Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Yorkshire Post offers a glimpse into the Brontë Parsonage Museum closed period at the beginning of Emily Brontë's bicentenary and can't help but mention the one-man controversy surrounding Lily Cole's appointment as creative partner.
The leaden skies over Haworth could not have been more atmospheric as they set to work yesterday dusting off the first editions of Emily Brontë at the beginning of her bicentenary year. The museum which now occupies the West Riding parsonage that was home to Emily, Charlotte and Anne Brontë, closes each January to allow its collection of some 7,000 of their volumes, including several hundred first editions, to be professionally cleaned. A task force of 50 has been put to work on the exercise, though the parsonage can only accommodate 10 at a time. “Each book has to be inspected and cleaned,” said Ann Dinsdale, principal curator at the Parsonage Museum. “It will all be done in time for our reopening on February 1.” [...]
The Brontë Society, which looks after the parsonage, will celebrate Emily’s 200th anniversary in July with a four-day festival organised with the actress and model Lily Cole as “creative partner”. The appointment of Miss Cole, a 30-year-old Cambridge graduate and honorary doctor of letters, received a mixed reaction, with the literary scholar Nick Holland, author of books on the Brontë sisters, resigning from the Society, which, he said, should have given the role to a writer. But other critics have defended the appointment of Miss Cole, who is making a short film for the museum about Emily Brontë’s signature work, Wuthering Heights. The film will also address women’s rights in a year that marks the centenary of women getting the vote.
Lily Cole herself posts on Medium about the whole affair:
When I was asked by the Brontë Parsonage Museum to work on a piece to commemorate Emily’s birth I immediately thought of her androgynous pseudonym, Ellis Bell, and what that gesture represented. Since reading and re-reading ‘Wuthering Heights’ I have long been fascinated by Emily’s choice, or need, to hide behind Ellis Bell. In fact I have used ellisbell as an email address in the past. (...)
In developing this short film for the Brontë Parsonage and Foundling Museums, I wanted to acknowledge the struggles of women in the past and celebrate how far we have come as a society in our treatment of women. It is now very possible for a woman to author a successful book, to have the right to vote, and to hold the father of her child accountable for it.
Quartzy features - a bit late in the day - the Lily Cole 'controversy'.
Beyond the spat’s bookish-yet-scandalous headlines, there’s also a bigger question at stake: What’s wrong with giving some glamour to the stuffy, elitist literary world—especially if the glamorous addition is Oxbridge-educated? [...]
While it’s hard to know what exactly would appease Holland,  Cole is busy keeping the focus squarely on the Brontës.  “I would not be so presumptuous as to guess Emily’s reaction to my appointment as a creative partner at the museum, were she alive today,” Cole said in a statement. “Yet I respect her intellect and integrity enough to believe that she would not judge any piece of work on name alone.”
The Brontë sisters could relate: in fear of sexist reactions to their books, they originally published under male pseudonyms. (Noël Duan)

The Brontë Society Young Ambassador Lucy Powrie has also tweeted about it:
— Lucy Powrie (@LucyTheReader) January 9, 2018

More articles: The Irish Times makes an interesting point:
Celebrities taking an interest in promoting more worthy causes is nothing new. I fail to recall any scientists mopping up their bitter tears with litmus paper when Dara Ó’Briain decided to put his degree to good use and began promoting all things maths and science on the BBC. He would be the first to admit that he is not an expert, yet no one cried “What would Einstein make of a comedian explaining the theory of relativity?” (Evie Gaughan)
Caroline O'Donoghue in The Pool is, let's put it midly, quite angry about this affair.
Because, fucking hell, what would happen if a young woman read Wuthering Heights and – I don’t know – liked it? What would happen if selfie sticks and Urban Decay eyeshadow started turning up at the Parsonage? What if – God, no, absolutely anything but this – what if the Brontës were as commercially popular as Jane Austen, and I Heart Mr Darcy T-shirts were being sold alongside I Heart Heathcliff ones? Would that be so terrible, Nick? Would it ruin Emily Brontë for you that much?
I’ve got some bad news for you, mate – the Brontë sisters are already loved by young women. They always have been and it’s because they were young women. I have personally been doing the Kate Bush Wuthering Heights dance in my bedroom since puberty. Building a man-cage for three of the most beloved literary geniuses in history is going to be a long, unrewarding process, so do yourself a favour: stop trying.
Yes, she is definitely not happy. Let's call it a day and go for something else.

Also in The Yorkshire Post, a look at the county's literary year ahead:
The Brontë200 bicentenary commemorations continue at the Brontë Parsonage Museum after two successful years – with the 200th anniversary of Charlotte’s birth celebrated in 2016 and Branwell’s in 2017. This year it is Emily’s turn in the spotlight. Actor and social entrepreneur Lily Cole has been confirmed as the museum’s creative partner; she will be exploring the connections between the origins of Emily’s anti-hero Heathcliff and the real foundlings of 1840s London in partnership with the Foundling Museum. Joining Cole are poet and performer Patience Agbabi as the museum’s writer in residence, land artist Kate Whiteford who will explore Emily’s connection to the Yorkshire landscape and award-winning band The Unthanks who will be creating – and performing – a song cycle based on Emily’s poems. (Yvette Huddleston)
OperaWire features the premiere of Emily Brontë: Through Life and Death, A Chainless Soul, composed by Akemi Naito.
Picture Credit: Cutting Bird Media
Naito’s work was presented within the “Healing” exhibition of visual artist Toshihiro Sakuma, which gave a minimal but deeply-meaningful surrounding for the performance to unfold. With a background projection of tumultuous rain at the beginning, which gave way to the serenity of rising lights, Sakuma’s exhibition accentuated the theme of pain and recovery that was to be felt that evening.
While her selection of Brontë’s poetry ranged from works written between her 19th and 27th years, and presented in non-chronological order, Naito’s composition served to unite them into a cohesive narrative. She accomplished this through elegant use of dissonance which led to ponderous silences, as well as the light, ethereal tones of the piano’s upper register; at one moment highlighting the beauty of Brontë’s words while at another becoming the font of passion that laid beneath them, ready to erupt in an instant. It should be noted that rather than a composition which takes inspiration from composers who were contemporary with Brontë, such as Chopin, Naito’s work carried a modern feeling that made a surprisingly-fitting combination with the classical text. [...]
Of the process, Akemi Naito says: “I wanted to express Emily Brontë herself in this work, using her poetry as the text. Because of the extraordinarily powerful inner voice that resonates in her poetry and the root of her creativity… I chose seven poems, including three iconic poems – ‘To the Imagination,’ ‘Anticipation,’ and ‘No Coward Soul Is Mine,’ which to me clearly express her unique creativity. In an instant, using very simple words, her inner spirit soars freely, far from the boundaries of her everyday life. It is a most remarkable phenomenon wherein I sensed a certain timelessness that embraces the past, but reflects her life and feelings, filtered through her imagination. It is this spirit I aim to encompass in this project.”
To better familiarize the audience with the poems of Brontë, chiefly famous for her novel “Wuthering Heights,” the performance was preceded with a reading of the selected poems by baritone Robert Ian Mackenzie. While I personally enjoyed his crystal-clear delivery, which made for an excellent introduction, the almost-regal timbre of his voice gave to the text a feeling that would be impossible to receive from a woman who did not live past her thirtieth year. [...]
In the role of Emily Brontë, mezzo-soprano Jessica Bowers was in full control of her talents as her dignified lyricism soared into full-blown jubilance, all the while with a superb diction that removed any need for me to glance down at the libretto. At her feet was a large ring of gentle light bulbs, which I saw as coming to represent the world; as she sang “To Imagination,” which deals with how oppressive life can be, she delivered the lines at the very center of the formation; the next poem, “Anticipation,” saw Bowers outside the ring, gazing down upon the world with a distant, nostalgic tenderness as she sang of the power of hope to enliven a weary existence.
Ultimately, Naito’s work excelled in giving a loving tribute to Brontë’s poetry, no easy feat as the English language has proved a tricky matter for operatic compositions. It is my hope that “Emily Brontë: Through Life and Death, A Chainless Soul” will receive future productions, as I believe it to be a wonderful example of the beauty that can be found when words mingle with music, each giving the other new life and meaning. (Logan Martell)
Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy) thinks that Google may create a doodle to mark Emily's bicentenary.
Una cosa è però certa: quest’anno ci aspettiamo il doodle per ricordare non solo i compleanni di Etta James o Emily Brontë, ma anche i novant’anni dalla conquista del diritto di voto da parte dalle suffragette inglesi e perché no, pure una celebrazione del ‘68, gli albori del movimento femminista italiano. (Federica Ginesu) (Translation)
Espectador (Uruguay) has a short article on Emily's life while El tiempo (Colombia) reflects on the lives of classic women writers:
Pensemos un minuto en la vida de Camille Claudel, a la sombra del ‘gran’ Rodin, o del talento casi desconocido de Clara Schumann, esposa del célebre Robert Schumann.
Es interesante señalar que Virginia Woolf no tuvo hijos y que, y como nos lo recuerda Esther Tusquets en un escrito titulado 'Las mujeres, la literatura y la peligrosidad', “no debe ser casual que ninguna de las cuatro grandes novelistas inglesas del siglo XIX, George Eliot, Jane Austen y las hermanas Emily y Charlotte Brontë, tuviera hijos o que santa Teresa fuera una religiosa”. (Florence Thomas) (Translation)
This columnist on Storypick thinks that 'classic novels are overrated' and that not even Jane Eyre could 'escape the clutches of patriarchy'. We don't agree with this:
A few examples of this male-oriented perspective would be novels like ‘Mayor of Casterbridge’ (because why should we let Elizabeth-Jane tell her own story?), ‘Hard Times’ (Mind you, Louisa is taught to suppress her feelings) and even Jane Eyre.
Yes, Jane Eyre even after having a female protagonist could not escape the clutches of patriarchy. Jane was the perfect daughter who forgave everyone after everything they did to her. She even proceeded to marry Rochester after he explicitly deceived her.
The book underlined Bertha Mason as a doppelganger for Jane who defied norms like Jane wanted to, but of course, she was mad. Because that’s the only way classics could introduce strong women characters. (*Considers citing ‘Bell Jar’. Decides against it.*)
Now, I realise that I am being a little hard on classics. After all, they were the outcome of the society in those times, right? A time when men had the full right to a woman’s physical and mental space, and she was treated nothing short of an object. Hmm… a lot has changed since then for sure. (Neha Tanwar)
Jane was not the perfect daughter (to whom?) who forgave everyone and there's even a conversation about this with Helen Burns at the beginning. We believe that Jane did escape the clutches of patriarchy as she married Rochester on her own terms (i.e. with her own money and because she truly wanted to). Not escaping and conforming to the rules would have been marrying St John and going to India with him, regardless of her own feelings.

BookPage has compiled a list of its 'most anticipated children's and teen books', including:
Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne
HMH • May 1
Brontë lovers and sci-fi fans rejoice! Donne is set to publish her romantic, futuristic and (literally) spaced-out take on Jane Eyre just in time for the summer reading season.
Big Shiny Robot mentions the film Crimson Peak in passing:
Like, Crimson Peak is a bit melodramatic and stilted in parts, but you know what? So is Jane Eyre, so are many other Gothic novels, but they’re still fun to read, and del Toro finds a good way of making an original story that captures the same blend of sexual repression mutating into unspeakable taboo and otherworldly horror. (Dagobot)
Indycar makes the following (random) point:
Reality television is an odd beast, contrived competitions that we watch in lieu of bettering ourselves. Instead of reading “Wuthering Heights” and discussing Brontë’s unusual development of characters, we waste time wondering if Puck will get voted out of the house on “Real World: San Francisco.” (It’s been 24 years, folks, yet we still remember that tool.) (Jeff Olson)
James Fox has written for The Guardian an obituary on author Francis Wyndham.
He found that Rhys, whom he had thought long dead, was alive and writing what became, under Francis’s guidance, Wide Sargasso Sea. I remember her, frail and vulnerable, drinking, with Francis, the lethal combination of whisky and champagne.
Master of Malt is selling a remotely-Brontë-related item:
Brontë Original - 1970s Bottling Note
A ceramic jug of Brontë Original Unique Yorkshire Liqueur, produced all the way back in the 1970s. Yes, named after that particularly talented Brontë family, those ones behind all those classic novels.
This bottle was part of a private collection[.]
Barnes and Noble shares an excerpt from the new novel Bloodstains with Brontë by Katherine Bolger Hyde. TV Serial (Italy) features the Italian adaptation of Wuthering Heights 2004. Both Varietats and Rhoda Baxter post about Juliet Bell's The Heights.


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