Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bessie aka Elsie the Cow

This story by Alex Thompson published on Gapers Block's Book Club contains a Brontë reference:

It was a night of this type of dreaming. Holly Golightly leaned suavely beside Jane Austen's Emma and a tortured Brontë character. Katniss Everdeen snacked on a raspberry parfait and reminded me to have a good time and not "think of all the people dying for your entertainment." Only Patrick Bateman seemed unnecessary, populated as the night was by smiling men in suits passing out business cards.
The Telegraph interviews the actress Jessica Brown Findlay:
“The gothic side of Jamaica Inn excited me. I’ve always loved things like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre where you see the darkness of how people react in really forbidding landscapes,” she says. “There is an incestuousness to the story. Joss wants to protect her deep down, but he’s also a sexual threat. Mary has to show him she’s no pushover and he sort of respects that. Ultimately she holds up a mirror to him, makes him see who he really is.” (Ben Lawrence)
Robert McCrum discusses some preliminary and collateral effects of choosing the 100 best novels for a list in The Guardian:
Another lesson from these first two centuries is that, as a contrast to the fallow years, we occasionally find intense bursts of creativity in which, as it were, the novels of the day become engaged in a vivid dialogue. The most intense occurs in 1847 and 1848: the years of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, followed by Vanity Fair.
Charlotte Brontë, indeed, paid tribute to Thackeray in her preface to Jane Eyre. At this mid-point of the Victorian novel, there was only one duty for the writer – and that was to entertain the reader. Thackeray is explicit about this. The idea of "literary fiction", that fashionable tautology, did not exist.
This article on Benefitspro has nothing to do with the Brontës but we have truly liked the anecdote and so we  would like to quote it fully:
I remember my high school career. I was a science and math guy through and through. I hated English. It made no sense. It was completely subjective. And, so, when it came time for this Physics and Astronomy major to take his required dose of English Literature as a college freshman, I attacked it with as much sarcastic rigor as possible. My intention was to mock the tomfoolery of literary analysis by pushing the envelope as far as possible. Every written assignment only escalated this. I was asked to review a Joseph Conrad novella (The Secret Sharer) and I handed in a report comparing it to a Star Trek Episode (“The Enemy Within”).
Next I was tasked with reviewing Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and came back with an analysis based solely on the names of the characters, including a purposely placed anachronism comparing the nursemaid to a Borden Dairy Company mascot Elsie the Cow (if you can’t see the connection, think harder).
But my professor zigged when I expected her to zag. Rather than berate my disrespect, she instead read it as something creative and gave me A’s for both papers. When I admitted to her the basis of my true deviousness, (i.e., science guys don’t like English classes) she blew it off with the simple suggestion I read C.P. Snow’s The Two Cultures. I did and it was a cold slap on the face. In it, Snow explains the cultural divide between the literary class and the science class and suggests neither can be considered a truly intellectual class unless and until it can comfortably understand the fundamentals of the other. (Chris Carosa)
The Northern Echo talks about yet another Tour de France-related event, the recording of the official song:
GIRLS Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh, Fame Academy contestant Alistair Griffin and a brass band immortalised by a movie have joined forces to record an anthem for Yorkshire’s Tour de France Grand Départ. (...)
“Being a Yorkshire girl myself means the event has a special resonance with me because it’s my home county and the race will go through my home city of Bradford.”
Mr Griffin said the video accompanying the song would have “a Wuthering Heights feel to it”, showcasing the dramatic countryside.
USA Today talks about the upcoming new TV series, Salem:
WGN America is the latest to hop on the broomstick with Salem, premiering Sunday (10 p.m. ET/PT). Think of it as "Wuthering Heights meets The Exorcist," says co-creator Brannon Braga of the supernatural thriller, set in colonial Massachusetts during the Salem witch trials. (Patrick Ryan)
Expressen (Sweden) reviews Claire Messud's The Woman Upstairs:
Egentligen är det en vändning värdig en såpa. Just som allt har löst sig för den unga Jane Eyre, Rochester har friat, de ska gifta sig, så visar det sig att det på vinden i hans hem finns - en annan kvinna. En galen kvinna, dessutom, och inte nog med det: Rochesters fru.
Han menar att han blev lurad att gifta sig med henne och att hennes galenskap har tvingat honom att hålla henne inspärrad. Jag brukar bli misstä   nksam när jag träffar personer som talar illa om sina ex, så ni kan ana storleken på varningsklockorna inför Rochester.
Jane Eyre drar, klokt nog, därifrån. (Hanna Johansson) (Translation)
Dantri (Vietnam) discusses one-hit-wonders in literature, i.e. Emily Brontë; What a Girld Nerd Says interviews the writer Bethany Hagen:
Nerd Girl: What are some of your own favorite books to read? Were they inspiration for your own writing career?
Bethany: Jane Eyre and Lord of the Rings were my perennial favorites, along with the works of Jane Austen and Gone with the Wind. They are absolutely inspirations for me — Austen, Brontë and Mitchell have this way of playing settings and characters off one another in a manner that I can only dream of doing (…but I try anyway). 

Bryony J. Thompson's Jane Eyre in Lewisham

The Bryony J. Thompson adaptation of Jane Eyre is now at the Jack Studio Theatre:

Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte
presented by the Rosemary Branch Theatre
adapted and directed by Bryony J Tho
mpson
Original Music by James Young. Lighting by Ned Lay.
With Lily Beck, Philip Honeywell, Helen Keeley, Hannah Maddison, Rob Pomfret, and Joss Wyre.

Wed 16 April to Sat 19 April at 7.45pm
Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH

Orphaned into an unloving household, subjected to poor treatment at a charity school, Jane Eyre emerges to seek her fortune unbroken in spirit and integrity. She becomes a governess to the ward of the enigmatic Mr Rochester, eventually falling in love with him and he with her. This story surpasses mere melodrama and illustrates a passionate and tenacious woman’s search for a wide rich life.
Part ghost story, part Gothic romance, and part religious tract, this gripping new adaptation of a favourite classic remains faithful to the text. The book literally comes to life with imaginative staging and a cast of only six. Set in 1840s northern England, the early stirrings of feminism shine through the strict adherence to social structure giving this venerated novel its iconic status.
(Via News Shopper)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cultish Meeting

A new review of the Helen Tennison Wuthering Heights adaptation now performed at the Rosemary Branch Theatre, London::

This is not the romanticised story that Hollywood devised for Olivier and Merle Oberon but the harsh reality of Emily Brontë’s novel, though its staging is often impressionistic.
Helen Tennison’s adaptation keeps Brontë’s device of the servant Nelly Dean telling much of the story to southerner Mr Lockwood. She begins in the ill-lit kitchen at Wuthering Heights where Heathcliff is polishing his boots while Hindley Earnshaw is asleep at a table across the room. It is a room which seems to have been invaded by the moors outside: ivy clings to the fireplace and furniture, mist swirls below the ceiling.
As Benedict Davies’s music, used extensively to great effect in this production, merges into the wind and storm of Matt Eaton’s sound score we hear a cry above the gale and Heathcliff is alerted. His eyes search the empty air until the shadow of Cathy appears at a fitfully lit window. (...)
Although the script of Helen Tennison’s compact adaptation provides only a filleted version of the novel and its characters' journey, her imaginative production follows its spirit in its evocative and imaginative theatricality that captures some of the wildness of the moors and of Brontë’s novel. (Howard Loxton in British Theatre Guide)
Lincolnshire Echo interviews Jasper Fforde about his literary career. This is what the writer says about The Eyre Affair:
“The trouble is, all my series started as standalones. What happens is someone will say ‘I love this, can we have a sequel’. The Eyre Affair was a standalone and Shades of Grey was originally meant to be as well. The Nursery Crimes was another but when I discover this interesting and exciting world I automatically think ‘what else can you do with it?’. (...)
"I chopped cross genres with The Eyre AffairJane Eyre, time travel, fantasy, crime and sci fi all mixed together. For the most part people say don’t write cross genre but I didn’t know this at that time.
“The important thing about writing The Eyre Affair was I felt the classic had been perhaps adopted by teachers and academics and Jane Eyre was no longer a novel but more a study text. (...)
“I wrote The Eyre Affair for fun and was writing for nearly 11 years before I got published. The only piece of advice I got in the early days was ‘look at the bestseller list and see what is selling’. I always thought that was bad advice to an author. I just wrote what was fun, enjoyable and amusing to me. (...)
“I have no plans when I am writing. I think plans can be very stifling – as soon as you have a plan you feel you have to stick to it. I tend to just start with a ‘narrative dare’ ... what would happen if someone kidnapped Jane Eyre out of the novel?
Yorkshire Post talks about female literary friendships and the website Something Rhymed:
Intrigued, they set up a website to explore their findings. The name Something Rhymed comes from the title of a poem by Jackie Kay, in which she celebrates her friendship with the novelist Ali Smith, and each month the website profiles different pairs of female writing friendships from down the years.
Readers are encouraged to submit their own suggestions and since launching in January the site has attracted thousands of readers from across the world, along with guest posts from well-known authors like Jill Dawson and Kathryn Heyman.
Profiles so far have included Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield – often remembered as fierce rivals, but in fact close friends – and in May the focus will switch to Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell.
The Telegraph publishes a (quite bizarre) list with the 20 best British and Irish novels of all time. No Brontës on the list but Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea is included.

On Tallahassee.com we read this story about the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at FSU's class Passion Through the Ages and Pages: Feminist Theory and the Romance Novel:
I read four sticky-sweet romance novels this spring. And I’m not a bit ashamed of myself.
I temporarily dropped my lifelong literary values and preferences to learn about a much-maligned but highly popular genre. And along the way, I read Jane Eyre—twice. (...)
Why does an extraordinarily well-read literary scholar love bodice rippers? And how do those novels compare to one of the earliest and most lauded romance novels, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre? (Fran Conaway)
The Herald reviews the new album by the singer Liz Green:
I think I first heard her singing Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights as part of a Glasgow art project, and the comparisons with the revivified Ms Bush are still there.
Bustle and StyleBlazer talk about the latest collection by fashion designer Vera Wang:
For this Spring 2015 collection, she insists that the dresses “just happened to be white,” and emphasizes that they could be worn for anything, not just a wedding ceremony. Perhaps a cultish meeting between sisters (Wang compared the models to the Brontës) in the woods?  (Tori Telfer
The mood and mystery of the film owe some inspiration to the closeness of the Brontë Sisters. (Giselle Childs)
The Bath Chronicle talks about a local production of The Three Sisters by Chekhov:
Chekhov’s masterpiece about three sisters marooned in provincial Russia whilst yearning for the promised land of Moscow was apparently inspired by the situation of the Brontë sisters living in the middle of the Yorkshire moors.
Amica (Italy) describes the recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Donna Tartt, like this:
Ma Donna Tartt ricorda anche certe miniature di Charlotte Brontë (la riga in mezzo, la fronte spaziosa). (Antonella Catena) (Translation)
Horror Magazine (Italy) interviews the author Cristina Astori:
Queste sono infatti le premesse di “Acqua e sangue”, forse la mia prima storia d'amore romantico, ma che del sentimento narra anche i lati oscuri e agghiaccianti, una sorta di Cime tempestose in chiave vampirica. (Translation)
KemzMovies reviews Jane Eyre 2011 and Expasts Post does the same with Wuthering Heights 1939;  Samantha Ellis suggests Miss Temple could have been an excellent womentor; Closed the Cover posts a negative review of the novel Solsbury Hill.

Ties of Blood in Toronto

Source
Due to some technical issues, we report regrettably this information quite late. Our apologies to our readers and the people behind the production:
Ties of Blood: the Brontës
Written by Caity Quinn (this is a workshop production of fifty minutes worth of excerpts from the full-length play)
Paprika Festival
At Theatre Passe Muraille (Toronto)
April 7th @7 pm
April 12th @ 1 pm.

Grace Fournier as Anne Brontë
Caity Quinn as Charlotte Brontë
Julia Frith as Emily Brontë
Adrian Zeyl as Branwell Brontë

Directed by Caity Quinn and Will Bartley
Set and costume design by Caity Quinn
Musical Direction: Adrian Zeyl

Dramaturge: Aaron Jan
Mentored by Allyson McMackon

Ties of Blood: The Brontës is a vivid dreamscape that interprets the lives and art of the Brontë siblings, authors of the beloved classics 'Wuthering Heights' and 'Jane Eyre.'
Four artists, four geniuses, four siblings. Conflicting loyalties, forbidden love, and competing affections intersect in this tale of a family torn apart by fame, alcoholism, and the dark twists of fate. Through movement inspired from Japanese Kabuki theatre, live folk music, and text drawn from their diaries, letters, and novels, Ties of Blood presents a mesmerizing glimpse into the tortured world of the Brontës. 
Apparently there will be another performance in London, Ontario next May. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Like the Brontës, 'but without the dying young bit'

Nina Camp mentions in The Huffington Post the first time she read Villette.

And speaking of profound vulnerabilities, did you ever read the Charlotte Brontë novel, Villete (sic)? I read it back when I had an attention span. I was even in the middle of a break-up when I read it. He was 14 years older than me, but in great shape. Financial guy. Naturally athletic. Vital. But we all have stories where we miss the boat and then wait on the shore forever for another boat. [...]
But: Villete (sic,again). I remember sitting on the rug in the vestibule of my apartment reading it. I know where I sat because I remember returning to that spot after I'd gotten off the phone with my then-boyfriend after our third breakup. He'd said, "I love you. And I miss you," and I listened and felt nothing and said, "Ok," and then went back to the vestibule to read.
There's a passage near the beginning. A little girl is sitting on her father's lap. Maybe he's just a father figure. But she's sitting with him, being busy and alert and content. I feel like, if my memory is good, that something disruptive was about to happen to her, but in that moment she was, Brontë wrote, "in a trance of content." He'd given her a little kiss. She'd asked, and he gave it. 
Also, The Huffington Post's daily meditation
features a poem by 19th century English author Charlotte Brontë. The poem inspires us to let hope and courage guide us through the "clouds of gloom" that occasionally arise in life. (Antonia Blumberg)
The poem is Life.

The East End Review reviews the Rosemary Branch's performances of Wuthering Heights in London:
The sense of time winding onwards, and the intricate interweaving of the family’s fates, seemingly inevitably, often catastrophically, is complemented by the cast changes – George Haynes and James Hayward play up to four characters each, whilst Helen Watkinson doubles up as Isabella Linton and young Cathy.
A story like Wuthering Heights could easily become claustrophobic in the close confines of theatre, but Tennison’s production keeps us engaged through the haunting play of light and shadow, jangling music and the portrayal of Cathy and Heathcliff’s raging love. (Phoebe Cooke)
The Guardian's A brief survey of the short story features Jean Rhys and mentions Wide Sargasso Sea in passing:
"Too bitter," Jean Rhys said of her work in 1945. "And besides, who wants short stories?" No one did then, at least not hers. Rhys published her first collection in 1927, and her first novel the following year. In the 1930s came three increasingly dark and accomplished novels, but the better she got, the less she was read. She published nothing for 20 years, until stories began appearing in the London Magazine in the early 1960s. In 1966, her final novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, brought her acclaim and a degree of financial security at the age of 76. Another two short-story collections appeared before her death in 1979. They include some of the best British short stories of the last century. (Chris Power)
News Talk has a short article on Caitlin Moran's new novel How to Build a Girl.
It's 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there's no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde - fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer! She will save her poverty stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer - like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontës - but without the dying young bit. (Caroline Clarke)
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner includes Oakwell Hall on its list of '15 ways to make the most of Huddersfield's sunny weather'.
5) Pack a picnic for Oakwell Hall and Country Park
Popular with Brontë fans and wildlife enthusiasts alike, Oakwell Hall and Country Park is the perfect spot for a summer picnic.
A favourite spot for dog walkers and horseriders, the Birstall park offers woodland walking trails, plenty of green open space and an adventure playground to keep little ones active. And of course the historic hall, made famous as the inspiration for Fieldhead manor house in Charlotte Brontë's Shirley, offers a snapshot of life in the Elizabethan era, surrounded by immaculate gardens.
A tearoom next to the hall serves coffee, cakes and snacks, while two educational visitor centres help youngsters learn more about the wildlife found in the park's woods and ponds. (Samantha Robinson)
Reader, if you would enjoy nothing better than to spend an evening debating feminist themes in Victorian literature, then this is the video (and likely, the comment thread) for you. In this episode of Crash Course, host John Green picks apart Charlotte Brontë’s masterwork, including her personal history, the plot of the novel, and the tip of the interpretive iceberg. Go make some popcorn. (Becky Chambers)
The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page also links to that video, by the way. And as part of their #weatherwatch, they show two gorgeous pictures of sunny Haworth yesterday: one, two.

Brontë Studies. Volume 39. Issue 2

The new issue of Brontë Studies (Volume 39, Issue 2, April 2014) is already available online. We provide you with the table of contents and abstracts:

Editorial
pp. iii-iv Author: Adams, Amber M.

Patrick Brontë: the Man who Arrived at Cambridge University
pp. 93–105  Author: Wilks, Brian
Abstract:
This paper discusses the importance in Patrick Brontë’s life of his early years (1777–1802) in County Down, Ireland, an area greatly affected by the tumultuous turmoil in Europe, by violence, treason, sedition and rebellion. The reasons for Patrick’s ‘voluntary exile’ from his home are explored and the impact on him of life at Cambridge University as a sizar assessed. The idea of the family’s separateness is traced to its beginnings in Patrick Brontë’s early years. His compassion and understanding were based on his belief in the rule of law, he having experienced the atrocities and savagery of rebellion in his youth. His singularity of mind, his individualism and dedication to his work as a clergyman, all resulting from his early experiences, influenced and inspired his family.

The Brontës’ Irish Background Revisited
pp. 106–117    Author:  Chitham, Edward 
Abstract:
Interest is again being expressed in the Brontës’ Irish background. A number of points can be added to the research detailed in The Brontës’ Irish Background of 1986 and K. Constable’s A Stranger within the Gates in 2000. An important factor is the definite date now available for Hugh Brunty’s birth. Further to this, new light has been shed on the demography of County Fermanagh by the publication of the Ordnance Survey Memoirs in the 1990s and by more accessible copies of the Irish ‘Tithe Applotment’ and Griffith’s ‘Valuation’ on the Internet. This article brings some of this new material forward as a contribution to the understanding of the Brontes’ family heritage.

The Presentation of Hareton Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights
pp. 118–129       Author: Tytler, Graeme
Abstract:
It is evident from writings published on Wuthering Heights over the past hundred years or so that, in their concern with Hareton Earnshaw, Brontë scholars have tended to focus their attention on his character. But whereas only a handful of scholars have been affirmative in their evaluations of Hareton, a good many others have been somewhat dismissive in theirs, chiefly by comparing him unfavourably with Heathcliff. Yet valid as is this concern with Hareton’s character, there is nevertheless also a need to consider the thematic and structural functions of his role in the narrative. For instance, it is through their relations with Hareton that the author throws useful light on some of the main characters, just as it is through their particular limitations that we become aware of Hareton’s essential wholesomeness. Especially noteworthy is Emily Brontë’s discreet use of sundry references to Hareton, including some seemingly casual ones, in her apparent endeavour to present him as a figure who deserves consideration of a kind more serious than we readers might otherwise be inclined to bestow on him.

Let’s Not Have its Bowels Quite so Quickly, Then: a Response to Maggie Berg
pp. 130–140   Author:  Hornosty, Janina
Abstract:
In ‘“Let me have its bowels then”: Violence, Sacrificial Structure, and Anne Brontës The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, Maggie Berg creates a useful frame in which to examine aspects of the violence that haunts The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and especially Helen Huntingdon’s past. Berg’s main theoretical touchstone is Derrida’s ‘carno-phallogocentric’ paradigm, and she correctly argues that ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall [...] elaborate[s] the psycho-social mechanisms by which men maintain this order, and the costs to its victims’. However, her employment of Anne Brontë’s descriptions of narrator Gilbert Markham is unjustifiably selective. Determined to peg Gilbert as unremittingly part of the carno-phallogocentric brotherhood by which Helen is victimized, Berg misses the ways in which the novel is structured to reveal his transcendence of the values to which he was born. Berg sets her carno-phallogocentric sniffer dogs running through the story, but they tree exactly the wrong man.

Narrating the Queen in Jane Eyre
pp. 141–152    Author:  Fain, Margaret
Abstract:
The autobiographical elements of Jane Eyre have been examined in detail. Charlotte Brontë’s incorporation of contemporary social issues and historical accuracy has also received scrutiny as exemplars of issues in early Victorian England. Despite the intense scrutiny, few commentators have paused to consider whether Charlotte Brontë also drew upon the public image of the young Queen Victoria when developing the character of Jane Eyre.

Reviews
pp. 153-161  

Recent Brontë Books for Children
pp. 162-164     Author: Duckett, Bob

Monday, April 14, 2014

Looking Upward at Covent Garden

Best tip of the day (and the week) from the Covent Garden Tube Twitter @CoventGdnTube:

At the start of the week Charlotte Brontë steers us to focus anew and tweak our bearings with this #QOTD pic.twitter.com/auHvSE81qk
Kate Bush's upcoming live tour is still the subject of articles in praise. Like this one in The Independent (Ireland):
Writers of a certain philosophical bent seem to view experiencing Ms Bush in their youth as a rite of passage. "For more than 30 years, Kate Bush's voice seems to have come out of nowhere," recalled Tim Adams in The Observer in 2010. "I remember the first time I heard it; the release of Wuthering Heights in 1978 coincided with my third year at grammar school in Birmingham, studying Emily Brontë's novel in our English lessons. We were 13, it was a boys' school; hormones were running high. Bush seemed, uncannily, to be talking just to us." Indeed, had Pink Floyd's David Gilmour not taken a musical shine to the 16-year-old chanteuse from Bexleyheath, Kent, and recommended her to his record company EMI, her 1978 debut single, Wuthering Heights, would never have come about. (Barry Egan)
The Telegraph celebrates that John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is 75 years today and remembers that
The book was published on Friday April 14, 1939, on the same day that the film Wuthering Heights, starring Laurence Olivier, had its premiere in New York.

Romanticism, Matrimony and the Woman Question

A new scholar book with some Brontë-related content:

Twenty-First Century Perspectives on Victorian Literature
Edited by Laurence W. Mazzeno
Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 978-1-4422-3233-4 • Hardback
March 2014

Victorian literature’s fascination with the past, its examination of social injustice, and its struggle to deal with the dichotomy between scientific discoveries and religious faith continue to fascinate scholars and contemporary readers. During the past hundred years, traditional formalist and humanist criticism has been augmented by new critical approaches, including feminism and gender studies, psychological criticism, cultural studies, and others.

In Twenty-First Century Perspectives on Victorian Literature, twelve scholars offer new assessments of Victorian poetry, novels, and nonfiction. Their essays examine several major authors and works, and introduce discussions of many others that have received less scholarly attention in the past. General reviews of the current status of Victorian literature in the academic world are followed by essays on such writers as Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, Thomas Hardy, and the Brontë sisters. These are balanced by essays that focus on writing by women, the development of the social problem novel, and the continuity of Victorian writers with their Romantic forebears.

Most importantly, the contributors to this volume approach Victorian literature from a decidedly contemporary scholarly angle and write for a wide audience of specialists and non-specialists alike. Their essays offer readers an idea of how critical commentary in recent years has influenced—and in some cases changed radically—our understanding of and approach to literary study in general and the Victorian period in particular. Hence, scholars, teachers, and students will find the volume a useful survey of contemporary commentary not just on Victorian literature, but also on the period as a whole.
Contains the chapters:
5. Victorian Romanticism: The Brontë Sisters, Thomas Carlyle, and the Persistence of Memory by Laura Dabundo.
8. Matrimony, Property and the "Woman Question" in Anne Brontë and Mary Elizabeth Braddon by Amy J. Robinson.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Gift of a Production

What's Peen Seen? reviews the Rosemary Branch Theatre Wuthering Heights adaptation:

Where to start? I am bursting with praise for this production. As soon as you enter the modest pub theatre you feel as though you have stepped into another world. Foliage adorns the fireplace and furniture, and a thick fog lingers in the air. The hypnotic score and haunting sound effects, provided by the irrefutably talented Benedict Davis and Matt Eaton respectively, top off this ethereal atmosphere. (...)
This is a gift of a production. [Helen] Tennison has used this strong company to their advantage. She mixes the themes of destructive love and social expectations into this haunting play, adding in hints of her own movement background to create a beautiful and expressive spectacle. I cannot wait to see what this company does next. (Jess Nesling)
Il Manifesto (Italy) reviews the Italian translation of Jane, le renard et moi:
Pro­fon­da­mente poe­tica, Jane, la volpe & io delle cana­desi Isa­belle Arse­nault (illu­stra­trice) e Fanny Britt (autrice) è una gra­phic novel por­tata in Ita­lia da Mon­da­dori (pp. 100, euro 16) che l’anno scorso è stata indi­cata tra le prime dieci più belle del 2013 dal New York Times. In effetti, lo è sul serio. Vuoi per quei «riqua­dri» in un bianco e nero anti­chiz­zante, o leg­ger­mente sep­piati, che ren­dono uni­ver­sale la sen­sa­zione di soli­tu­dine di qual­siasi ado­le­scente (con le incur­sioni del colore quando entra in scena Jane Eyre, alter-ego e imma­gine di un riscatto pos­si­bile), vuoi per il testo che sot­to­li­nea la malin­co­nia esi­sten­ziale della pro­ta­go­ni­sta, che vede sbia­dire la sua iden­tità e il suo pre­ce­dente mondo, giorno dopo giorno. (Arianna DiGenova) (Translation)
vvb32 reads reviews Always Emily by Michaela MacColl; My Reading Journal has read Elizabeth Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Brontë; BuzzFeed compiles some appalling one-star  reviews of classics (Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights included); The Bees Knees Daily shares a Hollywood Magazine cover of May 1939 with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon as Heathcliff and Catherine.

Reconstructing Emily Brontë's Poetry

An current exhibition in Dublin explores deconstruct and reconstruct iconic poetric with visual art. Among them a well known Emily Brontë poem:
Conversations|Reconstructed
4 April  - 19 April, 2014
The Culture Box, Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland
The Concept

I’ve always been fascinated with the question: “What if?”  What if we did that another way? What if something we valued suddenly became something of no value or vice versa? What if the same words could tell a totally different story?
Several months ago, under the dark of night, a ‘what if’ conversation led to an idea…What if I could take apart stories and rebuild them to tell completely different ones? This led to an experiment…which repeated itself several times over…leading to countless conversations…which turned into bigger and bigger things…until it became…Conversations|Reconstructed.For me, I have to pursue writing and art in the same way I pursue breathing. It must happen to stay alive. This project is the next breath in our pursuit of creating, pushing boundaries and collaboration. We have been awed by where it has already taken us, and we are eager to see where it will continue to lead us as artists and creators.

The Questions & The Details

What if I could take apart some of the greatest poems and use those words to reconstruct completely new stories? Could it be done? Could I do it? Would the words be able to tell different stories? Would I lose my voice if I could not choose my words, not a single one? Do words have enough meaning to tell different stories while they stay the same?
These are all the questions I asked myself as I began this journey. It was frustrating not to be able to choose my words but, as I started doing it, I saw the words, the same words, telling new and different stories.
Once I completed a couple reconstructions it became very apparent I needed visual artists to help bring my stories to life. As each artist joined the project, (Illustrator, Sculptor, Graphic Designer, Painter, Lino Cutter/Digital Printer, and Street Artist) a beautiful collaboration began between these artists, my reconstructions and the iconic poets. Not only were we able to bring the poem sets to life visually (“poem set” being the term we use to describe an original poem, de-constructed word list and reconstructed poem), but each artist involved used the words to inspire their own story.
You will recognize some of the greatest poets of all time in the works: Yeats, Kipling, Henley, Dickenson, Hughes, Frye, Brontë, Poe, Donne, & Frost.
As our team comes from various places in the world, you will also find an international flavour to our exhibition which brings an added dimension to these conversations.
I worried about the constrained creativity this project entailed. I mean, come on, a writer who doesn’t choose any of her own words?! I won’t lie, it was a struggle, but I discovered even when you constrain creativity, creativity will not be constrained. Words carry meaning individually, and words together tell stories. You take them apart, put them back together and they can tell completely new stories. These stories then take on imagery, collaboration and multiple interpretations. Soon you find you are having new conversations out of the old ones!
Stacey Covell posts one of her contributions here:
Can you guess which iconic poem this came from? Michelle [Perera] did a beautiful job! Come to the show or get an Art Book to find out!


If you don't remember Emily Brontë's The night is darkening round me, you can read it here.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Funny Games in the Heights

The Herald talks about the Chinese writer Yiyun Li:

What the Chinese can't know - unless they read her in her adopted tongue in which she is so breathtakingly fluent - is that Li is unique. Her superb new novel, Kinder Than Solitude, has drawn comparisons with Charlotte Brontë's Villette, as well as Chekhov, Alice Munro and Patricia Highsmith. Actually, it is unlike any other book I've read, despite Li's calm, uncluttered prose and obvious love of 19th-century storytelling, stemming from her passion for Russian literature, particularly Tolstoy, Turgenev and, inevitably, Chekhov. (Jackie McGlone
The Summerville Journal Scene remembers how
Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Eyre and Scarlett O’Hara all carried reticules. These small, pouch-like bags were often made of net, beaded, closed and carried by drawstrings. In those days they contained such things as snuff-boxes, a sweet note or love letter known as a billet-doux, handkerchiefs, fans, prayer-books, and bon-bons. (Barbara Lynch Hill)
Talking about unlikely comparisons here comes a totally unexpected one: Michael Haneke's Funny Games and Wuthering Heights. On Teen Ink:
In a way, the end, signaling the beginning, is almost like Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, a novel that expounds upon the cyclical nature of revenge and love. (rots28)
But thinking about it... Michael Haneke could be a not so crazy option to film a Wuthering Heights version.

The Journal announces that the 2014 edition (May 2-4) of the Gateshead International Festival of Theatre will include:
Peter McMaster with his award-winning all-male version of Wuthering Heights. (Barbara Hodgson)
The Times has an article about Mia Wasikowska and remembers the words of Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes 2012 ceremony:
In fact, Streep, famously, departed from her 2012 Golden Globes acceptance speech for The Iron Lady, by announcing, apropos of nothing in particular, "What about Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre?". The actress, typically, was not watching at the time, and had to be informed via an agent's e-mail - "It was still the coolest thing ever, because she's the ultimate actress." (Kevin Maher)
Città Nuova (Italy) presents the new Italian translation of Jane Eyre with the introduction by Tracy Chevalier:
Charlotte Brontë, “Jane Eyre”, Neri pozza, euro 12,90 – Una fanciulla umile e inerme, un uomo burbero, se non crudele, una passione inaspettata, su uno sfondo di una grande casa che nasconde un segreto scabroso: sono gli ingredienti che rendono questa storia avvincente e – accanto a Grandi speranze di Dickens e Orgoglio e pregiudizio della Austen – un classico del XIX secolo, che si mantiene costantemente ai vertici delle classifiche di vendita e ha dato origine a innumerevoli adattamenti cinematografici e televisivi, opere, musical, balletti. Sarà che questo personaggio creato dalla timida figlia di un parroco dello Yorkshire ha tratti di modernità e sentimenti lo rendono universale. Il romanzo, qui in nuova traduzione, è introdotto da un’altra famosa scrittrice: Tracy Chevalier. (Gianfranco Restelli) (Translation)
An interesting announcement from the Brontë Parsonage:
 10 de abr.Next week on Facebook and Twitter we are doing a at the Parsonage. Look out for wuthering photos and hopefully sunny ones too! 
Jack Hargreaves has updated the group photo of the Facebook group I Love Haworth and the Brontë Parsonage;  Second Bookshelf on the Right reviews the upcoming YA book Carly Keene, Literary Detective: Braving the Brontës by Katherine Rue; El Blog Perdido de Laura (in Spanish) reviews Jane Eyre; Dark Readers posts about Trisha Ashley's Finding Mr Rochester ebook; Rosie's Period Journal posts a Jane Eyre 1983 photo gallery.

Jill Anderson's Brontë in Nebraska

Albion, Nebraska could seem an unlikely place to be connected with the Brontës, but today, April 12, there will be a performance of William Luce's Brontë one-woman-show by the actress Jill Anderson:

Albion Area Arts Council will present actress Jill Anderson in the play, Brontë, at 3 p.m., Saturday, April 12th, at the UCC/Congregational Church in Albion.

In this one-woman play by William Luce, Charlotte Brontë returns home from the funeral of her last remaining sibling and begins life alone with her father in their remote North England parsonage. She reflects on the remarkable incidents, triumphs, tragedies and relationships that have brought her to the present moment and looks toward the future with hope and courage. It is an inspiring story filled with great humor, dazzling imagination and deep poignancy.
Jill Anderson, who has ties to the Albion area, has been seen in the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, the Blue Barn Theatre, Opera Omaha and the Omaha Community Playhouse, where her roles have included Annie Sullivan in “The Miracle Worker” and Millie in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Jill’s performance Saturday will be followed by a Q & A session. (J Dickerson in Albion News)

Friday, April 11, 2014

The wild, windy Yorkshire Moors in a poky pub theatre in north London

The Guardian mourns the death - yesterday - of author Sue Townsend.

She could not read until she was eight. It was her mother who taught her with Richmal Crompton’s William books – the inspiration behind Adrian. After failing the 11-plus she went to a secondary modern, South Wigston high school. She left at 15 but kept reading. She devoured Woolworth’s Classics (Jane Eyre, Heidi and co) and moved on to Russian and American literature. (Kate Kellaway)
EDIT: The Telegraph adds:
Having started on Richmal Crompton’s Just William, she quickly graduated to Jane Eyre, and from there to Dostoevsky. “Jane Eyre was the first book I read right through, non-stop,” she said. “It was winter, freezing cold, and I remember seeing this thin light outside and realising it was dawn. I got dressed reading, walked to school reading and finished it in the cloakroom at lunchtime. It was riveting.”
Another writer, Emma Chase, is a fan of Wuthering Heights, as she says on USA Today's Happy Ever After.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. My go-to read for passion, drama and self-destructive main characters. I first read Wuthering Heights when I was 16, but to this day I'm still enthralled by this story that shows love has the power to heal or decimate. And that the person we love holds our happiness in the palm of their hand. (Joyce Lamb)
The Leader (Australia) tells about singer Sophie Hanlon's influences:
Her diverse musical influences have included Gershwin, Vera Lynn and Traffic, and her lyrics have been influenced by the prose of the Brontë sisters.
The Stage reviews the Rosemary Branch Theatre production of Wuthering Heights.
It’s quite a challenge to evoke the wild, windy Yorkshire Moors in a poky pub theatre in north London, but led by director/adaptor Helen Tennison, this production rises to the challenge in spectacular style.
The cast of six doesn’t just throw on a variety of random wigs to play multiple roles, the doubling up has a clear, well-executed structure, with George Haynes in particular demonstrating his skills of diversity, alternating between the gentlemanly Edgar Linton, the bullied Linton Heathcliff, the gruff Joseph and the gentle Hareton with ease. Although the cast members are all strong, his performance of a range of contrasting roles is a highlight - it really does feel as if there are a greater number of characters on stage, such is Haynes’ power to convince.
Jack Benjamin, in one of literature’s most powerful roles, manages to capture Heathcliff’s joy in the company of Cathy. His distress at their separation is both disturbing and poignant. As the object of his eternal devotion, Lucinda Lloyd projects both Cathy’s effervescence and her despair - the moments when she loses control of herself are an intense experience, particularly in such a small space, but Lloyd completely goes for it, exposing Cathy’s emotional fragility wonderfully.
Lastly, it’s good to see a few believable fight scenes. Heads bang against walls and jaws look like they could really be broken, so special mention must go to fight director Phillip D’Orleans for a job well done. (Catherine Usher)
Old Gold & Black looks at the hidden treasures to be found at Wake Forest University.
For those more interested in 19th century works, there is a first edition Jane Eyre written by Charlotte Brontë. Though, since it is the original, the pseudonym Currer Bell is used. The use of a pseudonym adds a whole new experience to the reader. (Lindsey Gallinek)
The Evening Standard has an article on TB and reminds us of some of the disease's most famous victims:
TB — aka consumption, scrofula or Pott’s disease — has plagued mankind for centuries. We tend to think of its victims as a dead poets’ society: Keats struck down at 25, the Brontës and their congested lungs, Chekhov carried off with a cough. It’s the disease of Les Mis, La Bohème and George Gissing’s New Grub Street. Yet a third of the world’s population is currently infected with it and London is western Europe’s TB capital. (Rosamund Urwin)
What Shall We Blog About Today? posts about Jane Eyre and CrashCourse reviews it. Crumpets and Marmalade links to her YouTube video review of Wuthering Heights while VVB32Reads is giving away a copy of the BabyLit edition of the novel. Reading Like I'm Feasting writes about Agnes Grey.

Carlisle Floyd's Wuthering Heights in Wisconsin

Good news from Florentine Opera in Wisconsin:
"Wuthering Heights," Jan. 9 and 11.

The Florentine will stage and record a concert production of American composer Carlisle Floyd's opera, based on Emily Brontë's novel. Sopranos Georgia Jarman and Heather Buck, and tenor Vale Rideout, all familiar voices at the Florentine, will have roles in the production. Performances will take place at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center, 19805 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield. (Via Journal-Sentinel)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Refusing to read Wuthering Heights

You have probably heard of it by now - the profane letter a student taped to their English teacher's classroom and - here comes the good part - which the teacher returned full of corrections. What we didn't know is that the apparent reason was that they refused to read Wuthering Heights, at least according to sites like Business2Community and Inquisitr.

Clearly, the student in question wouldn't know whether to agree or not with this statement from The Daily Cardinal:

Wuthering Heights” may be depressing, brilliant and sometime pointless, but I’d be disloyal to my own gender if I didn’t want the demented-yet-so-yummy Heathcliff come wander on my moor. And plus I’d really like to be able to use that phrase in actual conversations. “My moor. Yes, I have a moor. With dramatic fog on it.” (Maham Hasan)
Neither would they get this reference from an article in defence of Captain America on Empire's Empire States:
Batman broods. We get it. Like Angel in Buffy and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, it’s part of his essence. Many superheroes, action heroes and sci-fi stars have troubled pasts that they sometimes like to reflect upon while staring handsomely into the distance. But does it feel to anyone else like maybe we have a few too many troubled heroes these days? And that maybe this whole dark, brooding, troubled, tortured thing has gone far enough? (Helen O'Hara)
Chicago Literature Examiner has an article on Jane Eyre.
The beloved character of Jane Eyre has taken on historic significance in English literature today. Charlotte Brontë's sensitive portrayal of Jane's persona reflects the endurance of a passionate yet humble beauty in astonishing defiance of the tyrannically oppressive Victorian era of the 1800’s. The autobiographic story is told from the protagonist's point of view in first person, and traces Jane's experience from her early traumatic days as a child in the care of Mrs. Reed, a wealthy but cruel aunt, to adolescence under the harshest of circumstances at Lowood orphanage where she is sent to live; and finally, to her ultimate destination at Thornfield castle as governess to the ward of her future husband to be, Edward Rochester, a then powerful man representing the tragically flawed establishment of the day. The novel's striking portrayal of Jane’s perseverance to survive reveals a seemingly miraculous spiritual strength that ultimately enables her to overcome the nearly impossible obstacles in her life. (Magdalene Paniotte) (Read more)
The Helsingborgs Dagblad reviews Claire Messud's The Woman Upstairs and mentions the influence of the madwoman in the attic:
Den galna kvinnan på vinden är en berömd litterär figur – ursprungligen syftande på Mr. Rochesters undangömda och mentalsjuka hustru i Charlotte Brontës ”Jane Eyre”, senare ett vidare begrepp som betecknar kvinnans dilemma i romantraditionen: bryter hon mot normer blir hon galen, och blir hon galen hamnar hon på vinden där hon och hennes tokerier göms undan och kvävs efter bästa förmåga. (Johanna Gredfors Ottesen) (Translation)
The Millions has asked several writers 'to share one or two little delights from their latest or forthcoming books':
Megan Abbott, The Fever:
For me, it was two things that found their way into my novel:
1) The mysterious weather of upstate New York, where I lived for a year, including lake effect snow and other meteorological oddities that struck me as more akin to Emily Brontë or Poe than to any experience I’d ever had in “real life.”. . . (Edan Lepucki)
The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page shows how they are getting ready for an upcoming private tour. @TheBrontesFilm on Twitter shares a picture of the Parsonage in the 1920s when it was still, well, just a parsonage with quite a history. The Story Girl posts about Wuthering Heights. Czytam, oglądam writes in Polish about Villette. The Children's and Teens' Book Connection has a guest post by Michaela MacColl, author of Always Emily, and a giveaway. Prismatic Prospects posts about Jane Eyre.