Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Reader, I did not marry him."

Picture source
The Independent (Ireland) reports that,
Five leading Irish authors have put a twist on some of the world's best-known novels to raise awareness of a medical condition that can lead to blindness.[...]
Bestselling authors such as Sheila O'Flanagan, Sinead Moriarty and Colm O'Regan have reworked the endings of famous classic novels for AMD Awareness Week 2014.
Ms O'Flanagan turned 'Jane Eyre' on her head while Ms Moriarty gave 'Little Women' a more satisfactory ending. [...]
Ms O'Flanagan's reimagining of Charlotte Brontë's 'Jane Eyre' was inspired by her first impressions of the book as a younger woman.
"I always felt that it ended badly. I thought that Jane was far too good for Mr Rochester and she should never have married, so in my version she doesn't," she said.
She said she found the task of writing in somebody else's voice a "really interesting challenge".
"It is completely different but it was really enjoyable; hopefully if you read my ending it still sounds like it is the same voice and not like somebody has just tacked on something different." (Michael Staines)
The Irish Times carries the story as well, written by Sheila O'Flanagan herself:
When I first read Jane Eyre I remember disliking the character of Mr Rochester intensely and hoping – despite Jane’s obvious feelings for him – that she’d come to her senses and get over him. He’s vain, arrogant and self-centred (as well as being the kind of man who shut his mad wife away in an attic) and definitely not good enough for Jane.
On re-reading it recently, I took a slightly less belligerent view towards him, but I still thought Jane was far too clever and smart to have spent the rest of her life with him, and I liked having the opportunity to change her story.
She goes on to share her new ending for the novel:
Jane Eyre: Reimagined by Sheila O’Flanagan.
Reader, I did not marry him. I said yes when he asked me but my assent was based on a surfeit of emotion brought on by our conversation. I knew that I had been mistaken in yielding to him. My regard for him remained warm, but I was a very different woman from the Jane who had slipped out of Thornfield Hall on what should have been my wedding night, penniless and bereft.
Then I had nothing except the excessive embarrassment that Mr Rochester had caused me for asking me to be his wife when he had another still living, although quite mad. But he had not seen fit to share that information with me and he had allowed me to think that we would have a happy and lawful life together.
And although I forgave him, because the heart behaves differently to the head and because his circumstances had been changed by the actions of that same wife in nearly burning him to death, I had changed too. When I left, I had neither family nor money. And although I had some fortitude borne from a life first with aunt Reed and then at Lowood School, such fortitude was only augmented by having to sleep in the open air and go without food, but still survive.
And, God giving me reward for such fortitude, also rewarded me by bringing me to my family. There can be no luckier person in her cousins than I. My Maker rewarded me too with my fortune, which every woman knows will make her free.
And so, Reader, I was a free woman with means of her own who had survived an ill-fated start to life and the trials and tribulations visited on me. (Read more)
Lotta Olsson in Dagens Nyheter (Sweden) defends the reinterpretation of the classics:
Man ska absolut omtolka litterära klassiker. Självklart! Annars skulle ju till exempel inte Jean Rhys ”Sargassohavet/Den första hustrun” ha blivit skriven, om den galna kvinnan på vinden i Charlotte Brontës ”Jane Eyre”. Det finns massor av begåvade, underbara omtolkningar där man utgår från det litterära verket men vänder på perspektiven. Som Jo Bakers ”Huset Longbourn” som kom på svenska i våras, en version av Jane Austens ”Stolthet och fördom” sedd ur tjänstefolkets synvinkel.
Varken Jean Rhys eller Jo Baker låtsas skriva en spännande fortsättning, och de påstår sig inte skriva som vare sig Charlotte Brontë eller Jane Austen. De skriver som sig själva, och de skriver inte ”Jane Eyre – återkomsten” eller ”Systrarna Bennets senare öden”. Snarare vill de få oss att läsa en redan högt älskad roman med andra ögon. (Translation)
However, a February 18, 1991 article now republished by New Republic argues that, 'You Should Absolutely, Positively Read the Canon in College'.
Your list of classics includes only dead, white males, all tied in to notions and values of Western hegemony. Doesn't this narrow excessively the horizons of education?
All depends on how far forward you go to compose your list of classics. If you do not come closer to the present than the mid-eighteenth century, then of course there will not be many, or even any, women in your roster. If you go past the mid-eighteenth century to reach the present, it's not at all true that only "dead, while males" are to be included. For example—and this must hold for hundreds of other teachers also—I have taught and written about Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Edith Wharton, Katherine Anne Porter, Doris Lessing, and Flannery O'Connor. I could easily add a comparable list of black writers. Did this, in itself, make me a better teacher? I doubt it. Did it make me a better person? We still lack modes of evaluation subtle enough to say for sure. (Irving Howe
If you want to work out how long reading the canon will take, you may want to take a look at this infographic shared by Bustle.
It also reveals quite a few unexpected details, like the fact that George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series is now longer than the Bible, or that Little Women and Jane Eyre are almost the exact same length. (Emma Cueto)
Fast Company takes a look at the 15 most-highlighted passages from classic novels on Kindle. Jane Eyre has made it to number 14 with
"It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you; and besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil.”
Ebook Friendly shares another infographic, this one on the 'love DNA of famous classic novels'.

And more for bookworms, as The Millions has an article by writer Chloe Benjamin 'on fiction and sleep'.
Charlotte Brontë had so powerful an imagination that she referred to her characters as her “inmates.” 
Here's the actual quote she is thinking of. 

A columnist from The Plainsman shares some of the items of her very own  'museum of wonder'.
There are snatches of quotes from great books and lyrics from all the songs I’ve ever heard. There are movie stills and paintings and faces and buildings — Versailles, Harold and Maude, The Clash and Jane Eyre are all on equal footing. (Becky Sheehan)
The Good Men Project mentions seeing Peter McMaster's all-male take on Wuthering Heights. Jessica Rules the Universe posts about Luis Buñuel's film version of the novel. Un libro entre mis manos writes in Spanish about Agnes Grey.

You on the Moors Now

A Kickstarter project with Brontë-related content you can be interested on. A new theatre play You on The Moors Now by John Kurzynowski

An original Off-Off Broadway play that draws on the works of Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, and Louisa May Alcott.

In a 19th-century world where marriage is the only acceptable path, four women refuse proposals from the men who love them. Why do they do it? What will become of them?
For the past two years, Theater Reconstruction Ensemble has been developing You On The Moors Now, a grand theatrical experiment that draws inspiration from the characters and romantic plots of Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Little Women. We're giving these incredible characters the contemporary theatrical life they deserve. After numerous work-in-progress showings and private workshops with the cast and creative team, we are thrilled to announce that You On The Moors Now will premiere February 13th - 28th, 2015 at HERE Arts Center in Lower Manhattan as part of their SubletSeries@HERE.
Your pledge funds the full theatrical production of You On The Moors Now. Pledge now and ensure the growth of one of the most promising and exciting young companies producing work in New York today. Pledge now and become a part of our family of supporters and audience members. Pledge now and join us on the MOORS.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Jane survives

Picture source
The Sheffield Star reports that artist Sarah Sharpe 'has received award-winning recognition at the 2014 Great North Art Show'.
Narrative artist Sarah Sharpe’s exploration of the orphan child Jane Eyre, entitled ‘The Red Room’, has scooped the prestigious ‘best in show’ title.
The Great North Art Show, which is held at Ripon Cathedral, is an annual exhibition of contemporary art featuring the work of around 50 painters, etchers, printmakers and photographers.
Sarah, who is also a long-standing member of Peak District Artisans, said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive this recognition for a series of paintings that emerged from a set of etchings which I first created exploring the significance of Jane’s doll.
“This work is my interpretation of a very lonely, motherless child, emotionally neglected, who very much has to rely on her own inner resources to survive.
“Jane does survive, but not without being marked psychologically.”
The judges said the piece was a ‘deeply felt and meditative painting’.
The Great North Art Show runs until September 21.
All the artwork is for sale, and entry is free.
The exhibition is open seven days a week from 9.30am until 4.30pm.
Here's something else you can do not far from there, as read in an article in The Telegraph and Argus.
Visitors and locals can now raise their glasses to a new Ale Trail.
Nearly 30 real-ale pubs across Keighley and the Worth Valley are featured in a guide.
The booklet – produced by Visit Bradford, in association with the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) – also spotlights breweries, beer festivals and the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. [...]
The Ale Trail guide and map are available from the visitor information centres at Bradford, Saltaire, Ilkley and Haworth, and can be downloaded from visitbradford.com. [...]
In the section titled Haworth and the Worth Valley, pubs mentioned include the Cross Roads Inn, The Bronte Hotel, Haworth Old Hall, Fleece Inn, Black Bull, Kings Arms, Gascoigne's Haworth Steam Brewery, Old White Lion, Old Sun Hotel, Dog and Gun, Lamb, Bay Horse, Wuthering Heights, Friendly, Old Silent, Grouse Inn, and the Golden Fleece. (Alistair Shand)
A columnist from The Age discusses helping your children with their exams and claims that,
Personally, I feel more comfortable with the novels of Jane Austen, and a good round of symbolism in Wuthering Heights. I am certainly relieved that my own child has chosen English literature for final year. (Margaret McCaffrey)
The Brontë Parsonage Blog has a post on Poet Simon Zonenblick's video on Branwell Brontë, a preview of which was shown yesterday afternoon at Thornton. Finally, an alert from Milford, IN:
North Webster Library - Monday, Sept. 15, followed by R.E.A.D. Book Club, discussing Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, at 5:30 p.m. Lose It @ The Library will also meet at 5:30 p.m. for weigh-in and walking.

Connell's Jane

New academic year, new guides are published:

The Connell Guide to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre  by Josie Billington (Author), Jolyon Connell (Editor), Katie Sanderson (Editor), Pierre Smith-Khanna (Editor), Paul Woodward (Editor)
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Connell Guides (1 Sep 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1907776175

An instant popular success when first published in 1847, Jane Eyre was everywhere praised for its riveting power. But, says Josie Billington, it is easy to forget just how shocking the novel was to its 19th century readers. One of the most romantic of stories, it also challenges at every turn the stereotypes on which it rests, not simply in having a plain, rebellious heroine and a hero who is neither young nor handsome nor chivalrous, but in the way it suggests sensual love can be a force for good and in its passionate commitment to depicting the struggle of an individual towards fulfillment.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Brontë's soap opera

The Telegraph's Fashion section has an article about the designer Sarah Burton:

In her autumn/winter show for Alexander McQueen, Burton set all this to life. A strange, misty moorland - not unconnected to the landscape of her childhood - was the setting for the combination of beautiful tailoring and wild imaginings that characterise the house. There was a sense of romanticism-in-crisis, of the Brontë sisters, of Heathcliff haunted by the cold hand of death scratching at his window, of owls, dreams and the poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whom Burton cites. The dresses came with capes, fur hoods, bell sleeves and delicate, small embroidery, frilled and frayed hemlines.
Also in The Telegraph a story about morning sickness, aka hyperemesis gravidarum:
Sufferers, who typically lose up to five per cent of their body weight (at 16 weeks, first time round, Burner had lost a stone and a half and at term she’d only gained a stone, though in her second pregnancy steroids made her “balloon”), are at increased risk of dehydration and malnutrition, a severe build-up of toxins in the blood and urine and even kidney or heart failure. The condition killed the novelist Charlotte Brontë in 1855. In her letters, she described how she had “strained until my vomit was mixed with blood.” (Julia Llewellyn Smith)
The Raleigh News Observer traces a profile of the Professor Elliot Engel and his English literature lectures:
Elliot Engel spins a tale of England’s Brontë sisters that feels more like a soap opera than a lecture on 19th century literature.
Emily’s long hours staring at drawn window shades. Charlotte’s unfortunate homeliness. Anne’s short career as a governess, ended by her brother’s affair with the child’s mother. Their improbable success as female authors and tragic early deaths.
By the end of the talk last week at N.C. State University, some of the hundreds of freshmen in attendance lined up to buy a $20 DVD of Engel’s lectures – thanks in part to a sales pitch as effective as his talk is engaging. (Marti Maguire)
The Sunday Express interviews the actress Hermione Norris:
The first record I ever bought was… Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush. I thought she was magnificent. It was actually a record, too – one of those seven-inch vinyl singles that would scratch if you danced to it – so we’re going back some years. (Rachel Corcoran)
Another cover of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights was performed at Portmeirion's Festival No 6 in The National Student:
Laid-back vibes with the gypsy jazz of the Gypsies of Bohemia set the day up nicely with swinging versions of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears. In the first instance number six throws out an unexpected, and delightful musical highlight. (James Thornbill)
mid day lists several not very well paid actor roles:
When James Howson became the first black actor to be cast in the role of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (2011), he was commended for his work. But he took home only $13,036 for his role. (Shakti Shetty)
ⓒ김철관
Ohmynews (South Korea) reviews the performances of the Hangzhou Theatre production of Jane Eyre as a Yue Opera at the Sejong Center in Seoul:
지난 9일부터 11일까지 세종문화회관 M시어티에서 공연한 '제인 에어'는 소설을 원작으로 중국에서 제작된 창작 뮤지컬이 국내 첫 선을 보였다는 점이 큰 의미로 다가왔다. 현재 '별에서 온 그대' 등 드라마와 연기자, 드라마세트장 등이 중국 관광객들에게 선풍적인 인기를 끌고 있는 이때, 중국의 뮤지컬의 국내 공연이 앞으로 양국 간 문화예술 교류를 더욱 활발하게 할 것이라는 전망도 나오고 있다.
중국 국가 1급 감독인 왕쇼우잉이 총감독을 맡았고, 왕제난 중국연극원 감독이 연출을 한 대형 창작 뮤지컬 '제인 에어' 공연 마지막 날인 11일 저녁 한국인터넷기자협회 임원과 동료 가족들이 함께 관람을 했다. 전통적인 시나리오 서사구조인 기승전결 구조에다 도입 발단 절정 순을 따랐다. 먼저 뮤지컬 첫 장르 도입(발단)부문을 보면서 언어 문제에 부딪치기도 했다. 모든 출연 배우들의 중국어 대사가 중국어에 익숙하지 않은 나에게 문화적 충격으로 나가왔기 때문이다.
물론 무대 양 옆에는 한국어 자막을 사용한 번역 프로그램이 있었다. 중국 영화는 화면 안에 나타나 그런대로 익숙한 편인데 공연은 번역프로그램이 따로 떨어져 있어 익숙하지 않았다.
차츰 뮤지컬 공연이 절정부분으로 향하면서 주인공과 조연 배우들의 열정적인 연기에 몰입이 됐고, 차츰 번역을 읽고 무대를 보는 것이 자연스레 해 졌다. (김철관) (Translation)
The Buffalo News reviews The Fame Lunches: On Wounded Icons, Money, Sex, The Brontës and the Importance of Handbags by Daphne Merkin; The Times interviews the author Jacqueline Wilson who mentions Jane Eyre as one of her heroines; Pusat Sumber Seseri and beckiedoyle post about Jane Eyre.

A Humble Station

An alert from Thornton for today, September 14:

'Remembering Branwell' event takes place on Sunday 14th September 2014 at 11.30am, South Square Gallery, Thornton BD13 3LD.

The event will preview the film 'A Humble Station' written and narrated by Simon Zonenblick with a discussion and a buffet (£5) For further details call 01274-830788 (Via Brontë Parsonage Facebook Wall)
The film was previously presented in Sowerby Bridge in June and here you can read the description by the author himself:
The evening will also feature a locally-produced film, A Humble Station describing Branwell Brontë’s years in Calderdale, with footage of the local area and thoughts from with local writers and community figures, as well as an interview with Ann Dinsdale, Collections Manager at The Brontë Parsonage, and author of The Brontës at Haworth. Produced and filmed by photographer and cinematographer Darren Fleming, with a specially written score by Isolde Davey, the film will shine a light on the two influential years in Branwell’s life when, attempting to establish himself in poetry and painting, he worked in the railway stations at Sowerby Bridge and Luddendenfoot. The film includes Branwell’s paintings and excerpts of his poetry, as well as an exclusive musical setting of one of his poems. Written and narrated by myself, A Humble Station? is very much a Sowerby Bridge film and brings to life one of the area’s more unsung residents. I told the Halifax Courier that “The sad story of Branwell’s eventual decline is well documented - but I want to look at Branwell’s many strengths and skills, and in particular the influence of the Calder Valley on his poetry and art.” With this short film, which features interviews and readings from poets Freda Davis, Gaia Holmes and Genevieve Walsh, local writer Jean Illingworth, historian David Cant, artist Richard Gray and many more, viewers are invited to come and learn something more about the much-maligned brother to Yorkshire's favourite literary sisters and discover his links to the area.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mr Rochester and Mr de Winter are still not talking

Melissa Coburn imagines a conversation between some literature leading men in the Brisbane Times:

I turn again in this cosy saloon of mine and heave an inward sigh. Mr Rochester and Mr de Winter are still not talking. Dark scowls mark their features. Brooding, they sit in silence, lost in thought. I see the problem, of course. The most innocent social inquiries are likely to lead by one route or another to Mr Rochester's wife up there on the third storey of Thornfield Hall, in that room without windows whose entrance is so carefully concealed behind the tapestry wall hangings. Casual inquiries of Mr de Winter may lead to his wife, the beautiful and cruel Rebecca, condemned to a watery grave in her scuttled boat. Definite conversation dampeners. Even a discussion about property, comparing the dimensions of Thornfield Hall and Manderley, the number of bedrooms, the quality of the gardens, is not entirely without risk. They are impressive properties, yes, but hardly cosy, not when one must resist the impulse to check under the bed and in the cupboard before going to sleep. I really can't blame Jane Eyre for running away and poor Mrs de Winter, Wife Number Two, whose name we never learn, if only she knew what fate awaits her in Susan Hill's sequel, Mrs de Winter, she would be well advised to do the same. But this is a social gathering and I am the hostess, so I keep my thoughts to myself as I move among my guests.
Cape Cod Times vindicates the author Mercy Otis Warren:
Local historian Marion Vuilleumier wrote that “she had to write under a pen name in the beginning because women weren’t supposed to be writers.” So long before George Eliot and the Brontë sisters, Mercy Otis was forced to mask her femininity in order to get her message across to a wider audience. (Robin Smith-Jones)
A Wuthering Heights vindication from the heart of Africa. In The Daily Nation (Kenya):
If there is a book that is timeless, then Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is it.
The dislike for one another, the waiting until that opportune moment that it becomes optimal to hit back, the calculations, the threats and the supposed sweet revenge (even in death) that turns out to be misplaced elation and imagined victory is all very much alive in society today.
We despise rude people, arrogant persons, leaders in the other camp, our institutions, the other tribe, our polity and just about anything that seems to stand in our way of growth.
Seen how we (young and old) enjoy video games? Especially the violent ones where we vaporise — with machine gun fire — that which comes at us?
No book captures the universality of man’s vengefulness than this particular Victorian novella.
The we-versus-them or the me and them way of living.
The book, which took the author just under 12 months to pen (October 1945 to June 1946), was published posthumously in 1947. (Anthony Wesonga)
NME asks Anna Calvi how she'd celebrate if she won the Barclaycard Mercury Prize for her album One Breath:
Asked how she’d celebrate if she won, Calvi said: “I’d try singing karaoke for the first time. I’ve never done it before, and it would be an apt time to try. I’d sing ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Kate Bush, it seems appropriate.” (John Earls)
Elegance of Fashion reviews Jane Eyre 2006; auditions for a Jane Eyre. The Musical production at The Arts Centre Telford, Shropshire.

The Brontë Society replies to the critical voices

After echoing the newspapers which published the Brontë Society dissenters opinions, it's only fair to give voice to the Brontë Society itself:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Stay Lonely

Curious things to be found at the D.H. Lawrence Festival according to the Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser:

Inside the heritage centre, the ground floor was transformed into a vintage fair selling clothes, antiques, and innovative reused vintage items, such as bracelets and hair grips with quotes cut from Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë novels.
A.V. Club reviews the latest episode of You're the Worst: Constant Horror and Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction:
Jimmy quotes Charlotte Brontë, Rosalind from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, and yes, The Notebook during his proposal to Becca, which is surprisingly sweet even though you can see the hope shut out in his eyes after she turns him down. (Vikram Murthi)
What Jimmy says at the beginning of the episode is:
"My frame of reference for love has always come from literature. In my brooding youth Brontë encapsulated my viewpoin thusly: "The trouble is not that I am single and likely to stay single, but that I am lonely and likely to stay lonely."
The quotation comes from a letter of Charlotte Brontë to Ellen Nussey (25 August 1852) which reads a bit different:
The evils that now and then wring a groan from my heart - lie in position - not that I am a single woman and likely to remain a single woman - but because I am a lonely woman and likely to be lonely. (The Letters of Charlotte Brontë. Volume Three: 1852-1855. Edited by Margaret Smith, Clarendon Press, 2004)
The writer Sara Paretsky says to the New York Times:
Whom would you want to write your life story?
I’d love Elizabeth Gaskell to do for me what she did for Charlotte Brontë.
And The Republican interviews another writer Chrysler Szarlan:
“But one day, in the late great Johnson’s Bookstore, I discovered that a movie I had seen and loved was adapted from a book,” she said. “It was the wonderful version of ‘Jane Eyre’ with George C. Scott and Susannah York.”
She had been indignant right along with Jane when Helen Burns was punished cruelly by Miss Scatcherd, had been hesitant and hopeful when Jane travelled to Thornfield to become a governess, had fallen in love with Rochester. “I asked a bookseller who had helped me in the past what she thought of the book. Was it worth reading? She melted. ‘Jane Eyre’ was her favorite book, the greatest book on the face of the earth!” Szarlan said.
She read it, perhaps in one night under the bedcovers with a flashlight. It became her favorite book of all time too. “I still re-read it at least once a year. And it led me to read all of the Brontës, Jane Austen, Dickens. It truly shaped who I became as a writer, and as a person too,” she said. (Cori Urban)
Sheila Kohler writes in Psychology Today about how to obtain pleasure in life:
There are books, of course, which transport us outside of our own lives and take us off into someone else’s: the great books like “Anna Karenina,” “Madame Bovary” or even “Jane Eyre” and the well-plotted books like “The Talented Mr Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith or Donna Tart’s recent “The Goldfinch.”
The Telegraph & Argus reports a big omission on the Iphone game inspired by the Tour de France in Yorkshire:
 A Tour de France-inspired iPhone game which 'takes' players through Yorkshire has been launched – but it by-passes the Keighley district!
The actual world-famous cycle race in July came through Silsden, Keighley and the heart of Bronte Country.
But none feature in the Yorkshire’s Great Race game, which is riding high in the iPhone app store charts. (...)
But Worth Valley district councillors have voiced surprise that Haworth's iconic Main Street in particular was not featured.
"The day after the Tour the main photo in all the newspapers was of the cyclists in Haworth Main Street," said Coun Rebecca Poulsen.
"To completely ignore the location seems very strange." (Alistair Shand)
Inger Ronander who worked for EMI back in 1978, talks about Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights recording in Dagsavisen (Norway):
Dagen etter møtte jeg markedssjef Roger Ames som plasserte meg foran to høyttalere og satte på den kommende singelen fra vår nye storsatsing. «Wuthering Heights» het låten og artisten var Kate Bush. Vi var ganske bortskjemt med gode artister i EMI, vi hadde Queen, Pink Floyd og Beatles, men jeg hadde aldri hørt noe som dette. Låten var, og er, et musikalsk mesterverk, og ingen andre høres ut som Kate Bush. Det demret etter hvert for meg at jeg hørte på den sovende dama fra baksetet i Bentleyen, og at vi hadde en ny hit på hendene. (Translation)

Find the Brontës at Coco Chanel's flat

Source: Luxuo
Some place in the big library of the sitting room on Coco Chanel Paris apartment are displayed some leather-bound editions of Brontë novels. Now you can try to locate them at the Saatchi Gallery in London where the apartment comes to life through the pictures of Sam Taylor-Johnson:
Second Floor: The Private Apartment of Mademoiselle Chanel12 September - 4 October 2014

A photographic exhibition by Sam Taylor-Johnson
Sam Taylor-Johnson's photographic exhibition 'Second Floor', will feature a series of 34 photographs capturing the private rooms of Mademoiselle Chanel at 31 Rue Cambon in Paris.
"Shooting at Coco Chanel's apartment was an unexpectedly absorbing experience," says Taylor-Johnson. "The essence of Chanel is firmly rooted there in all of her possessions and I truly believe that her spirit and soul still inhabits the second floor."
Starting from the hallowed mirrored staircase leading up to the apartment, the Turner Prize nominee has captured this intimate world, artfully immortalizing objects and furniture that were so treasured by Mademoiselle Chanel.
The photographs illustrate the numbers, patterns, colours and emblematic animals that are synonymous with Mademoiselle Chanel's creative vocabulary
From the white satin-covered bergère on which Chanel was photographed by Horst in 1937, the Coromandel lacquered screens, gilt Venetian mirrors, and walls stacked with leather bound editions including Shakespeare, Voltaire, Byron and Brontë, to the salon's rock-crystal chandeliers, which on closer inspection reveal the blossoming of camellias, not forgetting the number 5, the double C, and the initials G for Gabrielle and W for Westminster, every detail has been brought to the fore.
Mademoiselle Chanel surrounded herself with treasured objects, like crystal balls, pairs of animals - like terracotta camels, deers, and earthenware horses - and, of course, her majestic and symbolic gilded lions that represented her star sign Leo. These valued talismans co-exist with the more austere lines of natural materials and muted colours.
Mademoiselle's apartment provides an atmosphere, which, is both personal and mysterious and is a testament to her modern style. "The apartment is beautifully stylish. It feels like she had meticulously chosen every object, "says Sam Taylor-Johnson.
To accompany the exhibition, a book entitled ‘Second Floor’ published by 7L will be available to buy from Saatchi Store at Saatchi Gallery as well as other book stores. A limited edition box set of ten prints chosen by the artist will also be available.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The key to the Parsonage

Keighley News reports that

Controversial plans to build a livestock building on a scenic spot outside Stanbury have been rejected.
Bradford Council planners refused the application for the new barn and access track at Ponden Kirk, Ponden Lane.
More than 50 objections were submitted in response to the proposals, arguing that it would destroy bird habitats and spoil the appearance of the landscape.
Objectors included the Brontë Society. Trustee Christine Went said: "This structure's excessive size and the materials from which it would be fabricated, would render it highly and inappropriately visible in a landscape valued for its literary and historical associations."
Also in the newspaper we find the story of James Aykroyd and the revival of Brontë Liqueur:
Sir James, who worked in senior roles with Buchanan’s whisky and Martini and Rossi and more recently stepped down as a shareholder and chairman of Speyside Distillers, said: “Back in 1928 my great-grandfather Sir James Roberts bought the Haworth village parsonage and gifted it to the Bronte Society.
“Today, that building is the Brontë Parsonage Museum and this is something our family is immensely proud of – I still hold the key to the parsonage's front door.”
And here you can see the actual key.

Vancouver's Straight talks about the work of the dancer Julianne Chapple:
It's hard not to notice dance artist Julianne Chapple’s work in a mixed program. At last year’s Dances for a Small Stage, she appeared like a broken-limbed ghost, swishing her hair in a transparent, spotlit bowl of water, splattering droplets as she flailed. Set to a creepy soundtrack of people remembering dreams about drowning, sea/unseen had a feel somewhere between a Japanese horror movie and Emily Brontë. (Janet Smith)
Bob Mims in The Salt Lake City Tribune is into a Brontë phase:
Seeing Utah’s floodwaters recede and storm clouds flee the midweek sunshine, Emily Brontë might have observed that "from the midst of cheerless gloom, I passed to bright unclouded day."
Rising from her 19th century writing desk, Emily might have asked equally literate sisters Charlotte and Anne to take a stroll along the Wasatch Front, where clear, sunny skies and balmy daytime temperatures in the mid-70s were forecast both Wednesday and Thursday.
The quote is from the 1846 poem A Little While, A Little While.

Somehow we suspected Sandra Gilbert (coauthor with Susan Gubar of the groundbreaking Madwoman at the Attic essay) liked Jane Eyre a bit. Times Higher Education interviews her:
As a child, Gilbert loved to read. “But I never considered myself especially scholarly. I adored kids’ books – The Bobbsey Twins series (who has heard of those today?), Nancy Drew, and, more grownup I guess, Little Women and Jane Eyre. My parents had ‘great expectations’ for me and nurtured my intellectual growth. When I was in high school, my father actually got me a subscription to The Partisan Review.”
Tonight, RAI 1 broadcast the first episode of Un'altra vita and many Italian websites talk about its alleged Jane Eyre affiliation:
Un’altra vita” / Vanessa Incontrada, un mistero come Jane Eyre (...)
 L’ispirazione a quanto pare proviene da Jane Eyre rivista e pensate in chiave romantica (staremo a vedere). (Casa & Mutui) (Translation)
Gli autori Ivan Cotroneo, Stefano Bises e Monica Rametta, gli stessi diUna grande famiglia, hanno descritto la fiction come un mix tra una Jane Eyre in chiave moderna e la serie tv statunitense The Good Wife. Inutile dire che come presentazione iniziale possiamo ritenerci soddisfatti e incuriositi già in partenza. (GossipeTV) (Translation)
Poi c'è una rilettura di Jane Eyre e del genere gotico, perché Liotti porta con sé un mistero. E poi, certo, c'è il melò. (Silvia Fumarola in La Repubblica) (Translation)
La storia ricalca quella di Jane Eyre e il moderno Rochester è l’avvocato tenebroso Antonio, intepretato da Daniele Liotti. E non solo, a detta degli sceneggiatori la storia è incentrata sui numerosi fatti di cronaca che vedono per protagonisti gli uomini senza contare che dietro ci sono spesso famiglie e donne ugualmente vittime. (Chiara Laganà on CineTivu) (Translation)
Tuổi Trẻ (Vietnam) interviews the writer Nguyen Thai Hai, who recommends books for young readers, such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights:
Nếu phải gợi ý 5 loại sách nên đọc cho thiếu nhi, ông sẽ gợi ý gì?
(...)
Lớn lên một chút, các em có thể tìm đến những tác phẩm kinh điển hơn, ở tuổi trung học chẳng hạn. Học sinh trung học phổ thông cần phải đọc những tác phẩm có tính nền tảng như: Cuốn theo chiều gió, Jane Eyre, Đồi gió hú, Tiếng chim hót trong bụi mận gai, Chiếc lá cuối cùng ... hay các tác giả Việt Nam nổi tiếng: Nam Cao, Vũ Trọng Phụng, Thạch Lam... (Translation)
Daily Kos talks about orphans (and Heathcliff and Jane Eyre get a mention);  Inchoatia reviews The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; Reading at the Moonlight (in Spanish) reviews In the Footsteps of the Brontës by Ann Dinsdale and Mark Davis; Apenas Garotas (in Portuguese) posts about Jane Eyre; Dotted with Dots talks about several Jane Eyre adaptations; Outside of a Dog... reviews Jane, le Renard et Moi.

And finally a big thank you to the Brontë Sisters who celebrated our 9th anniversary.

Bushes and Fame

Two (more or less) Brontë-related alerts for today, September 11:

In London:
Drink Shop Do (Kings Cross, London)
Night of a Thousand Bushes
11.09.2014
£5: club ticket - 8pm onwards
£10: Wuthering Heights dance class and club entry - from 7pm

The Bushy one is back! To celebrate her string of dates at the Hammersmith Apollo, The Music Circle is throwing a night dedicated to Kate, with DJs, a photobooth, cocktail offers, a dance class before the club starts and a mass Wuthering Heights dance-off. Dress like your best (Kate) Bush in order to win prizes. The party is in aid of vulnerable women in the DRC, in association with Oxfam.

Kate Bush-inspired DJ sets from:
Gemma Cairney (Radio 1)
Jodie My Ex-Boyfriends’ Records
The Music Circle DJs
Plus special guests TBA
PLUS!
A dressing-up box and photobooth
'Baboozeka' cocktails
Mass Wuthering Heights dance-off
Prizes for the best Kate Bush outfit
In Madison, CT:
R.J. Julia Booksellers:
On Thursday, Sept. 11, journalist and essayist Daphne Merkin will discuss her new collection, "The Fame Lunches: On Wounded Icons, Money, Sex, the Brontës, and the Importance of Handbags (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27). Known for her profiles of famous writers, actors, sports legends and more, Merkin is a former staff writer for The New Yorker and a regular contributor to ELLE, as well as to The New York Times, Bookforum, Departures, Travel + Leisure, W, Vogue, and more. (Carole Goldberg in The Courant)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Can you handle the torrid sexuality of the Brontës?

The London Evening Standard makes the case for leaving Jane Austen alone after she has bee increasingly buried under a weight or modern looks.

I can’t think of any other author who’s been co-opted by the modern world quite like her. She’s everyone’s go-to author; a genius in her own day and branded and processed for our own. But the effect of the blanket coverage, the websites, the blogs, the spin-offs, has been to render her unreadable. [...]
First, you take on board that Jane Austen wasn’t one of us but a woman of her own time. Read the biography by Lord David Cecil, the best of the lot. She was an unaffected Anglican; she wasn’t a feminist; she didn’t give a toss about the inequality of the sexes; she was extraordinarily modest — “few so gifted were so unpretending,” said her nephew. So, really not 21st century at all.
Next, you go cold turkey. No Austen programmes, no films, no self-help books and, most importantly, no Austen novels at all. Take up the Brontës instead, if you can handle the torrid sexuality. Or Muriel Spark. Then, after a couple of years of strict abstinence, you can start, very gradually, to work backwards into the works, starting with the letters (very funny) and the juvenilia, and, after a year or two, the novels proper — beginning with the least popular, Mansfield Park, then Northanger Abbey, then Persuasion, followed by Sense and Sensibility. Then and only then can you go on to read Emma and finally Pride and Prejudice. (Melanie McDonagh)
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is indeed present in the Facebook meme of books that have stayed with you. But then again so is Jane Eyre, so quite a few people can and do handle the 'torrid sexuality'. According to Hypable,
Everyone has seen the popular Facebook meme in which your friends rattle off the ten books that have stayed with them. Now the social network has found a way to determine the top 100 books mentioned most in that meme.
The analysis was conducted using 130,000 status updates matching “10 books” or “ten books” appearing in the last two weeks of August 2014. Of the people posting, 63% were from the U.S. and women outnumbered men 3:1. The average age of those posting was 37.
The top twenty books do reflect more classic novels, however, the Harry Potter series leads the list with The Hunger Games series coming in at number seven.(...)
Top 20 books (...)
14. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë 5.23% (Jen Lamoureux)
The list can also be found on The Telegraph:
29 Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë (3.26%)
Seattle Weekly News reminds us of the fact that playing Mr Rochester wasn't exactly a highlight of Errol Flynn's career.
Career on the skids, unable to remember his lines, performing some kind of Broadway abridgement of Jane Eyre, a bloated, alcoholic Errol Flynn wanders about the stage, reading from cue cards in the wings. It’s a brief scene, and not a little sad: Flynn, once so handsome and charismatic, is clearly not much of an actor (and he knows it). (Brian Miller)
This columnist from Frankfurter Allgemeine (Germany) is reminded of a poem by Emily Brontë upon entering Tranquebar, a bookshop in Copenhagen.
Am glücklichsten bin ich, wenn am weitesten fort / Meine Seele ich trag aus ihrer irdischen Hülle, / In windiger Nacht, wenn der Mond mir strahlt / Und das Auge schweift durch Wellen des Lichts.“ Mit diesen Worten beginnt Emily Brontës Gedicht „I’m happiest when most away“. Es beschreibt sehr schön, was ich empfinde, sobald ich die Kopenhagener Buchhandlung „Tranquebar“ betrete. (Janne Teller) (Translation)
Apparently, the Brontës have inspired Thom Browne's Spring 2015 collection. As reported by Interview Magazine,
For his Spring 2015 collection Thom Browne looked to the Brontë sisters and Little Women: "Girls who love each other, but who are also fiercely competitive." Browne wrote his own fictional story about six sisters and explored what they enjoy doing in the summer months, namely gardening and playing tennis, as shown by the strong sportif elements and rainbow floral motifs embroidered on a mélange of silks and fine tweeds, some woven with grosgrain ribbon. In addition, Browne says, he was inspired by a certain "very American, very individual, and very iconic" mystery woman. [...]
Oh, and if all this idiosyncratic suit business full of funnies sounds familiar, it's because the mystery woman in question is the original Annie Hall, Diane Keaton, who did the honor of reading Browne's charming narrative. (Teddy Tinson)
The New Zealand Herald puts its readers at ease:
Charlotte Brontë probably died of it but these days hyperemesis gravidarum - the severe form of morning sickness experienced by the Duchess of Cambridge - is easily treatable. (Natalie Akoorie)

Nine years of BrontëBlog

BrontëBlog back in 2005
Today marks the 9th anniversary of BrontëBlog. Nine years don't seem like so very much but years in technology should be measured perhaps differently, like dog years or some such thing. Let's take a look back at the technological context BrontëBlog was born into back in 2005: YouTube was founded in April (one month after the infamous Megaupload), Facebook was still only used in US universities and a few high schools. Twitter doesn't existed yet. There were not Iphones and Android has just been acquired by Google and no one knew what exactly it was about. Blackberry or Nokia were the mobiles. The USB flash drivers began to replace floppy disks on computers. No dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive... no cloud at all. In 2005 almost 40 % of internet users still used dial-up.

It was the year that New Orleans was hit by Katrina and the July 7th bombings in London. The year that the Huygens probe landed in Saturn's satellite Titan and also the year when the Catholic Church chose a new pope, Benedict XVI. And also the year when the final episode of Star Trek: Enterprise was aired (ending 18 years of uninterrupted Trek on TV), BBC aired Bleak House and Brokeback Mountain was the film everybody talked about.

And in September of that year we decided to take a look at what and how the Brontës were doing in popular culture. Nine years later we can confidently say that they turned out to be doing fantastically well. We have said this before but we never cease to be amazed by the projects, inspiration and commentary they generate constantly. This blog publishes an average of two posts a day--not every day is filled with news of a new discovery, a new exhibition, a new book or a new adaptation, but at the very least each and every day the Brontës are mentioned by someone somewhere in the world, perhaps miles away from the world the Brontës knew and certainly decades after they died. Which, if you really stop to think about it, is amazing.

This nine years have been a labour of love but we can't boast of really having done it on our own: at some point or another we have had the help of individual readers and writers, authors, publishing houses, the Brontë Society itself. And there's always of course the readers and subscribers of this blog: here on Blogger and elsewhere in unexpected places back in 2005 such as Facebook or Twitter. We would like to offer a heartfelt thank you to anyone who has ever stopped and read one of our posts with interest.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

A garden and a bitter for Branwell Brontë

The Halifax Courier reports that Sowerby Bridge station is now featuring its Branwell Brontë connection.

Sowerby Bridge now has its very own Bronte Garden after 18 months of hard work and dedication by local volunteers.
The garden was an initiative of the Friends of Sowerby Bridge, with the aim of providing a haven of tranquility for station users and visitors alike, but also to build on the station’s Bronte connection.
After Branwell Brontë’s desire to join the Royal Academy of Art failed to materialise in 1836, he was appointed as Assistant Clerk-in-Charge- a position he held until March 1842.
And to further draw on this connection, the group also planted flowers referenced in the Brontë’s novels. [...]
Local brewery, Owenshaw Mill also brewed a special ‘Branwell Blonde’ bitter.
Yeah, Branwell's highlight of the day would have been that last one thing.

The Guardian's The Book Doctor wonders if children were 'nicer to each other in the old days'. Jane Eyre would of course argue that no, they weren't.
In Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, which was once considered a classic novel for adolescence, the orphaned Jane is teased mercilessly by her cruel cousin John Reed with whom she lives. When Jane retaliates her mean aunt terrifies her by locking her in the room in which her uncle died. A harsh punishment and one which causes Jane to faint from the horror of it. (Julia Eccleshare)
The New Indian Express also brings up the novel in an article 'Tracing the Paranormal Tales of the Heart'.
With a strong female readership as well as authorship, the gothic novels delivered on all counts of popular entertainment. Menacing and lofty structures, eerie winds whistling through underground tunnels, virtuous damsels fleeing in distress from profligate male characters, secret doors, hidden passageways, supernatural elements, prophecies, corruption, decay, madness and tragedy were the typical tropes that defined this type of fiction. While the regressive nature of punishment/rewards for the virtuous was highlighted in some books, the subversive and feminist content of others like Jane Eyre was also equally lauded. There were the shy and delicate heroines like Isabella in Walpole's classic whose character was etched as tragic suffering figure. She was: ‘the gentle maid, whose hapless tale’ was recounted in the ‘melancholy pages’ of the book. She was also the yelling, shrieking madwoman in the attic in Jane Eyre who was appropriated by the 21st century critics as a beacon of female sexuality. (Diya Kohli)
The New Indian Express also recommends reading:
While almost any reading will improve your mind, in a world where there is too much to  do, you must be selective in the books you read. And so, I suggest you spend much of your time reading what Thoreau called The Heroic Books - those books that contain “the noblest recorded thoughts of man.”
Let your mind drink deeply from the works of the great philosophers, such as Epictetus and Confucius. Study the poems of the wisest poets, such as Alfred Lord Tennyson, Emily Dickinson and John Keats, and the novels of Leo Tolstoy, Hermann Hesse and the Brontës. Read the writings of Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein and Mother Teresa. (Robin Sharma)
It has been announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child. The Duchess of Cambridge is again suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum and that always seems to gather a mention or two of Charlotte at least. From Parent Dish:
Jane Eyre author Charlotte Brontë died during pregnancy after suffering prolonged periods of nausea, and some biographers believe it was dehydration and malnutrition related to the condition that killed her. (Rebecca Gillie)
The Journal has a blunder with a male chauvinistic twist:
The campaign is the brainchild of Youth Training Academy managing director Rob Earnshaw, who has himself thrived in the creative world while remaining in his home region.
Originally a casting director, Earnshaw has been responsible for finding talent such as Matt Milne for Steven Spielberg’s War Horse and James Howson for Andrew Arnold’s Wuthering Heights. (Robert Gibson)
Based on the novel of the same name by Emil Brontë, we suppose.

A reader of Stuff praises Wuthering Heights. Livraddict writes in French about Jane Eyre while Tom Ruffles discusses the 'fairy story elements' in the novel.