Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Spectator chooses the best books so far in the year and Melanie McDonagh's selection is:
Muriel Spark wasn’t only one of the great British novelists but a cracking literary critic and a lovely essayist. Her book on Mary Shelley is extraordinarily perceptive; ditto, but more fun, is her writing on the Brontës. Carcanet Press, having last year reissued the Shelley book, has now republished The Essence of the Brontës (£12.95), Spark’s compilation of their letters, with essays. It’s a joy on both fronts. Her piece on the siblings as teachers (‘genius, if thwarted, resolves itself in an infinite capacity for inflicting trouble’) is mordantly funny — her sympathies are entirely with their pupils — while the selection of letters is very fine and occasionally downright malicious. Consider Charlotte on Pride and Prejudice: ‘An accurate daguerrotyped portrait of a commonplace face; a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but no glance of a bright, vivid physiognomy, no open country, no fresh air.’ Fabulous.
The Irish Times reviews the Dublin production of Wuthering Heights as adapted by Anne-Marie Casey:
Retaining the novel’s framing device, which has the bumbling visitor Lockwood (Bosco Hogan) and the earthy, sympathetic housekeeper Nelly (Fiona Bell) as narrators, the production never settles on a theatrical frame. If anything, it seems to follow a shooting script, zipping through locations and images: the hand through the windowpane, Catherine and Heathcliff tumbling through the moors, Catherine desperately calling his name.
Where the adaptation finds something new to say is the suggestion (informed by the critic Terry Eagleton) that the adopted Heathcliff is an Irish Famine refugee. (We first find him, as a child, muttering the Ár n-Athair.) That might lend Heathcliff’s brutalisation – and ensuing brutality – a political dimension, were there room to explore it.
For Tom Canton’s towering and husky Heathcliff and Kate Stanley Brennan’s whirling Catherine, who hope to dissolve into one another in fantasies both romantic and macabre, their onstage relationship becomes, inevitably, a more physical expression. Conveyed in leaps and lifts and laughs and lunges, though, it threatens to tip into parody. That is the peril of a literal approach; it sticks to the the surface of the story, and here, the book’s most pivotal moments – Cathy’s fatefully overheard conversation or Heathcliff’s grave digging – are served unadorned and strangely muted. (Peter Crawley)
The Yorkshire Post (and several other local newspapers) talk about some sewer works that have to be done in Haworth and that will sadly interfere with the local Christmas celebrations:
Hundreds of people from across the UK were due to flock to the Brontë village over the weekend of December 6 and 7 for the Victorian Christmas Market.
Bands, street entertainment and a diverse range of market stalls had all been planned to entertain the crowds.
But contractors need to move onto the street from December 1 to carry out essential engineering works - and the organiser has decided to cancel after taking council advice.
Despite the disappointment, organisers have praised Bradford Council for the way the issue has been handled. (...)
Mike Powell, Bradford Council’s emergency planning officer, said: “It’s regretful that the event has had to be cancelled, but safety of the public is paramount and the road work has to be done. Council officers will work with the organiser when he submits the new date for his event.”
Darren Badrock, Bradford Council’s principal highway engineer, said that the highway surface - which is made up of stone setts - would be restored to its original condition once the work is completed.
A spokesman for Yorkshire Water said the engineering work related to waste pipes which had been incorrectly connected during the development of a private housing scheme.
A date for the work has been agreed with the council, the company said. Work is expected to start on December 1 and finish on the 13th. (Andrew Robinson)
Also in Haworth the Haworth Church Website makes the following appeal:
Haworth Parish church has played a significant part in English church history. Rev’d Grimshaw, Rev’ds John and Charles Wesley are among key people and pioneers associated with the church. The parish had close links with the Methodist Revival movement. The Brontë connection meant that the parish was, and is, a place of pilgrimage for Brontë fans. (...)
But the building is not just a historical monument. It is central to the Haworth Community; and provides regular worship as well as being extensively used for Wedding, Funerals, Civic occasions etc.
It costs £1,000 a week to keep the church open. Sadly, like so much of our national heritage it needs a great deal of money spending on it to restore it and make it fit for the 21st century.
In 2012 £0.26m went on the new South Roof; the heating system was replaced at a significant cost this autumn. An application to replace the North Roof, around £0.3m, has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Completion will make the building weather-proof; however, to make it fit for the 21st century further work, such as new eco-friendly lighting, new wiring, toilets, etc., needs to be done at an estimated cost of £1/4m.
The church, like the Society, is dependent on those who attend services and well-wishers for its funding. If you believe that you might be able to help please speak to the Rev’d Peter Mayo-Smith. Tel: 01535 648464 or e-mail:
The New York Times reviews the book Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti:
Rough wood furniture on pale stone floors reminded her of chairs at Wuthering Heights that Emily Brontë called “high-backed, primitive structures.” (Eve M. Kahn)
Vulture reviews the latest episode of Sons of Anarchy (Suits of Woe, S07E11). The Brontë reference of the previous episode is still briefly mentioned:
Juice has been squeezed dry. He talks to Unser and Jarry as they frantically try to get him a deal so he will tell them the truth. “It doesn’t matter anymore, Sheriff. I’m done. It’s too late, for all of us,” he says, tear-stained and numb. He tells them he told Jax the truth and that Gemma knows the truth. By the end, guards are taking him to the infirmary, where Lin’s men will be waiting for him. And he had just gotten into Brontë. Jax did promise it would be quick.
 An ode to the use of imagination in reading is what we found in Kentucky Kernel:
My English teacher of that elk was Mrs. Hunter. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights was her favorite novel, and she ripped the mammoth to shreds. Every conversation was chewed up and spit out in four different ways.
At the time, I had not the slightest bit of idea or ounce of care to figure out her points about the character development and progression of Mr. Heathcliffe (sic). The book was massive, and my attention span was not as such. (Nick Gray)
Noticias Mercedinas (Argentina) announces the broadcast of the play The Love Course (1969) by AR Gurney on Radio Fénix (November 19, 21.00 h and November 23, 19.00 h):
Both Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and Emily Brontë’s "Wuthering Heights," which have big parts in this play, are elements in other plays I wrote later on. I guess those two works won’t leave me alone.
The Edmonton Journal talks about the release of a live album by Mike McDonald. Regrettably it won't include his 1997 track 'Wuthering Heights vs The Guns of Navarone'
The evening went smoothly, though some songs were dropped from the finished recording due to errors both large and small.  (...)
"There were other songs I wanted on there, too, like Wuthering Heights vs. The Guns of Navarone, but the mistakes would have driven me crazy every time I listened to it.” (Tom Murray)
And more music and Wuthering Heights. Kate Bush's song is performed in many different ways today in the news. As a kind of Christmas show in Canberra:
We've Got Our Standards. Devised and performed by John Shortis and Moya Simpson. Teatro Vivaldi ANU Arts Centre. November 29,30.
Shortis says Simpson  also sings Ralph McTell's Streets of London and tells stories of being a schoolteacher in the East End of London, as well as performing Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights and a "thrown-up-in-the-air" rearrangement of the old Eurovision Song Contest winner Puppet on a String. (Ron Cerabona in Canberra Times)
With puppets on Boris & Sergey's Preposterous Improvisation Experiment at the Mimetic Festival 2014 in London (The Vaults, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, November):
The final part of the showcase for us was “Boris and Sergey’s Preposterous Improvisation Experiment”. Unfortunately, Sergey wasn’t with us, as Boris explained, but he (along with his three handlers) carried out regardless and delivered a version of ‘Wuthering Heights’ which made Kate Bush’s original look almost sane. (Neil Cheesman on London Theatre 1)
Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner interviews the writer Louisa Treger:
What three novels could you read over and over? (Kayla Posney)
I could give you a list of ten! But if I must restrict myself to three, I would probably choose "Villette" by Charlotte Brontë, "Fugitive Pieces" by Ann Michaels, and "The Hours" by Michael Cunningham.
And Muzikalia (Spain) reviews the BBC documentary Kate Bush: Running Up That Hill:
Si alguien se quedó en que Wuthering Heights (1978) era la música del anuncio del perfume de Gloria Vanderbilt aprenderá mucho con este film. Típico documental estilo BBC, 60 minutos de impactos revisando la consistente, personal y ecléctica carrera de Bush. (Sonia Galve) (Translation)
Televisión Cubana (Cuba) interviews the actor Roberto Perdomo:
¿Cuánta fantasía de niño has podido realizar mediante la actuación?
La mitad. Me queda mucha fantasía y mundos por experimentar y dibujar. Me hubiera encantado interpretar uno de los personajes de la novela Cumbres Borrascosas, además de encarnar a Teresa Racán y a otros clásicos. (Mayán Venero) (Translation)
El País (Spain) describes Àngel Guimerà's play Terra Baixa as 'Wuthering Heights with pubilla' (Jacinto Antón).

Finally, a new installment in the Brontë Society internal little wars: the Brontë Parsonage Blog gives voice to the President of the Brontë Society, Bonnie Greer who completely disagrees with the 'snooty' accusations to some of the leaders of the Brontë Society:
“One of the reasons that I accepted the Presidency is not only because I love the work of the Brontës, but because both the members and the Council have been welcoming and supportive. And because of Yorkshire - the people and the region. I’ve been London-centered for all of my almost thirty years in this country. So to get away from the south east bubble to somewhere “real” - to me that’s great!
One of the reasons I love Yorkshire is because I, too, don’t do “snooty” and “snobby”. I never have, don’t now, and never will. And believe me, if I felt that there was an atmosphere like that around me, I’d be out of there.


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