Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Washington Times reviews John Pfordresher's The Secret History of Jane Eyre:
If I had read this admirable study by John Pfordresher, a professor of English at Georgetown University, of the enormous amount of lived experience Charlotte Bronte put into her novelistic Magnum Opus “Jane Eyre” even a few months ago, I would have thought it a little bit superfluous. After all, more than any other novel I have read, it strikes one with such immediate force, inducing a visceral reaction, an immediate empathy with the eponymous heroine.
Reading about the powerful emotions, even more powerfully expressed, in its opening which the bullied, scorned child Jane feels while locked in that infernal room, you would have to have the stoniest of hearts not to be moved to your very core.
But recently at an academic symposium, I had to sit and listen while a professor at a prestigious British university bloviated — seemingly endlessly — about what a ludicrous provincial figure Charlotte Brontë cut in London literary society.
In an insufferably superior manner, he mocked her Yorkshire accent, her dour demeanor, the paucity of her conversational skills, all the while paying lip service to her as a great writer. His whole point, insofar as one could grasp it amid the excess verbiage, was how could this ridiculous creature have produced such great books?
Had I been able to get a word in edgewise, what I would have said was “you just don’t get it, man!” And what I was thinking was “pity your poor students whom you are so misleading.” Didn’t he realize that perhaps the central point of “Jane Eyre” is that a small, unprepossessing young woman could possess a strength of character and of will so powerful as to be all-consuming and literally terrifying? (...)
t needs emphasizing that, just as the academic canon has come to elevate Jane Austen’s “Emma” on grounds of its structural perfection over her masterpiece “Pride and Prejudice,” it has tried the same legerdemain (albeit less successfully) with “Villette.” Here, the author demonstrates convincingly that although this last of Brontë’s novels published in her all too short lifetime draws more directly on her thwarted love for her teacher Constantin Heger in Brussels, Jane’s obsessive love for Mr. Rochester draws even more strongly on it.
And it is important never to lose sight that, however accomplished “Villette” is, “Jane Eyre” is, in addition to its manifold intrinsic virtues, probably the single most influential English novel ever written. (Martin Rubin)
Some details of next year's Emily Brontë 200th anniversary celebrations are unveiled in Keighley News:
A nest full of high-profile partners could be enlisted to commemorate the bicentenary of “enigmatic” Brontë sister Emily.
The Brontë Parsonage Museum hopes to continue flying high in 2018 as it highlights the third Brontë sibling to have their 200th birthday.
Emily’s Hawk will be an icon of the year-long celebrations based mostly in and around the Haworth museum.
The Brontë Society this week revealed early details about some of the dozens of events currently being planned for ‘Emily’s Year’. (...)
Rebecca said: “We will be working with land artist Kate Whiteford on a project that will explore Emily’s connection to the surrounding moorland.”
This project is likely to be based around Emily’s Hawk, including a watercolour drawing she made of her pet merlin-hawk. (...)
To celebrate another facet of Emily’s life – her love of writing poetry – 2018 could see a partial merger of two popular annual events, Poetry at the Parsonage and the Brontë Festival of Women’s Writing. (David Knights)
Broadway World reviews the performances of J. Eyre in Indianapolis:
I left the show feeling completely enchanted. The beautiful production of Brontë's work brings emotional nuance to pivotal scenes. The cast of seven never leaves the stage, an except for the main two leads, each person plays a rotating selection of characters, filling in bits of narration when needed. The minimalistic approach to staging works well in this show. The simple wooden floors are surrounded on three sides by rows of audience members. Scattered across the floor are handwritten letters and notes between the characters. Even though the stage and costuming is simple, the attention to detail makes it completely effective.
The show is a musical, and the original compositions are beautiful, heightening the emotions in an already dramatic tale. At times it feels repetitive as we return to the same refrains throughout the show, but never enough to be distracting. The music is provided by a single pianist, Jacob Stensberg, on the stage behind the performers. The simplicity of this execution allows for a rawness that matches the overall tone. (Melissa Hall)
Old Mission Gazette reviews Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker:
As a lover of Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters and many other old English authors, I approached Mr. Rochester with reservations since the voices and storytelling of those old English authors are vastly different from the modern American ones. Of course, the storytelling of Mr. Rochester is more modern, but not enough that I was constantly reminded of it. Shoemaker did a terrific job of staying true to the manner of storytelling of Brontë, who is credited with being the founder of private consciousness. Further, it’s clear that Shoemaker is well versed in the style of writing, the culture and the social norms of the time period. Through the research and experience, she wove a realistic and entertaining narrative that allows one to visualize every person and place, and emotionally connect to the main character. (Emily Glover)
Keighley News reports an upcoming concert to be held at Haworth Parish Church:
Birmingham -based choir Via Nova will present the pieces, also inspired by Yorkshire’s coal heritage, at Haworth Parish Church on August 16.
Viva Nova perform in the village as part of a four-day tour of Yorkshire, with a repertoire also including a choral piece composed by organist Philip Moore, the former organist and Master of Music at York Minster. (...)The choir decided to bring their Brontë-inspired works to Haworth comes during the 200th anniversary year of Branwell Brontë’s birth. (Richard Parker)
Pseudonyms in the past and now are discussed in The Times:
It has been 170 years since Charlotte Brontë released Jane Eyre under a man’s name after being told that “literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life”.
The author, whose sisters Emily and Anne also disguised their sex, might have been amused to learn that men wanting to take advantage of the current demand for psychological thrillers are reversing the trend by hiding their masculinity. (Jack Malvern, Neha Shah)
KUNC discusses the music and literary canon from a feminist perspective:
Now consider another scene, this one presented by the literary scholars Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar in their 1979 study The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Imagination. They recognized that women had, for a century, been reading an alternate history of literature into existence, a "canon that lived in the mind of every femme moyenne intellectuelle who spent her girlhood avidly devouring the classics of female imagination produced by Austen and the Brontës, Mary Shelley and George Eliot, and yes, if the girl liked poetry, Emily Dickinson." Gilbert and Gubar's scenario of women trading worn paperbacks back and forth and having long discussions about Pride and Prejudice in comparison to Wuthering Heights doesn't isolate any one female writer as exceptional, instead placing them in dialogue with each other in ways that change the idea of what great literature can be. Acknowledging only women writers, this vision might be viewed as extreme, a form of separatism that as isolating in its own way as keeping the best female artist at a gathering in a separate room. Yet when feminists like Gilbert and Gubar did create new canons of women's literature, in books like the 1986 landmark Norton Anthology of Literature by Women, it changed the game. (Ann Powers)
The Florida Times-Union loves some British Gothic romance:
Twenty years later as a young mother, I discovered the novels of the Brontë sisters: “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte and “Wuthering Heights” by Emily. Both novels have chilling Gothic elements. A foreboding house with dark corridors and winding steps; a sudden beam of moonlight in the darkness or a flickering candle or two; extreme landscapes and weather; a passion-driven, willful hero-villain; and a curious young heroine. (Jane Crooks Britt)
Conservative Woman is not happy with an interview with Elisabeth Moss promoting the new season of Top of the Lake:
In fact, even you like your women more traditional - which in general I do – none of the leads in Pride and Prejudice or any of the Austen classics were idiots or whores. Indeed, was Jane Eyre an idiot? I think not. (Laura Perrins)
El Universal (Venezuela) interviews the actress Michelle de Andrade, Catalina/Cathy in the ZAP soap opera Cumbres Borrascosas:
-¿Qué personaje hace en Cumbres borrascosas? ¿Cuándo va a poder verse? (Yolimer Obelmejías)
-Ahí hago el personaje de Catalina Perdomo. Y todavía no puedo decirte cuándo la estrenarán porque hasta el sol de hoy no sé a qué países la han vendido, pero es una historia maravillosa que sé que toda Venezuela va a disfrutar. (Translation)
Merci Alfred's Pitche Moi un Classique campaign summarises like this Wuthering Heights:
Avant d'investir dans votre petite ferme isolée dans le Perche, lisez quand même les Hauts de Hurlevent : un roman sauvage où deux familles voisines du Yorkshire s'entre-déchirent et où les vengeances sont des plats qui se mangent très, très froids. On appelle ça un "roman gothique" et c'est effectivement aussi violent qu'un bon gros morceau de Métal. (Via ActuaLitté)
La Croix (Belgique) interviews the poet Laurène Klem:
[C]oncernant les auteurs, je suis très classique : Molière, Racine, Flaubert, et bien entendu (je suis prévisible), les auteurs anglais comme Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll Jane Austen, Daphne du Maurier, les sœurs Brontë… (Robert Migliorini) (Translation)
Little gems to be found on book yard sales: an 1888 Jane Eyre edition in New Zealand Herald. Do you know the history of the Haworth West End Cricket Club? Check Cricket Yorkshire. Both Radio Jadran and CDM recommend the Bar (Montenegro) performances of Wuthering Heights. Penguin Random House has a list of 40 Books to Read Before You’re 40: you can skip Jane Eyre but not Wuthering Heights. Finally an alert from Webster City, Iowa:
Kendall Young Library will host the Noon Book Club on Tuesday, July 25 from 12 to 1 p.m. in the library’s meeting room. 1The club will discuss “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë. Copies of the books are available at the Adult Checkout Desk. New members are always welcome. Feel free to bring your lunch. (The Daily-Freeman Journal)

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