Friday, May 11, 2018

We are sorry to inform the Daily Mail that, unlike them, not everyone is willing to do anything to sell. Today's article about how some literary attractions are not doing as well as the Beatles' former homes in Liverpool and especially not doing what the Daily Mail says they ought to be doing is particularly irksome.
You would be surprised at how this simple doctrine seems to be eluding the UK’s tourist business. The home of the Brontës – the Haworth Parsonage in Yorkshire – ought to be one of the most visited literary places in the UK. The story of the three Brontë sisters: Charlotte, Emily and Anne (and their brother Branwell) is stranger than fiction. The sisters effectively revolutionised the 19th Century novel and in doing so massively advanced the cause of feminism.
Their place in the world of literature was recognised more than 100 years ago with the formation of the Brontë Society, which in the 1920s acquired the Parsonage so that it could become a museum. So far, so good.
The problems came when the museum eventually had to decide whether its priority was to become a tourist attraction or to tend the sisters’ literary flame of immortality. The two things are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but the Brontë Society seems to have been rather nervous about catering to the mass-market tourist.
So the museum operates more as a place for scholarly research rather than seeking to entertain and amuse the masses.
As a result it, gets probably half the number of visitors it could if it tried harder (the recently revived Burns museum in Scotland gets twice as many visitors, yet doesn’t sacrifice any integrity in the process).
Not surprisingly the Brontë Society has been plunged into a long-running civil war: traditionalists have long been at odds with modernisers; both sides are happy to engage in furious spats at their meetings. The latest barney erupted when model Lily Cole was invited to become a ‘creative partner’ in an exhibition marking Emily Brontë’s bicentenary this year.
The Brontë Society fiddles, it might be said, while the local tourist industry faces the prospect of self-combusting.
The country needs to maximise its tourist income. One of the ways to do this is to be sure that our attractions are offering what visitors really want. (Frank Barrett)
We do wonder whether the writer of the article has even been to Haworth and the Brontë Parsonage  and we rather think not. And at any rate, the number of visitors to the museum has been steadily growing, a fact that seems to escape him, and if that wasn't the case the article would be the opposite of helpful. Why should a writers' former home become a place to 'entertain and amuse the masses' rather than focus on the 'scholarly research' of their work anyway? In fact, you could well argue that having Lily Cole as creative partner for Emily's bicentenary was a way of opening up a little and look what it brought--scathing articles in the Daily Mail. Damned if you do, damned if you don't, that's the policy eh Daily Mail?

Anyway, still in the area, albeit more appreciatively, The Telegraph and Argus features The Ramblers' Walk About initiative, which includes hundreds of free walks, including
a six-mile circular, Old Paths and Ways around Brontë Country.
It sets off from Haworth and follows moorland paths once trodden by the legendary literary sisters. (Alistair Shand)
The Daily Northwestern thinks that literature is burning out.
Another study considering only works of literature puts that percentage at 57 percent, according to a report by the National Endowment for the Arts. Sadly, only a minority of people read Charlotte Brontë, George Orwell, J.D. Salinger or any of the other authors I could keep naming that some might not even recognize anymore.
Those who do read literature have been described by The New Yorker as “defensive,” for they mostly represent the stereotyped group of “nerds,” as society labels them, exposing them to demotivating situations like bullying and social rejection. How many people have been judged for giving a book as a gift, either in real life or on television? The list goes on and on. (Emre Turkolmez)
The Telegraph (India) features Emily Dickinson pointing out a similarity with Charlotte Brontë:
Emily Dickinson and Charlotte Brontë had something in common — both of them, for the greater part of their lives, had pursuits that they loved more than writing. (Nayantara Mazumder)
PopMatters reviews Elements of Surprise: Our Mental Limits and the Satisfactions of Plot by Vera Tobin. advising that
it would be beneficial to have more than a passing familiarity with the works referenced most frequently or at length: Othello by Shakespeare, Emma by Jane Austen, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens; Villette by Charlotte Brontë; and Atonement by Ian McEwan. (Jenny Bhatt)
Newbury Today reviews the book Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.
Vivian’s story is intertwined with her encounter, as an elderly lady, with teen rebel Molly Ayer, who has been sent to help the old lady clear out her attic as a form of community service to punish her for stealing a library book – rather aptly Jane Eyre. (Geraldine Gardner)
Entertainment Weekly reviews the film Beast.
Set on the isolated, wind-lashed island of Jersey, which immediately puts you in the mind of a modern-day Brontë novel, this slow-building film initially starts off as a forbidden romance but quickly and seamlessly shapeshifts into something far more mysterious. (Chris Nashawaty)
Stuff (New Zealand) writes in defence of M Night Shyamalan's film The Village.
Allegedly inspired by admittedly the rather odd combination of Wuthering Heights and King Kong, The Village is set in a small, isolated hamlet surrounded by a forest. (James Croot)

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