Wednesday, August 02, 2017

The Wire celebrates Emily Brontë's 199th anniversary:
Emily Brontë’s 199th birthday is a good time to sweep away the fluff of romantic notions that shroud her only novel, and to examine her genius.
In a paradox not unusual to this milieu, a ‘paranormal romance’ quadrupled the sale of a classic that is impossible to categorise as either gothic, or social commentary on life on the Pennine moors, or tale of obsessive love, or one of revenge. Twilight, a set of four vampire-human romance novels by Stephanie Meyer, first released in 2005, inadvertently pushed the sales figures of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. Bella, the female-human protagonist of Twilight, compares her love for the vampire Edward with Catherine’s passion for Heathcliff in Brontë’s 1847 novel. The publisher Harper Collins reissues Wuthering Heights with a cover that includes the line: ‘Bella and Edward’s favourite book’. The novel’s sale escalated from 8,551 annually in Britain (pre 2005) to 34,023, if the figures of Nielson Bookscan are to be believed.
Bella’s reference to Wuthering Heights in the context of her feelings for her werewolf beau – while beneficial as a sales and marketing strategy to ensnare new readers – reveals a common oversimplification of the book’s thematic sweep. It classifies Wuthering Heights as a love story set in the moors.
Perhaps the author’s 199th birthday – she was born on July 30, 1818 – is a good time to sweep away the fluff of romantic notions that shroud her only novel, and to examine her genius. Her birthday is also a fitting occasion to reflect upon the fact that the architect of such a vehement piece of work was a dull letter writer, but could bake bread that was deemed exceptional. She was shy, the biographers declare, and yet, she prompted statements like the one Constantin Héger, her schoolmaster in Brussels, made: “She should have been a man – a great navigator…her strong, imperious will would never have been daunted by opposition or difficulty.” (Radhika Oberoi) (Read more)
The York Press reviews the Leeds performances of Sally Cookson's Jane Eyre:
Rather than being adapted for the stage with a plodding narrator, this is a devised production of vivid, vital imagination. Michael Vale's set is rough hewn, gutted to the minimum, with wooden flooring and walkways, a proliferation of ladders, a sofa, and yet it evokes everything of Brontë's harsh world. (...)
There is so much more that makes Cookson's production so startling, so movingly brilliant: the sound design of Dominic Bilkey; the inexhaustible movement direction of Dan Canham; and the beautiful, haunting compositions of Benji Bower for the on-stage band of David Ridley, Alex Heane and Matthew Churcher, who join in ensemble scenes too and never take their gaze off the action.
Last but very definitely not least is Melanie Marshall, the diva voice of Bertha Mason, a one-woman Greek chorus whose versions of Mad About The Boy and Gnarls Barkley's Crazy will linger like Jane Eyre in the memory. (Charles Hutchinson)
SparkLife lists 'crazy' women in literature:
 1. Bertha Rochester, Jane Eyre
This one kills me.
Jane: "Who’s this lady?"
Rochester: "My wife. I married her because she was super hot and rich. But it turns out she’s really embarrassing and drinks and is mentally ill, so I locked her in a closet to be watched by an alcoholic seamstress for the rest of her natural life, while I partied in Europe."
Jane: "YIKES."
Like, obviously Bertha acts crazy. And in fact, she still has the presence of mind to tear up Jane’s veil, so she’s not completely out of touch with reality. Also, Jane, remember that time you got locked in a red room for about 5 minutes and completely lost it? Does that seem, oh, a bit parallel maybe? Jerks. (Taylor Noles)
Boktrib lets classic novels inspire last-minute literary vacation ideas:
 Yorkshire Moors –
Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë
There’s a reason why Catherine loved this place so much. The land is beautiful, and maybe a little bit eerie, which is why it is the perfect location for this classic novel. Feel the drama, the beauty and the mystery of Wuthering Heights. You won’t forget the incredible views of Clay Bank or the gorgeous starry nights. You can also visit the Norman castle in Helmsley to add to the whole other-worldly feel. Who knows? You might run into the ghost of Catherine herself…. (Rachael Elmy)
Tonight on TV, The Times reminds us of:
The South Bank Show: Sally Wainwright
Sky Arts, 8pm

Happy Valley has elevated Sally Wainwright to the pantheon of great British screenwriters, but she has been quietly producing superb television drama for some years, starting in 2000 with At Home with the Braithwaites, then the underrated Jane Hall a few years later. Melvyn Bragg talks to her about her life and career, from her early days as a playwright to her recent, splendid Brontës drama To Walk Invisible, and finds her on typically expansive and enjoyably outspoken form.
Internet of Things News mentions Wuthering Heights:
I’m finally reading Wuthering Heights, says Donna Prlich, chief product officer, Pentaho, a book which at the time of publishing was considered ground-breaking and highly controversial for its dark, twisted storyline and cruel characters.
Emily Brontë chose these story elements to make a point about hypocrisy in the context of Britain’s Victorian era, with its pretence of decency obscuring so much of the human misery that lay underneath.
What hath Wuthering Heights to do with IoT, you might very well ask? It’s a powerful example of the importance of context. In another time and place, a publisher would likely have dismissed Brontë’s masterpiece as too contentious. Instead, by tuning into the zeitgeist of the times, the book spellbound even its harshest detractors and became one of the most widely read and debated for generations. (Sheetal Kumbhar)
Mangialibri (in Italian) reviews Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Brontë:
Un saggio importante questo della Gaskell – che aveva incontrato la scrittrice per la prima volta nel 1850 – ponderoso e impegnativo eppure scorrevole come un romanzo; il lettore si ritrova immerso nella vita della Brontë e della sua famiglia grazie al suo racconto particolareggiato, le descrizioni puntuali e precise dei luoghi gli permettono quasi di vedere l’ambiente in cui è cresciuta, di viverne le giornate trascorse nella Canonica vicino al piccolo cimitero. Una lettura imprescindibile, insomma, per tutti coloro che hanno letto e amato i romanzi delle sorelle Brontë e in particolare Jane Eyre, la cui protagonista, tra l’altro e come è noto, è così moderna da essere considerata l’antesignana delle eroine femministe. (Alessandra Farinola) (Translation)
Observador (Portugal) explains how the Paula Rego exhibition in Lisbon will change the Jane Eyre pieces next August 22:
A exposição com obras originais da pintora Paula Rego, inaugurada há um mês no centro comercial Colombo, em Lisboa, foi visitada por mais de 100 mil pessoas e irá receber 21 quadros inspirados na obra literária “Peter Pan”. Intitulada “O Mundo Fantástico de Paula Rego”, a exposição com obras da pintora portuguesa radicada em Londres vai receber as novas obras a 22 de agosto, substituindo o conjunto de 26 peças inspirado na obra literária “Jane Eyre”, de acordo com a organização. (Translation)
CubaHora (in Spanish) and Grazia reviews the film Lady Macbeth:
Las ansias de libertad y las largas caminatas de Katherine (sic) por los amplios paisajes exteriores recuerdan a obras clásicas de la literatura como Cumbres Borrascosas, de Emily Brontë y suponen un ejercicio de estilode buen gusto, que se alejade lo que se suele mostrar como cine de época. (Diana Castaños) (Translation)
Taking its cues from Shakespeare's infamous villainess, Nikolai Leskov's Lady Macbeth promises an equally fascinating character study. Trapped into a loveless marriage with a much older merchant by her family, Katerina begins to rebel, first through an affair with a farmhand, then through a series of dark twist and turns that eventually result in murder. With shades of classic novels like Madame Bovary and Zola's Therese Raquin and a touch of Brontë-worthy gloom, the action has been shifted to the bleak Northumbrian countryside for the utterly compelling film adaptation, which sees Florence Pugh give a star-making performance as Katherine. (sic) (Katie Rosseinsky)


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