Saturday, March 12, 2016

New York Times reviews three of the latest sequels and/or retellings of the Brontë opus:
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
How can a serial killer also be a heroine? The answer lies in the second edition of “Jane Eyre,” which Miss Steele calls “riveting,” in part because this printing “features a daring introduction by the author railing against the first edition’s critics,” who denounced the independent and spirited Jane as an unsuitable heroine. (...)
Like Brontë’s Jane, Miss Steele works as a governess and falls in love with her employer, a veteran of the Sikh wars, after inheriting a fortune of her own. Reader, she marries him. Of course.

Nelly Dean by Allison Case
As she recasts her story, Nelly fills gaps in the original and draws a portrait of her own life of caretaking and sacrifice. Her perceptions are so specific and accurate that you have to wonder if Nelly 2.0 is, in part, a riposte to literary scholars who have called Brontë’s Nelly an unreliable narrator.  (...)
While not a palimpsest of “Wuthering Heights,” “Nelly Dean” is no country for Brontë novices, especially at the start, when characters are introduced at a ­rapid-fire clip. Still, it’s a country well worth exploring.

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell
Samantha Whipple, the American heroine who narrates this piquant paean to the Brontë sisters, is the last living descendant of the family, through her father’s line. Arriving in Oxford to study English literature, she’s also prompted to track down a rumored inheritance: a collection of novels, diaries, paintings and other “Brontë treasure” that may have been left to her by her father, Tristan Whipple, an esteemed scholar who “spent his entire life trying to deconstruct” the writings of his famous forebears. (...)

Reader I Married Him. Edited by Tracy Chevalier
For this anthology, the best-selling author of “Girl With a Pearl Earring” gave other women writers a challenge: Take up the famous line from “Jane Eyre” and use it as the starting point for an original short story about marriage. And back came 20 responses that, added to Chevalier’s own contribution, represent a wide spectrum of perspectives and cultures. Some are directly tied to “Jane Eyre,” but among the standouts are stories that have been untethered from the mother ship. (...) (Abigail Meisel)
Joseph Buttom in The Washington Free Beacon is a bit controversial in how he judges the previous biographies of Charlotte Brontë in order to praise the new one by Claire Harman:
Lyndall Gordon’s 1994 biography attempted some rehabilitation of the father, at the cost of making Charlotte seem a sex-starved, boy-crazy wretch with a harridan’s tongue. In The Brontës, an account of the whole family, also published in 1994, Juliet Barker refurbishes the brother, at the price of reducing Charlotte to a head-case: nastily neurotic and self-deceiving.
With all that baggage in the history of her biographies, it’s an enormous relief to read Claire Harman’s new Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart, the first serious life in more than twenty years, published to be available for next month’s bicentennial of the novelist’s birth on April 21, 1816. Harman has produced a great biography—which is to say, a book that is a little timid and dull. About almost every other literary figure, timidity and a lack of inflammatory claims would weaken a biography. But so much in the life of Charlotte Brontë was already wild, so much already on fire, that readers should welcome a book whose virtues are that it is complete, judicious, and sensible.
Il Foglio (Italy) contains an article about why the figure of Charlotte Brontë generates so many biographies:
Perché tanto interesse attorno a Charlotte Brontë? Oltre ai libri, l’autrice di “Jane Eyre” nascondeva una passione impossibile. (...)
L’autrice di “Jane Eyre” è ritratta così nell’incipit del libro di Claire Harman,“Charlotte Brontë. A Life”, da poco pubblicata da Viking, ultima di una serie di biografie, giacché ci sono vite
più romanzesche dei romanzi e ogni generazione ama potersele raccontare di nuovo sovvertendo l’ordine delle cose, illuminando momenti e dettagli diversi, centrando particolari sfuggiti. Biografie
come nuovi allestimenti di testi teatrali, ritradotti e messi in scena secondo lo spirito del tempo e con un’altra drammaturgia, anche se non sempre offrono rivelazioni attinte a fonti e documenti inediti. Allora ecco, in meno di un secolo, le quaranta vite del colonnello Thomas Edward Lawrence, alias Lawrence d’Arabia; le venti vite di Virginia Woolf, le dieci di Charlotte Brontë, senza considerare le tante ricostruzioni condivise con il misteriosissimo gruppo delle sorelle, raffigurate dal fratello pittore
nel ritratto – oggi conservato alla National Portrait Gallery di Londra – dove Branwell dipinse in un primo tempo anche se stesso in mezzo a Charlotte, Emily e Anne Brontë, ma poi si cancellò ricoprendosi con una colonna. In occasione delle celebrazioni del bicentenario di Charlotte, nata a Thorton il 21 aprile 1816, vedremo la ricostruzione al computer dell’ombra di Branwell, il talentuoso ragazzo cui Daphne du Maurier dedicò il suo “The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë”, pubblicato nel
1960. Del resto la biografia delle Brontë è stata passione letteraria per diverse scrittrici, tra le quali Elizabeth Gaskell, Margaret Oliphant e Muriel Spark… fino a Tracy Chevalier, che quest’anno
nel Museo di Haworth cura la mostra della Brontë Society, “Charlotte Great and Small” e un’antologia di racconti ispirati al mondo di Jane Eyre, in pubblicazione da Borough. (...) (Annamaria Guadaghi)
CBC interviews Claire Harman:
To mark the 200th birthday of Charlotte Brontë, Eleanor Wachtel speaks with British biographer, Claire Harman. Harman's latest book, "Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart," retells the fascinating life story behind the author of the beloved novel, 'Jane Eyre.'
Slate announces that the next title in its Slate Academy series A Year of Great Books in Thursdays will be Jane Eyre to be discussed in May:
And then start reading our next selection for A Year of Great Books, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, which Laura will be discussing with Slate Group capo di tutti capi Jacob Weisberg in May. (Gabriel Roth)
An insurance romance (yes, you read that correctly) in the Evening Standard with a Brontë mention at the beginning:
I never intended to work in the City. An English lit graduate who couldn’t pay the bills through freelance journalism, I took an internship at an insurer out of desperation, head still full of Brontë and Hardy.
The Guardian reviews Rain by Melissa Harrison:
Into these personal field notes she splices other people’s responses to English rainfall. As well as bossy bulletins about hosepipe bans and sustainability, she presents us with a cavalcade of poets happily splashing about in their wellingtons: Geoffrey Chaucer, Edward Thomas, Samuel Coleridge, Alice Oswald and a particularly water-logged Emily Brontë. (Kathryn Hughes)
Creators travels to Yorkshire:
It's no wonder some of the world's most renowned literary and artistic works have sprouted from the pens and canvases of those who lived day-to-day life here — the Brontë sisters (Charlotte wrote "Jane Eyre" and Emily "Wuthering Heights"), Frances Hodgson Burnett ("The Secret Garden"), James Herriot ("All Creatures Great and Small") and David Hockney, painter, photographer, printmaker and stage designer - to name only a handful.
Navigating through miles of enchanting villages and landscapes stretching to the horizon, Rowley led me straight to the stomping grounds of the Brontës, Herriot and Hockney — the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth where the family lived and wrote[.] (Athena Lucero)
The Porstmouth Phoenix Players are looking for an actress for its Jane Eyre June production:
The Phoenix Players is putting on the show in Southsea from June 1 to 4.
The candidate needs to be in her late-teens or early 20s, not very tall and slightly built.
Rehearsals will be on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7.30pm to 10pm. (Portsmouth News
The Serbian magazine Blic ženu Saturday March 12, gives the chance to acquire a copy of a Serbian translation of Wuthering Heights (Orkanski Visovi).

Los Angeles Review of Books reviews Constance Fenimore Woolson's Miss Grief and Other Stories:
Although she was the sixth daughter born to the family, by age 13 she was the eldest, having seen three sisters succumb to scarlet fever. She later lost two more to other illnesses. Like Charlotte Brontë, she lived life in the shadow of death and emerged as a lucky survivor.  (Rebecca Foster)
Alice Cooper interviews Anne Rice in Billboard:
Did your parents encourage your writing as a young girl?
Yes, my parents always encouraged my writing. They encouraged creativity on the part of their children in every way. My mother believed we could accomplish great things when we grew up. She told us stories of the Brontës and how they'd written under male names in order to be accepted by the literati; she filled my head with tales of Dickens and all he achieved in terms of social justice through his novels.
The Berkshire Eagle talks about three writers inspired by Edith Wharton:
[Claire] McMillan has also drawn inspiration from "The House of Mirth" in her novel, "Gilded Age," set in old-money Cleveland, and she is finishing a new novel moving from the jazz age to the present day.
She read "House of Mirth" as a high school sophomore.
"It was a book you read at exactly the right time in your life," she said.
Years later, when she had written a novel, seen it rejected and put it in a drawer, her husband gave her a first edition of "The House of Mirth," knowing how much it has meant to her. Her old copy was disintegrating, and she re-read the book.
"The themes still hold," she said, even in a world where a woman is running for president. "As you read — as with Austen or the Brontës — what we have isn't the sci-fi trip back to old New York — it's that we know a Lily Bart or a Darcy or an Elizabeth." (Kate Abbott)
What Culture talks about sequels to Pride and Prejudice:
Sure, the source novel – Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride And Prejudice And Zombies – was so lazily and clumsily written that it made Jane Slayre look like Jane Eyre, but that was kind of irrelevant. (Jack Gann)
Virtue Online (the voice for global Orthodox Anglicanism, now you know it) has this curious mention in an article about the virtues (no pun intended) of conservatism:
A sad capitulation for us pedants who love the English language, but then I still miss hearing the grand terms; 'Bachelor' and 'Spinster of this parish' on Sunday mornings. I also regret the demise of those almost comically dramatic lines: 'Anyone who knows just cause or impediment why these may not severally be joined in Holy Matrimony, ye are to declare it.'
The pause following that momentous 'Ye' once created a wonderful moment of suspense, bringing to mind Jane Eyre's doomed first attempt at marriage to Mr. Rochester. Well all that historical, literary stuff has been kicked to the side aisles, in case the modern congregant feels alienated. (Jane Kelly)
Detroit Free Press reviews the Tim Minchin musical Matilda:
The show focuses on Matilda's first semester in an oppressive English primary school, where her new teacher, Miss Honey (Natalie Wisdom), recognizes how gifted Matilda is on the first day of class. The girl can recite multiplication tables seemingly to infinity, and she also has devoured a stack of books in just the past week, among them “Nicholas Nickleby” and “Jane Eyre.” (John Monaghan)
DNI24 (Russia) remembers how were (some) of the Victorian reactions to Jane Eyre:
(...) Когда «Джен Ейр» опубликовали в 1847 году, этот роман стал бестселлером, но быстро получил репутацию как «порочной книги», как выразился Г. Х. Люис. Как только критики пришли к выводу, что таинственный автор книги – скорее всего, женщина, роман подвергся нападкам критиков как грубое и аморальное произведение.
Шарлотту Бронте, которая на самом деле была старой девой, дочерью провинциального священника и сторонницей Консервативной партии, обвинили одновременно в политическом либерализме и личном либертарианстве.
 Однако неправильно приписывать ей чересчур прогрессивные взгляды. Живя в провинции, Шарлотта Бронте не могла знать о новых веяниях литературного Лондона. Она не имела ни малейшего представления о том, насколько безвкусно и наивно звучит ее женский байронизм в 1847 году на фоне новых прогрессивных викторианских веяний, которые сместили акцент с романтического индивидуализма на социальное взаимодействие. В «Джейн Эйр» достаточно парадоксов, поэтому ее не следует рассматривать в качестве морального компаса, но роман пережил свое время, потому что в художественном плане немногие могут с ней сравниться. (Translation)
The Walkman Magazine (Italy) lists seven female musicians:
La cantautrice inglese rappresenta senza dubbio la fusione perfetta tra arte e rock da un punto di vista femminile. In Wuthering Heights, tra richiami a Cime Tempestose e melodie barocche, abbiamo un artista sensibile e versatilecome pochi. (Andrea Porcu) (Translation)
The Sydney Review of Books posts about Wide Sargasso Sea


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