Saturday, January 14, 2017

Keighley News reports some of the upcoming activities at the Brontë Parsonage Museum:
The Brontë Parsonage Museum looks deserted during January, the only month of the year when it is closed to the public.
But behind closed doors at the Haworth attraction the staff, from shop workers to specialist curators, have rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in.
There are general repairs, decorating and maintenance tasks, as well as checking every item in the museum and refreshing displays in readiness for reopening on February 1.
Principal curator Ann Dinsdale said there was a huge amount of work going on at the house where the Brontë sisters wrote their famous novels.
She said: “I think people imagine the winter is a quiet time for us, but it’s probably the busiest time as it’s the only time of year when we can do any conservation and maintenance work.
“Everything is cleaned and we check the entire collection for any signs of change in condition, including the furniture.”
Much of this month’s efforts are focused on preparing two major exhibitions that will run throughout 2017.
Mansions In The Sky will tie in with the major event of the year for Brontë enthusiasts: the 200th anniversary of the birth of Branwell Brontë.
The exhibition has been curated by poet Simon Armitage, the Brontë Society’s creative partner for ‘Branwell’s year’.
Simon will be in Haworth on May 13 at 2.30pm to talk about the exhibition.
The other 2017, exhibition, From Parsonage To Production, will include costumes, props and behind-the-scenes photographs from To Walk Invisible, the BBC drama about the Brontë family that was screened over the Christmas period. (David Knights)
You can check the rest of the activities on the Brontë Parsonage Museum website or on our Brontë calendar.

The Sunday Herald reviews Samantha Ellis's Take Courage biography of Anne Brontë. It's a curious (and mostly negative) review in which the author Lucy Ellmann impersonates Anne herself for a bit:
A lone cur howled across the sleet-drenched moors as I, in semi-transparent skeletal form, struggled to the door of Miss Samantha Ellis’s temporary dwelling in Haworth. Having discovered she was writing a book about me, I had come to plead with her to stop forthwith, for I did not wish my life to be arbitrarily exploited, however fast the bicentenary of my birth might be approaching.
It was not my aim to argue with Miss Ellis’s inaccuracies, inelegancies, or irrelevancies when we met, nor rebuke her curious attempt to prove that my treasured pebbles were the droppings of dinosaurs. Nor would I deign to refer to those dreams she related, in which she had supposedly found me sitting at the end of her bed, begging to be written about. Everyone must deal with their unfortunate proclivities according to their own moral fibre, however malnourished it may be. (...)
But what I objected to most strongly was Miss Ellis’s incessant projection of her own subjectivity on to mine. O how passionately did I wish she would stop entwining my life story so cloyingly with her own! (...)
Would that I could avenge those subtle slights! But I knew full well by this time Miss Ellis’s unshakeable determination to turn biography into autobiography littered with soliloquies vaguely arising from whatever titbit of information came to hand. On this basis she announces that Emily favoured mutton sleeves, Branwell had a large forehead, the poet Southey forced his daughters to bind 1400 books, and Thomas Bewick was cruel (quite wrong). More bafflingly, she wishes Dorothy Wordsworth and I had met and that I got cream on my bilberry pie, and says she has seen Kate Bush live.
In her earlier book, How to Be a Heroine, Miss Ellis debated which was the best Brontë: Charlotte or Emily. Now, perhaps in contrition for leaving me out, she wants to make a fetish of me. Yet she confesses to a growing impatience with our diaeresis! If I were to gain admittance tonight, my first duty would be to suggest she redirect her energies in future to authors with unaccented surnames. (...)
Making big claims for both of Anne’s novels, Ellis says their political engagement, class critique, pleas for education, expose of governessing, and the suggestion that mad bad Byronic men may be dangerous to know, "still feel revolutionary". Her own literary aims here are somewhat less ambitious: apart from some insightful, whimsical or frivolous asides, her book just becomes a walk in Anne’s boots, which were probably as muddied as her prose. Big walker, Anne.
Ellis too stalks the moors. She reads Bronte biographies, even that wacko Angria and Gondal juvenilia. She Googles and Pinterests. She dons latex gloves to examine Anne’s last letter or a hideous hair brooch of Charlotte’s. She asks if Anne Bronte invented the romcom (no). And she takes everything, but everything, personally: "wrongfooted, slighted, dissatisfied, bored, over-worked, underpaid and out of her depth – Agnes Grey is brilliant on the peculiar horror of a first job." It’s Ellis who’s scraping at the window. 
On the Penguin blog, Samantha Ellis herself attributes Anne Brontë's obscurity to sibling rivalry with Charlotte mostly:
When Anne Brontë died in 1849, her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, was a bestseller. Her debut, Agnes Grey, was selling well too, and her poems were still being published in magazines.
So what happened? How did she become “the other Brontë”, the neglected Brontë, the least read of her sisters, both underrated and suppressed? And what does this say about what women still are and aren’t allowed to say?
Perhaps the biggest reason that Anne didn’t get her due in the 1840s was that she was just too radical. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’s heroine, Helen, starts out like all the Brontë heroines - falling for a sexy, dangerous cad. But he turns out to be an abusive alcoholic, and she leaves him. In 1848, this wasn’t just unusual; it was illegal. (...)
As misogynist critics called the Brontë novels “coarse” and “unwomanly”, Charlotte reacted by presenting herself as a martyr whose work had been misunderstood. She characterised Emily as a naïve genius who hadn’t known what she was writing, and wrote that Anne was pure, innocent, not hugely talented, and a bit gloomy. This didn’t fit with The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, so she decided it had been “an entire mistake”, not at all what Anne had meant to write, and she refused to allow it to be reprinted.
Because of Charlotte, Anne’s best novel was nearly impossible to get hold of for many years, and anyone who wondered why could read Charlotte’s harsh verdict. For over a century and a half, her assessment has stuck. But perhaps, at last, things are changing. Maybe now we are ready for Anne’s bold, arresting books.
Sebastian Faulks reviews The Crown in The Spectator. He mentions an anachronism in To Walk Invisible:
Watching the enjoyable Brontë drama To Walk Invisible the other day on television, I was brought up short when Charlotte told Emily that their books would be ‘rubbished’ by male critics in London. Such anachronisms crop up in all period dramas, but would be easy to fix if someone with an ear for language was asked to skim through the script before it was filmed.
The Hindu on private libraries:
When it comes to private libraries, we have more than our fair share. After all, this is the city of S.R. Ranganathan, the father of library science, whose colon classification system is followed all over the world. But one name that pops up often when talking about private book collections is that of our columnist Sriram V. “During the early part of the 20th Century, people read a lot of Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens,” says the writer and historian, before going on to share some trivia. The decision to open up some of these private reading retreats to the public is up to the family, says Sriram. “People tend to be possessive about their books; a part of any book lover’s culture. I am not flexible myself..” So, tread carefully when you visit these libraries. (Parshathy J. Nath)
Vulture recommends some Victorian TV dramas on streaming, including Jane Eyre 2006:
Jane Eyre
What’s it about? Charlotte Brontë’s beloved novel got the mini-series treatment with this 2006 four-parter, which stars Ruth Wilson in the titular role as a young, orphaned governess who gradually falls in love with her older (and broodingly complicated) master, Edwin Rochester, at the sprawling Thornfield Hall. When strange and dangerous events keep occurring at the Hall while she watches her pupil, Jane begins to question how dark Rochester’s past really is.
Where can I stream it? Hulu (Devon Ivie)
MercatorNet talks about the 60th anniversary of Boris Pasternak's Dr Zhivago:
Nonetheless, a classic story including history, romance and poetry may not be a “spiritual masterpiece.” For instance, I would not describe either Wuthering Heights or Middlemarch in these terms, though they are indisputably great novels. What makes Doctor Zhivago a soulful pilgrimage for the reader as well as an imaginative feast is undoubtedly its mystical dimension. (Francis Phillips)
Official Charts lists songs inspired by places in the UK:
Wuthering Heights. Based on the famous novel by Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights became the first self-penned Number 1 by a female artist in UK chart history when released in 1978 and refers to the Yorkshire Moors that are at the heart of the story. (Jack White)
The Daily Mail recaps recent events on EastEnders:
At this point, EastEnders’ storyline encouraging people to embrace education by going back to college or taking classes at night school, as Denise had, didn’t look so constructive.
Getting a GCSE in English Literature was obviously great but surely even Jane Eyre wasn’t that good.
Not so good it was worth abandoning your baby for. (Jim Shelley)
FareFilm (in Italian) discusses Jane Austen adaptations:
Jane Austen è sempre stata diversa dalle Brontë, alchimiste delle passioni folli, assurde, sregolate e spesso nonsense (ricordate Heathcliff e Cathy?). Nella Austen, scrittrice del Settecento inglese, tutto ha un senso, tutto ha una forma e una spiegazione. Anche l’amore più straziante. Anche l’incontrollabile. Ecco perché un brontiano preferirà vivere mentre l’austeniano analizzerà. Ma i consigli di Jane Austen per gli affari di cuore sono sempre attuali. (Alice Grisa) (Translation)
Movietele (in Italian) finds more Heathcliff-ish things in Tom Hardy's role in Taboo:
Taboo - stando almeno al pilot appena andato in onda - è una serie in costume che sembra voler chiamare le atmosfere e gli ambienti di storie oscure e tragiche, che passano per Cuore di Tenebra di Conrad e per Cime tempestose di Emily Brontë. Proprio a quest'ultima, infatti, la serie ideata da Steven Knight, deve tantissima della sua estetica: la figura granitica di Tom Hardy, ripresa spesso di spalle e in controluce, mentre lentamente si allontana in scenari brulli, quasi paludosi, pieni di indomabile natura selvaggia, sembra richiamare quasi come un omaggio palese il personaggio di Heathcliff. Somiglianza che non ha solo a che vedere con l'aspetto visivo della messinscena, ma che affonda le proprie radici anche nella costruzione di un personaggio quasi sempre silenzioso, che parla quasi a monosillabi, abbaiando minacce con la marmorea certezza del proprio potere e della propria superiorità intellettuale. (Erika Pornella) (Translation)
This Metro crossword contains a Brontë-related question s does this The Times' quiz; GreyZone Books reviews Jane Eyre; Gen Scribbles has created a Jane Eyre playlist.


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