Sunday, October 26, 2014

Wuthering Heights back in Warsaw

A new chance to see the Wuthering Heights "adults-only" adaptation by Julia Holewińska and Kuba Kowalski, first premiered in Warsow, Poland in 2012:

Wichrowe Wzgórza
Teatr Studio im. St. I. Witkiewicza

26.10.2014 19:00
27.10.2014 19:00
28.10.2014 19:30

Adapted by  Julia Holewińska and Kuba Kowalski
Directed by  Kuba Kowalski
With Monika Obara / Lena Frankiewicz , Natalia Rybicka, Anna Smołowik, Miron Jagniewski,  Marcin Januszkiewicz, Krzysztof Koła , Wojciech Solarz, Wojciech Żołądkowicz and Lena Frankiewicz

Hollywood zobaczyło w Wichrowych wzgórzach materiał na wielki melodramat, opowieść o tragicznej miłości w efektownej scenerii ponurych wrzosowisk. Adaptując powieść na potrzeby filmu uproszczano jej wymowę, uładzano bohaterów, wreszcie amputowano jej kluczową drugą część – banalizując w ten sposób arcydzieło Emily Brontë. (...) Próbujemy z Julią Holewińską spojrzeć na Wichrowe Wzgórza jak na swoistą „encyklopedię miłości”. Brontë zawarła w swojej powieści niezliczoną ilość wzorców miłosnych relacji, od tych bratersko-siostrzanych, poprzez miłość rodzicielską i synowską, koncentrując się wreszcie na związkach kochanków. Dokonując wiwisekcji uczuć stawia swoją główną bohaterkę Katarzynę przed fundamentalnym wyborem między tym, co racjonalne, kontrolowane, gwarantujące rozwój, ale i stawiające wzajemne ograniczenia, a tym, co irracjonalne, niebezpieczne, twórcze, ale i autodestrukcyjne. Relacja Katarzyny i Heathcliffa, najistotniejsza zarówno w powieści jak i naszej adaptacji, to utopijna wizja miłosnego związku funkcjonującego poza jakimkolwiek kontekstem kulturowym: uczucie łączące przybrane rodzeństwo wymyka się klasyfikacji, istnieje poza językiem czy konwenansem, jest gwałtowne, nie uznaje kompromisów, jest wreszcie niebezpieczne i destrukcyjne.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Wuthering Heights in the market

The Telegraph reports that Kate Bush's former home in Eltham, London is on the market. If you don't remember its name, is easy to imagine: Wuthering Heights.

What is a house called Wuthering Heights doing in Eltham, a genteel suburb of south-east London?
By rights, it should be on the Yorkshire moors, covered in dark clouds, with gales rattling the window-frames and a woman in the distance screaming: “Heathcliff! Heathcliff!”
The explanation is quite simple once you remember that Emily Brontë is not the only celebrated author of Wuthering Heights.
A song of that name launched the musical career of that reclusive genius Kate Bush in 1978. And it is her old house, on Court Road, Eltham, that has just come on the market for £3 million. (Julia Flynn)
Herts and Essex Observer reminds us of the broadcast tonight (Channel 4, 8pm) of the new season of Walking Through History. The first episode will feature Haworth and the Brontës:
Walking Through History first came to our screens last year, a pleasing addition to the schedules for amblers and history buffs alike, as Sir Tony Robinson and the team tackled a series of visually spectacular walks through some of our most historic landscapes - all the better if they can stumble upon some stories from Britain's past to boot.
Now in its fourth series, for those who've yet to catch it, in each episode Tony follows a bespoke route which allows him to explore the history behind certain events or period, as well as take in the landscape. This series; well, it's much of the same.
Tony's first walk of the new series takes in the dramatic moors and valleys of West Yorkshire, the home of, and inspiration for, the Brontës, the literary family behind classics Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.
Our presenter has four days of walking ahead of him, and starts out in the Victorian wool capital of Bradford and treks the giant loop around what is known as Brontë Country. Cha rlotte, Emily, Anne and their brother Branwell were born in the suburb of Thornton, and Tony traces their childhood to the much-romanticised Brontë hub of Haworth.
Alison Graham adds in Radio Times:
Tony Robinson walks that well-trodden literary path along the south Pennine moors to Haworth in West Yorkshire, home of the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne.
There can’t be a northerner who has never run across those very tussocks on school trips yelling “HEATHCLIFF!” but Robinson is admirably restrained. Though it’s been told so many times, there’s still something fantastically, tragically winning, something that calls to anyone who loves literature, in the story of the girls, their brother Branwell, and their home, the Parsonage.
Along the way Robinson meets Brontë experts and reads apposite excerpts from Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, though he’s not a fan of the latter. It’s too “overwrought and complex”. Really?
New Statesman talks about the latest exhibition of Paula Rego's works in London and sums  up her work:
Not all artists are good at explaining their work but Paula Rego knows just what her pictures are about: they deal, she says, with “the beautiful grotesque”. It is a neat encapsulation of psychologically complex works that illustrate nursery rhymes, fairy tales and the folk stories of her native Portugal, that show women as dogs or sexual avengers and that reimagine classic novels such as Jane Eyre and The Metamorphosis. (Michael Prodger)
The Greenfield Recorder reviews The Hawley Book of the Dead  by Chrysler Szarlan:
She began to write at that young age—mostly stories about horses, animals she loved and still loves.
“And then when I was 12 I got my hands on a copy of ‘Jane Eyre,’” she added. “So that took me to a whole other level of reading and writing and thinking about writing.”
She laughed at the juxtaposition of “Virginia Woolf” and “Jane Eyre.” “No wonder I write New England gothicky stuff!” (Tinky Weisblat)
The Sydney Morning Herald publishes another review: David Malouf's The Writing Life:
He describes how, as a child, the ending of Dumas' La Reine Margot prompted "hysterical weeping". His vivid memory of reading Jane Eyre on the beach leads him to reflect on the way the imaginative space of a novel can allow us to inhabit two very different environments simultaneously. An essay on the influence of Walt Whitman on D.H. Lawrence describes the shock of encountering the subversive ideas in Lawrence's poem Snake in a school reader. (James Ley)
Cosmopolitan lists some of the literary classics revisited in Anna Todd's After:
3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
When it first appears in the series: Hardin mentions Rochester and Jane in an attempt to dissuade Tessa from marriage in book one.
What it reveals about Hessa: Hardin readily admits that Jane and Rochester's relationship isn't the best counterexample of marriage, but "I just love hearing you ramble about literary heroes." He also loves reminding her of tortured protagonists. Wonder why.
4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
When it first appears in the series: Tessa wanders into Hardin's room during a party at the frat house in book one and discovers his extensive collection of classics. "I grab Wuthering Heights and pull it off the shelf," she says. "It is in bad shape, the pages showing how many times it has been read."
What it reveals about Hessa: Hardin uses Wuthering Heights as a means to discuss his and Tessa's relationship in literature class: "Catherine and Heathcliff were just so similar that it was hard for them to get along, but if Catherine wasn't so stubborn they could have lived a long and happy life together." The specter of Heathcliff hangs around Hessa throughout the story. And yet, they remain inexplicably drawn to each other, making Heathcliff-esque Hardin determined to make sure they end up together at the end.
Bonus: Tessa says, "Catherine Earnshaw and Elizabeth Bennet are much better company than my mother." #Burn. (Heeseung Kim)
Once again the Spanish writer Santiago Posteguillo makes a Brontë reference. He talks in Las Provincias (Spain) about his new project:
Avanzó que está preparando un relato corto sobre los perros literarios y citó los casos de Argos de 'La odisea' o Pilot de 'Jane Eyre'. Estos canes sólo están infectados por el «virus de la literatura» y sugirió que 'Cujo', de Stephen King, no sería un mal relato «para una persona que no ha aprendido a amar a los perros» (en referencia a las autoridades sanitarias). (Carmen Velasco) (Translation)
Kölner Stadt-Unzeiger gives voice to the scholar Friederike Danebrock:
Das kam bei den Zeitgenossen zum Teil nicht gut an. „Sturmhöhe“ etwa, die tragische Liebesgeschichte von Heathcliff und Catherine, geschrieben von Emily Brontë, stieß zur Zeit ihrer Veröffentlichung auf blanke Ablehnung, weil die Protagonisten für den damaligen Geschmack gar zu leidenschaftlich ans Werk gingen. (Translation)
Culturamas (Spain) has an article about the Brontës with some usual blunders (Brönte, some dubious portraits...) and some unusual ones (Brandwell?):
La que hoy me trae aquí, sentada en mi escritorio y aporreando las teclas del ordenador, es la familia Brönte (sic), quienes tomaron como pilar uno de los más bellos artes que todos conocemos, la escritura.
Ninguno de sus antepasados podía presagiar los dones que desde ya temprana edad se empezaron a manifestar en los pequeños hermanos Brönte (sic), Charlotte, Emily , Anne y el a veces relegado a un segundo plano, Brandwell (sic). La extremada educación de su padre junto con el vertiginoso desarrollo de su imaginación, hicieron que su capacidad para la construcción de historias cada vez más complejas, aumentara de una manera casi sin precedentes. A pesar de la temprana felicidad que dio este talento en un primer momento oculto, las desgracias al igual que en otras familias, no se hicieron esperar. La muerte se convirtió en un invitado de honor en los primeros años de los Brönte (sic), el fallecimiento en primer lugar de su madre y posteriormente de sus dos hermanas mayores fueron los hechos que más marcaron todas y cada una de sus obras. (Pilar Martínez) (Translation)
Caitriona Doherty talks about being a superfan in Wessex Scene:
Accept that no work made by human hands will ever be perfect. But you can like a thing, flaws and all. For example, you might love Jane Eyre with all of your heart, but you have to admit that it has some pretty questionable sexual and racial politics. The novel is still brilliantly written, and still makes a powerful feminist statement, especially for the time period. But it does have flaws that don’t deserve to be ignored.
Gina Barreca lists movies that can "make a guy go into a panic" in Psychology Today. Needless to say, we don't agree at all:
Tie: "Wuthering Heights" or "Jane Eyre" — any adaptation, any director, any time period.
Business Standard (India) has an article on the actor Dilip Kumar, one of the few actors who played both Heathcliff and Rochester in the big screen. Groruddalen (Norway) talks with an inmate at the Bredtveit prison who aptly quotes from Charlotte Brontë's ("I am no bird...").

Creative Writing and Auditions

Two very different Brontë alerts for today, October 25:

A Day of Creative Writing at Ponden Hall with Anne Caldwell
Saturday 25 October 2014, 10.30am - 3.30pm

The Brontë Parsonage Museum is hosting a one-day workshop with us here this October -  ‘A Day of Creative Writing at Ponden Hall’ with poet Anne Caldwell on Saturday October 25 (10.30am-3.30pm).
Tickets are available from the Parsonage (email Sue Newby at, or phone her on 01535 640185) on a first-come first-served basis. Tickets cost £50 and include a soup and sandwich lunch, afternoon tea and cake, and a tour of the Hall.
And in Washington City, Utah, auditions for a Jane Eyre.The Musical production:
 AUDITION NOTICE: Jane Eyre, the musical
Saturday October 25th 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and
Wednesday, October 29th 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Location: Brigham’s Playhouse
25 N. 300 W.
Washington Utah, 84780
(In Cottontown Village, next to the Red Barn)

Friday, October 24, 2014

A debt of gratitude

In the midst of its inner 'wars', a reader of Keighley News thinks that the Brontë Society is owed a 'debt of gratitude'.

The Brontë Society owes a debt of gratitude to those early founding fathers of the society, for their dedication to ‘promoting and commemorating the lives, times, literature and art’ of the Brontë family – Brontë Society chairman steps down due to health (Keighley News, October 9).
Those early stalwarts used to meet in a room above what was the butcher’s shop above what is now the information centre, at the top of Main Street in Haworth.
In 1928, the then Parochial Church Council declared, in modern parlance, Patrick Brontë’s Parsonage was no longer ‘fit for purpose’, and put it up for sale. To our internal gratitude, the Parsonage was purchased by a wealthy benefactor who, having applied for trust status, gifted the Parsonage to the existing members of the Brontë Society, who by law immediately become trustees. We are therefore bound by law to ‘maintain and care for the Parsonage, to hold in trust in perpetuity’ (forever).
It should now be seen and appreciated that since 1928, Brontë Society members worldwide are now trustees of the Brontë Parsonage Trust. We therefore own the Parsonage and every thing in it. We can’t sell it, can’t give it away and, more importantly, no one can take it away from us. John Thirlwell and his ‘co-conspirators’ are in breach of trust law in attempting to do so.
Somewhere along the line, the Parsonage was granted charity status, readily granted by an ‘arm’ of the government, called the Charity Commission, in order (as I see it) to avoid the thousands of charities springing up all over the country from applying for grants for various causes.
So now we have become The Brontë Parsonage Charity Trust. A stand-alone entity responsible for raising our own funds as non-paid members. We trustees cannot pay ourselves for any services rendered, though we can pay for accountancy work etc. Charity Law forbids remunerated employees from having any control over the trust’s governance. Thus any attempt at any sort of takeover by our own employees renders them liable for instant dismissal on those grounds.
We can, by law, employ staff to carry out some duties that may need a full-time operative, such as clerical work, but such numbers must be kept to a minimum to keep costs down.
All this information should therefore stop those spurious efforts by Mr Thirlwell and co dead in the water, and any continuation of his destruction of our Brontë Parsonage Charity Trust is a total waste of time and effort, as we have charity law and trust law on our side!
Go Home Mr Thirlwell, you can’t win.
Still locally, the Keighley News also reports that the 'Black Bull in Haworth now the centre of a vibrant music scene' and also that 'Councillors apply for community asset status for Haworth's Royal Oak pub to try and block Tesco bid':
Council vice chairman, councillor Angel Kershaw, explained that if the application to Bradford Council is successful the parish council would have have the right to be consulted in the event of the pub being sold off.
She said if the pub is put up for sale councillors would then have six months to suggest alternative ways of retaining the premises as a community asset.
"The Royal Oak has been allowed to become run down," she said. "It's quite obvious that the people who own it have not invested in it.
"We would like the brewery to sell it to another brewery that is interested in it, or to invest money and bring it up to scratch.
"Its location by the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway means it could be a brilliant place. The pub dates back to before the 1850s and we know it was there at the time of the Brontës.
"We very much want it to continue as a centre for community gatherings.
"It's the only pub left on that side of the village. If it goes then people who aren't physically fit enough to get up the hill to the other side of Haworth will be left without a local pub."
Tesco's plans to turn the pub into a convenience store have encountered strong opposition from local people and councillors.
One of its applications, which would have involved locating a cash machine on the outside of the building, was rejected by Bradford planners earlier this month. (Oct) Worth Valley Ward Councillor Rebecca Poulsen said this cash machine would have been in a "ridiculous and dangerous" location.
Tesco has argued that a convenience store in the building would create 20 jobs, boost economic regeneration and bring extra trade to Mill Hey. (Miran Rahman)
The Irish Times lists '10 fictional characters who are given a novel of their own'. One of which is:
Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), Jean Rhys
Wide Sargasso Sea acts as a prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, told from the perspective of the madwoman in the attic. Rhys reimagines the voice of the beautiful and fragile Antoinette Cosway, years before she is shipped to England to start her new life as Bertha Rochester. (Sarah Gilmartin)
The Times publishes the obituary of the author Mary Cadogan (1928-2014):
"I used to devour the Magnet and the Schoolgirl avidly in the 1930s... at the same time as I was devouring the works of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and Anne Sewell", she recalled. "It never struck me then, or now, that there was anything fundamentally in opposition about these two types of reading".
Spanish writer Santiago Posteguillo speaks in Las Provincias (Spain) about the suffering of Charlotte Brontë and what she turned it into:
Pero pese a sus diferencias, bajo todos los escritores incluidos en el libro subyace la presencia común de la sangre, "ya sea física o metafórica". Y ha puesto como ejemplo el sufrimiento de Charlotte Brontë, quien "tuvo la genialidad de reconvertirlo, en lugar de en soledad, en una obra maestra como 'Jane Eyre'", ha observado. (Translation)
La plana al día (Spain) thinks that Tennyson's Enoch Arden follows in the footsteps of Wuthering Heights.
Enoch Arden es una historia de amor. Una historia total que sigue la senda de Wuthering Heights (Cumbres borrascosas), publicada por Emily Brontë casi veinte años antes, en 1847. (Translation)
According to Closer Magazine (France), Isabelle Adjani, who played Emily in André Téchiné's Les Soeurs Brontë, considers Isabelle Huppert, who played Anne, her rival.
L'autre Isabelle, sa sœur Brontë détestée, sa rivale de toujours. (Coralie Vincent) (Translation)
Vasabladet (Sweden) thinks that Wuthering Heights is one of the best fall reads. A columnist from La Jornada (Mexico) speaks about her love of books and mentions reading the Brontës. The Times makes a list of Gothic art, music... and Wuthering Heights seems to be in. reviews Jane Eyre 2011. Booked til Tuesday reviews Ironskin by Tina Connolly. thatgirlwiththenovel posts about Jane Eyre.

Theatre and Jane Eyre meeting Thomas, the tank Engine

A couple of rendez-vous with theatre adaptations of Brontë novels.

The Peter McMaster's all-male Wuthering Heights will be performed today, October 24 at the Folkenstone Fringe:
Wuthering Heights
Directed by Peter McMaster

Four performers explode their own experiences of being men in this bold theatrical debut from 'one of Scotland's most interesting young theatre makers' (The Scotsman)'. As the men recall the dark expanses of the Yorkshire moors, sing together full-throated and bold, recall poignant memorials of being a boy and dance optimistically to the howling tones of Kate Bush, the energy of this brave new performance is not to be missed.

McMaster's all male, award-winning interpretation of Emily Brontë's seminal text, re-visits the iconic landscapes and characters from Wuthering heights and places them alongside the stories of the male performers. This re-imagined classic considers how almost 200 years after the book was published, the lives and aspirations of men are now different. From the perspective of this all male company, this timely new production questions what should be left behind in history and what should be held onto as we move forward into the 21st century.

Fri 24 Oct | 19.30 - 20.40
£10, £8 concessions
Quarterhouse, 49 Tontine Street, CT20 1BN
In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a student performance of Robert Johanson's Jane Eyre adaptation:
Jackson Hole High School Drama is ready for the curtain to go up on its fall performance of “Jane Eyre,” the stage adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s opus. (...)
For six nights — Thursday through Saturday and Oct. 30 through Nov. 1 — the drama students will bring “Jayne Eyre” (sic) to life in the high school auditorium.
There are many theater adaptations for the classic story, but the Robert Johanson script that drama teacher Evie Lewis found is the most true to the novel. Most members of the cast had not read it. After becoming familiar with the relationships they embraced it.
“The kids don’t read this that often anymore,” Lewis said of the book. “They’ve really enjoyed discovering this whole story and this period.”
The teens command the lines and movements of Victorian classicism, all as young professionals.
Senior Cheyenne Garnick was raised around the theater and personifies the independent and outspoken governess Jane Eyre. Her lines come naturally, and even when she struggles to remember the exact phrase her passion for the theater is obvious.
Senior Douglas DuPont, who has performed in the fall drama productions since his freshman year, takes on the role 38-year-old Mr. Rochester with acumen. In preparing for the part he observed older men’s mannerisms so that he could fix his “lazy, high school posture” when he was onstage.
“It’s art,” he said of the performance.
However, these are students, and as they learn in English or math classes they broaden their vocabulary, their understanding of history and their public speaking skills, taking on new words with each day. They might struggle with the pronunciation of “solace” or “artifice,” but they learn, correct and move on. (Jason Suder in Jackson Hole News & Guide)
And finally, the NEPCA’s 2014 fall conference  (Northeast Popular / American Culture Association) (Providence, Rhode Island) schedule contains a talk that is quite.... well... bizarre?
Session II: Friday, October 24, 2:45–4:15 pm
“Jane Eyre on the Island of Sodor”
Andrew Hazucha, Ottawa University

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. In the first episode of the fourth season of Channel Four's Walking Through History :

Haworth and Brontë 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 Brontë 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, directed by David Ayer.
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
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.


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.

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
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'.