Saturday, February 01, 2020

Diane Fare's Chapter & Verse column in Keighley News was written two days ago in anticipation of today's reopening at the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
As I write this, we are just two days away from re-opening for 2020, and we can’t wait to reveal our new exhibition focussed on Anne Brontë, the youngest, and less well-known, Brontë sibling.
The exhibition is called ‘Amid the brave and strong’, and tracks Anne’s life: highlights include her poignant last letter; Charlotte’s first ‘little book’, which was written especially for Anne; a sketching block specifically designed for use in the open air and purchased by Anne in 1843; and some of her original drawings and paintings.
In our contemporary arts space – the admissions foyer of the museum – we have a visual, tactile and audio exhibition called Go Back With Me by textile artist Lindsey Tyson and sonic artist/composer Sarah Dew.
Lindsey and Sarah are both Scarborough-based artists, and were commissioned by the museum to create works drawing on Anne’s relationship with Scarborough and Haworth, and her journeys between. Come along to look at, feel and hear their works!
February half-term isn’t too far away, and as usual, we’ll have free talks and walks, hands on history, and our popular Wild Wednesday workshop on February 19. This one involves making your own miniature garden with natural materials found locally. The half-term activities are suitable for all the family, and are free with admission to the museum. Check the website for times of talks, walks, and hands on history, or call 01535 640192 for details.
The final weekend of February is busy, with two very different events on Friday 28 and Saturday 29.
On February 28 we have Parsonage Unwrapped, with guest speakers joining us to talk about the fantastical imaginary worlds created by the Brontës when they were children. Academic Dr Emma Butcher (an expert in the history of children and war) and artist Isabel Greenberg (whose graphic novel Glass Town is due out in spring) will get close-up with our collection.
They will talk about the Brontës’ imaginary worlds of Glass Town, Angria and Gondal in this intimate after-hours event – this would make a lovely belated Valentine gift for a Brontë fan! Tickets cost £22.50/£20 and places are limited, so don’t delay. Book via the website bronte.org.uk/whats-on or call 01535 640192.
On February 29 we have a very different kind of event – a sharing of a work in progress by theatre-maker Sophia Hatfield. Sophia is working on a new piece of theatre called ‘I Am No Bird’, a contemporary exploration of the Brontë story.
As part of her research, Sophia has been running workshops with women’s groups, and the museum has supported this work, so we’re looking forward to seeing the first stages of the new show. Tickets cost £5, and the 45-minute performance starts at 5pm followed by an informal discussion. Come help shape an exciting new show!
The Guardian features Charlotte's 'little book' and its return to the Brontë Parsonage.
The historic piece of literature was eventually bought for €600,000 and will go on display for the first time on Saturday.
Ann Dinsdale, the principal curator at the museum, said she had been there for 30 years and had never seen such a display of emotion.
“We had a welcome committee of staff who’d made a point of being in the museum to see it arrive. It was like a historic occasion,” she said. “Some of us felt a little tearful. So much effort and passion had gone into bringing it to Haworth and we’d worked so long and so hard to make it happen.
“It seemed extraordinary that there had been this huge interest in such a tiny item.”
The manuscript, called The Young Men’s Magazine, contains more than 4,000 handwritten words in a meticulously folded and stitched magazine.
It is made up of three stories: A letter From Lord Charles Wellesley, The Midnight Song and Journal of a Frenchman.
Part of it describes a murderer driven to madness after being haunted by his victims, and how “an immense fire” burning in his head causes his bed curtains to set alight.
Experts at the museum say this section of the story is a clear precursor of a famous scene between Bertha and Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre, which Charlotte would publish 17 years later.Another is a fantasy about fine dining and aristocratic living, which Dinsdale says reads as “almost an antidote to domestic life at Haworth”.
“It’s hugely important in academic terms because it adds so much to our knowledge of Charlotte’s development as a writer,” Dinsdale said. She added: “The three pieces of prose make it absolutely clear that she had an incredible imagination.”
The booklet was one of a series of six, of which five are known to survive. The other four are already owned by the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
Kitty Wright, the executive director of the Brontë Society, said: “We have been truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from people from all over the world backing our campaign.” (Nazia Parveen)
In The Irish Times, Lucy Sweeney Byrnes will be sharing her favourite books throughout 2020 and today's pick is Wuthering Heights.
I wonder does anyone need to be told to read Wuthering Heights? I certainly hope not, but then, there was that recent, wildly depressing sales statistic; it seems that Wuthering Heights, unquestionably one of the greatest novels ever written (as well as one of the most written-about novels ever analysed and re-analysed, by generations of critics, representing almost every school of thought), sold nearly twice as many copies when reissued in the style of Stephanie Meyers’s Twilight series, as it did in the Penguin Classics edition. Meyers claimed it as her characters’, Bella and Edward’s, favourite book, and even had Bella quote Cathy, to express her similar, obsessive love. Shudder.
But enough grumpiness.
I first read Wuthering Heights when I was 12, and have re-read it every two to three years since. It’s a book that seems to morph between readings. Each time there is another layer of meaning, a tone or stunning description I had missed. The characters are at once cruel, selfish and primal, kind, loving and refined. They are, in this, some of the most real characters ever to grace a page. By “real”, I don’t mean they are realist; Heathcliff, Cathy, Hindley Earnshaw, Edgar Linton, these are people at once inextricably written into the harsh realities of the world, and into a fairytale. They are both dead and alive, existing in their houses on the moors as characters exist on the stage in a Beckett play, or within a Greek tragedy.
There is real evil in this book; the word “brutal” comes repeatedly to mind. But there is real evil in existence, most especially when it comes to love, around which Wuthering Heights inexorably revolves. Yes, we see graves exhumed, animals tortured, but really we see, at root, a depiction of humanity at its most raw, and thus its most true. This is not merely one of the most powerful novels ever written by a woman, but one of the most powerful novels ever written. You can buy any version you like (I suppose). Just read it.
Surrey Comet has a student from a local school review Blackeyed Theatre's take on Jane Eyre as seen at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.
Jane Eyre offers a variety of genres, including thriller, romance, and some comedy to lighten the mood. With a five player cast, the play felt both tense and exciting. [...]
The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is not an extremely large theatre, although modern. This is effective, as it makes everything more tense. The actors used very clever technqiues and physical theatre to convey their emotions. This includes turning a stairway into a horse and carriage, and turning benches into doors. Using simple things like this had an even bigger impact on the audience, this is because of the creative thinking behind it. Having a five person cast must have been challenging to convey the story, however proved to be a very powerful portrayal of this classic.
Mercedes, a member of the audience, said 'I thought that the production team used really good props and physical theatre to merge the scenes together, I also thought that the team did really well to try and match the play to the book'.
The blackeyed Theatre Company are touring around the UK during 2020, make sure you are not the one to miss out on this outstanding show. (Katie Sumner)
The Post and Courier features the podcast Harry Potter & the Sacred Text by Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile, who discuss whether the Harry Potter series and novels like Jane Eyre could be used like a 'spiritual or moral guidance, or even a guide for prayer'.
Zoltan sought guidance from one of her favorite professors in divinity school, taking her first steps on the path that would lead to the podcast.
“I asked her to teach me how to pray,” Zoltan recalls. “She was a Christian minister, so she said she didn’t think she was the right person, but I asked if we could do it using something more fun, and less triggering, than the Torah. And she said, ‘Like what?’ And I said, ‘Jane Eyre,’ because it was one of my favorite books. So she spent about six months teaching me how to pray using Jane Eyre.”
Zoltan says she found solace in both the perfections and imperfections of Jane Eyre as a sacred text.
“What was interesting was the way Jane Eyre worked as well as any traditionally thought of sacred text,” she says, “and also how it worked imperfectly in the same ways as traditional sacred text. There’s just as much racism and sexism and similar issues in Jane Eyre as there are in the Bible.
Zoltan felt compelled to share what she’d learned and began conducting lectures on reading Jane Eyre as a sacred text, and ter Kuile, himself a respected author and graduate of Harvard Divinity School, attended one of those lectures. As a longtime fan of the Harry Potter series, he suggested taking the same approach to that series. (Vincent Harris)
ICI Saskatchewan features To the Sooe, described as an AI-transformed sound installation of Wuthering Heights.
L’œuvre To the sooe est une réinterprétation du classique littéraire Les Hauts de Hurlevent (Wuthering Heights) d’Emily Brontë à travers une installation sonore. Le roman y est transformé par une intelligence artificielle où la machine tente de reproduire le style de l’auteure de la période romantique. Le texte en résultant est gravé sur la surface de l’œuvre et est récité par Erin Gee dans un enregistrement.
Son processus créatif d’Erin Gee a été influencé par sa critique de la technologie. Il y a beaucoup d'intérêt envers l'intelligence artificielle, mais on utilise toujours les métaphores du cerveau quand on parle de technologie nouvelle, mais je trouve que ça ne donne pas crédit au rôle de notre corps, nos émotions, nos communications humaines, notre pensée, nos sens. J’ai alors imaginé des technologies qui sont inspirées par nos sens plutôt que notre intelligence. (Raphaële Frigon) (Translation)
The Press Democrat interviews writer Lisa See, who mentions her mother Carolyn See, also a writer.
Q: Your mom must have been a big influence on your writing life. What did you inherit from her?
A: The first would be the goal of 1,000 words a day. I do think there is something about just sitting down and doing the work, When people who are aspiring writers start out, I tell them you just have to sit down and do it. You can’t wait for the muse to show up. She’s busy.
The other thing is that my mom was writing and getting published when there weren’t many women who were being published, especially out here in California. For the paperback (of “The Island of Sea Women”) that’s coming out, they have a Q & A, and one of the questions is, “How do (you) find new stories to write about women?”
To me, this really does connect to my mom. If you think about world literature, there are very few women who were writing. There’s Emily Dickinson, Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, George Eliot, and then you get to Virginia Woolf about 100 years ago. It’s really only in the last 75 years, and more like the last 30 to 50 years, that women have been published in a pretty broad way. (Diane Peterson)
DoppioZero (Italy) reviews Paola Tonussi's biography of Emily Brontë.
Senza tema di affrontare gli strali di una scrittrice che tutta la vita rifuggì con fermezza mondanità ed esteriorità – arrivando a distruggere anche molti documenti personali tra i quali, probabilmente, il secondo romanzo che stava scrivendo al momento della morte, della cui esistenza controversa in questo libro vengono addotte le prove – con il suo Emily Brontë (Salerno editrice, Roma, 2019, pp. 400, 29€), Paola Tonussi riscatta con narrazione empatica una biografia che, fin dai suoi primordi, fu addomesticata per trasformarsi, come capita ai grandi miti, in un clamoroso falso. [...]
Gli scritti autobiografici lasciati da Emily si limitano a qualche pagina di diario, poche lettere e i Devoirs del periodo di Bruxelles; così lo scavo biografico è costretto alle pieghe delle opere ed è nelle pagine dedicate alla esegesi dei testi, alle fonti e ai modelli ispiratori (Ossian, Blake, Wordsworth, Walter Scott, Mary Shelley, e il totemico Lord Byron sopra tutti), alla lingua di Emily (allergica alla aggettivazione, quanto definitiva nella scelta dei sostantivi, e il felice matrimonio di cime con tempestose ne è simbolo assoluto), alla scrittura moderna, alla costruzione dei personaggi, al paesaggio (l’erica piegata dal vento, l’aria gelida della brughiera, la terra arida e ghiacciata) che la scrittura di Paola Tonussi aggancia il pensiero di Emily facendosi una sola voce palpitante. [...]Oltre alle poesie e al romanzo, il saggio di Paola Tonussi dedica molta attenzione a Gondal, la saga infantile che per la studiosa italiana fu “l’apprendistato di Emily come autrice.” Il ciclo, che segnerà la narrazione della maturità artistica, fu scritto e inventato insieme alla sorella minore, Anne, e permette di seguire l’evoluzione di una immaginazione che, inizialmente fantasiosa e fatata, negli ultimi anni segnati da fatica, dolore, perdite, delusioni e malattia, si fa visionaria e spietata, raccontando di omicidi efferati, prigioni, guerre, violenze e sangue ovunque: in Emily la cognizione del male ha ucciso anche l’ultima speranza.
 Il saggio si chiude su Heathcliff, l’eroe di Cime tempestose che entra nel mondo senza cognome, come un dio. Il suo nome parla dei luoghi prediletti dalla scrittrice: heath, la brughiera, cliff, la vetta. Heathcliff si materializza nel gelo della bufera, figlio del vento, padre seduttore e paziente, che unisce e separa con la tempesta, che isola la casa nella brughiera dal resto del mondo e violenta i rapporti tra i protagonisti. Già mortalmente malata, allo stremo delle forze, quasi fino agli ultimi giorni di vita Emily non rinuncerà alle passeggiate, per sentire ancora una volta gli aghi del gelo attraversarle il corpo, ormai quasi liberato dalla vita terrena. (Cinzia Bigliosi) (Translation)
Writer Mariana Enríquez mentions Emily Brontë a couple of times in an interview for Clarín's Revista Eñe (Argentina).
-¿Cómo trabajaste lo sobrenatural en la novela para que lograra reflejar la historia de Latinoamérica?-Mi intención era hacer una especie de sistema de todas las cosas que me interesan: la poesía; el rock; el ocultismo; la preocupación por la política, el poder, por la historia argentina; mi fascinación con esa línea inglesa de los ocultistas, que aparece también en el tipo de literatura que me gusta desde Shakespeare a Neil Gaiman; la gran columna de la literatura fantástica y de terror. El libro que más me marco fue Cumbres borrascosas, de Brönte. La relación de Rosario y Juan, mis protagonistas, es muy parecida a la de Heathcliff y Catherine; de alguna manera, es una cita. Son ellos dos contra todos los demás, en una trama familiar muy oscura y compleja. No son cosas caprichosas, todas están guiadas por una sensibilidad, y con esa sensibilidad decidí hacer una narrativa.
-¿Podría relacionarse, de alguna forma, esa fascinación por la literatura inglesa de la que hablás con la tradición anglófila de algunos escritores argentinos?-En realidad, no es que mi anglofilia provenga de la anglofilia de la literatura argentina, sino que más bien viene de mí misma... Empecé a leer a Emily Brontë, a Mary Shelley y Dickens, a fascinarme con Keats, Byron, más tarde con Yeats, con la mitología irlandesa. Y al mismo tiempo que a mí me estaba gustando, me enteré que eso le gustaba a Borges. Esa es la literatura que está a mano a esa edad en la biblioteca de una casa donde más o menos se lee. Soy de una generación que creció con traducciones. Además fui a un colegio bilingüe y me fascinó el idioma desde chica. También contribuyó que me gustara el rock en inglés. Por supuesto, las cuestiones anglófilas de la literatura argentina me copan, aunque no sé bien a qué nos referimos, a lo mejor hablamos de Borges y ya.  (Verónica Boix) (Translation)
This selection of '6 cool things in music this week' by Star Tribune is a bit late to the Puppini Sisters' party but still.
2 The Puppini Sisters. Heard their rendition of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” while dining at Midori’s Floating World in Minneapolis. They succeed at bringing the Andrews Sisters to a new generation. I downloaded their album before I even left the restaurant. (John Medeiros of Minneapolis)
Where 2 Walk suggests a Wuthering Heights-inspired walk on the Haworth moors. The Worm Hole posts about the book Reader, I Married Him. The Oddness of Moving Things posts about Charlotte Brontë Before Jane Eyre by Glynnis Fawkes.

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