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Emily's Tabula Rasa

Emily Willingham signs a good article on Forbes on Emily Brontë and ASD:
The Brontës were, by any measures of their time or ours, an odd family unit.  (...)
They were all unusual. Their language and manners were quaint, their interests esoteric, their behaviors sometimes inexplicable even to those who knew them. Although they all were “quirky,” Emily stood out for her take-no-guff rigorous temperament. By most accounts, the family expected her to be brusque with other people. (...)
Claire Harman’s not the first person to suggest that Emily Jane Brontë was on the autism spectrum. People seem to think that the sole features of autism involved being solitary and odd, possibly with a dash of “magic disabled supergenius” thrown in and a prickly temperament. Of course, those traits also fit people who are antisocial, or have some form of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, some other personality disorder, a history of abuse and loss, unmatched talent or nothing at all.
Diagnosing a historical figure with something like autism, when doing so relies so much on observed behaviors, is almost impossible. Achieving anything near accuracy would require meticulously documented observations from the person themselves and perhaps the people who knew them. Such information about Emily Brontë is famously sparse, which of course makes her a sort of tabula rasa onto which people over the decades have scrawled various conclusions about her health and her neurology. Like “Asperger’s-y.”
Wuthering Heights is a powerful, irrational book written by a passionate woman who had an extraordinarily strange, tragic and difficult life. We don’t need to look to armchair DSM-ey diagnoses to encompass or explain who Emily Brontë was. Her losses, her situation and the remarkable literary skill that many in her family shared and nourished and encouraged are enough.
Keighley News reports the upcoming publication of a new book of poetry inspired by the Brontës by Grace McCleen:
A Brontë-inspired collection of new poems will be launched in Haworth this weekend.
Grace McCleen wrote the poems after being inspired by her time as writer in residence at the village’s Brontë Parsonage Museum.
The book, Every Sounding Line, is illustrated with images captured by Grace on her walks to Top Withins, reputedly the setting for Emily Brontë”s novel Wuthering Heights.
Extracts of the poems will be displayed as text installations inside the Parsonage Museum alongside the Brontë exhibits that inspired them.
The exhibition will run until the end of the year, and the book can be bought from the museum shop.
Every Sounding Line will be launched during the Brontë Festival of Women’s Writing, which runs from Friday, September 9 to Sunday, September 11. (David Knights)
St Oswald's Church in Guiseley will be open the upcoming National Heritage weekend according to The Wharfedale Observer:
Two prominent Wharfedale landmarks will be opening their doors to the public as part of the National Heritage weekend on September 10 and 11.
Volunteers at High Royds Memorial Garden in Menston have been busy preparing to take part in the event.
Ans a Guiseley church with historic links to the Brontë family is also getting involved in weekend festivities.
The chapel and garden will be staffed by local volunteers and be open, free of charge, from 10.30am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm on both days. The weekend will conclude with a Thanksgiving Service at 4pm on the Sunday, to which all are welcome. (...)
The church has been at Guiseley's heart for more than 900 years and has witnessed key events in the lives of countless local people. The parents of the world famous Brontë sisters, Patrick and Maria Brontë, were married at St Oswald's in 1812. (Claire Lomax)
The Telegraph & Argus summarises the summer at the Parsonage:
Our Front of House team enjoys celeb spotting and last weekend, a sharp-eyed staff member spotted Edwina Currie, former MP and Strictly participant!
Recent visitors have been offered the opportunity to enhance their visit by taking the opportunity to experience a new audio drama in the nearby churchyard.
Commissioned by West Yorkshire Playhouse and written by Emma Adams especially for the Parsonage, Tiny Shoes is a contemporary piece lasting approximately 20 minutes. (...)
Now September is here, we are looking forward to our Brontë Festival of Women’s Writing which runs from September 9 to 11. This year we’re working in partnership with Mslexia and the line-up includes the hilarious comedy duo LipService, Tracy Chevalier, Jessie Burton and our 2016 Writer in Residence, Grace McCleen.
Tickets for several of the writing workshops have sold out, so if your creative muscles are in need of a flex, be sure to book soon. The full programme is available to view at
Meanwhile across the Atlantic, the Morgan Library in New York is preparing to open a brand new Charlotte Brontë exhibition.
The Brontë Parsonage Museum has loaned several items for the show, including a dress worn by Charlotte when she visited William Thackeray. She couldn’t have imagined, when she wore it nearly 170 years ago, that it would one day go on display on the other side of the world! (...)
Finally, although there is still a third of 2016 to go, we have started to plan our 2017 programme.
We will be marking the bicentenary of Branwell Brontë in a variety of ways, so if you haven’t yet signed up to our e-newsletter, be sure to do so via our website so that you don’t miss the latest announcements. Also, look out for news about a programme of special events during January – our usual closed period – very exciting! (David Knights)
In the same newspaper we read about some upcoming Brontë-related events that will take place in several local literary festivals:
Yorkshire Literature Festivals team up on new work to celebrate the Brontës
To mrk the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth and the start of the Brontë 200 celebrations Ilkley Literature Festival is teaming up with Beverley Literature Festival and Off the Shelf Festival of Words to commission three writers to produce new work inspired by the literary siblings. Guardian First Book Prize Winner Andrew McMillan, singer/songwriter Nat Johnson and acclaimed playwright Zodwa Nyoni will each create a new piece of work in response to a different family member, to be performed at a showcase event that will tour the three festivals in October. (...)
Dorcas Taylor from Beverley Literature Festival added: "From the outset, this project was about celebrating the amazing Brontë legacy through new work. Zodwa, Andrew and Nat will each bring their distinctive voices to the project and create pieces that offer new interpretations to the familiar narratives around the Brontë family and their work."
Nat Johnson, who is writing a new song inspired by the three sisters and their effect on one another as individuals and writers said: "I’m delighted to be taking part in this project, and I’ve really been enjoying returning to the Brontë novels and poetry and visiting Haworth."
Andrew McMillan, who is working on a piece inspired by Branwell Brontë said: "It’s always great, as a poet, to be asked to respond to something you might not otherwise have written about. We can get stuck in a rut I think, and work like this can help to move us out of our comfort zone."
While Zodwa Nyoni, who is creating a performance piece about a modern teenager connecting with Charlotte despite the difference in their culture and backgrounds, said: "I decided to look in to Charlotte Brontë for the commission. I connected to her resilience as a woman and a writer. With her writing, she persevered under patriarchal society and even when her sisters were published and she wasn't; she never gave up." (...)
New Responses to the Brontës will be at Off the Shelf on Friday, October 14, including a special light projection created by Word Life, Ilkley Literature Festival on Saturday, October 15 and Beverley Literature Festival on Tuesday, October 18.See the Festivals’ websites for full details, including how to book tickets. (Claire Lomax)
USA Today has a top ten of swoon-worthy period dramas:
10. 'Jane Eyre' (2011)
This faithful, gorgeous adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s classic Victorian novel has enough wistful longing and bushy sideburns to satisfy any Brontë fangirl. But Michael Fassbender is the film’s ace in the hole, playing the part of dark and dashing Mr. Rochester as if he invented tortured brooding. He taps into whatever character magic Brontë worked that has had readers the past 166 years rooting for the guy who has a secret wife locked in the attic to get the girl. (Barbara VanDenburgh)
Village Voice discusses unreliable narrators:
“Unreliable narrator” was coined by literary critic Wayne C. Booth in 1961 in his now-classic The Rhetoric of Fiction. “I have called a narrator reliable when he speaks for or acts in accordance with the norms of the work (which is to say the implied author’s norms), unreliable when he does not,” Booth wrote. Fictional first-person narration in literature dates back to around the 16th century, while experimental first person didn’t arise until three centuries later, kicked up from the rubble of industrialization to settle in the pages of William Thackeray’s The Luck of Barry Lyndon and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. (Soraya Roberts)
The Irish Examiner asks Jeanne Sutton, from the Stellar magazine, about Bridget Jones:
“I think surviving is the most feminist act of all. I like Jane Eyre even though she goes back to a liar. She chose the man she loved. In real life, a lot of people stand by the person they love. Sometimes your female friend is going to go back to the boyfriend you have no time for.” (Ciara McDonnell)
Defining steampunk on Maniwatu Standard (New Zealand):
Imagine a locomotive time machine with Jules Verne, Emily Brontë and Dr. Who on board, rushing at full speed towards a post apocalyptic Victorian Britain. Add in a horde of American Indians giving chase, and you are half way there. (Carly Simon)
Penguin picks the most delightful or despicable schools in literature:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
If you’re an orphan sent to a charity school for girls, you can be fairly sure that your schooldays aren’t going to be the best days of your life. Lowood Institution features cold rooms, poor meals, and thin clothing, courtesy of Mr Brocklehurst. Despite the loss of her stoic best friend, Helen, to tuberculosis, conditions eventually improve for Jane at Lowood. After six years as a student, she stays on for a further two as a teacher, before striking out on her own as a governess, heading for Thornfield Hall – and Edward Rochester.
We read in Svenska Dagblet (Sweden) how in the 1980 Oxford Book of Verse in English translation appear fragments of Branwell Brontë's translations of Horace:
Det är en antologi som öppnar litteraturen från ett helt nytt håll, en antologi som man gärna skulle se en svenskspråkig version av: poeters diktöversättningar, ordnade kronologiskt efter översättarna.
Vi får i stort sett samma historia som i gängse antologier, samma utveckling av språket och versen, och delvis samma namn, som Spenser, Donne, Milton, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats … Eliot, Pound, Hilda Doolittle, Marianne Moore … fram till Ted Hughes. (Men också några genuint oväntade namn, som systrarna Brontës olycklige bror Branwell, närvarande här i egenskap av Horatiustolkare.) (Christopher Leandoer) (Translation)
Librópatas (Spain) reviews the 1999 book Charlotte in Love: The Courtship and Marriage of Charlotte Brontë  by Brian Wilks:
La historia de amor, desencuentros y matrimonio de Arthur Nicholls y Charlotte Brontë tiene ahora un libro dedicado solo a ella, Charlotte in Love, de Brian Wilks, que intenta reconstruir la relación entre el pastor y la escritora y que intenta, además, dar también voz al propio Arthur. Nicholls no dejó escrita su visión de los hechos ni dejó testimonio real sobre su relación con Charlotte antes de casarse. Ella sí dejó muchísimas cartas a sus amigas y, además, la historia de ese noviazgo se acabó construyendo partiendo de lo que Elizabeth Gaskell escribió (como tantas otras cosas sobre la vida de Charlotte Brontë) en su biografía de la escritora. Sin embargo, Gaskell no es una fuente fiable, ya que no era ‘aséptica’ en su narración, como tampoco lo es la propia Charlotte Brontë, que cuenta lo que quiere contar y lo hace (como hace todo el mundo cuando habla con sus amigos) su historia y, sobre todo, la historia como quiere que llegue al receptor de su mensaje. (Raquel C. Pico) (Translation)
Oubliette Magazine (Italy) reviews I Misteri di Chalk Hill by Susanne Goga:
I misteri di Chalk Hill”, il “noir” ad atmosfere gotiche della tedesca Susanne Goga (Giunti Editore, 2015), è un infittirsi di misteri e colpi di scena che alimentano una lettura adrenalinica. Detto questo, però, è innegabile avvertire un’eco del celebre romanzo ottocentesco “Jane Eyre” di Charlotte Bronte, ma nemmeno l’autrice tende a negarlo. (Translation)
Die Zeit discusses the new (more happy) trends in American novel:
Patricia Parks Re Jane (2015), eine humorvolle Nacherzählung von Jane Eyre, endet, ganz nach dem Brontë-Modell, mit einem sorgsam verschnürten Bündel von Vorgriffen und Happy Ends. Sowohl Chee als auch Park schöpfen ihre Schlussgesten bewusst aus dem Fundus des 19. Jahrhunderts – sie erzählen ihre modernen Geschichten mit einem seit dem Naturalismus verpönten Willen zum Glück. (Adrian Daub) (Translation)
Charlotte Brontë-inspired fashion on College Fashion; the Brussels Brontë Blog explores the Russian translations of Villette.
An alert in Brussels. Today is the second chance to take the guided walk across the Brontë Brussels:
Les Soeurs Brontë à Bruxelles

Frédérique Bianchi est passionnée de littérature. Licenciée en Lettres Modernes, elle crée des promenades urbaines où les liens entre textes et lieux découvrent les traces réelles, et les univers imaginaires de femmes et d’hommes qui ont vécu à Bruxelles.

Samedi 28 mai, 3 septembre et 8 octobre à 11 h

« Bruxelles est ma terre promise », écrit Charlotte Brontë à une amie, le 9 décembre 1841. Un an plus tard, Emily et Charlotte quittent les landes du Yorkshire pour la capitale d’un tout jeune pays. Agées d’une petite vingtaine d’années, les deux sœurs souhaitent parfaire leurs connaissances en langues – principalement en français – en vue d’ouvrir une école pour jeunes filles. Après avoir débarqué à Ostende, accompagnées de leur père et d’amis, elles se rendent à Bruxelles, où elles sont accueillies rue Isabelle, au Pensionnat Héger-Parent. L’expérience de leur séjour bruxellois marquera leur œuvre et leur vie, en particulier celle de Charlotte qui s’éprend secrètement, avec passion, de Constantin Héger. (via L'Avenir)
And another in Chicago:
Great films of 1939: Wuthering Heights + Discussion afterward
Where: The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street, Chicago, IL
When: September 3, 2016
Time: 6:45 p.m.
Hosted by Stephen Reginald

This post first appeared on BrontëBlog, please read the originial post: here

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Emily's Tabula Rasa


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