Monday, February 20, 2017

Vintage Hollywood Classics and String Quartets

On Monday, February 20, 2017 at 12:30 am by M. in ,    No comments
A couple of recent releases of the musical digital world:

Vintage Hollywood Classics, Vol. 30
Essential Themes from the Golden Studio Era

Alfred Newman
February 3, 2017
Cathy's Theme (From "Wuthering Heights")

Midnite String Quartet
MSQ Performs Kate Bush
Roma Music Group
December 2016
Wuthering Heights (4:03)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner interviews writer and poet Simon Armitage:
He was invited to curate an exhibition, recently opened, at The Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth that commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Branwell Brontë, brother of the famous literary sisters and black sheep of the family.
Simon admits that before tackling the project he knew little about Branwell (whose story of drug addiction, thwarted ambition and alcoholism was recently featured in a Sally Wainwright television drama) and was more familiar with sister Emily’s poetry. But he has attempted to get into the mind of the troubled only son. The starting point of the exhibition, which links 10 Armitage poems with 10 Branwell artefacts, is a letter and poem sent by Branwell to the acclaimed poet William Wordsworth. As one poet to another, how does Simon rate the ill-fated young man’s work? “You can see the poem is full of repetition and cliches,” he says. “But there are some great lines in there as well. His poetry is young and very enthusiastic and ambitious and imitates the Romantics of the era, in particular Byron and Wordsworth.
“He never got a response to the letter, which is a little bit heartbreaking. But Branwell was precocious and very puffed up in his letter, and he irritated Wordsworth by criticising some of the poets of the day, but not by name.”
When writing the Brontë poems, Simon says he couldn’t avoid imagining who and what Branwell would have been today. “One of the objects in the exhibition is his wallet,” he explains, “ and I wanted to think about what it meant to him – it was always empty. In the poem it becomes a contemporary object; there’s a condom in there, his dealer’s phone number, a credit card with cocaine on the end of it.” (Hilarie Stelfox)
The Observer talks about this year's Berlinale and mentions the film Viceroy's House which contans a curious Brontë reference:
The most opulent movie at this year’s festival was Viceroy’s House by Gurinder Chadha, a behind-the-scenes story of the partition of India. Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson, as Lord and Lady Mountbatten, lead a squadron of character notables including Simon Callow and Michael Gambon, although the film’s emotional centre is the Muslim-Hindu Romeo-and-Juliet romance played out by Huma Qureshi and Manish Dayal. The script sometimes struggles to transcend the required history lesson, although it’s a sumptuous film, and never boring. But its account of the nightmare of partition sometimes states the obvious. As the contents of Delhi’s Viceroy House are split between the two new nations, even the library has to be divvied up – Pakistan gets Wuthering Heights, India gets the complete Jane Austen. “But this is absurd!” protests Lady M, with Anderson doing her crispest Celia Johnson voice. (Jonathan Romney)
BBC Culture reviews the film God's Own Country:
This sense of place, and of tactile immediacy in the detail and dirt of its wild location, at times recalls Andrea Arnold's viscerally damp and windswept take on Wuthering Heights, but there is nothing ethereal about [Francis]Lee's vision of rural life. (Jessica Kiang)
The Sunday Times reviews the dance piece Town and Country:
Country has a delightful backdrop of a village in a valley (like a 1930s travel poster), the cast in frocks, smocks and jodhpurs, a stormy Wuthering Heights love segment and (echoing Ashton again) a jaunty clog and tap dance that accidentally squashed a puppet hedgehog. The finale is elegiac. (David Dougill)
This columnist in The Sunday Herald recommends novels for therapy:
To get us started, there are a number of books I would suggest that every doctor should have in their consulting room, ready to prescribe at any minute whatever the problem. Acne and teenage angst for instance. Just prescribe The Diary Of Adrian Mole and the patient will understand that the spots will go away in time. The angst, on the other hand, never does. I can also see doctors prescribing Jane Eyre to anyone suffering depression over the state of their marriage and before long the advice will be clear. Do try counselling or couples therapy. Do not try locking your wife in the attic and marrying someone else. (Mark Smith)
VilaWeb (in Catalan) interviews Ariadna Gil on her upcoming role as Jane Eyre in a new theatre adaptation to open in Barcelona:
—Coneixíeu l’obra Jane Eyre?—No. I ha estat una gran oportunitat. És de les millors coses que m’han passat últimament. He descobert tot un món, i tota una època. La duresa de la vida i l’anhel d’independència. Amb els Brontë també he vist que hi ha famílies on tots són brillants. Això passa i et demanes, què els han donat de petits? Jo he quedat enamorada de Jane Eyre i Charlotte Brontë. I el procés d’assaig ha estat molt exigent. Però potser el més feliç de la meva vida. Positivament, molt gran. Senties que treballaves molt, però sense patir. La intel·ligència de la Carme Portaceli ens ha guiat a tots. No t’ho diu tot de cop, per exemple. Els canvis, un per un. Et sents superacompanyada. Ho he gaudit molt. (...)
—He vist que, a banda de la novel·la, recomaneu molt la biografia sobre Brontë escrita per una amiga seva.—Sí. Molt. Escrita per Elizabeth Gaskell, escriptora de l’època. Eren amigues. I quan va morir Charlotte Brontë va escriure aquesta biografia per encàrrec del pare de Brontë. El pare va enterrar els seus sis fills. I el privilegi és que vas llegint una persona que parla amb la gent que va conviure amb la Brontë. També hi ha multitud de cartes de Brontë amb els editors. Allà entens qui era aquesta dona. El criteri que tenia. I veus que s’assembla molt a la Jane Eyre de la novel·la. Recordo, per exemple, el pobre home que venia el paper a les germanes. Els trossos de paper on escrivien les seves obres. L’home, es veu, ho passava fatal quan se’n quedava sense. La cara que feien les germanes quan veien que no en quedava, de paper! Elles eren dones que vivien únicament per escriure. I escriure conjuntament. (Read more) (Andreu Barnils) (Translation)
El Español (in Spanish) talks about the playwright José Zorrilla:
Es el momento de Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, de Rosalía de Castro, de Cecilia Böhl de Faber, de las hermanas Brönte (sic), de Jane Austen, de Emily Dickinson, de Mary Shelley… La mujer no sólo alcanza al hombre sino que, además, lo supera
En este contexto, José Zorrilla adapta la obra a ese cambio de tendencia. El argumento no puede alejarse del protagonismo que toma la mujer, que poco a poco van haciéndose dueñas y señoras de gran parte del argumento. Parece increíble, pero hasta el XIX es difícil incluso encontrar obras que sean protagonizadas por personajes femeninos. Sin embargo, éste es el siglo de Karénina, Emma Bovary y Ana Ozores; de la Teresa de Espronceda; de Fortunata y de Jacinta; de la Alicia de Carroll; de Berenice; de Jane Eyre. Y Zorrilla, insisto, no puede obviar este giro: su doña Inés no será, ya nunca más, la simple novicia que sucumbió al Tenorio. (Carlos Mayoral) (Translation)
Best Movie (in Italian) reviews the film Fallen:
Jane Austen ed Emily Brontë dietro a Bella Swan, Katniss, ‘Tris’ Prior, Lucinda “Luce” Price, col distopico spacciato per utopico e la deformazione per formazione. Lo sdoganamento del “chick flick” coll’aggravante della serialità, un “Twilight biblico”. (Mauro Lanari) (Translation)
Diary of an Eccentric shares a list of best reads of 2016 including Rita Maria Martinez's The Jane and Bertha in Me.
(Via Brontë Parsonage Blog)

More new Italian translations of  Brontë juvenilia have been published:
Charlotte Brontë
Translated by Maddalena De Leo
Robin Edizione. Biblioteca del Vascello
pubblicato: 2017
ISBN 9788867409488

Sotto il titolo di “Juvenilia” si raccolgono per la prima volta in italiano quattro brevi e coinvolgenti racconti di una giovanissima Charlotte Brontë. L’intento è di aprire uno spiraglio sulla scrittura più acerba, ma già di grande forza e passione, dell’autrice inglese e di far conoscere al pubblico anche la sua produzione minore.
Perché la fama non rimanga limitata solo a “Jane Eyre”, il s
uo romanzo più famoso, accanto al bellissimo racconto “Caroline Vernon”, la curatrice, Maddalena De Leo, propone infatti la traduzione di tre appassionanti storie dell’avvincente ciclo di Angria: “Il segreto”, “Lily Hart” e “Henry Hastings”.
More information on Gazzeta dal Tacco

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A tragic death, a bench, a storm and an unexpected return. A story (almost) larger than life in The Guardian:
In hindsight, Emily guessed that something was up with Archie. After Christmas, we drove to Shropshire for a break and stopped on the way at Archie’s grave in a Worcestershire church. Emily was dismayed to find the headstone mottled and the inscription barely legible. It includes lines from an Emily Brontë poem – “No coward soul is mine / No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere.” On 29 December, these very words were movingly recited in the BBC’s Brontë drama To Walk Invisible. On the last day of the year, Archie’s bench beached at Saunton.
“He’s sending a message,” said Emily when we heard. “He’s saying, ‘Don’t forget about me.’” (Jasper Rees)
The future of the South Square Gallery in Thornton in The Telegraph & Argus:
They are now looking at starting a community asset transfer, which would allow them to take on the lease of the building from the council, giving them more control and independence. And they also hope the move cold see the building expand into an even bigger attraction for Thornton, famous as being the birthplace of the Brontë sisters.
A meeting has been arranged for early next month for anyone who wants to get involved in South Square.
The main gallery features varied exhibitions, with the most recent ranging from art looking at the life of the Brontës, artistic expressions of the gender pay gap and the current exhibition of neon nude images by artist Romily Alice. (Chris  Young)
Oregon Artswatch and others) announce that
Bag&Baggage had already shifted its production of Polly Neale’s Brontë, which begins previews March 4, to the Hillsboro Public Library’s Brockwood Branch [as]  the Venetian wouldn’t be available for performances. (Bob Hicks)
Not a bad change according to the Hillsboro Tribune:
"Not only is this a play that has a stellar reputation for creativity and expressiveness, it is also a play written by a woman about women writers," said B&B Founding Artistic Director Scott Palmer. "B&B is committed to making sure that women artists, writers and literary figures have a central role in our all of our work, and 'Brontë' is a great example of that commitment." (...)
"To be able to play intimate moments with our audience sitting right next to us, will be incredibly powerful," said B&B Resident Actor Jessi Walters, who plays Anne. "It has given me a whole new wave of excitement for our forever home, where we will be able to tailor our environment to the creative needs of our shows." (...)
"Could there be any better place than a library to perform a play about the lives of the Brontës? No space I have ever worked in before has informed my performance so much," said B&B associate artist Joey Copsey, who plays Branwell. (Michael Spoles)
Stephen Moss in The Guardian reviews The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker: The Story of Britain Through Its Census by Roger Hutchinson finding that:
The real problem of Hutchinson’s book lies in the subtitle – “The story of Britain through its census”. There is quite a bit of overfamiliar padding on the Irish civil war, the first and second world wars, the great depression. Some of it is relevant to the census – the Irish civil war meant newly divided Ireland didn’t get its 1920s census until 1926 and the second world war meant no census at all was taken in the 1940s. But do we really need chunks of Yeats, reminiscences of life after the first world war, or a lengthy extract from Charlotte Brontë on the Great Exhibition of 1851?
Come on, quoting Charlotte is never a problem.

Kensington, Chelsea & Westminster Today quotes again the (in)famous words of Charlotte Brontë about Jane Austen:
Even so, the novel was not without its detractors; Charlotte Brontë described the novel as being “a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden…but with no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck” and in 1898 a deeply unimpressed Mark Twain would expound that “Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig Jane Austen up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
The New York Times has an elegy for the library:
In later years, I would sometimes go to a library in North London, a drab hulk of a building where I became friendly with one of the chattier librarians. Ms. R. was a middle-age woman with close-cropped hair and scarlet fingernails that flipped absently through the cards of her Rolodex. (...)
She once handed me a copy of “Wide Sargasso Sea,” while describing Jean Rhys’s bohemian life in Paris.
“Her book is much better than ‘Jane Eyre,’ ” she said. (Mahesh Rao)
Our Fifty Shades bit comes from the Odessa American:
And more so, why would anyone want to be with a man like Christian Grey? He is brooding, manipulative and evil. He is often characterized as a modern day Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. At least Heathcliff loved Catherine. In this film, Grey cannot even seem to hold a conversation with his own girlfriend. (Avery McWilliams)
Guangdong Yangcheng Evening News (China) reviews the To Walk Invisible DVD.

El Periódico de Catalunya (Spain) talks about Carson McCullers birth centenary:
Carson McCullers jamás se preocupó por caerle bien a la gente porque ya bastante tenía con llevar adelante una vida de escritura en las más difíciles condiciones. Tanto físicas como anímicas. Físicamente, peleó contra la invalidez sin que su obra, tan apasionada y enloquecida como la de Emily Bronte en 'Cumbres borrascosas', desfalleciera ni un momento en una fácil compasión por sí misma. (Elena Hevia) (Translation)
El País (Spain) has visited the Emily Dickinson exhibition at the Morgan Library in New York.
Se alimentaba de Shakespeare, de las hermanas Brontë, de Dickens, de George Eliot, de Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
En la Morgan Library miro los ejemplares que tocaron sus manos: la Biblia que le regaló su padre cuando era niña; las novelas y los poemas de las Brontë y de Barrett Browning, mujeres valientes que publicaban, hacían vidas activas, se ganaban contra viento y marea una celebridad que ella nunca tuvo y no quiso para sí, o al menos no hizo nada por lograrla. (Antonio Muñoz Molina) (Translation)
La Nueva España (Spain) questions the use of Wuthering Heights as a Valentine's day book and particularly Heathcliff as a romantic figure:
Se sigue recomendando la archiconocida “Cumbres Borrascosas” de Emily Brontë como referente delamor romántico y pasional. Y me sigue sorprendiendo. Tengo la impresión de que el tiempo ha borrado de esta historia lo que pudiera ser su verdadero mensaje, ha limpiado el trasfondo de sordidez de una relación que también puede verse como enfermiza, y ha dejado incólumes a los dos enamorados, Catherine y Heathcliff, como imagen ideal del amor atormentado más allá de la muerte.
He visto a muchas mujeres lanzar suspiros idealizando al protagonista, Heathcliff, por su intensa pasión. Y lo que yo he leído en las palabras de Emily Brontë es la descripción de un ser violento y cruel de principio a fin: el retrato de un maltratador. Alguien que podría ser atractivo para cualquier mujer, pero extremadamente peligroso. (María José Barroso Crespo) (Translation)
Letras Libres (México) interviews the writer Mariana Enríquez:
En una entrevista, comentabas que tú lees Cumbres borrascosas como una novela de terror. ¿El terror es un género o una forma de leer? (Anna María Iglesia)
Es una forma de leer: el terror tiene que ver con la emoción y con una relación física con la literatura y, por tanto, creo que hay terror en muchos textos que no están catalogados dentro de este género. Por otro lado, obviamente existe el género del terror, que está muy codificado, que tiene representantes muy evidentes y ya clásicos y que se sigue haciendo ahora, desde una perspectiva pulp o gore. Sin embargo, el terror está más allá del género: para mí, Carretera perdida de David Lynch es una película de terror, porque me da miedo al plantear una ciudad fantasmal donde se borra el límite entre la ficción y la realidad. Lo mismo me sucede con Cumbres borrascosas, que tiene un personaje casi demoníaco. (Translation)
Bustle recommends a Jane Eyre quote for next Monday's Not My President march. Bahnreads sorts Jane Eyre characters as members of Hogwarts houses. El Blog de Sara Lectora (in Spanish) reviews Jane Eyre.
A new Spanish edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (although is not a new translation) has been published:
La inquilina de Wildfell HallBrontë, Anne
Translation Waldo Leirós
ISBN: 97884-90652718
Alba Editorial - Clásicos Minus

Tras muchos años de abandono, la ruinosa mansión de Wildfell Hall es habitada de nuevo por una misteriosa mujer y su hijo de corta edad. La nueva inquilina –una viuda, al parecer –no tarda, con su carácter retraí-do y poco sociable, sus opiniones a menudo radicales y su extraña, tris-te belleza, en atraer las sospechas de la vecindad, y a la vez la rendida admiración de un joven e impetuoso agricultor. Pero la mujer tiene, en efecto, un pasado...más terrible y tortuoso si cabe de lo que la peor de las murmuraciones es capaz de adivinar. La inquilina de Wildfell Hall (1848), segunda y última novela de Anne Brontë, une al bello relato de un amor prohibido e invernal el retrato intensísimo del fracaso de un matrimonio degradado por el abuso y la violencia, descrito “con una predilección morbosa por lo grosero, cuando no brutal” que escandalizó y repugnó a sus contemporáneos. De hecho, todavía hoy, la dureza, au-dacia y auténtico rigor de esta novela siguen siendo igual de sorpren-dentes y desafiantes.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The future of Wycoller is still uncertain, as reported by Lancashire Telegraph.
The future of countryside sites across the county are set to be revealed next week.
Landmarks including Wycoller Country Park, which inspired Charlotte Brontë, were earmarked by Lancashire County Council for either closure or transfer because of £262million in funding cuts revealed in 2015.
Two-years-ago the council said it could no longer afford to run the 93 countryside sites and said it hoped to transfer responsibility of them by March 2018.
Cllr Marcus Johnston, the cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, will make the announcement next week.
A petition, which has already attracted more than 300 signatures, has been launched to appeal to the county to fund Wycoller Park until a new backer can be found.
Pendle councillors Paul White, Jenny Purcell and Joe Cooney are behind the petition.
The ruined Wycoller Hall, which is based in the grounds, was the model for Ferndean Manor in Brontë’s Jane Eyre and the historic venue is the starting point for the Brontë Way which leads to the Parsonage Museum in nearby Haworth.
Cllr White said: “We are really pleased with the uptake of the petition.
“It’s very important that this park stays open as it will be much more attractive to a new backer if it can be transferred as a going concern instead of having to be shut down.
“I’m disappointed the deal with the trust has fallen through but now we must do all we can to try and find a new partner.
“We are not asking the council to fund it forever, just until a new deal can be done.”
In 2015 a petition by the Friends of Wycoller to support stop the park’s closure was signed by more than 6,700 people.
Last year the Lancashire Wildlife Trust expressed an interest in taking over the majority of the council’s countryside sites but said it needed funding from the council in doing so.
A council spokesman said: “The county council agreed in 2016 to fund the countryside service from reserves until March, 31, 2018, so there is no need to find funding to ensure Wycoller Country Park’s continued operation in the immediate term.
“A decision is due to be taken in the coming days by the cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services regarding the future of the countryside sites which will address people’s concerns about the future of many of the key sites.” (Jon Robinson)
2BR Lancashire has the story as well. Let us hope this won't go the way of the Red House Museum.

In Spain, news sites are busy promoting the forthcoming adaptation of Jane Eyre in Barcelona. From La Información:
En rueda de prensa este jueves, la directora ha recordado que se celebra el 200 aniversario del nacimiento de la novelista inglesa con esta obra -que presentó bajo el seudónimo masculino Currer Bell-- y crítica con los patrones victorianos de su época, que los sectores más conservadores consideraron peligrosamente inmoral.
"Fue una mujer que por su instinto de verdad se enfrentó al mundo y cuando todos manipulaban la palabra, ella solo entiende lo literal", ha explicado Portaceli, ensalzando su pureza y el respeto que siempre guarda consigo misma, creando un personaje que siempre sale adelante.
Con música de Clara Peya y Laia Vallès en directo, 'Jane Eyre' es una ventana a través de la cual Brontë enseña su visión del mundo y opina sobre la diferencia arbitraria entre clases, con especial mención al papel de la mujer en la sociedad, así como una historia de amor con el señor Rochester, "un hombre agrietado en cuya piel pueden ponerse todos los hombres que tienen una historia tremenda", que queda prendado de la pureza espiritual de Eyre. [...]
[Ariadna] Gil ha explicado que este papel ha sido "una de las cosas más importantes" que le han pasado últimamente, y que con la lectura de la novela descubrió un mundo y une época, así como el impulso y la fuerza del personaje.
"Es un personaje moral y con unos principios inamovibles", ha dicho Gil, confesando haber quedado enamorada del personaje tras unos ensayos muy exigentes, lo que le ha dejado una enorme sensación de felicidad.
Ha relatado que el vestuario es simple y deja que salga la esencia de los personajes, en una "virguería" de función que pasa de una época a la otra sólo con un cambio de mirada, mientras que Abel Folk ha agregado que el espectáculo es un gran clásico del romanticismo reinterpretado desde el teatro contemporáneo.
Folk ha ensalzado que la obra es "un estallido de verdad y sinceridad", además de una lucha por la libertad individual y la justicia, y ha aventurado que actualmente sería también sorprendente encontrarse con una Jane Eyre tan sincera.
Con un vestuario sencillo, Gil ha agregado que el espectáculo suma unas proyecciones que aportan información que falta: "Aportan este elemento fundamental de geografía, clima y paisaje". (Translation)
From La Vanguardia:
Sobre el tono del montaje, con el que el teatro barcelonés celebra el 200 aniversario del nacimiento de la escritora inglesa, Portaceli ha asegurado: "No potencio el drama, porque no me interesa: pasa lo que pasa. Ella lucha, pero no hay un tono dramático".
Al respecto, Ariadna Gil ha puntualizado que "Jane Eyre tiene mucha ironía, sobre todo teniendo en cuenta que ella habla desde el final de la historia". [...]
En aquella época, como también hoy, ha añadido Abel Folk, "encontrar una Jane Eyre, una persona tan íntegra, también nos sorprendería".
Cuando la huérfana Jane Eyre es enviada a un internado para niñas pobres, para quitársela de encima, Eyre percibe, según Portaceli, "su incapacidad de dejarse maltratar en ninguna de las vertientes que el maltrato pueda disfrazarse".
Conversando con su compañera Helen sobre la rigidez de la enseñanza en el internado, Jane Eyre dice, en un momento dado: "No sería capaz de soportar esta humillación, yo no lo perdonaría. Si todos obedeciéramos y fuéramos amables con los que son crueles e injustos, ellos no nos tendrían nunca miedo y serían cada vez más malos".
Para la directora, "'Jane Eyre' es una puerta a través de la cual Brontë nos enseña su visión del mundo" y, de este modo, a través de la protagonista opina sobre la diferencia arbitraria entre clases y hace especial mención al papel de la mujer en el mundo. "Ella no deja nunca que nadie olvide que, por ser pobre o mujer, no se es un ser inferior", apunta Portaceli.
"Jane Eyre", continúa Portaceli, es "una obra romántica en la que la lucha por la libertad es el impulso que guía a la protagonista en un mundo en el que las mujeres no la podían conseguir".
El espectador descubre también una historia de amor que sólo se hace realidad cuando "los dos protagonistas hablan de igual a igual, cuando el amor ya no es una cárcel, sino un acto de libertad". (Translation)
Aldia, Regió 7 and Te interesa also feature the production.

BBC Culture reviews the film God's Own Country:
And in Josh O'Connor (Peaky Blinders) the film finds a central performance of such authenticity and naturalism that is feels like it grew there, planted some years ago, with a root system that extends for miles under these forbiddingly lovely moors.
The film’s sense of place recalls Andrea Arnold’s viscerally damp and windswept Wuthering Heights.
This sense of place, and of tactile immediacy in the detail and dirt of its wild location, at times recalls Andrea Arnold's viscerally damp and windswept take on Wuthering Heights, but there is nothing ethereal about Lee's vision of rural life. (Jessica Kiang)
The Monitor makes an interesting point in a review of Fifty Shades Darker:
Ana wants the hero of her Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë stories, conveniently forgetting that she is straying farther and farther away from the strong, independent, intelligent heroines within those novels, the women who challenged their suitors to be better men and earn their love and respect. (Brooke Corso)
The Conversation recommends the book L’Histoire d’O to those 'Fed up with Fifty Shades'.
At times, Desclos’s words recall another honorary Parisian writer: Jean Rhys, whose roughly contemporaneous novels of lost, voiceless women carried the same echoes of lonely, inner emptiness while in the distant thrall of powerful – but indifferent – men. Like Desclos, Rhys too had been the “other woman” in a literary relationship, this time with writer, critic and editor Ford Madox Ford. The absurdities of their arrangement formed the sustance of her 1928 novel Quartet, which was also set in Paris. By the time O was published, Rhys had already begun on her literary tour de force, Wide Sargasso Sea; her prequel to Brontë’s Jane Eyre intended to breathe life into the Jamaican wife Rochester had imprisoned in an attic. (Victoria Anderson)
Counsel & Heal reviews the book Heartthrob: A History of Women and Desire by Carolyn Dyhouse.
According to author Professor Carol Dyhouse, what makes a man very desirable to women are not only based on his appearance but also on his personality. What Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre and Christian Grey from the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy have in common, besides being wealthy men in novels, is that both male characters are considered by most women as damaged men. (Minnow Blythe)
The Daily Mail features the same book:
But what about a different sort of heartthrob? Certain women have always hankered after pirates, brigands, highwaymen, tough warriors and even vampires.
Horrible Heathcliff epitomises the anti-hero who treats women badly. This is the allure of the dark side — just a short step away from the transgressive fantasy of being taken by force. When Daphne du Maurier described a man as ‘a menace’, she meant he was unsettlingly sexy. (Bel Mooney)
An essay on Letterpile discusses whether Mr Earnshaw might have actually been Heathcliff's father. The Telegraph and Argus reminds locals of the 'attractions on our own doorstep' such as the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

Finally, the Royal Society of Literature is looking to find the nation's favourite second novel through an online poll open to UK residents only. Both Shirley and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall can be voted.
12:30 am by M. in ,    No comments
This is a recently re-published CD, putting together several compositions written for films by André Téchiné and composed by Philippe Sarde. Including a suite from his music for Les Soeurs Brontë 1979:
Le Cinéma d'André Téchiné.
Musiques de Philippe Sarde 

Label: Universal France
January 2016

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thursday, February 16, 2017 7:22 am by Cristina in , , , , ,    No comments
Brontë mentions from the Trump era. Central Maine discusses the words “nevertheless, she persisted”:
Women and their allies gathered not only in Washington, but around the country and the world on Jan. 21. It was an amazing, and heartening, spectacle.
We now have a new slogan, thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky. When he shut down Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on the floor of that august body after warning her to desist, he said: “Nevertheless, she persisted.” In doing what? Why, in reading a letter that Coretta Scott King wrote in 1986, in which Mrs. King asked that the Senate reject the nomination of Jeff Sessions of Alabama to a federal judgeship. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters,” King wrote of Sessions’ tenure as a federal prosecutor.
Warren was trying to read that letter while arguing against the appointment of Sessions, a U.S. senator, to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.
Now, there is a rule, which is erratically applied, that prevents senators from disparaging their fellows. However, Sessions was under consideration for the post of attorney general, and the letter from Mrs. King could not even be considered a harangue.
McConnell’s heavy-handedness backfired. Warren immediately became even more of a heroine to those of us on the left than she already was. McConnell’s complaint that “nevertheless, she persisted” sounds like something Charlotte Brontë would have written. Nevertheless, it has transcended the centuries and now can be found on T-shirts with an image of Rosie the Riveter. (Liz Soares)
While Global Times (China) features Tiffany Trump's Chinese fashion designer Tao Wang.
In designing dresses like the above mentioned one Tiffany has worn, Wang said she is indebted to late 18th and 19th century fashion style recorded in classics like Wuthering Heights
El País (Spain) features actress Ariadna Gil, who will play Jane Eyre on stage in Barcelona starting next week.
Ariadna Gil llega de Madrid al Teatre Lliure de Barcelona con la maleta a cuestas e in a hurry, como dicen los ingleses, apurada. Es imposible no pensar en Jane Eyre arribando a Thornfield Hall después de un penoso viaje en diligencia o en la propia Charlotte Brontë, su creadora, regresando al hogar de la familia en la casa parroquial de Haworth tras una temporada dura en la escuela de Cowan Bridge, donde pillaron la tuberculosis que las mató sus dos hermanas mayores, Maria y Elizabeth. Y es que cuando sabes que Gil (Barcelona, 1969) encarna a la protagonista de la famosa novela de Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre en el teatro, toda ella parece rodearse de la atmósfera de las obras y la vida de la familia.
La actriz, afortunadamente, disuelve todo su cansancio con un vaso de agua en el bar del teatro y se pone a hablar entusiasmada del montaje que protagoniza, Jane Eyre, una autobiografía, adaptación de la novela a cargo de Anna Maria Ricart y que dirige Carme Portaceli. El espectáculo, en catalán, de dos horas de duración, cuenta con Abel Folk en el papel del byroniano y atormentado Mr. Rochester (al que han dado vida en el cine, y no es por presionar, actores como Orson Welles, George C. Scott, William Hurt y Michael Fassbendser ) y se estrena el próximo día 23 en el Lliure de Gràcia. Gil y Folk -uno apenas puede esperar a ver la química que desarrollan en escena- interpretan sus papeles tras caerse del cartel por razones personales los dos protagonistas anunciados que eran Clara Segura y Ramón Madaula.
“No había leído hasta ahora Jane Eyre”, confiesa Ariadna Gil, “pero recuerdo vivamente lo bien que lo pasé leyendo la novela de su hermana Emily Cumbres borrascosas. Había visto algunas versiones cinematográficas de la novela de Charlotte, eso sí. La gran incógnita es que tal quedará Jane Eyre, una obra tan intensa, con tanta presencia de la naturaleza, tantos personajes, tanto paso del tiempo, adaptada al teatro”. [...]
Gil está fascinada con las Brontë y el caldo de cultivo intelectual y artístico de la familia. “Las tres hermanas, Charlotte, Emily y Anne son tan brillantes, me impresiona su inspiración y su imaginación, esa capacidad de explicar sentimientos por parte de mujeres que casi no se habían movido de casa. Todo eso y la avidez de literatura y libros está también en el personaje de Jane”. La actriz destaca en el personaje “su fortaleza, su inteligencia, su integridad y fidelidad a sus principios en cualquier situación, sin transigir nunca. Ves a esa chica que ha sido despreciada, maltratada, atormentada, abusada, pero que se alza una y otra vez. Y nunca se autocompadece, ni se rinde a la tristeza, sino que sigue adelante, siempre activa, con un instinto bestial de supervivencia”.
Gil subraya que, además, Jane Eyre es una gran historia de amor. “Cuando se enamora, Jane lo vive con una intensidad enorme, aunque parezca algo imposible de consumar”. ¿Siente una conexión personal ella, Ariadna, con el personaje? “Sí. He conectado mucho y deprisa con Jane. Por sensibilidad. Me emociona y me toca. He entendido muchas cosas de ella. Ese instinto de superación. No digo que se parezca mi vida a la suya, pero hay algo”. [...]
“La función va desde el principio de la novela al final, y en orden”, apunta Gil, “con alguna sorpresa, eso sí, como la introducción de material de la novela de Jean Rhys Ancho mar de los sargazos (1939), una especie de precuela de Jane Eyre, protagonizada por la mujer criolla loca de Edward Rochester y que interpreta Gabriela Flores”. Los personajes no visten de época y algunos de los actores interpretan a más de uno. El espectáculo cuenta con música en directo (piano y chelo) a cargo de dos intérpretes que se incorporan a la acción. (Jacinto Antón) (Translation)
PopSugar interviews YA writer Nina LaCour about her latest novel, We Are Okay.
PS: I wanted to also chat about Jane Eyre. It's mentioned throughout the book and the book ends with Marin and Mabel watching the film adaptation together. Do you see similarities between the stories? NL: Well, I used to teach Gothic literature and Jane Eyre was a staple of my class. I was really interested in the idea of ghosts. Jane Eyre is so interesting in that I like how it walks this line on supernatural events. Are they supernatural events or are they all imagined or manifested by the emotional journey that Jane is on? I found that to be a really compelling question for Marin, too. She is really by haunted her grandfather, though not in a literal way. To me, Marin is the kind of character who just runs all the time, before this big tragedy happened in her life. I thought of her as the kind of teenager who would really enjoy Jane Eyre and be drawn to the melancholy of it. Then, she endures this horrible loss and becomes a true orphan, like Jane, and the book then resonates with her in a way that's not as comfortable as it was when she was in her sunny apartment with Gramps. (Kelsey Garcia)
The Age (Australia) chats to Bobby Elliott from the music band The Hollies.
They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010
"I've got my Hall of Fame statue," Elliott says. "It's in the downstairs loo at my home on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors – Wuthering Heights country, near where the Brontes lived." (Steve Meacham)
Speaking of which, this is what Cinevue says in a review of the film God's Own Country.
The rolling hills and haunting mist of the Yorkshire Dales makes feel like they were written for the screen by Emily Brontë. (Patrick Gamble)
The Bookish Reader posts about Jane Eyre., On the Brussels Brontë Blog, Eric Ruijssenaars discusses the translations of the devoirs.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 11:46 pm by M. in , ,    No comments
New translations of Brontë juvenilia just published by Flower-ed:
I Moore
Charlotte Brontë
Traduzione e cura di Alessandranna D’Auria
Collana: Five Yards
ISBN: 978-88-97815-90-7
ISBN: 978-88-97815-89-1

Di ritorno da Bruxelles per un’esperienza di studio, Charlotte Brontë scrisse Il professore. Era il suo primo vero romanzo. Rifiutato dalla Smith, Elder & Co. perché troppo corto, le fu suggerito di migliorarlo e allungarlo. Di tre tentativi oggi sopravvive solo questo testo che prende il titolo convenzionale di I Moore. Vi ritroviamo i personaggi classici del repertorio di Charlotte: i fratelli in dissidio (John Henry e William) e le signorine frivole a caccia di matrimonio aristocratico. Stavolta sono William Moore e Alicia Wynne a farci sognare un amore faticoso e sacrificato, ma forse, alla fine, semplicemente amore.
Charlotte Brontë
Translation by Alessandranna D’Auria
Collana: Five Yards
ISBN: 978-88-97815-90-7

Nel 1839 Charlotte Brontë dà il suo addio ad Angria, il lunghissimo ciclo di racconti scritto durante tutta l’infanzia e parte dell’adolescenza. Dopo anni trascorsi a scrivere per il puro gusto di farlo, è ora di fare sul serio, è tempo di scrivere un romanzo da pubblicare. Quel romanzo è Ashworth.
La storia della famiglia Ashworth costituisce un lungo antefatto a quella che sarebbe diventata la travagliata storia d’amore tra Mary Ashworth e Arthur Ripley West, passando per un gioco di corteggiamenti a scapito di Marian Fairburne.
Frutto di una preziosa ricostruzione di fogli sparsi per il mondo, il testo ci consegna, ancora una volta, una storia di uomini dannati e donne frivole, di amori controversi e drammi economici che, alla fine, sono ancora figli di Angria.
Express reviews the recent broadcast of The Railways That Built Britain presented by Chris Tarrant and recalls that,
Charlotte Brontë and thousands of others lost fortunes meanwhile after sinking their savings into a steam-fuelled investment bubble. (Matt Baylis)
More TV as Spoiled NYC recommends '12 Things We Are Watching Wrapped in a Blanket Indoors This February'.
8. Crimson Peak
Sigh. This gothic haunted house ghost story (aight, when you put it like that, we see why our hopes were perhaps a little too high) was supposed to be so much more than it was. Bronte (Emily) meets Poe meets …uh, the other, less depresso Brontë (Charlotte).
Okay, to its credit, and the reason it’s on this list, the film is veeeery aesthetically pleasing. No really, that probably doesn’t sounds to enticing, but if Baz Luhrmann and Alfred Hitchcock had a baby, it would be this Guillermo Del Toro visual masterpiece.
See it for yourself on HBOGo. (Toni Brannagan)
Now for a few belated Valentine's Day mentions. The Irish Times recommended Wuthering Heights as a Valentine's Day read.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
What? Do I hear dissent? This is one of my all-time favourite novels and while Heathcliff has his critics, I believe in his demented world view. Published in 1847, the only novel by a poet who died unmarried at 30, Wuthering Heights is intense and unwavering in its examination of the sheer madness inflicted by doomed passion. Harrowing and brutal, Brontë wrote as one possessed and this early Victorian family saga will never lose its power because Brontë looked beyond passion to larger issues of obsession and eternity; the ordinary and surreal; sin and damnation. If ever a novel sustains its hold on a reader throughout a reading life, it is this one which most truly exposes the angry residue often left by feelings which began as love. (Eileen Battersby)
Acculturated makes the case for 'Thomas Hardy, Not Jane Austen, [being] a Better Guide to Love'.
Valentine’s Day is here, and with it, the usual slew of literary and pop culture reminders of what love does to us. Pick your poison—Jane Austen, Nicholas Sparks, the Brontes, Old Hollywood, 90s rom coms, BBC bodice rippers—we are saturated by reminders that a rewarding life includes a worthy, rewarding and, above all, romantic relationship. [...]
So what advice might Hardy’s masterpiece [Far from the Madding Crowd] have to offer the 21st century millennial woman? A great deal more than one usually finds in Austen or Brontë. In Hardy’s Bathsheba, we find a financially independent, modern young woman pursuing her business with passion and sense, yet failing to pursue romance with the same insight. (Sarah Gustafson)
Discover Britain Magazine lists several 'Romantic British literary escapes', including:
Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights
Explore the rambling, desolate moors like Heathcliff and Cathy once did and discover the romance of this wild barren landscape that dominates Emily Brontë’s beautiful novel of love and revenge, Wuthering Heights. Said to be set around the village of Haworth, recreate famous scenes on a walk around Top Withens, the ruined farmhouse that is also said to have inspired the Earnshaw family home. While in the area, make sure to visit The Brontë Collections at the Brontë Parsonage Museum. Once the Brontë family home, it now contains the world’s most comprehensive collection of Brontë manuscripts, letters, early editions of novels and poetry, and secondary material on the famous family and their work. Entry costs £8.50 for adults and £4.00 for children.
Signature Reads recommends '4 Great Books that Celebrate the Single Life'. One of them is not Brontë-related at all, as it seems to be described as precisely the opposite.
The End Of The Novel Of Love
Vivian Gornick
“Reader, I married him.” This line, from Jane Eyre, sums up much of English literature until the middle of the twentieth century. If a novel had a happy ending, there’s a good bet it got there by way of a wedding. But what do divorce, contraception, and women’s economic liberation do to this equation? If love no longer equals marriage, and marriage no longer necessarily equally happiness, what new metaphors exist for contemporary writers? In these connected essays, writer Gornick examines the uses, and uselessness, of romantic love in literary fiction. (Jennie Yabroff)
Tatler Magazine wouldn't seem to agree with that view of Jane Eyre, as Jane's aborted wedding to Rochester has been included on a list of 'The 7 worst marriages in history and literature'.
Jane Eyre
By Charlotte Brontë
Poor Jane. She didn't want much out of life. She didn't even want a Vera Wang dress or a Peter Jones wedding list - she just wanted to get married and get on with it. And that's exactly what would have happened, had her wedding not been interrupted by the bombshell that her almost-husband Mr Rochester was in fact still married to the insane, dangerous and terrifying-beyond-your-wildest-nightmares Bertha Mason. The same person who once set Mr Rochester's bed on fire with him in it, stabbed her own brother with a pair of scissors and broke into Jane's room, ripping up her wedding veil in her face and scaring her so badly she actually passed out. Jane became a tramp instead of a newlywed, leaving Thornfield to sleep rough instead of setting off for two blissful weeks in the Maldives. (Clare Bennett)
The Spectrum is not a fan of Fifty Shades Darker.
After one round of carnal pleasure, Christian asks Ana why she waited until 21 to lose her virginity to him. Her answer is that she was looking for someone “exceptional” who could measure up to the kind of men Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë wrote about.
She can do better, and really, so can we. (Brian Truitt)
The Nevada Sagebrush is not a fan either.
Dakota Johnson plays Anastasia, the shy, pale, quirky, bashfully-lip-biting, bangs-sporting, sundress-wearing, under-her-breath-talking Buzzfeed hipster-geek English major who allows a man to sexually abuse her if he gives her a new iPhone. She seems like the type of person to go to a coffee shop and read “Wuthering Heights” just so strangers are aware that she is reading “Wuthering Heights.” (Joey Thyne)
Watford Observer has spoken to actress, comedian and impressionist Debra Stephenson.
“I had singing lessons from the age of nine and I found that I could experiment with my voice because I could hear it and experiment with the way people made sounds. The first record I ever got was Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights. I used to flail my arms around and sing, that’s in the act. I even did it on Stars in Their Eyes.” (Mattie Lacey-Davidson)
The staff at Oxford University Press share their favourite love songs:
Celine Aenlle-Rocha, Marketing Coordinator, Academic & Trade Marketing
It’s All Coming Back to me Now” is a power ballad written by Jim Steinman, and made famous by Celine Dion. Jim Steinman is one of the great ballad composers of the 80s and 90s. A lot of his songs are based on Wuthering Heights and about the passionate (if sometimes unhealthy) love of Victorian novels. This is my favorite cover of what I think is the most romantic song ever written.
T13 (Chile) includes Charlotte Brontë's letters to Constantin Heger among other 7 British love letters. Lost in Drama gives 'The Top 5 Reasons Why The 2006 BBC Adaptation of Jane Eyre Is The Best'.
12:30 am by M. in , , ,    No comments
An alert for today, February 15 in Todmorden:
Fresh from their successful appearance at the 2016 Morley Art Festival, Exploring the Brontës bring their three-person show to Todmorden Library, celebrating the Brontës’ lives and literature through poetry, drama and music.
In recognition of his bicentenary, this version of the event will focus largely on the life and poetry of Branwell Brontë.
Introduced by Calder Valley poet Simon Zonenblick, currently making a film about Branwell Bronte's Calder Valley years, the evening will feature readings of Bronte poems and performances from novels such as Wuthering Heights. Simon will also deliver poetry by other Calder Valley writers including Genevieve Walsh.
Actor and writer Caroline Lamb, whose 2015 play The Dissolution of Percy tells the story of Branwell Brontë, will deliver her monologue The Cold Plunge, which brings to life the character of Charlotte Bronte's friend Mary Taylor, with stirring messages of ambition and resilience.
The event will feature live music on the Irish harp from Leeds-based musician Berni Byrne, who has over twenty years’ experience of playing throughout Yorkshire and Lancashire. Berni has competed at music festivals in Britain and Ireland to great acclaim and held the All Britain Harp title in all age ranges

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 11:15 am by Cristina in , , , , ,    No comments
Let's go straight to Valentine's Day mentions:

The Irish Times has several authors recommend their favourite love stories:
Hazel Gaynor
“Reader, I married him.” If these four words from the final chapter of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre don’t tug at your heartstrings then I can only assume you are made of stone. I would happily argue the case for this being one of the most romantic lines in literature; the perfect denouement to the turbulent relationship between the eponymous governess – “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me” Jane - and her employer, Mr. Rochester. Although also a deliciously dark novel, it is Jane and Rochester’s epic struggle to be together, and the honesty of the exchanges between them – especially during the final scenes at Ferndean - that makes Jane Eyre my favourite literary love story. Read it, and weep.
Mashable has listed several 'Films to watch on Valentine's Day if you're a total cold-hearted cynic' and one of them is Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights.
Wuthering Heights
Forget about Kate Bush: Andrea Arnold's gritty adaptation of the Emily Brontë classic injects a strong vein of social awareness into the work, while ignoring the naff nonsense that's defined previous versions.
Rather than being stiff Victorian lovers, in this version Heathcliff and Catherine are a fiery and formidable couple, and the film has a wind-blasted intensity all of its own. Sweet little period romance this is not. (Joseph Earp)
Espalha Factos (Portugal) suggests romantic plans inspired by books:
Heathcliff | O Monte dos Vendavais: Passeio à chuva
Se há coisa que não tem faltados nos últimos tempos é chuva, e Heathcliff protagonizou em O Monte dos Vendavais, de Emily Brontë, um momento estranhamente romântico. Um passeio com aquela pessoa só por si já é especial, mas num monte e à chuva é a cereja no topo do bolo. Uma sugestão para aproveitar a chuva que fevereiro nos tem proporcionado. (Sara Bregieira) (Translation)
CoolMomPicks recommends '10 romantic movies streaming on Netflix for Valentine’s Day.'
Jane Eyre
Full disclosure: My favorite romance is the Keira Knightley Pride & Prejudice, which isn’t currently streamable on Netflix. (You can rent it on Amazon video for $3.99, however.)
If you’re sticking with Netflix — and free streaming movies for Valentine’s Day to save your pennies for better chocolate — Jane Eyre scratches the same romantic historical fiction itch, albeit with a more Gothic twist to go with the gorgeous scenery and costumes. Oh, and big bonus in brooding, tortured Fassbender. I love how they have to really earn the kiss in period dramas. (Delilah)
Bollywood Life lists some heartthrobs from Bollywood TV series:
Ranveer from Meri Aashiqui Tumse Hi
The show might have gone off air but there is no denying that it was one of the best romances of recent times. The character of Ranveer was reportedly inspired by Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights but it was far less darker than the tormentor in Emily Brontë’s classic. From unrequited love to childhood romance, it was way too literary. (Urmimala Banerjee)
 The Oxford University Press blog gives you the chance of finding out 'Who’s your literary valentine'.

As a counter-Valentine recommendation, Bustle lists '9 Overrated Classic Novels — And Which Books To Read Instead' which includes both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.
2.'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Brontë
Rochester is the worst. The wandering around the moors as an escape plan? The mentally ill wife in the attic? I have never understood this book.
In Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende, an orphaned Chilean woman sets off to California during the Gold Rush. She's in search of her lover, but she ends up discovering so much more.
3.'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Brontë
The Brontë sisters simply do not do it for me, but I can't deny the impact of these books. For a modern update on their love stories, try the following.
Solsbury Hill by Susan M. Wyler is a love story set in contemporary times that deals with a New York girl, the moors, and the legacy of Wuthering Heights. (Zoraida Córdova)
Awesomegang has interviewed writer Sarah Hina.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring? Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (I’ve never had the patience to read it)
Good Poems edited by Garrison Keillor
How to Survive on a Desert Island (assuming there is such a book!)
And Kids Book Review has interviewed writer Jodi McAlister.
6. What book character would you be, and why? I would like to think it would be Flora Poste from Cold Comfort Farm. The idea of coming in and making people’s problems go away with a common-sense, no-nonsense approach, while wearing fabulous dresses, is pretty appealing to me. Although I would quite like to be Thursday Next from Jasper Fforde’s Eyre Affair universe. I feel like this would let me use my PhD for good (ie. fighting crime in literature). (Penny)
The Morning Call has an update on the pre-production of the TV series based on Patricia Park's retelling of Jane Eyre, Re Jane.
A third show,  "Re Jane, " is being developed by TV Land,  Paramount Television,  production company Anonymous Content and [actor Daniel Dae Kim]. The half-hour comedy is adapted from Patricia Park's 2015 debut novel of the same name.
Park's book follows Jane Re,  a half-Korean,  half-American orphan,  who lives in Flushing,  Queens. The story is a contemporary retelling of "Jane Eyre."
Looking to escape her life ruled by the traditional principle of nunchi (a combination of good manners,  hierarchy,  and obligation),  Jane becomes an au pair for two  English professors and their adopted Chinese daughter. The script will be written by Maria Maggenti of "Finding Carter, " who also will executive produce with Kim and Anonymous Content's Steve Golin and Doreen Wilcox Little.
Kim acknowledged on Facebook that it is a long road from development to actually airing.
"There are still a number of hurdles yet to jump,  and many shows in development never make it to air," he said.
The Film Stage reviews the film God's Own Country 2017:
Josh O’Connor is a revelation as Johnny, a 24-year-old farmhand working in brutal isolation on the family estate in the Yorkshire Moors of northern England, which is also the harsh, windswept setting of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. (Ed Frankl)
A couple of Brontë-related mentions from the New York Fashion Week: The Federalist describes the fashion industry as being 'in a “Wuthering Heights” mood this NYFW' while ABC (Spain) describes Carolina Herrera's collection as
una serie de combinados en blanco y negro, de corte austero y estilo inspirado en la «rica brevedad» de los atuendos de Jane Eyre o los uniformes de las alumnas de escuelas de monjas de la primera mitad del siglo XX. Los detalles de cuellos casi infantiles, puños delicados y faldas plisadas, combinaban con modernidad con cazadoras negras de cuero inspiradas en «la perfecto» o botines masculinos de aire mod. (María Luisa Funes) (Translation)
An alert from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii:
Kona Bookstore
February 14, 2017 Fiction Group is discussing: The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell
This group meets at 6:30PM @ Kona Stories Book Store.
M. Miles takes a look at '7 “Romantic” Characters Who Are Actually Just Creepy' including Mr Rochester and Heathcliff while Sally Allen Books has reread Jane Eyre even though she (still) doesn't like it. Crónicas de Magrat reviews Shirley in Spanish.

And finally, here's a direct link to Simon Armitage speaking about Branwell on BBC Radio 4 Front Row.
12:30 am by Cristina in , ,    No comments
We are grateful to Penguin Random House for sending us a review copy of this book.
Take Courage.
Anne Brontë and the Art of Life
Samantha Ellis
Chatto & Windus
Published 12th January 2017
Samantha Ellis's take on Anne Brontë has been widely reviewed by now, and yet it's barely a month since it was published. Before we discuss the book, let us mention how glad we have been to see Anne Brontë's name and achievements all over the national and international press. By the end of her book, Samantha Ellis wishes she didn't have to let Anne go and wonders,
Anne's birth bicentenary is in 2020; what if I kept on with her until then?
And while that would have meant not laying our hands on this book until then, we do understand the feeling and the wish to make Anne's bicentenary worth it. Even if the book has been published three years early, we sincerely hope that the enthusiasm for Anne and the vindication of her life and work keeps up until then and never wanes again.

One of our first thoughts, when we heard about this book, was the proximity to the release of Nick Holland's biography In Search of Anne Brontë. But far from worrying about it, we were obviously delighted. But these two approaches couldn't be more different: Nick Holland's is more traditional, a biography in the classic sense, while Samantha Ellis's is more of a personal story with Anne. It's a contemporary approach, reminiscent of Deborah Lutz's The Brontë Cabinet. And we must say it works. We read reviews which complained about Samantha Ellis putting too much of her personal life into the book but, while we find it's just a few comments here and there, in our opinion that helps bring the reader closer to both biographer and subject. This no longer feels like someone on a stage, giving a lecture, but a friend telling you about this very special person they have come across. A sort of 'impressionistic' approach to biography.

Not to sound smug, but we are pretty familiar with the Brontës' lives by now. There are always details we may have overlooked or previous biographers neglected to share, but Samantha Ellis's approach feels refreshing and mesmerising. She has no preconceptions, many things are new to her that are old to other biographers. She sees things with new eyes and therefore so does the reader. And what's wonderful about this style is that it works both for people like us, with plenty of formal knowledge about the Brontës, and for people who are new to them and, let's face it, sad as it is, there are plenty of people for whom Anne Brontë is totally unknown.

Samantha Ellis had us from the start:
It's my first time meeting Ann Dinsdale but I have often see her on TV; every time there's some new Brontë discovery, she appears, white-gloved, dressed in black, with a fierce dark bob and a slash of red lipstick. [...]
Ann leads me through the kitchen [...]. Undoing the cordon, careful not to set off the alarms, Ann opens a heavy wooden door, and then we are in the annexe added after the Brontës' time, which is now the library, lined with glass-fronted, floor-to-ceiling bookcases in dark wooded, full of everything you wanted to know about the Brontës and quite a lot you didn't.
This is a description of Aladdin's cave for any Brontëite and a faithful description of a thrilling moment for all who have been beyond the cordon.

Those who have read her previous book, How to Be a Heroine, will know that Samantha Ellis's favourite book was Wuthering Heights, which she measured against Jane Eyre. Up until then, Anne Brontë was - like for almost everyone - 'the other Brontë. She doesn't hide it:
[Ann Dinsdale] asks if I want to see Anne's last letter. I'm more interested in looking at some of of the other treasure--Emily's drawing of a fist smashing a mullioned window [...] and the book Charlotte and Branwell made, on scraps of paper and sugar bags [...] but when I actually read Anne's letter, I get a shock.
That shows how most people view Anne Brontë. Ellis is not very interested in seeing her letter and, what's more important, she hasn't even read a transcript of it before. Because anyone who has ever read that letter and been inevitably moved by it, wouldn't hesitate to see it first.

Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life tells faithfully about Samantha Ellis's discovery of Anne's life and how she makes and reads her way back to that last letter and how she comes to appreciate it and the person who wrote it. It's a cleverly written book in which each chapter is devoted to a key person or character in Anne's life but so devised as to tell Anne's story linearly at the same time, adding Victorian context where necessary but also modern commentary. It feels truly refreshing to see Ellis discussing the cast of the BBC adaptation of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall or bringing up related news stories that take place while she's writing her book. Her reference to Poison's Every Rose Has Its Thorn in connection to Anne's most-quoted words might be taking things a bit too far as the reference feels awkward and contrived, though(1). This is not a biography stuck in the past: it's more like a conversation moving in time and space.

Her enthusiasm for Anne feels real and is contagious. Samantha Ellis doesn't shy away from letting the reader in on her creative process: she tells readers how Anne came to her in her dreams, how places she visits feel to her, how Anne's bloodstained handkerchief 'is too horrible to look at for long' (a feeling which we share) and how, towards the end, she doesn't 'want to go to Scarborough'. There are also bits of her personal life which probably take up more space in the reviews that mention them than in the actual book(2).

Samantha Ellis is delighted with both of Anne's novels, as well as her poetry. During her research, she has got to know them really, really well(3) and she manages to bring up scenes and sayings from them in such an off-hand way that really contributes to keeping the narrative going. Her knowledge and analysis of her poetry clearly stem from sheer admiration. She is also evidently impressed with Anne's feminism and advanced ideas, with how modern it all feels and how this may have actually worked against her in Victorian times. Anyone who has read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall knows that Anne was way ahead of her times but this is always unexpected the first time around, so effectively have we been convinced that Anne was a meek, pious maiden.

Samantha Ellis does a good job of bringing to light what sounds like the real Anne. Her portrait might feel somewhat too 21st-century and larger than life in some instances, but overall, the image we get of Anne sounds true to life(4). Ellis is particularly annoyed at descriptions of Anne - and there are many - linking her to any form of the word 'endurance' and for some reason tries to dispel the 'myth'. And while we agree with her that Anne was much more than that, we don't quite see the need to fight it. It's not such a bad quality, particularly if, apart from that, Anne was all the good things that Ellis herself finds her to have been. Samantha Ellis's Anne is brave, compassionate, a champion of women, a skilled poet and writer, a person who had, as much as possible, the reins of her own life in her hands. She credits Anne with things that previous biographers might have mentioned but hadn't truly given the importance they deserve, such as the fact that
Anne shows how girls who are given nothing but polish, finish and dinner-party conversation are not prepared for life, taught to think for themselves, or warned about the perils of bad men. In real life, Anne tried to fight this, taking pride in teaching well, and teaching subjects girls didn't usually study.
And while she sometimes makes assumptions about what Anne may or may not have felt (which sound likely in most cases at least within the context of this particular biography), she knows when it's impossible to deduce what was really going on inside Anne's head(5).

Perhaps Samantha Ellis's most controversial approach in this biography is doing like Elizabeth Gaskell first did in her biography of Charlotte and, more recently, Claire Harman in her own biography of Charlotte as well. For them, the root of all evil was Patrick Brontë. For Samantha Ellis, the scapegoat is Charlotte Brontë(6). Chapter 5 is about Anne's relationship with her and it was rather painful to read. Starting with the title itself, Charlotte, or how (not) to be a sister, the chapter reads like a continual complaint about all the things that Charlotte did wrong in the author's eyes. While we mostly agree with her when she claims that, 'Charlotte, more than anyone, is responsible for Anne being seen as 'the other Brontë'', it is also true that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And we firmly believe that everything Charlotte did, didn't do and wrote in connection to her sisters was well-intended within the strict boundaries of Victorian society. But Samantha Ellis comes across as abhorring Charlotte on a personal level, even to the extent of crediting James Tully's The Crimes of Charlotte Brontë with some grains of truth.
Tully captures something truthful about Charlotte and Anne. His Charlotte complains that the dying Anne (who she has helped poison!) gives herself the airs of a saint, and she resents nursing her when she could be enjoying her fame in London. Tully also makes much of the fact that Charlotte didn't manage to write anything nice on Anne's gravestone. (7) 
While Charlotte and Anne's relationship as sisters may not have been the best in the family(8), there is absolutely no reason to paint it in such a bad light as Ellis does. Nothing Charlotte does is good enough for her. Writing to Emily on April 2nd, 141, Charlotte wrote,
I had a letter from Anne yesterday; she says she is well. I hope she speaks absolute truth.
Up until now, we had read that as a tender comment from the eldest sister about her youngest sister, but Samantha Ellis doesn't see it that way:
...barred from Anne's real feelings, Charlotte misunderstood, patronised and underestimated her; for Charlotte, Anne was always a 'Poor child!' She tried to protect Anne but she never really trusted her. 'I hope she speaks absolute truth,' she commented doubtfully...(9)
She attacks Charlotte for all sorts of things, many times out of the blue and for no reason(10). While she thankfully saves Villette from the stake, she patently dislikes both Jane Eyre and Shirley. She claims that 'Charlotte's novels are haunted by perfect mothers', which is a claim we had never ever expected to hear. According to her, Charlotte's guilt (towards Anne) 'churns through' Shirley. Because The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and even Agnes Grey, are so ahead of their time, she forgets that Charlotte's novels were pretty groundbreaking too(11).  She's demolishing about the preface that her publishers didn't allow Charlotte to use when discussing Anne's own preface to the second edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall(12). We don't agree with the following but you can actually feel Ellis's relief:
But it's too easy to cast [Robert Southey] as a nineteenth-century Michael Winner saying calm down, dear, and to forget that his advice made Charlotte give up Angria, which was a good decision not just for her writing but for her life.
Although we do know that Southey's advice to Charlotte has been largely misunderstood and misinterpreted, we weren't expecting Samantha Ellis to cheer him on at all. The above statement surprised, shocked and saddened us.

The harsh treatment of Charlotte is even more heartbreaking because it spoils the positive vibe of the biography in general terms. However, it is easy to see who Samantha Ellis likes and who she doesn't. Perhaps by proxy, she doesn't like Ellen Nussey either, calling her 'a bit of a prig' and saying derisively that, 'her friendship with Charlotte was the most interesting thing about her', which we don't find so 'debasing', especially not in the context of Victorian women, whose lives were fairly boring. Either because it is painful for her to write about it or because she doesn't want to owe that to Nussey, she pretty much skips over the account given by Ellen of Anne's last days in York and Scarborough. We were also unpleasantly surprised to find that she dislikes little Maria too:
... a child who might not have suffered so much if she'd only spoken out about what was happening at school. But Maria forced herself to silently endure and now there's nothing left of her but her amazing suffering, and her tattered, faded sampler.
Fortunately, others fare better. We were pleasantly surprised to see Patrick Brontë not just not blamed for anything but openly praised for his job as a father. Branwell has it easy with her too as she freely admits to having 'long had a soft spot for Branwell'. Samantha Ellis, who 'grew up longing for Heathcliff', seems to find Emily imposing and daunting so she is pretty much left alone and not intruded upon, except for a rather personal claim of Emily being 'very good at ignoring things'. Tabby is spoken of fondly and given the all-important role of introducing Anne to local lore and the moors. Although somewhat understandable but not any less confusing because of it, Samantha Ellis decides that she's
going to call Anne's aunt by her name: Elizabeth. Everyone--even biographers and literary critics--calls her 'Aunt Branwell', but she was more than just an aunt.
We see the logic of it, but throughout the book we kept having a confused moment whenever she referred to Elizabeth. But the logic suited her treatment of her and she does a good job of bringing her out of the 'Calvinistic' shadows in which biographers tend to hide her. She helped bring up these amazing children, so it's time she was given credit for having done a great job(13). William Weightman - for whom we have a soft spot - is pretty much glossed over. He has to be mentioned, of course, but not much is made of the question of whether they were in love or not. Ellis takes for granted that Anne sort of liked/loved him but she mostly skips over the matter, which is a good decision in view of that fact that her real effort in this book is to put the spotlight in Anne herself and her works. It also feels respectful towards her subject. Like she did with Roe Head, Ellis has no time for speculating about what may have or may have not been going on inside Anne's head.

One tiny but truly wonderful thing about Samantha Ellis's fresh approach is the fact that she refers to Harriet Martineau as Charlotte's 'frenemy'. From now on, we will be unable to describe her as anything else.

However unfairly we may find that she has treated anyone in this biography, it is nothing compared to how Anne has been (mis)treated over the years. Had she just been 'the other Brontë', she would have been fine but biographers and critics got openly offensive when it came to her. The pages devoted to this are devastating to read but this just takes the cake:
By 1929 Anne had still not been the subject of a dedicated biography, so W.T. Hale stepped into the breach with a short monograph. Unfortunately, his conclusion was both absurd and depressing: 'The Gods were not kind to her: no men except her father's curates ever had a chance to look at her. But the gods must have loved her, after all, for they did not prolong her agony. They let her die young.'
The gods are not kind to her even now. She's still undervalued and unknown but it doesn't help that nearly 200 years after her birth, her second novel is still being published and sold in a mutilated version that makes no sense. Samantha Ellis takes a good look at the differences between the actual novel and the book that's passed as it. Through the decades, Anne has been the victim of neglect, scholars who went uncritically with the flow and most readers reading a nonsensical version of her second novel. For a writer, that's as bad as bad luck gets and we can only hope that now, in the run-up to the bicentenary of her birth, all this begins to get better. Samantha Ellis has made a great contribution towards making this possible.

By the time the reader reaches the final pages of this biography, there's a sense of personal connection to the subject that very few biographers manage to create. Anne leaps off the pages and stays with the reader, just like she stays with Samantha. Those final pages, particularly the postscript are so, so good. They are Samantha Ellis's writing at her best. Empathy, honesty, freshness, originality, intelligence, sincerity, clarity... all are to be found in this biography of Anne Brontë.


(1) From her poem The Narrow Way:

But he, that dares not grasp the thorn
Should never crave the rose.
(2) We may sound nosey, but we did enjoy these bits. For instance, most people are curious about Winifred Gérin after reading her Brontë biographies - Samantha Ellis included - so it's now great to be able to know her better thanks to her biography by Helen MacEwan.

(3) Although we would beg to disagree with some of her assumptions:

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall also critiqued her sisters' books, and especially Jane Eyre. In Anne's novel, as in Charlotte's a libertine rejects his wife. Charlotte gave Bertha a classic villain's evil laugh [...] and made her unnatural [...], and barely human [...]. Anne took the libertine's rejected wife out of the attic and put her centre stage. She also took her side. (p. 247)
She also likens Tabby to both Nelly Dean from Wuthering Heights and Bessie from Jane Eyre. And while they may have inherited traits from Tabby, we don't really think they fully represent her on the page. We have always seen Hannah from Jane Eyre as the most similar character to Tabby. Ellis also claims Miss Temple in Jane Eyre is Miss Wooler, with which we also disagree. She makes a complicated mess of interpreting Rose and Jessy Yorke in Shirley, rather than just taking them as they were in all probability: pictures of Mary and Martha Taylor.

(4) Speaking of portraits: this book has no plates or illustrations, which is strange for a biography and are always a welcome aid in visualising things as they were. Even if Ellis claims that 'the Brontës drew and painted each other often' (with which we don't really agree), the only picture of Anne is the one on the cover, which, judging by her description of it in the book, is not much to Ellis's taste.

(5) She mentions how in his biography of Anne, Edward Chitham suggests that Anne's crisis at Roe Head was due to Anne 'subconsciously [understanding] her feminine role as producer of children', basing his evidence on Anne writing about a Gondal heroine having a son and drawing three babies' heads in 1837. As Ellis says,

She also drew an oak, an elm and some wooded landscapes, but no one has suggested she was having a psychic crisis about trees.
(6) Samantha Ellis writes,

The more I learn about how Charlotte treated Anne and her work, the sadder I feel. I was so invested with the idea of the three sisters working together, sharing pages, helping each other to get published, supporting each other. I hate knowing that, in truth, their story is partly about sibling rivalry, betrayals, recriminations and turf wars. It's tempting to interpret the whole of the Brontës' afterlives--all the biographies, all the scholarship, all the fan fiction--as part of the same story, with readers and critics getting drawn in, taking sides, defining themselves by which Brontë the feel most sympathy for.
So it's incredibly sad to see her taking sides too. We all agree that Anne's recognition is long due, but attacking Charlotte for every little thing she did (or didn't do) won't bring that about any sooner.

(7) And yet she wrote a very moving poem in her honour: On the Death of Anne Brontë.

(8) We laughed out loud, for instance, at this dramatic turn of phrase: 'For Anne, Roe Head was a crash course in the dark side of sisterhood'. On a more serious note, though, Ellis doesn't make any allowances whatsoever for what teen Charlotte may have also been going through while at Roe Head, which - to continue with the emo talk - was also a pretty dark period in her own life.

(9) Similarly, she sees Charlotte's bad feelings towards Anne when writing about her departure for her first job, as a governess for the Ingham family:

Charlotte, though, told Anne's departure as a tragedy: 'Poor child! She left us last Monday; no one went with her; it was her own wish that she might be allowed to go alone, as she thought she could manage better and summon more courage if thrown entirely upon her own resources. [...] I can't help feeling that Charlotte's real anxiety was for herself. [...] Charlotte's sister (her poor, little, incapable sister) had beaten her to [finding a job].
(10) She's so bent on criticising Charlotte that sometimes she accuses her falsely.

Perhaps [Charlotte] was frustrated that her salary [at Roe Head] didn't even cover the basics; [...] Charlotte had to ask her friends to pay postage on her letters.
Charlotte's time at Roe Head as a teacher was from 1835 to 1838. The first postage stamp wasn't used until 1840. Up until then everyone paid for the sender's postage. Charlotte would have paid for her friends' letters upon receiving them too.

(11) She deplores the fact that

it's almost duty that makes [Jane] go [back to Rochester]. Except it isn't. It's love and lust, if only Jane could own it.
(So what if it is? was our first thought when we first read that.)

(12) Although she miraculously likes the fact that she included part of it within the pages of Shirley. At last Charlotte has done something well!

(13) There is an instance, however, in which we think Samantha Ellis reads previous biographers' comments on Aunt Branwell/Elizabeth wrong.

But can you really judge a person by [...] their shoes? Elizabeth wore wooden pattens [...] indoors and, according to Gaskell, she 'went about the house . . . clicking up and down the stairs'. This has been taken up in book after book about the Brontës. And I'm sure it was annoying, but my goodness, if I thought that nearly two centuries after my death I'd be criticised for the noisiness of my shoes, I'd never wear anything, or do anything. . . '
We have never thought the pattens were mentioned because of the noise they made but because they showed that after many years in Haworth, Aunt Branwell/Elizabeth still hadn't got used to the place, mainly because she didn't want to get used to it. They were mentioned because of the inadaptability they showed, not because of the noise they made.