Friday, November 03, 2017

Friday, November 03, 2017 11:01 am by Cristina in , , , , , ,    No comments
LitHub has a moving article describing a pilgrimage from India to Haworth.
My questions about the Brontës began in the small town of Madikeri, up in the hills of southern India where I was born and raised. The whole town is nestled at the bottom of a nearly round valley, with tall, green, imperfect mountains circling its corners. The district of Kodagu, of which the town is a part, is funnily enough, called the “Scotland of India,” a sobriquet from when the British took over and started the first coffee plantations there in the mid-1800s. The excessive rain, the verdant rolling hills, the dense impenetrable forests and the opaque mist that rarely parted would have reminded them of home. [...]
In the 1990s, there was not a single bookstore in town. (There still isn’t.) But when my grandfather died, no one wanted his vast library, and I inherited it—even though I hadn’t been born yet. In those dark, antiqued bookshelves, many summers before I was meant to, I would meet and fall in awe and love with the Brontë sisters and the fiery women and brooding men they created. In a pre-Google world, reading their books opened a world that did not seem part of this earth. For my earth, my women, my colors and practices, my manners were different—outlandishly so—from that of the Brontës’ and what they wrote.
An English-medium education and a vast collection that could feed my voracious reading guaranteed that I read a lot of British literature, and a disproportionate number of Russian authors—all the mains, and then some. My choice of literature was really my grandpa’s; his tastes percolated into mine. His reading is where I met him at all. But of the array that he left to me, it was the Brontës that I kept returning to. Perhaps the love stories were desirable in my own hormone-raging teens. Perhaps the proto-feminism in them was buffing the ideas of feminism I had begun learning myself. Or perhaps it is because of what makes them such endearing classics—they are really just great literature. [...]
In the notes I took during my trip to Haworth, I write that I am overwhelmed. It is a long way from the hills of southern India to the moors of Yorkshire, and not just in the geographical sense. The afternoon that I arrived, the sun struggled to come out, teasing with hints at what could be. Haworth is pretty, as quaint as a tourist destination that centers around literature can be imagined. And the Brontë association is milked everywhere, from jams and jellies named after characters, to the pubs where Branwell is supposed to have drunk himself into first oblivion and then death.
Walking up the famous steep main street of Haworth that is paved with setts, I landed before the church. Past a slim kissing gate, by the side of the church, past a school building where all the sisters taught and where Charlotte had her wedding reception, I walked to the Parsonage, which is now a museum. It is the house I grew up dreaming about, and it looks exactly the same. To describe myself as breathless from the steep climb alone would be too prosaic.
It was nearly closing time at the museum, but I rushed in anyway—the exteriors could wait—and zipped through the rooms, all meticulously decorated the way they would have looked when the Brontë family lived there. They are all simple rooms. Never ostentatious. Sometimes too close to frugal, but mostly just functional. It’s a regular house with bits and bobs, things and corners. But for us later day voyeurs, the old clock that the father wound every night on the way to bed, the kitchen corner where Emily would have baked the bread and kept house for the rest of the family, the dining table that bears an “E’ carved into it alongside ink blots and signs of wear, and these other mundanities gave futile glimpses into a brilliant family. Futile, I say, because materials do not impart or imbibe talent, yet here we had come to seek the genius in the material, as if, peering closely enough, we would find that which countless have searched for before us, and will look for after us: that elusive muse.
I stayed in a room at The Apothecary, a 17th C. building that has been variously used as an inn, a bookshop, a co-op, and a home for 400-odd years. The guest house overlooks the cobbled street: my biggest indulgence of the trip. The morning after my tour of the parsonage, I had to see the moors. I remember thinking that much as I would have loved some happy sunshine, it was more appropriate that the day was cold, windy, very grey, and wet. Suddenly, it did not matter that I could never, in my childhood, imagine what the moors looked like. When I did get here, they sure had put up a show.
I walked on trails that are, oddly, marked in both English and Japanese. A disproportionate number of Japanese devotees of the Brontë sisters visit Haworth every year—there are papers written about the phenomenon. The moors are vast; they stretched as far as my eyes could see. I struggled to associate it with a piece of the geography familiar from back home but could not find anything satisfactory. Desolate was the word that immediately came to mind. Though it sounds unsavory, the moors in shades of brown and green are full of something like emotion. Like the human condition, they seemed both a bit pointless and yet terribly resilient in their ability to inspire and influence. (Deepa Bhasthi) (Read more)
Women's e-news highlights one of the essays added to The Jewish Women’s Archive’s Rising Voices Fellowship, which is a '10-month program for female-identified teens in high-school who have a passion for writing, a demonstrated concern for current and historic events, and a strong interest in Judaism, gender and social justice'.
When Brontë Gave Me Wings
by Dorrit Corwin
Since seventh grade, I’ve been a proud member of a school community that pushes girls to reach their full potential and encourages them to become feminists from the day they step foot on campus. Given who we are as an institution and as a community, it isn’t surprising that after analyzing the book of Genesis from a secular perspective, eighth graders then tackle
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. I didn’t find Genesis terribly compelling, but Jane Eyre became my bible and transformed the way I view feminism, literature, religion, and my identity as a young woman.
My school may sound like a beacon of female empowerment, but not every eighth grader falls in love with Jane Eyre quite like I did. It’s undoubtedly a challenge for 13 and 14-year-old girls to find things like a two-page description of the curtains in Thornfield Hall’s red room compelling.
English-loving upperclassmen often debate pushing Jane Eyre to the 11th grade British literature curriculum, but I defend its place in eighth grade because it provides a concrete gateway to discussing feminism earlier on. When we read Jane Eyre, I discovered a strong female role model to look up to as I entered high school; I was inspired to apply Jane’s characteristics to my own identity. Her diligent work ethic, strong sense of self, reckless independence, and raw emotion resonated with my eighth-grade self and caused me to be more proactive about standing up for my beliefs.
One fictional role model led to my discovery of seven real-life ones. By the end of eighth grade, I formed a close-knit friend group of eight young women whose values mirror both mine and Jane’s. With them by my side and with Jane’s bold and outspoken nature in mind, I began seeking out creative and activist outlets as my core modes of self-expression.
It then occurred to me that as much as I idolized Jane and her values, I also aspired to be like her creator: Charlotte Brontë. After all, she was the wind beneath Jane’s feminist wings, and the one who brilliantly told a story that has since been engraved in both feminist and literary culture. (Read more)
Manchester Evening News (and The Sun or Daily Mail) features 'the M62 farmhouse':
Jill, who moved into the farm in 2009, is loving life there despite the challenges. [...]
“A lot of people say it’s bleak and like Wuthering Heights but I don’t see it like that. I think it’s beautiful.” (Gavin Castle)
If you're going to the Melbourne Cup 2017, here's a tip from The Age (Australia):
Pulling off a head-to-toe red look takes guts, but race day, especially Cup Day and Stakes Day, is the one day to do it. Keep it tailored to avoid any Kate Bush Wuthering Heights comparisons and if you're doing it for Stakes, consider a chunkier heel and slightly more casual accessories than Cup Day, where you can pull out all stops in the glamour stakes.
Mittelbayerische (Germany) features the play „Die Nächte der Schwestern Bronte“:
Wenn die Nächte länger werden, ist im Kreuzgang immer Premierenzeit. Denn dann steigt dort die Theatertruppe „Sweet Highlights“ auf die Bühne. Dahinter steht Urgestein Angelika Süß. Auch diesmal hatte sich die Abensberger Theaterikone einen geheimnisvollen Stoff ausgesucht. Bei dem es nicht zuletzt um die Gleichberechtigung der Frau geht. „Die Nächte der Schwestern Brontë“ ist er überschrieben.
Aber erst einmal waberten die Geheimnisse durch den Raum. Schon das Bühnenbild gab Anlass zur Spekulation. Drei Schreibpulte standen im Vordergrund. Dahinter waren Grabsteine zu sehen. Schnell war klar, um was es in dem Schauspiel ging – aber nur auf den ersten Blick. Da waren drei Schwestern, die in ihrem Haus zwischen Friedhof und Moor den Haushalt ihres Vaters führen. Der Pastor ist. Aber eigentlich wollen die drei ihre eigenen Wünsche und Träume ausleben. Eine Schule für Mädchen einzurichten – danach trachtet es die beiden Älteren.
Die Jüngere macht sich dagegen anscheinend keine Gedanken über ihre Zukunft. Sie lebt fröhlich in den Tag hinein. Bis eine ihrer Schwestern eines Tages Gedichte von ihr findet. Und höchst beeindruckt davon ist. So etwas dürfe nicht in der Schublade verschwinden.
Was es auch nicht tat. Denn dem Schauspiel liegt die wahre Lebensgeschichte der Schwestern Charlotte, Anne und Emily Jane Brontë zugrunde. Die in der Tat im Haushalt ihres Vaters, der Pastor war, lebten. (Wolfgang Abeltshauser) (Translation)


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