Saturday, March 19, 2016

Catherine Lowell, author of The Madwoman Upstairs, writes in The Daily Beast on the Brontës and their life lessons:
Every so often, a new discovery comes along that reignites the question: what is there possibly left to say about the Brontës?
In 2015, the discovery took the form of an unpublished short story by young Charlotte Brontë, found romantically tucked away in her late mother’s book. It was a story that set ablaze an insatiable and happily reawakened audience: the Brontë fanbase.
The million-dollar question is why the Brontës and their novels are still so popular, while so many of their contemporaries have fizzled and died in our collective memories. Public interest often begins with the Brontës themselves—three impossibly tiny sisters secluded on the Moors, pretending to be men, writing epic fiction that defied the parameter of their own experiences. Yet much of our collective obsession has to do with what we don’t know. Despite exhaustive research over the last one hundred and fifty years, there are still enough holes in our knowledge to breed myths and fantasy. The picturesque romance of the Brontës depends on the incomplete picture we have; as in real life, romance and mystery go hand in hand.
My own obsession with the Brontë legacy was unhealthy enough to inspire me to write a novel on the subject. I hoped, in part, to unlock the secret of the Brontë’s spectacular immortality, even if only to satiate my own curiosity. My research left me with something I was not anticipating: a deep admiration of how well the Brontës and their novels can teach us how to live today. I believe they survived for a century and a half because both the sisters and their characters are excellent teachers, with lessons that are still applicable to every generation of readers. (Read More)
The New York Times reviews Claire Harman's Charlotte Brontë biography:
Harman has made much use of more recent biographies, particularly Lyndall Gordon’s and Juliet Barker’s, but it is Gaskell’s Brontë who seems most vital to her, whom she never stops comparing with her own.
Harman’s Brontë is just as shy as Gaskell’s, just as lonely and frequently as unhappy, but there is nothing resigned or sweetly decorous, nothing Helen Burns-ish, about her. Harman’s subtitle is “A ­Fiery Heart”: Her Brontë is full of rage. (...)
This biography is careful, well-judged, nicely written — perfect if you’ve never read a biography of Charlotte Brontë published after 1857, not quite necessary if you have. Unlike other newish books about the Brontës, which have experimented with form — Deborah Lutz’s “The Brontë Cabinet” tries to recover the sisters’ history through their objects; Lucasta Miller’s phenomenal “The Brontë Myth” is presented as a “metabiography” — Harman’s narrative is strictly chronological with the exception of a prologue[.] (Deborah Friedell)
The biography is recommended by the San Francisco Gate:
Harman’s well-paced narrative and keen attention to the tentative and troubled way Brontë adjusted to sudden fame make this latest version of a literary life all the more modern and captivating.
Another review is published in the Wall Street Journal:
 In this powerful biography, Claire Harman shows that Charlotte Brontë was probably the first novelist to speak for bottom dogs everywhere. For their sake and hers, she posed that primal subversive question: “Why was I always suffering, always browbeaten, always accused, for ever condemned?” Her answer was revolutionary: There’s nothing wrong with you; you’re not the one who should feel guilty, get mad as hell and refuse to take it any more. Every one of the young refugees in Amina’s reading group got that message. It is said (even today) that men have been responsible for most innovations throughout history, but long before John Osborne invented the Angry Young Man, Charlotte Brontë was brilliantly enragée.
The roots of Brontë’s fierceness lay in Haworth, the isolated Yorkshire parsonage where she spent most of her childhood. She called it “a strange uncivilized little place,” and she was right, if you define “uncivilized” as radically independent.  (Jonathan Rose)
The Globe and Mail also reviews Claire Harman's biography, Reader, I Married Him and The Brontë Cabinet:
Reader I Married HimAs a whole, these pieces create a beguiling picture of women and men and desire, in which everyone is searching, like Jane, for happiness and wondering whether marriage is really an answer. The book acts as a prism spreading all kinds of literary and historical refractions, and it’s a reminder that Charlotte Brontë, too, has many sides. (...)
The Brontë CabinetLutz is carefully sympathetic to 19th-century culture, but a closer appraisal of the Bronte effect on our understanding of it would have made for a sharper read. Still, the book is a thoughtful way to retell the family’s tale, a pleasure for readers new to these lives and especially intriguing on the mechanics of the post, letter-writing and letter-sealing. (...)
Charlotte Brontë. A Fiery Heart
She’s a strong explainer of the novels, especially good on Villette, for my money Bronte’s best, arguing its inconsistencies as part of its modern, muscular appeal. Surgical in its clarity, Harman’s book brilliantly maps out how Bronte built herself. Though this is a solo portrait of a heart, we see lovers – imaginary, unrequited, would-be and actual – through Charlotte’s eyes, and her through theirs, giving us a new lens on this much scrutinized life, and ending with a bang. (Alix Hawley)
The Australian lists several writers' homes:
Elsewhere in Britain, the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth in west Yorkshire is a pilgrimage site for fans of the literary sisters; at Thomas Hardy’s birth cottage at Higher Bockhampton in Dorset, it’s riveting to learn he was almost pronounced still-born. (Susan Kurosawa
In the same newspaper a review of Kirsten Tranter's Hold:
Hold is Tranter’s third novel and, like the previous two, it is situated within an intense literary sensibility. Shelley is putting away the dry-cleaning in her walk-in wardrobe when she comes across a secret door behind the racks. Ping! CS Lewis? Charlotte Brontë? Bluebeard? Or 100 childhood books where a secret door guaranteed hours of enthralment? (Helen Elliott)
The Guardian explores literary identity mysteries following the Elena Ferrante case:
In Jane Austen’s case, the mystery lasted just six years, from Sense and Sensibility (by “A Lady”) in 1811 to her brother’s revelation after her death in 1817 that she had written the other novels credited to that book’s previously unnamed author. In 1848, the Brontës went to London to out themselves as the women behind Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, a year after the annus mirabilis when their debuts were all published. (John Dugdale)
The Telegraph & Argus lists some of the events at the next Bradford Literary Festival (May):
Several talks and sessions will take place to honour the Brontës. These include a vintage coach taking visitors on the Brontë Heritage Tour.
Japanese novelist Minae Mizumura will discuss her latest book, A True Novel, a modern retelling of Wuthering Heights. (Mark Stanford)
King 5 Evening asks the cast of Allegiant (the latest movie in the Divergent series) about their literary preferences. Naomi Watts says:
Naomi Watts - power hungry Evelyn in the movie -- loved these classics:
"Jane Eyre, Jane Austin (sic), Sense and Sensibility, all of that," said Watts. (Anne Erickson)
Der Standard (Austria) reviews the upcoming release of a new German Jane Eyre audiobook:
 Keine leichte Aufgabe, einen so umfangreichen, auch abgründigen Roman, in der Neuübersetzung von Melanie Walz 616 Seiten lang, als Hörspiel zu adaptieren. Christiane Ohaus ist es mit dieser Produktion überzeugend gelungen. Die Besetzung ist gut gewählt. Christian Grashof ist ein grummeliger Edward Rochester, Angelika Thomas die hochfahrende Mrs. Reed und Dietrich Mattausch der heuchlerische Geistliche Brocklehurst. Sascha Maria Icks als Titelheldin ist überzeugend, wenn auch hie und da ein wenig zu forsch und vorlaut – was dann schon nicht mehr 19. Jahrhundert ist. (Alexander Kluy) (Translation)
Vanity Fair (France) reminds us how Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca:
Adapté par Alfred Hitchcock en 1940, ce roman sous influence assumée des sœurs Brontë provoque toujours son petit frisson dans le dos, d'autant plus que la narratrice s'y montre d'une naïveté confondante voire agaçante. (Sophie Rosemont) (Translation)
Milano Post (Italy) lists several dads in literature. Including an unexpected Edgar Linton:
Edgar Linton, “Cime tempestose” di Emily Brontё – Nella vicenda turpe e oscura che vede Heathcliff e la sua brama di vendetta assoluti protagonisti, l’affetto che Edgar Linton nutre per la figlia Cathy sembra uno dei pochi sentimenti puri e del tutto positivi. La ragazzina, forse, non trae grande giovamento dall’affetto incondizionato del genitore – visto che cresce viziata e infantile – ma pagherà la sua avventatezza a caro prezzo, e comunque, i padri sono sempre responsabili dell’avventatezza dei figli? (Libreriamo)
Even in the Cayman Islands (or in Konin, Poland) you can see the National Theatre's Jane Eyre production on a local cinema, according to Cayman Compass. Wuthering Heights 1939 is screened today at the Cinémathèque de Luxembourg.


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