The Guardian reviews the book Emily Brontë Reappraised by Claire O’Callaghan. It is interesting to see that neither the book nor the newspaper use a verified image of Emily.
Two hundred years after her birth Emily Brontë is still remembered as an oddball, a people-hater and the weirdest of three weird sisters.We haven't read the book yet but while any effort to reach the real Brontës has our admiration, it is also true that Emily's - real or artificial - reputation has, if anything, helped her 'popularity'. And we can't forget that she was a 19th-century woman - we may not 'stigmatise' people in the 21st century (even if we actually do) but they most certainly did back then. A recluse woman writer who penned a book like Wuthering Heights never had it easy. That is not to say that it is fair, simply that it's understandable. Political correctness can't be retroactive and we have to accept that.
But a book published this week aims to rehabilitate the reputation of the author of Wuthering Heights, one of the greatest novels ever written: she may have been shy and reserved but she was not strange and should be seen as a woman ahead of her time, the academic Claire O’Callaghan argues.
O’Callaghan said Brontë’s reputation was entirely carved out by others, a lot of it based on the writings of Charlotte, who was responding to criticism of her sisters Emily and Anne.
“She adopted the strategy of appealing for pity by presenting her sisters as a bit weird and a bit strange, people who did not really know what they were doing,” said O’Callaghan.
Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography of Charlotte embellished the stories even further. “Those founding images have been extended and reworked and dramatised and amplified, they have become mythic up until the present really.”
O’Callaghan said Emily had been portrayed in many ways, usually negative. Sometimes she was “a staid, old-fashioned, people-hating spinster who roamed about the Yorkshire moors alone with her dog” or “a painfully shy and socially awkward girl-woman who was sick whenever she left home” or “she’s a stubborn and defiant woman who willingly withheld assorted physical and mental ailments, or an ethereal soul too fragile to endure the real world”.
She said the myths were damaging. “They perpetuate this idea she was weird and different and strange and other in a way that is quite hostile.”
O’Callaghan said it was true Emily was shy, or reserved, and craved solitude and enjoyed getting out the house walking on the moors with her dog Keeper, a large mastiff. But this did not make her odd.
“Today when we think about character traits and personality traits we take a different approach to things, we try to accommodate and understand differences or social awkwardness or anxieties or just different ways of being. We try not to stigmatise people.”
O’Callaghan’s book also explores how Emily might fit in today, arguing she would be more at home in a more accepting, tolerant, feminist society.
Brontë’s only novel was Wuthering Heights, the violent and passionate story of the relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff.
O’Callaghan said the novel was still seen as a love story and that too needs re-examining. “I think it is about a lot more and I think that love story is quite a damaging one … I think it can be read as a cautionary tale against damaging romance and violent romance.”
Heathcliff is clearly a horrible man “yet he is often read as the archetypal anti-hero. I really question that word hero. He is just vile from the outset.”
In the era of Time’s Up and #MeToo, O’Callaghan, a lecturer in English at Loughborough University, said it was a good time to re-evaluate. “Maybe the time’s up on Heathcliff … we need to take off the romantic blinkers and we need to look at him more critically.” (Mark Brown)
France Culture has a podcast (in French, obviously) and a lengthy article on Emily Brontë and her bicentenary.
Ce sera le 30 juillet, mais déjà nous pouvons nous préparer à ce grand événement : le bicentenaire de la naissance d’Emily Brontë. Emily Brontë, née en 1818, morte seulement 30 ans plus tard, en 1848, d’une tuberculose qu’elle avait refusée de soigner. Sœur de Charlotte et Anne, une sororité dont on a tout imaginé, l’enfance, les jeux, les rêves…, on doit à Emily Brontë un seul roman… mais quel roman ! [...]The Imaginative Conservative recommends '10 Poetry Books for Graduates'.
Car Emily Brontë incarne à elle seule le mystère philosophique de l’auteur. Elle en est le paradoxe : d’elle on connaît assez de choses pour l’identifier, mais trop peu pour signer définitivement son portrait… et à l’inverse des œuvres qu’on explique par la vie de leur auteur, on tente souvent de la saisir, elle, mais en passant au contraire par son œuvre…
D’Emily Brontë, il nous reste des poèmes, publiés un an avant sa mort et parce que sa sœur l’avait voulu. Il nous reste des traces de ce qu’elle a écrit, mais pas d’elle comme auteure, de ses processus, de ses mobiles, de ses affects qui l’animaient.
De la même manière que ses personnages ont pour ressort le mystère, il en est de même pour son geste d’auteure : qu’est-ce qui a fait qu’elle est devenue auteure ? Qu’est-ce qui fait qu’elle s’est autorisée à l’être ? Et qu’est-ce qui pourrait nous l’expliquer dans ce qu’elle a signé comme auteure ?
Dans ce poème qui s’appelle « A l’imagination », elle célèbre cette « folle du logis », cette faculté puissante mais dont la logique échappe… et avec Emily Brontë, apparaît la possibilité puissante, folle et illogique aussi d’une autorisation prise sans la demander, d’une autorisation d’écrire et de signer de sa plume et de son nom, sans choisir pourtant d’être lue, elle, visible, explicable grâce à son œuvre, tel n’importe quel auteur. (Géraldine Mosna-Savoye) (Translation)
7) And now for another Emily. For Gothic verse, for sheer empathic skill in one so young, I enjoy the Everyman edition of Emily Bronte. Once again, it’s bite-sized and not as thick a tome as her complete poems. True, Bronte often deals in death and grief because it was the reality of the day, but that should not dissuade. or obscure her brighter moments. Consider “No Coward Soul Is Mine” and “Love and Friendship.” (Christine Norvell)British Film Institute celebrates the 25th anniversary of The Piano.
“I read a short treatment [of The Piano], and I responded to it very strongly,” [producer Jan Chapman] recalls. “There was an essence that went back to Emily Brontë and Wuthering Heights in its expression of female desire. It’s ironic, because it is about male and female attraction and sexuality, but it’s also about a private insight into the female version of that. It ignited me, and I thought it was enough to ignite other people.” (Nikki Baughan)Cracked has selected '5 'Lovesick' Fictional Characters Who Are Really Just Dicks', including Mr Rochester.
In Jane Eyre, The Male Lead Has A Secret Wife Trapped In His HouseThe Irish Times interviews writer Caroline O’Donoghue about her debut novel Promising Young Women.
Despite their predilection for casual racism, I love classic novels. I've spent many a night on the couch curled up with some literary oldies, and the Bronte sisters always came through. Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (which has gotten many, many film adaptations) is one of the first classic romantic novels I'd ever read in which both the female and male leads were described as straight up ugly. As a young lady getting smacked in the face by puberty, I found that intriguing. Throughout all the twists and turns and trifling side chicks, I kept rooting for Jane and Mr. Rochester to beat the odds and end up together. Two 5s coming together to make a 10. It oddly won me over as a preteen.
In fact, at the climax, Rochester winds up badly burned and thus "uglier" than ever, one more tragedy in a miserable life he needs rescued from. But there's just the minor problem that ROCHESTER WAS HIDING HIS WIFE IN A SECRET ROOM THE WHOLE TIME.
Not that there were no red flags prior to that. At one point, Rochester disguises himself as a female fortune teller solely to fuck with Jane's head. Annoying people on Facebook share a meme that says "Back in my day, when a relationship was broken, we didn't throw it away. We fixed it." But I don't think that quote ever counted on the "broken" part being due to your dude dressing up a lady magician to cause you psychological torment. Also, Rochester maintains an engagement with another woman for a period of time just to try to get a rise out of Jane. Nothing gets your ladies excited like proposing to another woman, fellas.
But neither of these relationship absurdities come close to the fact that this man has a secret wife trapped in his house that no one in the whole damn city knew about. And Jane only finds out about it on their wedding day. Of course, Edward "Master of Disguises" Rochester plays it off like "Well, you know, we all come with some baggage." True, Edward, but if we're talking about baggage, you're basically wearing a suitcase as a shirt. You have a secret wife that you've kept in the house that JANE IS LIVING IN. "Secret imprisoned wife nobody knows about" is a step away from being a Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel.
But the secret wife dies by suicide, and so Jane can swoop in and marry him herself. So ... it all worked out, I guess? (Archie Grimm)
Things begin to descend for Jane and the book takes on a surreal quality that oddly deepens the realism. As I was writing, I was also rereading Jane Eyre and I realised it’s more or less the same arc. Jane Eyre is a workplace romance; add a HR department and it could be now. And there are weird supernatural elements that never get into the film adaptations, like when Rochester dresses up as a gypsy and when she can hear him calling across hundreds of miles. You write about the impossible because it’s the only way to adequately describe how it actually feels. You make all that stuff external. Toni Morrison does that exceptionally well with topics that push against what it’s actually possible to envision in the modern world. The psychic weight of the things she’s dealing with is so heavy she had to create a new language and a new series of references. This is how it looks, she implies, because this is how it feels. (Darran Anderson)Times Leader tells about a recent book sale at Osterhout Free Library (Wilkes-Barre, PA).
Vintage books included Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” printed in 1926, “Great Detective Stories,” printed in 1928 and “Lassie Come Home,” printed in 1940. There was even a copy of Charlotte Bronte’s “Villette,” which some critics prefer to her more well-known “Jane Eyre.” (Mary Therese Biebel)Nouse has all sort of reading recommendations for the summer, including
or the tightwad- the person who scrimps and saves, even on holidayA Novel Library posts about Jane Eyre. The Library Ladies review My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. When in Doubt, Read! posts about the 1974 book H: The Story of Heathcliff's Journey Back to Wuthering Heights by Lin Haire-Sargeant. On YouTube Lucy the Reader discusses the Brontës and beauty as part of this month's book club read of Jane Eyre.
First off, get a Kindle. It might seem like a splurge, but you will save so much money in the long run if you’re a big reader. Most books are at least a couple of pounds cheaper in electronic format than paper, and any book which is now out of copyright is free. That means that Dickens, Austen, the Brontës, and Hardy are all available for absolutely nothing. They’re also all fairly lengthy tomes so will keep you going all summer long. Plus, Kindles are light so you won’t have to be paying any extra baggage charges for all those hardbacks you’d otherwise be cramming into your suitcase. (Stella Newing)