Friday, November 08, 2019

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The Yorkshire Post reports that actress Sarah Lancashire was in the Brontë Parsonage giving her support to the campaign to bring Charlotte Brontë's little book home (you can help too!). The auction is in ten days.
The online “crowdfunder” campaign, which will supplement other grants, was bolstered yesterday by the actress Sarah Lancashire, who said it was “a privilege” to handle one of the others in the series.
“These little books are a unique insight into the 14 year old Charlotte and to be privy to their content feels so intimate,” she said. “The little book belongs here in Haworth.”
A spokesman at the parsonage said the response to the online campaign had been “overwhelming”, adding: “We will go to the auction with whatever we have secured, including from the crowdfunder, and hope that it’s a competitive bid that brings this little book back to where it was written 189 years ago.” (Grace Hammond)
You can also see her in this clip from BBC Look North (21 minutes in).

The people over at Comic Book wouldn't be able to claim that 'The Literary Brontë Family Were Some of the World's First RPG Players' without these little books. Not to downplay the Brontës, but we would say that kids have been RPG'ing since the world began.
Long before players ventured through the worlds of Blackmoor or Greyhawk in the earliest days of Dungeons & Dragons, Charlotte Brontë and her siblings were exploring complex fantasy worlds in what might be considered the world's first role-playing game. While the Brontës are best known for their literary work - Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre while her sister Emily wrote Wuthering Heights, both of which are books that are standard selections in high school literature classes - the siblings along with sister Anne and brother Branwell were also responsible for creating the worlds of Gondal and Angria, complex fictional fantasy worlds that came alive through journal entries, poetry, and other works written under the aliases of characters who lived in that world.
The fictional countries of Gondal, Angria, and the Glass Town Confederacy were all inspired by 12 wooden soldiers given to Branwell by his father. Branwell and his siblings started to write miniature books and newspapers for these toy soldiers to read, which in turn inspired the creation of the Glasstown Confederacy, a shared country ruled by the toy soldiers. Eventually, the worlds of Angria and Gondal followed, and the Brontës spent countless hours jointly creating a complex history of these worlds while writing poetry and narratives from the perspective of the characters who lived these worlds.
Unlike Dungeons & Dragons, there were no formal rules involved in the creations in these worlds, but there was the shared storytelling component that is so critical to Dungeons & Dragons and other RPG games. The stories created for Gondal and Angria were also as complex as a years-long D&D campaign, with betrayals, romances, and shocking deaths. These tales were all chronicled in prose stories, which unfortunately were lost to history.
While none of the Brontës survived past 40 years old, their private worlds of Gondal survived thanks to their private journals and a book of poems written by Emily that served as correspondence between some of the characters. Many scholars consider these worlds as early versions of science fiction or even fan fiction, but it's also very easy to consider them an early version of a role-playing game. The worlds of Angria and Glass Town are also still impacting literature today - the Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans comics series DIE features these worlds and even uses Charlotte Brontë as a character who still lives in the world she created. The most recent issue of DIE even explores some of Angria's origins, albeit with a tragic twist that ties into the RPG-inspired comic. (Christian Hoffer)
And more on the Brontë references in the comic DIE on But Why Tho?
At the end of Issue 8, Izzy had reunited with Ash, Angela, Matt, and the fallen Sol. However, her arrival was not a friendly one as she told the nobility of the party’s hand in the fall of Glass Town. Issue 9 opens with all of them in prison. Ash is gagged so she is unable to use her power of persuasion. Izzy takes this opportunity to ask questions of Sol. Particularly, she asks how it is possible for the fallen to be people who died in Die. Sol states, bluntly, that he doesn’t know, at which point a mysterious voice claims they can be of help.
The group is shocked to discover that this voice appears to belong to the long-dead author Charlotte Brontë. As the party makes this realization, Brontë begins to explain Die. She speaks at length about her life and the lives of her siblings. She also explains the hand that she and her siblings had in the creation of Die. As she speaks the party learns much about the world they inhabit, but new mysteries and questions arise.
DIE #9 is the second issue in the series that includes a literary figure who speaks at length. The first of these is J.R.R Tolkien in issue #3. Kieron Gillen uses Charlotte Brontë’s and her siblings’ literary creations to further the lore of Die. Where before the reader had been told to accept Sol as the creator, now we have Brontë. While, at first, this seems absolutely bizarre, it actually works. At this point DIE as a series as embraced anachronism, mystery, and impossibility within the story. As a result, this most recent twist and those that follow in this issue are much easier to accept. (Max Funkey)
Jane Eyre has one of 'The top 17 plot twists in literature' according to The Independent. Beware of spoilers, though!
In crime thrillers, part of the fun is trying to work out how the story will end, with the knowledge that you are likely to be tripped up before the resolution. But the best plot twists in literature are when you least expect them, whether it’s the discovery of Mr Rochester’s lunatic wife in Jane Eyre, or the heartbreaking truth that is revealed in Ian McEwan’s Atonement.[...]
3/17 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)
The course of true love never did run smooth, and Charlotte Brontë’s beloved novel is a classic example of that. When the courageous orphan Jane Eyre accepts a job as a governess at Thornfield Hall, she quickly falls in love with her brooding employer Mr Rochester. After she reveals her true feelings, he proposes marriage and, despite consternation from those around them, they head to church. Yet Jane is dealt a crushing blow when it is revealed that Mr Rochester is already married, to a woman named Bertha Mason. He drags her back to Thrornfield Hall and makes the dramatic introduction with yet another twist: Bertha is mad, and has been living in the attic for years. A devastated Jane flees Thornfield, unable to compromise her Christian values and remain with a married man. (Charlotte Cripps)
Varsity gives 3 out of 5 stars to Polly Teale's Jane Eyre currently on stage at Robinson Auditorium in Cambridge.
If you’re going to go for realism in theatre, you have to do it really well. I’m not talking about the individual actor plumbing the depths of their character and nailing emotional nuance; realism is a group effort. It needs a total atmosphere which makes us believe the emotions and interactions unfolding in front of us. This is where the production of Jane Eyre at Robinson Auditorium falls short. [...]
The play was not without compelling moments; however, these tended to be those that leaned towards stylisation, especially in the final depiction of the fire at Thornfield, or Jane’s dream on her wedding night, when Bertha (Imani Thompson) and Jane (Kay Benson) flirt with her veil, or the re-enactment of Mr Rochester and Bertha first falling in love as they dance. The screen hanging down to cover a raised part at the back of the stage creates a wonderful sense of the opacity of secrets and becomes a visualisation of the way in which those in power hide the women who embarrass or threaten their way of life. These more stylised moments highlighted that dramatizations of long and complexly-plotted novels need symbolism, style and creativity to refresh and reinvigorate them. Deri and Lazarus’s version of Jane Eyre gestures at these moments – but I wanted more.
The production is certainly clean and visually tight; the woodenness of the stage effectively focuses the audience, and the smoothness with which set (designed by Lucie Richardson) – mainly washing, bedsheets and dresses – was unfolded, unfurled and then folded again, packed away and stored in boxes on the stage was immensely impressive. Margaret Hornet’s costume had aesthetic coherence and there was no corner cut in the quest for “authentic” simplicity. Georgia Rawlins’s musical compositions, performed by musicians onstage (Daniel Quigley, Esme Cavendish and Sophie Iddles) who complement the drama without intruding into it.
Benson, as Jane, elegantly commands every moment she is on stage, displaying impressive vocal subtlety and emotional nuance; her Jane is a young woman caught between the necessity and desire to speak her mind and the certainty that if she does so she will be transgressing her allotted social position. Praise must also be heaped on Charlotte Horner (Helen/Adele/Mary), particularly for her role as Adele, where she captured both the subtle and overblown mannerisms of a little girl easily bored by work and easily charmed by the gift of a new dress. The scenes between Adele and Jane flow confidently and smoothly, generating through their conflict or cooperation the crucial atmosphere which is lacking at other points of the play.
Putting on a retelling of an 18th-century novel [sic], especially a novel as famous as Jane Eyre, is no easy task. The realistic and the stylised compete for a place onstage, and the lines in the script can sometimes seem so obvious that it is hard to act them with subtlety. There is definitely potential in this cast and crew – there were moments of directional brilliance and a number of impressive acting performances – but they didn’t quite persuade that Brontë’s novel works as a piece of theatre. Dedicate more energy to mood-creation in each of the scenes, play up the stylised moments – and I might soon be convinced. (Iris Pearson)
Here's how a librarian describes Jane Eyre for The Everett Clipper.
Another book in the Penguin Clothbound Classics Series that [EvCC librarian Heather Jean Uhl] mentioned was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. “I’m a big fan of Charlotte Brontë,” says Uhl. “This is a really beautiful example of early feminism, but also the feminine gothic.” (Colin Burns)
Using the lives and works of artists Celia Paul and Cecily Brown, Rachel Cusk wonders whether a woman who is an artist can ever just be an artist in The New York Times.
On my second visit to London, Celia Paul shows me two small portraits she has made, one of Charlotte Brontë and the other of Emily. They are fierce, alive, inexpressibly poignant. While she was at the Slade, her parents lived in Bradford, where her father had been made bishop, in a house that looked toward Haworth and the Brontë parsonage. There is a haunting painting of Celia’s showing the parsonage as seen from the cemetery that stands adjacent to it, the house cut off by the graves with their awful jutting stones, so that it looks almost as though the dead are rising. Something of the privation and the will of the Brontës, their radically internalized femininity, belongs also to Celia Paul. They, too, had a clerical father in whom tyranny and authority were inextricable, who elevated their ideals while being careless of their bodies and minds. It is interesting for Celia now to think of her authoritarian father as fundamentally irresponsible. Why, she wonders, did he have all these children he didn’t have time for, daughter after daughter, one after the other dispatched to boarding school?
We think that is a highly unfair view of Patrick Brontë which not only does not account for how things really were but also overlooks the social context at the time. Patrick has been shown to care deeply about his children's bodies and minds. He did what he did for their own good (so that his daughters would have a job to fall back on should anything happen to him and not end up in the workhouse) and he lived to regret and question those decisions. Two of his children died in childhood and none of the other four lived past their thirties. He tried to do what was best for his children at the time, was a modern father in many respects, survived all of them and yet here we are 200 years later judging and condemning him by willfully misunderstanding his decisions and actions.

The Paris Review quotes Joan Didion on how to stop crying.
It was once suggested to me that, as an antidote to crying, I put my head in a paper bag. As it happens, there is a sound physiological reason, something to do with oxygen, for doing exactly that, but the psychological effect alone is incalculable: it is difficult in the extreme to continue fancying oneself Cathy in Wuthering Heights with one’s head in a Food Fair bag. (Heather Christle)
El Mundo (Spain) reviews Laura Ramos's Brontë biography Infernales. Silver Wordsmith has a post on 'Wide Sargasso Sea and the Denunciation of Rochester'.

Finally, the latest episode of the TOAST podcast features graphic novelist and illustrator Isabel Greenberg, whose forthcoming book Glass Town will be published early next year, the Brontë Parsonage Museum and The Unthanks' Emily Brontë album.

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