Friday, December 13, 2013

This is just brilliant. As Metro reports,
Gale-force winds of up to 90mph have been tipped to hit Britain before Christmas.
A so-called Storm Emily could spread across the country from the middle of next week, forecasters have warned.
Experts from the Weather Channel have named the storm after Victorian author Emily Brontë – the woman who wrote Wuthering Heights, and who died 165 years ago next Thursday. (Aidan Radnedge)
Kudos to those experts.

The Stage reviews The Brontës of Dunwich Heath… and Cliff.
By transplanting the Brontë sisters to a rotten borough on the Suffolk coast, Eastern Angles subjects an audience eager for spoof and send-up to a laborious exercise in matching a flimsy concept to a clever show title.
Connoisseurs of the Brontës will enjoy ticking off all the allusions to Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but writer/director Ivan Cutting and songsmith Simon Egerton chuck in way too many other knowing nods and winks to literature, local geography and scandals modern and historical. From the script to the scenery changes, it’s a frenetic, confusing head spin.
The complexity is reflected in a certain rabbit-in-the headlights feel to the acting, but that’s not to say comedic quality is completely lacking. Harry Waller as old man Brontë, ‘Cliff’ Richard and sundry other characters is the most assured presence on stage, his clinical pun delivery cutting through the tangled storylines. And in the gargantuan dame-like shape of a Barbadian Mrs Rochester, Cameron Johnson’s sparkle transmits itself to the audience in a way that his ill-explained property developer Sir Fred cannot.
As for the starring sisters, both are asked to spend too much time on stage with too little funny material. Laura Corbett’s Jane is accurately-observed if one-dimensional; Sophie Reid, as zany Cathy, while commendably versatile, is trying too hard to please.
Overall this feels like an endurance test which, despite the occasional appealing performance and prop, reeks of tenuousness. (Ben Sharratt)
Michael Gray reviews this production too.

Another stage production is Polly Teale's Jane Eyre at Cygnet Theatre in Exeter. The Western Morning News reviews it:
The locked attic broods over this enthralling production of Charlotte Brontë's story.
Taken at pace with multiple locations delineated by lighting, Polly Teale's adaptation foregrounds the psychological aspect of Brontë's gothic tale, the locked room both haven for Jane's dreams and passion, and secure incarceration for the mad woman Bertha.
Director Alistair Ganley uses his ensemble in a host of minor characters that lighten the intensity, maintaining atmosphere yet sacrificing none of the story's dramatic power.
In the dual and intertwined roles of Jane and Bertha, Rosie Louden and Jessamy James, (alternating at separate performances), maintain character and focus with admirable concentration.
Poor and plain in her neat grey dress, Jane is both strong-willed and outspoken, but her demeanour hides passion and longing for fulfilment.
Seemingly observant and aware, high in the attic room a tormented Bertha, restrained by the intimidating Grace Poole (Kaja Pecnik), wrestles with demons.
With fluid scene changes and atmospheric lighting, the story progresses, satisfyingly, from Jane's fateful inauspicious meeting with the unpredictable darkly saturnine Rochester (admirably played by Jason Phelps) to a dramatic wedding, while the disastrous fire is ingeniously played.
Both characters have credible depth, finding new facets as their relationship grows; Jane poised and sincere, Rochester possessed and agonised.
Yet his initial offer of marriage "Poor, obscure and plain as you are Jane, will you accept me as your husband?" seems unlikely to unlock Jane's inner passion.
Playing a host of diverse characters the ensemble includes Joe Thurston (an amusing and touching Pilot the dog) and Helen Kirk who pirouettes prettily as Adele with professional actors Rosalind Williams and Christopher Flynn.
Jane Eyre runs at the Cygnet Theatre, Exeter until tomorrow and from January 7-11. (Anne Broom)
The New Yorker's Page-Turner discusses Kelsey Osgood's How to Disappear Completely: On Modern Anorexia.
The glamorizing language used to describe the disease predates its naming, in 1873. Academics have argued that Melville’s Bartleby—“so thin and pale”—is anorexic, a diagnosis that explains the scrivener’s subsistence on the rare, hand-delivered “ginger-nut,” as well as his maddening passivity. Jane Eyre, “delicate and aerial,” refuses to eat in front of Rochester; Elizabeth Gaskell repeatedly insists that Ruth’s figure is “little” or “beautiful lithe.” (Alice Gregory)
We admit to never having read Jane Eyre from an anorexia point of view, but we would say there are several instances of Jane eating 'normally' (for lack of a better word). Refusing to eat dinner with Rochester when they were just engaged and not yet married has more to do with class and convention than eating disorders.

More on Jane Eyre from The New Yorker on the subject of the death of a homeless baby.
Reading about Casshanae’s death, another passage came to mind, one from the novel “Jane Eyre,” a book published in 1847:
When the typhus fever had fulfilled its mission of devastation at Lowood, it gradually disappeared from thence; but not till its virulence and the number of its victims had drawn public attention on the school. Inquiry was made into the origin of the scourge, and by degrees various facts came out which excited public indignation in a high degree. The unhealthy nature of the site; the quantity and quality of the children’s food; the brackish, fetid water used in its preparation; the pupils’ wretched clothing and accommodations—all these things were discovered, and the discovery produced a result mortifying to Mr. Brocklehurst, but beneficial to the institution.
Charlotte Brontë based her description of Lowood, where Jane is sent as a child, on a school she attended, and where her sister fell ill; she later died. Film adaptations of “Jane Eyre” often show the horrors of Lowood, while skipping over the way the changed, post-epidemic school saves Jane—who, like Dasani, is passionate, and small. There are many discoveries that are mortifying, to mayors or to cities; the hard part is the beneficial results. But we are not in the Victorian era any more. Why does it take the death of a baby to bring about change in the life of a girl who, with some help, might be as at home in this city as anyone? (Amy Davidson)
The Huffington Post wonders what makes some books so memorable.
As I get older, I tend to read very old books. Centuries old. Modern writing has become something of a mystery to me and I eschew best sellers for exactly that reason. A good book is a priceless gem and one where long after we have finished reading it and the pages are consigned to our memories, we remember the words, the phrases and usually one moment in the entire book that remains a favourite thought.[...] In Wuthering Heights, it is the symbol of the window as a yearning to belong. [...]
A good book therefore should recount a story that we are already familiar with- one that draws on life and of which we are more than likely to have had the experience already so we can empathise with the characters. For example, all of us have had our heart broken and know what that feels like. Romantic fiction is so popular because the basic storyline is universal: the need to love and to be loved. And the path to true love is never straightforward hence the journey becomes the story. Would Wuthering Heights have been been so memorable had Heathcliff not heard Catherine reject him in that famous line to Nelly, and had he not returned after years of silence, and to find Catherine married and had he not tormented her in both life and in death and not died himself? We all wish for a happy ending but know it is never within reach yet our jaws drop wide open at the intensity and brutality of the love between Catherine and Heathcliff and wish we could experience that type of 'passion'. (Samantha van Dalen)
Informatique News (France) mentions the story of what was found in 2005 in a Swiss lawyer's basement.
Le papier est le support de nos mots aussi bien publics que privés. En 2005, dans la cave d’un avocat suisse, on a retrouvé une riche collection de lettres anciennes.  L’un d’elle était adressée par Napoléon Bonaparte à sa future épouse, Joséphine de Beauharnais, alors qu’ils venaient de se quereller au sujet des préparatifs de leur mariage : « Je le sens bien, si nous avons des disputes ensemble, tu devrais récuser mon cœur… As-tu seulement pensé deux fois à moi ? ». Une autre est de la main de la romancière victorienne, Charlotte Brontë, qui commente une critique négative de son dernier livre : « quand on leur demande de critiquer des œuvres de fiction, ils sont comme un sourd à qui l’on demande d’écouter de la musique ou un aveugle à qui l’on demande son avis sur une peinture. » (Translation)
Still in France, Le Figaro mourns the tragic death of photographer Kate Barry, Jane Birkin's eldest daughter.
Dans son objectif, Jane Birkin n'est pas une petite Anglaise à Paris. C'est une femme forte et brave comme les héroïnes des sœurs Brontë dans les landes du Yorkshire. (Valérie Duponchelle) (Translation)
The Daily Nebraskan discusses fan fiction:
According to Bournemouth University professor Bronwen Thomas, who researches fictional dialogue, new media narratives, fanfiction and adaptation, fanfiction’s origins first trace back to science fiction magazines from the 1920s and 1930s.
Links have also been drawn with oral and mythic traditions of collective interpretation, such as Jewish midrash, and with “profics” such as Jean Rhys’s “Wide Sargasso Sea”, a sort of prequel for Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre.” (Madeline Christensen)
Brigid's Cauldron, Prometheus' Fire reviews the YouTube series The Autobiography of Jane Eyre while Austenitis reviews the 2011 film version of the novel. Romanzi 2.0 posts about Wuthering Heights in Italian. Helena Fairfax writes about a recent trip to Haworth which included Jackie Kay's writing workshop at the Brontë Parsonage Museum. An account of last Sunday's first Brontë Christmas Carol Service at Haworth church can be read on the Brontë Parsonage website while a couple of pictures can be sen on the Museum's Facebook page.


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