) was disinherited by her furious father after her marriage to Robert Browning. (Francesca Wade)
Outline lists 'Eight Things You Learn From Reading Jane Eyre'.
1 Don’t be snooty to Charlotte Brontë (or her little sis) and think you can get away with it. You (or someone suspiciously like you) will crop up in one of her novels and it won’t make pleasant reading.
2 Next time you take a carriage ride, be sure to leave home with insufficient funds and forget your luggage when you get off. That way, you might have to live as a vagrant for a couple of days, but you will eventually end up on the doorstep of the only (nice) family you have in the world and wind up an heiress. It’s worth the hassle.
3 Beware the man who wants to guilt trip you into a loveless marriage and then to travel with him to disease ridden, foreign climes where you’ll almost certainly die a horrible, untimely death. He might make it sound tempting, but it’s probably not for you.
4 Don’t trust anyone who tries to make you eat burned porridge for the good of your soul.
5 Some voices you hear in your head are definitely best ignored. Let’s face it, probably most of them.  But if you hear the voice of a lost love calling to you one night, wildly, eerily, urgently!  Then for goodness sake, don’t hang about.
6 Just say no. Did you think Jane should stay with Rochester after the unfortunate bigamous near wedding (it could happen to anyone) and discovery of the mad wife? That she should have fled somewhere nice and sunny and lived in unwedded bliss with the truculently sexy man of her dreams? Yes, well so did I, but not Jane... She’s made of sterner stuff and has the last laugh.
7 Don’t lock someone up in an attic for years, give them lots of reasons to be seriously ticked off with you, and then let them have access to a naked flame and expect it to end well.
8 Never give up. If Jane can do it, so can you.
BookReporter reviews John Pfordresher's The Secret History of Jane Eyre: How Charlotte Brontë Wrote Her Masterpiece.
 The book sheds a fine light on Brontë’s world, which is more painful and unfulfilling than we ever could have imagined. Yet, with each of her experiences, breadcrumbs are thrown in front of her, leading to the day when she will start the novel that will keep her legacy alive forever. [...]
Elizabeth Gaskell's biography is said to be the gem that further immortalized Charlotte Brontë. Pfordresher thanks her --- and we thank them both for keeping this cherished author alive. (Bianca Ambrosio)
Mere Orthodoxy reviews another book: Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins.
The great objective of the book is the cultivation of one’s individual talent. And the book counsels going to great lengths to achieve that objective. The “find a scene” chapter strongly implies that this objective overrides the responsibilities we owe to our home places, though Goins does (to his credit) soften some of that rhetoric at the chapter’s close and looks for ways that people can create their own scenes, citing the Brontë family as an example. It is not hard to wonder if other obligations may, likewise, be dispensed with in the pursuit of one’s art. (Jake Meador)
The Los Angeles Review of Books discusses motherhood in literature and claims that,
It’s disingenuous to say that motherhood is ignored or undervalued in the literary canon. Wallace Stegner in Angle of Repose creates one of the most vivid image of the confines motherhood I’ve ever read. O. E. Rölvaag’s depictions of mothers going mad on the prairie forever haunt me on school days. There is Catherine’s motherhood and madness in Wuthering Heights, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the Virgin Mary peacefully holding of the infant Christ, the rage of Medea. (Lyz Lenz)
Writer William Shaw lists his 'Top 10 Mysteries Set in the British Countryside' in The Strand Magazine. None of them is actually Brontë-related, but the article begins as follows:
The British countryside is such a peaceful, bucolic place. Who on earth would want to kill anyone there? Yet we’ve been doing it for years. From Wuthering Heights onward, the landscape has become one of the biggest, baddest characters in British fiction, and crime fiction especially.
The Globe and Mail finds a Jane Eyre enthusiast in writer Gin Phillips.
Which books have you reread most in your life? Jane Eyre wins by a mile. I didn’t read it until college, and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning for several nights, completely captivated. I reread some books because they’re brilliant and I want to dissect how they work, but I reread Jane Eyre because it makes me happy. My favourite scenes leave a whisky-ish feeling in my chest. I have a vivid memory of a girl in my college class arguing that Rochester was a misogynist and reprehensible because of locking his wife in the attic, and I believe I said, possibly too emphatically, “He ran through a fire to save her! He lost his freakin’ hand and his eyes! He paid for his mistakes!” Something to that effect. I’ve also reread the Harry Potter series more than once, and I keep coming back to the beautiful Empire Falls by Richard Russo. Both of them make me happy, too.
What’s the best romance in literature? Well, not to harp on the whole Jane Eyre thing, but Jane and Rochester. I do enjoy a happy ending. But also Fenno and Malachy in Julia Glass’s Three Junes. I found their story incredibly moving – and also funny and smart and complex. I thought of them long after I finished the book and feel a real-life fondness of them both, which is always the sign of great characters.
Comicsverse interviews writer and illustrator Becky Cloonan:
CV: Like Wolves, The Mire and Demeter are all bound by the themes of doomed love (whether romantic or otherwise). What were your literary or comic influences when examining love from a darker angle? BC: Besides my own personal wretched excuse for a love life, I’m a big sucker for gothic tales like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and also sad folktales and mythology. The triumph and tragedy of King Arthur, the poetry of the Pre-Raphaelites… I try to take the ideas and feelings I get from the art that inspires me and wrap them around characters that will hopefully convey those feelings to the reader. (Chris Galvin)
News-Sentinel also finds a retired librarian who enjoys Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

The Tribune (India) explains charades.
Charades found their way into fiction. In Jane Eyre (1847), Rochester organises an acting charade at   Thornfield Manor to woo Jane, a young governess in his employ. Vanity Fair, written around the same time, has Rebecca Sharp out acting charades before the Prince Regent. (Ratna Raman)
Craven Herald and Pioneer recalls the fact that the local Kildwick Hall became Thrushcross Grange for the 1967 screen adaptation of Wuthering Heights, although the Brontë connection might be deeper than that.
Historic Kildwick Hall has had a chequered past and is now once again a private house, after being a hotel and a restaurant. But in 1967 it was the ideal location for the filming of Wuthering Heights, starring Ian 'Lovejoy' McShane as the tempestuous Heathcliff. Lesley Tate reports.
Kildwick was the scene of much activity almost exactly 50 years ago, when BBC television crews turned up to film a new version of the classic Emily Bronte novel, Wuthering Heights. The BBC mini series, which went out later in the same year - 1967, starred Ian McShane as Heathcliff and Angela Scoular, as Cathy. [...]
Wuthering Heights went out in four, 45 minute parts, and also featured Anne Stallybrass and Drew Henley as Edgar Linton. Other parts were played by Angela Douglas, William Marlowe, John Garrie and Michael Wennick.
In 1967, Kildwick Hall was a hotel and it was used for exterior shots of Thrushcross Grange - which in the story was the home of the Linton family. It was not the first time the building had been used for an adaptation of Wuthering Heights - it had also been earlier used for a silent version.
Kildwick Hall had a further connection with the Brontë sisters - it was once the home of the Currer family, from where it is believed Charlotte Brontë took her pen name, Currer Bell, under which she wrote her novel, Jane Eyre. Charlotte was also employed as a governess at nearby Stone Gappe, Lothersdale.
The Craven Herald reported that those involved in the filming were staying at Burnley, and that filming started early - at 7am, so actors could attend makeup and be fitted into their period costumes.
It was also an exciting time for children from Haworth County Primary School who spent one day as extras. They too were required to be fitted out in costumes suited to the late 18th century. Another extra was three and a half month old Timothy Rutherford - the twin son of the owner of the hotel, a Mr J C Rutherford.
Filming took about two weeks, following a week of rehearsals, while inside shots took place in BBC studios. There was however, other filming in the area - on Haworth Moor, and at St Mary le Gill Church, Barnoldswick, where the marriage scene between Cathy and Edgar Linton took place. It seems filming however fell victim to the Yorkshire summer, and a scene where the young Linton was filmed returning home to Thrushcross Grange, was carried out in a heavy downpour. For the filming of the horse drawn carriage and pair through Kildwick, all vehicles were stopped to allow it to wind its way along the narrow road to the entrance to the grange. (Lesley Tate)
Australian Financial Review on the film Lady Macbeth:
Lady Macbeth feels like a black parody of the way 19th-century novelists wrote about marriage. It is as if Lizzy Bennet finds herself a husband, gets treated abominably and turns into Thérèse Raquin. Katherine's wedding night conjures up thoughts of Dorothea's in Middlemarch. All the sexuality sublimated in Austen's novels, and bubbling away in the Brontes' books, is laid bare in this film.
The fact that Sebastian is a half-caste and Anna is black, adds another layer of complexity. They are separated from Katherine by dint of race and class, with her Anglo-Saxon whiteness acting as a mask for the darkness in her soul. In her 2011 version of Wuthering Heights, Andrea Arnold made Heathcliff black and allowed the story to be ruined by banal suggestions of racism. Oldroyd has been more skilful in the way he uses racial difference to create unspoken, fateful tensions. (John McDonald)
Statesman recommends the Hyde Park Theatre production of Jen Silverman’s The Moors.


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