Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The BBC has announced the list of the 100 novels that will be part of the  BBC Two series Novels That Shaped Our World beginning on 9 November. Surprisingly, as The Guardian reports,
There’s no Wuthering Heights, no Moby-Dick, no Ulysses, but there is Half of a Yellow Sun, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Discworld: so announced the panel of experts assembled by the BBC to draw up a list of 100 novels that shaped their world.
The choices were made by Stig Abell, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, Syima Aslam, founder of the Bradford literature festival, authors Juno Dawson, Kit de Waal and Alexander McCall Smith and journalist Mariella Frostrup. The list is intended to mark the 200th anniversary of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, widely seen as the progenitor of the English-language novel.
The books chosen by the panel are those that have made a personal impact on them, and are divided into 10 categories. These include “love, sex and romance”, which features titles ranging from Jilly Cooper’s Rivals to Judy Blume’s Forever; “identity”, which moves from Toni Morrison’s Beloved to Zadie Smith’s White Teeth; and “adventure”, which includes Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe and Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep.
“So many amazing novels are not on the list,” said Dawson. “As this panel of judges, we’re not qualified to say this is the definitive list, but we are qualified to say these are our favourites. We knew right from the beginning that the role of these lists, almost, is for people to disagree with them … and we could only pick 100 books.”
So while there’s no Wuthering Heights, the Brontë sisters do feature on the list with Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. (Alison Flood)
The Bookseller tells about another side of the programme.
The list also launches a year-long festival in partnership with libraries and reading groups around the UK. Led by Libraries Connected and supported by Arts Council England, special events at libraries around the country include workshops, walking tours, film screenings and live performances, with many libraries commissioning artists to make work that reaches out to everyone in the community, from people living with dementia to those at risk of knife crime.
Mark Freeman, president, Libraries Connected said: "This amazing campaign lies at the heart of libraries’ mission to deliver innovative and engaging reading experiences to communities who need it most. Yet again, we would like to thank the Arts Council for funding this work which will enable libraries, in partnership with BBC Arts and grass roots arts organisations, to introduce new audiences to the joys of reading."
The list of 100 novels, featured below, kicks off a year-long celebration of literature at the BBC, spearheaded by the landmark BBC Two three-part series "Novels That Shaped Our World", beginning Saturday 9th November, 9pm. [...]
Family & Friendship - August
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
The Shipping News by E Annie Proulx
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
The Witches by Roald Dahl [...]
Class & Society - June
A House for Mr Biswas by V S Naipaul
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
Disgrace by J M Coetzee
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
Poor Cow by Nell Dunn
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (Katie Mansfield)
We are truly thrilled about Anne having made it on her own. On her bicentenary year, too! The Telegraph comments on it:
It seems typical of this list, somehow, that the Brontës are represented solely by The Tenant of Wildfell Hall rather than the often more irritating, but also more passionate and heartfelt, Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre. You will have a grand time if you work your way through every novel on this list, but you’ll be leaving huge swathes of the territory that fiction covers unbroached. Ultimately, in trying to cover all bases, this is a list that pleases no one. (Jake Kerridge)
We disagree as no one is barring you from reading the 'huge swathes of the territory' left 'unbroached'. This seems simply like an invitation to read that goes slightly off the beaten path, which is a welcome respite from the usual lists.

The Chicago Maroon reviews The Joffrey Ballet's take on Cathy Marston's choreography of Jane Eyre.
Choreographed by Cathy Marston, this ballet adaptation’s unique blend of symbolism, scene-stealers, and storytelling keeps the viewer mesmerized. And for an avid fan of the book, the production offered cathartic release. The ballet does a beyond-fantastic job of portraying Jane’s accumulated struggles onstage, from growing up in abusive conditions to dealing with her moral qualms over loving Rochester. Tension and emotion are effectively portrayed with five crazed demons who plague Jane throughout the ballet, refusing to leave her in peace. However, the conflict is rendered with majesty and the fighting scenes are carried out with grace.
As Jane performs her triumphant solo across the stage at the finale, the tension with her inner demons dissipates. This symbolic victory over the numerous hurdles of her childhood and her rocky relationship with her aunt and the other orphaned girls is communicated beautifully and effectively with her solo walk, while simultaneously speaking to Jane’s newfound independence.
Moreover, costuming is used to effectively convey Jane’s ostracization at the Lowood school. Later in the ballet when she is interacting with Rochester and some socialites, her plain dress doesn’t allow her to shine in the crowd. Yet, despite her lack of fine feathers, she holds her own, and her beautiful dance with Rochester attests to the charisma she nonetheless exudes in a simple garment. Even with Jane’s many charms, the character of Bertha, Rochester’s first wife, really stole the show with her fiery red costume and wild hair. Dancing in front of a backdrop of flames, Bertha’s silhouette dripped with mystery even before she had been entirely unveiled.
Jane Eyre is a novel that one shouldn’t just reread, but also accompany with its ballet adaptation. Riddled with symbolism, detail, and powerful female characters, the Joffrey Ballet has spun out a performance worth taking a Saturday off for. Lose yourself to the intricacies onstage, and perhaps you will catch a glimpse of what your high school AP Lit teachers meant when they heralded Jane Eyre as one of the greatest storytelling triumphs. (Jessica Choe)
Cultured Vultures celebrates the tenth anniversary of the release of the film An Education.
It is especially apt that Jenny is studying Jane Eyre in her English class. After all, Rochester is precisely like David. He is rich, charming, older and more worldly compared to Jane. Similarly, he forges a romantic relationship with Jane despite his married status. Both Jenny and Jane sever ties with these men after this discovery, toeing the moral line. They then face the devastating consequences of giving their hearts and bodies to men who promised them the world; Jane is forced to leave the only home she has ever known and nearly dies, while Jenny has to deal with the fall-out of abandoning her education. [...]
Jenny gets into Oxford and gets a reboot of sorts with University life, where she gets to date “boys”, the word choice indicating herself as the more experienced one now. Jane marries Rochester, who has gone blind and lost his property and wife to a fire – allowing them to enter into a relationship of equals. An Education is a movie that emphasizes choice and agency – choose the educated life that you want, establish a space for yourself, then invite someone in, if you want. (Natasha Alvar)
France Info reviews Dominique Barbéris's novel Un dimanche à Ville-d’Avray.
En écho au récit de Claire Marie, il y a les souvenirs d'enfance des deux soeurs à Bruxelles. Leurs premiers émois prennent les visages du héros du feuilleton Thierry La Fronde et du Rochester de Jane Eyre. Des inclinaisons romanesques qui ressurgissent à l'âge adulte, alors que tout semble joué, au hasard d’une rencontre, d’un désir qu'on ravive. (Manon Botticelli) (Translation)
Ding! ding! ding! The blunder of the day award goes to Beach Grit:
 “Nothing is more deceitful,” said Mr Darcy in Jane Eyre’s Pride and Prejudice, “than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast”. (Longtom)
Awww, isn't that beautiful? 'Jane Eyre's Pride and Prejudice'. Lovely.

Both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre have made it onto a list of 'romantic' novels compiled by Actualidad Literatura (Spain).

Last but certainly not least, over 300 people have donated towards the fund for bringing Charlotte Brontë's little book home to the Brontë Parsonage. Please contribute too if you can!

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