Thursday, March 29, 2018

The London Review of Books discusses clothes and women, and everything in between:
The other line of descent from the 19th century begins with Jane Eyre. Charlotte Brontë famously objected to Austen’s ‘Chinese fidelity’ to the external world of the real and material, and to ‘the smooth elegance’ of her narrative. However partial that view of Austen, she certainly understands dress entirely from the outside. Charlotte Brontë didn’t and in Jane Eyre frock consciousness springs fully formed into English literature as a bearer of narrative and emotional force.
On the night before her wedding, when Jane has her luggage ready for the honeymoon and the trunks are packed and corded, something stops her from attaching the labels written out for ‘Mrs Rochester’:
Mrs Rochester! She did not exist: she would not be born till tomorrow, some time after eight o’clock a.m.; and I would wait to be assured she had come into the world alive before I assigned to her all that property. It was enough that in yonder closet, opposite my dressing-table, garments said to be hers had already displaced my black stuff Lowood frock and straw bonnet: for not to me appertained that suit of wedding raiment; the pearl-coloured robe, the vapoury veil pendent from the usurped portmanteau. I shut the closet to conceal the strange, wraith-like apparel it contained; which, at this evening hour – nine o’clock – gave out certainly a most ghostly shimmer through the shadow of my apartment.
What hangs in the closet is a creature of limbo, unborn and undead, perhaps a chrysalis or a shroud: it exists outside narrative time. The white ghost is then followed by a black ghost, the dream by the nightmare, in the form of the actual Mrs Rochester, ‘tall and large, with thick and dark hair hanging long down her back’ whose own status is similarly indeterminate. ‘I know not what dress she had on: it was white and straight; but whether gown, sheet, or shroud, I cannot tell.’ Bertha Rochester fingers the wedding dress and then takes the veil and tears it, an action that has often been seen in Freudian terms as sexually symbolic, but that I think misses the point. The dress is not a metaphor, it’s a dress, doing what dresses can do, acting as a membrane through which ‘Mrs Rochester’ can pass. This at its most extreme is not so much frock consciousness as the conscious frock. It comes between one state of existence and another, as clothes themselves come between the naked self and the world, and it is also a channel of communication, semi-permeable, like the skin of an amphibian. Women have always had to be amphibious. No society has been designed for their comfort or convenience and as they move between the elements, the spheres of private and public, personal and professional, they must constantly adapt, assume disguise or camouflage. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the conscious frock in fiction is often seen in mid-air, being thrown from the roof of a New York hotel in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar or drifting, sometimes on fire, through the fables of Angela Carter. (Rosemary Hill)
Chaz's Journal on traces parallels between Jane Eyre and the film The Phantom Thread:
While this resolution has the thrill of the unexpected within the context of the film’s narrative, it also had a ring of familiarity, recalling another great story of a man’s domestication: Jane Eyre. Jane is a small, poor young woman who works for the rich, overpowering Mr. Rochester. They fall in love, though their relationship is an ongoing battle of wills, as strong-willed Jane attempts to remain her own master while Rochester both loves her strength and treats her as something of a possession, expecting the ease and subservience his maleness and wealth and power have always afforded him. Jane leaves Rochester (mad wife in the attic—you know how it is), grows, turns down a proposal from a man who doesn’t love her, and conveniently inherits her own wealth. When she returns to Rochester, she finds him scarred, blind, and short a hand (that mad wife, again!). Rather than harming their relationship, this development—which has calmed him, made him meeker, less certain, more dependent—is the linchpin that finally makes their relationship tenable. Like Alma and Reynolds, it allows them to settle into an ideal and idealized marriage, complete with baby. (Read more) (Shelley Farmer
Penguin UK lists 'easter eggs' in recently-published books:
Charlotte Brontë: A Life
Claire Harman
Harman’s biography of Jane Eyre’s author is essential reading for Brontë fans.
What's the easter egg?
It it also contains another delightful feature - a beautiful black and white map, illustrated by Caroline Harper, which depicts significant locations in Charlotte Brontë’s life, including places that featured in both her own books and her sisters.
American students visiting England in The Highland Cavalier:
While in York we also travelled to nearby cities to experience other cathedral and castle ruins. We went to Scarborough Castle, which is situated on the coast and offers a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean. While there we stopped by Anne Brontë’s grave which was a treat for the English majors on the trip. (Lilian Bright)
Den of Geek! interviews the independent filmmaker Simon Rumley:
Nikki Baughan: There’s been a lot of recent talk about a British independent filmmaking renaissance, particularly from regional grassroots filmmakers. Do you think that’s going to move the dial?
S.R.: It’s still all very traditional in its own way. I saw Lady Macbeth the other day, for example, which I thought was very good but it fits in with the confines of British cinema. It’s set in a Charlotte Brontë-esque landscape, there’s an austere beauty to it and it’s called something Shakespearean. So you can see people in the industry getting excited about it, because it’s a little bit edgy, it’s a little bit different, it’s very well done, it’s engaging but it kind of works within a classical concept of what film is.
The Hollywood Reporter republishes the original 1940 review of Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca which begins like this:
In its essence, Rebecca is another entry in the Wuthering Heights school of dour, somber, psychological drama, steeped in ultra-British atmosphere. Though overlong as it was presented before the preview audience last night, it is beautifully done.
The Irish News interviews the broadcaster Kerry McLean:
Jenny Lee: The record you'd take to a desert island? KM: Kate Bush's The Kick Inside – and, if I could only have one song, it would be Wuthering Heights. As an impoverished cub reporter in Scotland I found this album in a charity shop and I played it endlessly.
Cine (Netherlands) compares Andrea Arnolds's Wuthering Heights 2011 and Francis Lee's God's Own Country:
God’s Own Country is een film over aanraken. Dat klinkt wellicht logisch voor een film over een romance, maar liefde in cinema gaat vaak over kijken. En hoewel ook dat uiteraard gebeurt in dit speelfilmdebuut van regisseur en scenarist Francis Lee, is het toch vooral via aanraking dat de personages elkaar en wij hen leren kennen.
Misschien was het daarom dat de film me deed denken aan de Wuthering Heights-adaptatie die Andrea Arnold in 2011 maakte, waarin constant nadruk wordt gelegd op handen, op de verschillende emoties die een hand kan uitdrukken: een van woede samengebalde vuist, een troostrijke omhelzing, een zachte streling, een belust grijpen. Beide films gaan over de betekenis en de impact van tast. In God’s Own Country zien we in een prachtig beeld hoe een simpele aanraking een ademhaling kan veranderen. (...)
In Wuthering Heights is het vechten stoeien – Cathy en Heathcliff zijn in de eerste helft van de film nog kinderen –, maar ook daarin zien we hoe dun die grens is. Dat het uiteindelijk gaat over hoe aanraking twee mensen bindt, zelfs al moeten ze nog de juiste vorm voor die aanraking vinden. Het is het zoeken naar nabijheid dat hen drijft. Sowieso worden in Wuthering Heights bijna alle onderlinge verhoudingen – gewelddadig of liefdevol – via aanraking getoond en bevestigd. Zoals de vader van Cathy die Heathcliff straft door hem te slaan met een riem, of haar broer die hem met blote handen slaat. (Read more) (Elise van Dam) (Translation)
Pura Ciudad talks about a recent conference of Julieta Venegas in Buenos Aires:
Luego, habló sobre su relación con la literatura. Recomendó con énfasis Cumbres Borrascosas: “Sentía que su autora se dirigía a mí”. Esa novela recomienda cuando las adolescentes le preguntan qué leer. (Translation)
Harper's Bazaar UK (April 2018) contains an extract from Angela Carter's Writers as Readers: A Celebration of Virago Modern Classics 1990 article on Charlotte Brontë. Ma Toute Petite Culture (in French), xenogoth and Budhiditya Shankar Das's blog  post about Wuthering Heights; The Sisters' Room has a post talking about Virginia Wolf and Emily Brontë, 'two kindred spirits'. The Brussels Brontë Blog continues 'Mapping the Brussels of the Brontës: Friends: The Dixons, Wheelwrights, Jenkinses and the cemetery'.


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