Thursday, October 23, 2014

Haworth on TV - then and now

The Telegraph and Argus reports that Haworth is going to be on TV this weekend:

Haworth and Bronte Country will be featured again on national television this weekend. Presenter Sir Tony Robinson will front an episode of his latest documentary series, which is called Walking Through History, on Channel Four at 8pm on Saturday. The footage was filmed in Haworth and Stanbury earlier this year when Sir Tony visited Ponden Hall, the Bronte Parsonage Museum and Haworth Parish Church.
This was also on TV but in 1977: Joan Bakewell visiting Haworth. (Via the Brontë Parsonage Museum Facebook page).

Still locally, Virtual Festivals recommends a trip on the Keighley and Worth Valley railway as it is
a unique way of enjoying the beautiful countryside immortalised by Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë.
And moving further north, Big Think recalls Charlotte's opinion of Edinburgh:
... and that charm certainly did not miss its mark with Charlotte Brontë. In a letter dated 1850, she wrote: "My dear Sir, do not think that I blaspheme when I tell you that your great London, as compared to Dun-Edin, 'mine own romantic town', is as prose compared to poetry, or as a great rumbling, rambling, heavy Epic compared to a Lyric, brief, bright, clear, and vital as a flash of lightning." (Frank Jacobs)
Not so accurate is the columnist of Spartan Daily, who attributes the wrong quote to Charlotte Brontë:
There is this quote from the novel “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë about depression that has always stuck with me.
“Crying doesn’t indicate that you’re weak. Since birth, it has always been a sign that you’re alive.” (Jerica Lowman)
And Vogue looks back on a 1961 essay by Joan Didion where she discusses crying too:
 It was once suggested to me that, as an antidote to crying, I put my head in a paper bag. As it happens, there is a sound physiological reason, something to do with oxygen, for doing exactly that, but the psychological effect alone is incalculable: it is difficult in the extreme to continue fancying oneself Cathy in Wuthering Heights with one’s head in a Food Fair bag. There is a similar case for all the small disciplines, unimportant in themselves; imagine maintaining any kind of swoon, commiserative or carnal, in a cold shower.
This is what this columnist from The Huffington Post remembers of her first time reading Jane Eyre:
It all started when I read Jane Eyre as a child. Rather than focusing on the gothic romance between Mr Rochester and Jane, all I could think of was the crazy wife locked in the attic. The thought haunted me for weeks and weeks, or more realistically, years and years. The image of her laughing on the roof as the house burnt down is absolutely terrifying, because she isn't a monster or a vampire or some extra-terrestrial being - she is one of us, a normal person pushed to the brink of her mind. (Shadi-Sade Sarreshtehdarzadeh)
The Pittsburgh City Paper also comments on Jane Eyre's gothic-ness:
[Playwright Carole] Fréchette relies heavily on gothic tales of the past — Jane Eyre, The Tell-Tale Heart, the legend of Bluebeard — to fuel the first half of her story. In the second, however, the "spookiness" gives way to a melancholy tone poem perfumed with more than a little magic lyricism about love and loneliness. (Ted Hoover
This reviewer from The Spectator hasn't enjoyed the film Fury.
Action movies are, of course, wonderful, as long as the director and the writer control their impulses to blow us away with violence. I suppose today’s films are made for those who blog, text and post selfies: non-readers, whose imagination has to be jarred from their narcissistic state. Mind you, I’m not a fan of French films where everyone sits around and talks and nothing, but nothing, ever happens. (Directors of such movies are called auteurs.) Nor am I mad about films, or books for that matter, that focus on everyday grievances, the regrets that pile up as the years crawl by. (I tend to hit the popcorn too much.) But there is a happy medium, and the old flicks had it in spades. Was there violence in Rebecca? In Wuthering Heights? In Laura? Could anyone ever get bored with The Best Years of Our Lives? Or the best war film ever, Go Tell The Spartans, about early Vietnam, starring the great Burt Lancaster. And if you hate the Germans and the fascists, go see The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, written and directed by Vittorio de Sica, starring the best looking woman of her time, Dominique Sanda. I could go on and on and on. But I won’t. All I’d like to know is where has all the talent gone? And as always I will answer my own question: movies today reflect what the audience wants to see, and the audiences are imbeciles and uneducated fools and that’s why Fury will be a hit, so help me God. (Taki)
More on films, as A.V. Club looks at the different screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice:
In 2005, director Joe Wright cast Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen as the stars of his Pride And Prejudice. The film downplays the satire (although not the comedy) and takes a more romantic approach—both by emphasizing the love stories and in the literary sense of the word. In Wright’s Romantic aesthetic, the natural world reflects his characters’ emotional states. Darcy’s failed first proposal takes place outside in a torrential downpour, while the lovers’ reconciliation happens as the sun peaks over the horizon of a misty field. That climax even styles Darcy as a Heathcliff-esque hero with a flowing coat and proudly displayed chest hair. Where the 1940 version offers broad comedy and satire, Wright goes for sentiment. Both work well as individual films, and it’s a testament to Austen that her novel is rich enough to provide fodder for these wildly divergent interpretations. (Caroline Siede)

Christian Ethics struggling against enclosure

A paper and a thesis. New Brontë scholar additions:

Christian Ethics in Wuthering HeightsMarianne Thormählen
English Studies, Volume 95, Issue 6, 2014, pages 637-653
Abstract
Even the first reviewers of Emily Brontë's novel thought it lacked a moral, and literary critics have struggled to find an ethical dimension in it. Many of them have concluded that the book is “amoral” and that it constitutes a world of its own to which no extraneous rationale can be applied. This article maintains that there is in fact a moral to Brontë's story, and that that moral is consistent with the ethical teachings of Christianity. When the actions of characters and the outcomes of their individual life stories are examined, it turns out that whatever lasting happiness any one of them experiences is the outcome of loving-kindness that is, patient and forgiving, in accordance with 1 Cor. 13:4–7. The concluding section of the article looks at the reasons for the inability of generations of readers and critics to perceive this ethical pattern. Finally, the significance of Heathcliff's strange way of dying is seen in relation to the loss of his desire for revenge.
The Outward Female Vision: The Struggle Against Enclosure in the Novels of Charlotte BrontëKon, Sheree
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: The good of Villette in my opinion Miss is a very fine style; and a remarkably happy way (which few female authors possess) of carrying a metaphor logically through to its conclusion. And it amuses me to read the author’s naive confession of being in love with 2 men at the same time; and her readiness to fall in love at any time.l So begins William Makepeace Thackeray’s letter about Villette and its author Charlotte Brontë (1816-55), "the poor little woman of genius," "the fiery little eager brave tremulous homely-faced creature."
2 While Thackeray twice praises Brontë for her style and an enjoyable novel in his responses to Jane Eyre and Villette, in his later review he assumes a more condescending, paternalistic tone. Although in 1847 he correctly identifies the author of Jane Eyre as a woman, he does not center his assessment of the novel on her female nature. But in speaking of Villette to Lucy Baxter in 1853, Thackeray notes that he "can read a great deal of [Bronte's] life in her book, and see [s] that rather than have fame, rather than any other earthly good . . . she wants some Tomkins or another to love her and be in love with."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Emulating Jane Eyre

This columnist at Christianity Today has a question:

I couldn’t think of a lot of protagonists from classic literature whom I wanted anyone to emulate, except in the most vague way—because they learn lessons and grow up and so on.
I posed this question to my students, because I didn't (and don't) have an answer. We came up with a few answers: Ulysses (but not the gods); Jesus (but not a lot of the patriarchs, at least not halfway through their "stories"); Paul, maybe; sheriffs in old Westerns; superheroes, at least in the early days; Founding Fathers. (Jane Eyre, maybe, but . . . maybe not.) But I brought up the fact that Lizzy Bennet and Emma Woodhouse are not people we ought to emulate, nor are a lot of Biblical characters, nor Shakespeare protagonists, nor many, many, many protagonists from classic literature, especially in the nineteenth century. (Alissa Wilkinson)
This Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist thinks that,
Had Charlotte Brontë stretched out on Dr. Sigmund Freud’s couch, she might have reduced Jane Eyre’s traumas to a psychological exercise instead of writing the lush novel that’s become a classic. (Bob Hoover)
Cosmopolitan is quite surprised that people like writer Anna Todd read and enjoy the classics.
In high school, Todd loved reading the books we're all forced to read in English class. Whether for school or pleasure, she only read classic novels like Pride & Prejudice and Wuthering Heights, and when she found a book she liked, she'd read it over and over again. "Most people in my class were like, 'This is terrible,' but I got really, really into it, and I loved it." (Amy Odell)
Sveriges Radio's Kulturnytt (Sweden) finds that Núria Amat's El país del alma is
en kärlekshistoria som skulle kunna vara skriven av systrarna Brontë eller varför inte Emily Dickinson, och ett porträtt av en stad  i mentalt sönderfall. (Fredrik Wadström) (Translation)
Fantasymundo (Spain) reviews the book Cielos de ira by María Martínez Franco and thinks that the Brontës wrote 'garden tragedies'.
Quizá la historia podría adaptarse perfectamente al formato de serie televisiva española, tan de moda hoy en día, con bonitos trajes y preciosos decorados pero, al menos en la novela, la autora no consigue mantener el interés necesario y pasamos demasiado bruscamente de un Forsyth o Le Carré o la tragedia de jardín de Austen o Brontë. (Alberto Muñoz) (Translation)
2 Paragraphs finds what Kate Middleton and Charlotte Brontë have in common. And two reviews of Wuthering Heights stage productions: Pagan Spirits on Aquila Theatre's and Creative Drinks on shake & stir theatre co's. The Reviews posts about Jane Eyre 2011.

Brontëusa

Republishing a recent post on the Brussels Brontë Group.  A new addition to the (large, but not always very constant) family of Brontë Blogs: the blog of the Brontë Society American Chapter:

I’m happy to report that a Brontë Society American Chapter Blog is now available.
Our primary purpose is to offer a visitor an opportunity to talk Brontë. The Brontë Society American Chapter blog home page invites visitors to comment on a selected Brontë topic. The current one is “How I met the Brontës”. Other pages include “Gallery” for photos and “Scribblemania” where Brontë inspired prose and poetry can be shared.

Randall
Brontë Society American Chapter Representative

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Handcuffed Heathcliff

Books Live interviews writer Anthony Ehlers.

As a writing teacher who has taught on writing erotica, what’s your take?
Erotica can be a sub-genre of romance. For all its kink, Shades of Grey by EL James is a love story – Wuthering Heights with handcuffs. There is a balance between emotional and sexual tension, but the story is highly idealistic and has a happy ending. It’s a safe way to explore fantasies and sexuality. (Joanne Hichens)
This is what an Ithaca Journal columnist recalls of reading Jane Eyre for the first time:
My parents collected Reader's Digest Condensed Books. I read them all, discovering, only years later that "condensed" meant "abridged." "Jane Eyre" was a darker tale than I knew. (Sandra Steingraber)
Mendoza online lists Emily Brontë among other one-novel writers.
2. Emily Brontë, Cumbres borrascosas. Publicada en 1847 con el pseudónimo Ellis Bell, la novela de Bronte se considera actualmente como un clásico de la literatura. En el comienzo btuvo duras reacciones de los lectores y los críticos, que vieron en sus páginas una historia deprimente. El tiempo sin embargo hizo justicia. (Translation)
Regretflix! reviews Wuthering Heights 2011.  A Night's Dream of Books and The Frugal Chariot are participating in  Jane Eyre readalong. Warmisunquausten reviews in Spanish the Cozy Classics edition of Jane Eyre.

Jane F---king Eyre

Ok, so this is supposed to be funny (not the part which says that Jane Eyre has never been updated...ehem, ehem... but the actual story):

Jane F---king Eyre: adapted from Charlotte Brontë
J.K. Really (Author)
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 962 KB
Print Length: 68 pages

You can trust and believe I had the childhood from hell. When my spoiled-ass cousins weren't cracking me upside the head with leather-bound novels, I was getting locked in the family murder room by my bitchface Aunt. Just the fact we even had a murder room should tell you something about the next level kind of bullshit I endured.

Jane F---ing Eyre is the Victorian gothic romance Jane Eyre, retold by a heroine who's ready to get real. While Charlotte Brontë's classic has spawned dozens of film iterations, it's never been updated, probably because Mr. Rochester's little tricks wouldn't fly with any woman navigating the dating scene today. Re-telling this iconic piece of literature as a mashup of the original verbatim dialogue and what Jane's thinking with her Victorian filter off, allows fans to experience the romance, the horror, and the passive-aggressive jabs of Ms. Fairfax again as though for the first time... but with all the boring parts cut out.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Governesses and bad boys

Music Omh reviews the Glyndebourne production of Benjamin Britten's opera The Turn of the Screw and wonders,

what sensible Governess would not have turned tail sharpish, faced with such monsters? – and we intend the question as a compliment to these unusually talented youngsters. Corrupted by an oik who got above himself in league with Jane Eyre’s evil twin? Hardly. The ceremony of innocence may have been drowned but these two gave it something to grapple with on the way down. (Melanie Eskenazi)
Anime News Network discusses Episodes 1-3 of the Japanese shōjo manga Wolf Girl & Black Prince:
That said, there's something about the jerk boyfriend trope that resonates with the type of person who enjoys it, because it sure appears a lot in fiction, and has for literally hundreds of years. (Consider Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, for example.) It's not just the "oh, girls really want a bad boy deep down" argument, either. Most women are quite aware that they're not going to be the one who changes a bad boy, and frankly, he's not worth the effort anyway. (Brooding, self-aggrandizing people do not make good friends.) However, the crux of compelling stories is drama. Ideal relationships are sweet but not often ideal entertainment. Fiction is a safe place for exploring an unhealthy dynamic between two characters. (Amy McNulty)
The Reviews posts about Jane Eyre 2011;  Babbling Books and Future.Flying.Saucers. continues posting about the original novel. The Bookworm's Closet didn't like Wuthering Heights.

Marketing and Communications Officer

The Brontë Society is hiring. If you are interested in this position you should hurry up:
Marketing and Communications Officer, The Brontë Society
Yorkshire Closes Tuesday 21 October 2014 Paid (£20k-25k pro rata) Part time Artform: literature, museums   Contact: Sonia Boocock sonia.boocock@bronte.org.uk
 
Description
Permanent
Salary pro rata £20k - £25k / annum (dependent on experience)
The Brontë Society is seeking a Marketing and Communications Officer at an exciting time as we move towards the bicentenary celebrations of Charlotte Brontë in 2016, Emily Brontë in 2018 and Anne Brontë in 2020.  We are seeking an experienced and highly motivated individual with specific responsibility for developing and administering the Society’s marketing and communications strategies.

Purpose of the job:

To build the profile of the Brontë Society through all media and digital channels with the aim of growing the Society’s membership.
To promote the Bronte Parsonage Museum and its associated events programme in order to drive an increase in visitor numbers.
To develop and implement plans to maximise opportunities presented by the upcoming bi-centenary celebrations.
To manage marketing communications on behalf of the Society across print, digital and social media.
To manage the work of the Membership Officer and develop them in their role.
To develop and implement a PR strategy for both the Society and the Museum.
To  improve our understanding of visitor, membership and social media profiles in order to inform the development of  our offer and to maximise our appeal and income generation.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

British Mollusca vs Velveteen Rabbits

What can The History of British Mollusca and the Brontës possibly have in common? The answer in The Scarborough News:
The answer lies in the name ‘Currer’. It was the Christian name adopted by Charlotte Brontë, later author of Jane Eyre, when she self-published with her sisters Anne and Emily (‘Acton’ and ‘Ellis’) their first volume, a collection of poetry, under the joint surname ‘Bell’. (...)
But where did that unusual given name that Charlotte chose come from? It’s believed it may have been a tribute to a Miss Frances Mary Richardson Currer (1785-1861) of Skipton, an early member of the Scarborough Philosophical Society which, in the early 1800s, built the Rotunda museum.
When the museum opened in 1829, women made up just 10 per cent of its membership – and it was to be a further 70 years before one achieved the dizzying heights of being elected as an officer.
But women collectors were a powerful force in the rapidly expanding scientific enlightenment of the late Georgian and early Victorian periods – several were major contributors to the Society during its early years, even though they had no family connection with it.
Miss Currer, who lived at Eshton Hall near Skipton, was a niece of Clive of India, and variously described by other scholars as ‘at the head of all female collectors in Europe’ and ‘England’s earliest female bibliophile’. She is also believed to have given £50 (nearly £4,000 today) to help pay the debts of the Brontë sisters’ father, Patrick, when he was widowed in 1821. Perhaps Charlotte’s adoption of her name 25 years later was a way of saying ‘thank you’?
A highly regarded book collector and scholar, with a library containing some 15,000 volumes, she donated large sums of money to the Society and bought cutting edge scientific books for the museum’s library.
These included the gorgeous leather-bound gilt-edge, four-volume set pictured here: History of British Mollusca by Professor Edward Forbes, FRS and Sylvanus Hanley, published in 1833 by John Van Voorst. (...)
The books are part of the Scarborough Collections, the name given to all the museum objects that have been acquired by the borough over the years, and now in the care of Scarborough Museums Trust. (Jeanie Swales)
Mantel’s artful use of various classic storytelling gambits no doubt reinforces one’s sense of this all-of-a-pieceness: her Brontë-esque preference for knowing, if not cynical, first-person female narrators; the crisp, droll narrative idiom; and her abiding curiosity about what might be called the crises of bourgeois sociability – disturbed and/or misfiring relationships between hosts and guests.
Chicago Theater Beat reviews the LifeLine production of Jane Eyre:
Minus that chemistry and so much of the early essence in Brontë’s book, “Jane Eyre” never really takes flight. The story is missing both Jane’s raw, beating, authentic heart and the gloriously undiminished empowerment she finds under the most oppressive circumstances. (Scotty Zacher)
The Glens Falls Post-Star gives more details about a story we loved a few days ago:
“What story were you hoping the teachers would pick?” I asked.
Girl after my own heart, she answered, “Jane Eyre.”
“For the fifth-grade play?” I asked.
“Yes, why not?”
I tried to imagine the elementary school putting on a play about a man who keeps his crazy wife locked up in the attic and tries to marry another, but gets tripped up because crazy attic wife keeps trying to light everyone on fire.
“I’m not sure ‘Jane Eyre’ would have been a good fit,” I said, picturing orange and red construction paper flames across the cafetorium stage while a screaming 10-year-old in a house coat leaps to her death.
“I would have played Grace Poole,” said my daughter, who had already cast herself as the devoted servant to the crazy lady.
“I agree ‘Jane Eyre’ would have been lovely, but what’s so bad about ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’?” I asked.
She looked at me like I had just kicked over a baby carriage.
“It’s about a stuffed rabbit that gets burned up in a fire!” she said.
I thought for a moment, quickly scrolling through my mental Rolodex of children’s literature.
I got nothing.
Three kids, and I couldn’t remember what happened to the stupid stuffed bunny.
“It’s true,” confirmed my niece, walking into the kitchen right on cue. “Everyone dies. The boy. The rabbit. Everyone.”
“Wow, that’s pretty depressing for the fifth grade,” I said, thinking “Jane Eyre” was starting to look pretty good. (Martha Petteys)
On Moviepilot we read a list of favourite recent films:
Jane Eyre 2011
Looking for a good love story with a bit of mystery behind it? Look no further. Not only is the book great but it bodes well in film. It doesn't matter which version you watch (though I highly suggest the 2011 or 1996 versions). Jane Eyre the plain, penniless orphan sets out to be the governess of Mr. Rochester's ward. During which time her wit ensnares her master but he has a deadly secret. (Danica Lynn Abeln)
Dr G in The Star (Malaysia) is a bit full of clichés:
Just like how Mr Rochester proposed his love to Jane Eyre with such primitive instinct of fixation: “You, Jane. I must have you for my own - entirely my own” with a tinge of ardor: “I ask you to pass through life at my side - to be my second self, and best earthly companion.” With such primal enthusiastic passion, no women will decline.
Entertainment Wise publishes an excerpt of the upcoming novel After by Anna Todd:
Before I can stop myself, my hand is turning the knob on the only room I’m somewhat familiar with in this oversize house. Hardin’s bedroom door opens without a problem. He claims to always lock his door, but he’s proving otherwise. It looks the same as before, only this time the room is moving around beneath my unsteady feet. Wuthering Heights is missing from where it was on the shelf, but I find it on the bedside table, next to Pride and Prejudice. Hardin’s comments about the novel replay in my mind. He has obviously read it before—and understood it—which is rare for our age group, and for a boy especially. Maybe he had to read it for class before, that’s why. But why is this copy of Wuthering Heights out? I grab it and sit on the bed, opening the book halfway through. My eyes scan the pages and the room stops spinning.
Jenna Hermle reviews Jane Eyre. A Serpent for All Seasons posts about Wuthering Heights. And on The Sunday Times you can listen (yes, listen) to Helen Davies discussing The Colour Purple:
I had devoured Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton, and churned through Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jane Eyre, but nothing had prepared me for the sexual violence, degradation and grinding poverty that Walker presented in short, often misspelt sentences in her 1982 novel.
And Krissi Murison talking about The Yellow Wallpaper:
As any student of Victorian, feminist psychodrama will tell you, there is usually a madwoman locked in an attic somewhere. Jane Eyre had the violent arsonist Bertha Mason, but it is the not-so-reliable narrator, Jane, from this 1892 short story, that I find creepiest.

The Essence of the Brontës

Carcanet Press has republished Muriel Spark's essays on the Brontës and her selection of Brontë poems and letters:

The Essence of the Brontës
A Compilation with Essays
Muriel Spark
ISBN: 978 1 847772 46 6
Publisher: Carcanet Press,  September 2014
Lives and Letters

Muriel Spark always regarded the Brontës with a novelist's eye. As Boyd Tonkin argues in his lively introduction, written for the new edition, the Brontës inspired Spark at the very beginning of her own career, but not in a straightforward way. Through her critical and biographical on the Brontës Spark identified not only their achievements but also their flaws and failings, and thereby began to define, as Tonkin puts it, 'her own best route'. As she herself said, in a piece recorded for the BBC at Emily Brontë's grave in 1961, 'I was fascinated by [Emily's] creative mind because it's so entirely alien to my own'.
This book, first published in 1993, collects Spark's essays on the Brontës, her selection of their letters and of Emily's poetry. Evident throughout are Spark's critical intelligence, dry wit, and refusal to sentimentalise - qualities that gave her own novels their particular appeal. At the same time, The Essence of the Brontës is Muriel Spark's tribute to the sisters whose talents 'placed them on a stage from where they could hypnotize their own generation and, even more, posterity'.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Things far more dangerous than Heathcliff

The Yorkshire Post vindicates the validity of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:

The latest version includes Geoffrey Ambler, a Bradford industrialist and senior RAF officer who reached the rank of Air Vice Marshal in Fighter Command during the Second World War, and his scientific collaborator Margaret Hannah – a mathematician who became a lecturer at Leeds University.
Another new addition is Sir James Roberts, the former owner of Saltaire textile mill who later saved the Brontë Parsonage at Haworth.
The Sheffield Star has eaten at the Greenhead House Restaurant in Chapletown:
There are times when the soul needs as much sustenance and nurture as the body. And that a few hours in food heaven help you through the hellish. We walked into the charming three-storey 17th century cottage and relaxed in a drawing room filled with cushions, nicknacks and antique furniture. It was like being in Charlotte Brontë’s dolls’ house.
The New York Times reviews  The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton:
It’s a lot of fun, like doing a Charlotte Brontë-themed crossword puzzle while playing chess and Dance Dance Revolution on a Bongo Board. Some readers will delight in the challenge, others may despair. (Bill Roorbach)
The Chicago Daily Herald remembers that the LifeLine Theatre performances of Jane Eyre has been extended:
Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago, has extended its production of "Jane Eyre," adapted from Charlotte Brontë's novel by ensemble member Christine Calvit and starring Anu Bhatt as Jane and John Henry Roberts as Edward Rochester. Performances continue through Nov. 16.
The Daily Express invites you to take their literary quiz and find out which classic literary character you are:
Great works of literature entertain, inform and reflect the world back at us.
Do you identify with a particular character - perhaps you share Jane Eyre's quiet wisdom and determination, Lizzie Bennet's quick wit, Holden Caulfield's contempt for the status quo or Edmond Dantes totally focused drive?
Now's your chance to discover your true literary soulmate - just click the link below...
** WHICH CLASSIC LITERARY CHARACTER ARE YOU? FIND OUT RIGHT HERE **
Sarah Moss reviews The Surfacing by Cormac James in The Guardian:
The last expedition of Sir John Franklin has been lost for over 160 years, but the search continues. A Canadian team this summer found the hull of one of Franklin's ships, the Erebus, reported abandoned in 1848. Franklin and his men were looking for the last section of the Northwest Passage, where British governments since the 16th century had hoped to find a quick trade route to the fabled wealth of east Asia. Like hundreds before them, they died in the attempt. Most of the British men who died after them in that area were search crews; well before the end of the 19th century, more explorers had died looking for the Franklin expedition than were on it in the first place. The search, motivated by Franklin's widow and by a powerful mixture of Victorian sentiment and imperial rhetoric, became a national project. There were folk songs, poems, lantern shows, essays by Charles Dickens and a play by Wilkie Collins. There's a glancing mention in Jane Eyre.
The Globe and Mail interviews the writer Carrie Snyder. She's is not a Brontëite, sorry:
What agreed-upon classic do you despise?
Pass. If I don’t like a book, I stop reading it, and therefore do not despise it. For example, I could never get into Jane Eyre despite having made repeated attempts. Please don’t hold this against me.
We read on The Cambridge Student:
When I was thirteen, I was forbidden to do three things: hard drugs, join the Tory Party and read Wuthering Heights. My mother explained that teenage girls read Emily Brontë’s novel when young and suggestible. The next 10 years are spent searching for Heathcliff, trawling an adolescent smog of lynx and insecurity for a whiff of angst-fuelling testosterone. (...)
Perilous as this passionate romantic view may be, my mother missed a trick. Far more dangerous than Heathcliff to sexually frustrated teenagers is the super-embossed goo of kissing in the rain and writing letters that is Noah from The Notebook. (Sarah Howden)
The TImes reviews Gwendolen by Diana Souhami:
Just as Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea resurrected Antoinette in a post-colonial prequel to Jane Eyre, so Souhami's first novel Gwendolen becomes a 21st-century feminist rereading from the perspective of Daniel Deronda's heroine. (Fiona Wilson)
Grazia (Italy) reviews the performances in Milano, Italy of Faust Marlowe Burlesque :
È una storia nota, quella di Faust che stringe un patto col diavolo Mefistofele pur di appagare la sua sete di conoscenza. Meno nota la versione di Aldo Trionfo e Lorenzo Salveti, scritta per due mostri sacri come Carmelo Bene e Franco Branciaroli. Un pastiche di attuale complessità, che cita Goethe e Marlowe, senza precludersi riferimenti letterari eclettici come quelli a Cime Tempestose. (Gabriele Verratti) (Translation)
Milliebot Reads compares several covers of Wuthering Heights editions.

In Memoriam. Robert Demeger

Several news outlets report the death of the British actor Robert Demeger (1951-2014):

Although Robert Demeger played some challenging leading roles, including an acclaimed King Lear for director Deborah Warner early in his career, and went on to cover an impressive range of work on screen and on stage in the West End as well as for both the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, he was always happy to describe himself, with characteristic self-deprecation, as "a jobbing actor". (Alan Strachan in The Independent)
He played the role of Joseph in Wuthering Heights 1992.

Bonnie Greer and Auditions

Today, October 17, at the Ilkley Literature Festival, we have a rendez vous with the president of the Brontë Society, Bonnie Greer:
Bonnie Greer: A Parallel Life
Ilkley Playhouse Wildman 1.30–2.30pm

Award-winning playwright, author and critic Bonnie Greer discusses her touching, funny and thought provoking memoir: A Parallel Life – a voyage into the making of a woman who set out to unmake what she’d been born and brought up to be. Born in segregated, racist America, Bonnie defeated the odds to become one of the most important champions of civil – and human – rights.
And in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada:
Young Actors Company
Neptune Theatre

Auditions for Jane Eyre will be held on Saturday, October, 18 2014 at 10am at Neptune. Please enter via the Studio Theatre doors on Argyle Street. You are to prepare one monologue under two minutes in length. No need to make an appointment.
Students who are cast will rehearse Fridays from 6:00-10:00pm and Sundays from 10:00am-5:00pm beginning Friday, January 9, 2015.
In this process-oriented program, students work with a professional creative team to hone their acting skills. The culmination of this rehearsal period is a fully mounted show on Neptune Theatre’s Studio Stage from March 4-7, 2015. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

An ivory quill-cutter

The Telegraph and Argus has a letter from the Brontë Parsonage Museum telling about the latest goings-on:

This morning was spent organising the return of Elizabeth Gaskell’s escritoire (or writing desk!) that we have had on loan from Manchester Museum.
We have also been introducing our new collections intern, Alana to the role. She will be working with staff, including Collections Manager and the Library and Collections Officer for the next six months to gain experience in the museum.
Alana will also be writing this column in future, keeping you up to date on all things Brontë related.
It’s been a busy month. Last week, we were alerted to a Charlotte Brontë letter coming up for sale by auction, the next day! Sadly, we were unsuccessful in our bids as it sold for double the estimated price.
We were disappointed that we couldn’t bring the letter back home to the place where it was written over 150 years ago.
To lift our spirits though, we were thrilled to receive an exciting donation to the collection. An ivory quill-cutter which the Brontë family would have used to sharpen their quills before they put quill to paper!
This was an important tool in the Brontë household and was probably used many times by the young Brontë children to achieve such miniscule handwriting inside their tiny books, and later in life for writing their letters, poems and novels. We will display the quill-cutter from February 2015.
The year 2016 marks 200 years since the birth of Charlotte Brontë and there will be celebrations all over the world.
We have been putting together a list of objects to exhibit at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York to commemorate the bicentenary, which will include a Charlotte Bronte dress, a selection of her artwork, and one of the famous handmade ‘little books’.
The exhibition will travel between the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Parsonage, and finally the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York throughout 2016.
Staff have also been star-spotting in Haworth! Actress Drew Barrymore visited the museum, taking some time out from shooting scenes for Missing You Already, and she was later spotted in the Black Bull, Branwell’s favourite pub!
We also welcomed famous folk singer Maddy Prior who took a guided tour of the museum and came in to the library for a special treasures session.
Last Saturday we held a water colour painting workshop at the very atmospheric Ponden Hall. Sue Newby our Learning Officer, who organised the workshop, said: “The painting was really enjoyable and people produced some lovely work, but the highlight of the day might just have been the incredible home- made cake made by our host Julie Akhurst!
“Ponden Hall is such an inspiring environment for any creative activity that we do hope to repeat it in the future; in fact we have a writing workshop booked for October 25 run by Hebden Bridge based author Anne Caldwell.”
Rachel Hore tells about her struggles when young in The Independent:
As a conventional teenage girl of the 1970s dressed in Laura Ashley prints, I had little knowledge of feminist texts and found those I had come across beyond my sheltered experience. At the same time, nothing infuriated me more than some male of my acquaintance asserting that women were intellectually inferior to men.
Where were the great female musical composers?, they'd ask, as if this nailed the matter. The great female artists? I'd struggle to suggest examples. At least when it came to literature I could say Jane Austen, the Brontës, George Eliot, but these names were still only a handful and I didn't know enough history to commandeer a fuller answer. 
Daily Press interviews Jerry Lewis:
Daily Press: A generation of people grew up on your comedies – films like "The Nutty Professor," "The Disorderly Orderly" and "The Sad Sack." Groundbreaking comedies. Is there one film in particular that stands out as your own favorite?
Lewis: "Wuthering Heights" … oh, you mean my films! "The Nutty Professor" is the one that is the most special. (Mike Holtzclaw)
The Independent describes a more recent take on Wuthering Heights--Peter Kosminsky's 1992 version--as 'fitfully powerful'.

iDigital Times brings up a relevant point in connection with that:
... it’s been decades since Hollywood has tackled “Moby-Dick.” The book has a deserving reputation for its thematic density and the tendency of movie adaptations to treat the “Moby-Dick” dialogue like Shakespeare and its metaphors like lectures.
It’s a strange problem to have, since most major books end up getting a Hollywood adaptation every ten years or so. Just look at Jane Austen, Hamlet, “The Great Gatsby,” or even “Wuthering Heights.” (Andrew Whalen)
Palatinate discusses imaginative play and mentions the young Brontës:
Imagination has to be nurtured. Otherwise, we will all use it with minimal effort, just like we do with our back muscles. But regular exercise is not enough, a good diet is necessary too: feed yourself with words and images and your imagination will be fine. The lives of the three Brontë sisters show how play and imagination are intertwined, and how imagination can develop if it is allowed to follow the right course. Charlotte, Emily, Anne and their brother Branwell (a painter) created stories as children, fashioning the African kingdom of Glass Town and the Empire of Angria and the fictional continent, Gondal. They were particularly stimulated by their father who gave them books and toys to immerse themselves in. (Natalia Dutra)
The Drum comments on Yorkshire being chosen for the Tour de France Grand Départ.
Unlike boasting of being the birthplace of the Brontë sisters or David Hockney, or falling into low-level factionalism around a cricket team or quality of beer, La Grande Boucle conferred a rare honour, one which Yorkshire had been granted only by outsmarting the likes of Edinburgh, capital of a near-nation. (Lewis Blackwell)

The Brontë Sisters in Other Wor(l)ds

A new scholar book exploring the 'translingual, transnational, and transcultural' contexts the Brontë sisters works:
The Brontë Sisters in Other Wor(l)ds
Edited by Shouhua Qi, Jacqueline Padgett
ISBN 9781137405142
Publication Date October 2014
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

While the reception of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë has drawn extensive attention from critics in the United Kingdom and in the United States, much needed scholarship on their position in other wor(l)ds - languages and cultures - remains to be done. This collection of essays looks at the works of the Brontë sisters through a translingual, transnational, and transcultural lens, viewing them as examples of heteroglossia, hybridity, and postcolonial reworkings. In applying principles of postcolonial theory, reception studies, translation theory, media analysis, and comparative literature, this collection is the first book-length study of the works of the Brontës sisters as received and reimagined in languages and cultures outside of Europe and the United States.