Planet Century 19

November 22, 2014



The Brontë biofiction, Branwell genre, has a new addition:
by Robert Edric
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Doubleday (20 Nov 2014)
Ebook: Transworld Digital (20 Nov 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-0857522870

Haworth, West Yorkshire, 1848.

Branwell Brontë - unexhibited artist, unacknowledged writer, sacked railwayman, disgraced tutor and spurned lover -finds himself unhappily back in Haworth Parsonage, to face the crushing disappointment of his father and his three sisters, whose own pseudonymous successes - allegedly kept secret from him – are only just becoming apparent.

With his health failing rapidly, his literary aspirations abandoned and his once loyal circle of friends shrinking fast, Branwell lives in a world of secrets, conspiracies and seemingly endless betrayals. To restore himself to a creative and fulfilling existence in the face of an increasingly claustrophobic environment, he returns to the drugs, alcohol and the morbid self-delusion which have already played such a large part in his unhappy life.

Sanctuary is a lacerating and moving portrait of self-destruction. In it, Robert Edric has reimagined the final months of one of the great bystanders of literary history, and, in so doing, has shone a penetrating light on one of the most celebrated and perennially fascinating families in our creative history.

by M. ( at November 22, 2014 02:29 AM

November 21, 2014


Heathcliff, business guru

The Independent (Ireland) reviews the Gate Theatre production of Wuthering Heights.
Anne-Marie Casey’s adaptation, necessarily compressed, loses most of the fine tissue connecting the bones of one of English literature’s greatest love stories.
Much of it, particularly in the first act, jerks along, made jerkier by Michael Barker-Caven’s over-busy production. Within minutes Cathy has returned home outwardly transformed from her recuperation at the Lintons, a surly young Heathcliff has been scrubbed up by Nelly (the excellent Fiona Bell) to impress her, while vowing undying revenge on Cathy’s tyrannical brother Hindley and Hindley’s wife has gone upstairs pregnant and come down in a coffin. Unless you know the story it all seems rather haphazard.
Wuthering Heights is in a constant spin, and though the ingenuity of Paul O’Mahoney’s set design often pays off, sliding rocks, sliding curtains, beds coming out of walls, and some decidedly naff film projections do more to shred the atmosphere than thicken it.
A key element of the novel’s brooding menace is Hindley, consumed with hatred for Heathcliff from childhood. A sneery wimpish Ronan Leahy is miscast as the vengeful brute, while Joseph is just an ephemeral servant rather then the cursing Biblical moralizer he should be.
Thankfully Tom Canton is a superb Heathcliff, physically and vocally, his hoarse northern accent hollow and dry when making threats that never fail to materialize, and impassioned when articulating his tormented love for Cathy. Kate Brennan is a constantly compelling Cathy, in possession of an untameable love the well-bred Lintons can’t even imagine, but, as a woman, still concerned to better her position.
Brennan embodies perfectly this conflict between her love and her appetite for betterment, spelled out when she tries to justify her intention of marrying Linton. She loves Linton because he’s rich and he loves her, but Heathcliff is a different matter. “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
With Brennan and Canton, the unvarnished simplicity of Cathy and Heathcliff’s avowals have a visceral power and truth that make love the most desirable but the most terrible of involvements. (John McKeown)
Daily Express has an article on Sheila Hancock's love life and reminds us of the fact that she herself has
previously compared their romance [her marriage to John Thaw] to that of Cathy’s and Heathcliff’s in Emily Brontë’s ‘Wuthering Heights.’
Emily writes extraordinarily about the depth of Cathy and Heathcliff’s desperation, with him actually grabbing her body as she’s dying to try to stop her going, as it were," Hancock explained during an interview with Radio Times in 2013.
"Well, anyone who’s watched somebody die, that’s just what you want to do. I did. ‘Don’t go, don’t you dare go!’ She puts into words something I totally understand."
Hancock has gradually learned to live without the late actor over the past decade, but believes that she was meant to be with him.
"If you have ever known that obsessive love, which sometimes makes it difficult to be together but impossible to be apart, you can identify with the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff," she said. (Annie Price)
Well, here's something we had never thought Wuthering Heights would help with--business! Linkedin interviews Matt Gross, Boston-based entrepreneur and founder of Mobile First Software. According to him,
reading Emily Brontë’s novel “Wuthering Heights,” with its fictionalization of the character Heathcliff, helped me understand that in a hostile business interaction there’s a human being on the other side, and any negative interactions are likely a result of that person's internal state of mind, not necessarily about what I’m doing or saying. (Chuck Leddy)
The Church Times quotes rather more predictably from Shirley:
We sing Isaac Watts's "O God, our help in ages past". Charlotte Brontë has a girl, "her voice sweet and silver clear", sing it in Shirley. (Ronald Blythe)
The Daily Mail reviews the novel Sanctuary by Robert Edric.
In this fictionalised story of Branwell Brontë, the acclaimed author Edric focuses not on his subject’s youthful collaborations with his sisters, but on the would-be author and artist’s troubled later years.
It’s a brave decision, and lends many of the episodes in this book an autumnal cast: ‘My hopes these days are all dead leaves in a rising wind,’ Brontë confides at one point, and the image recurs as he ponders the debts that swirl around him.
His famous siblings, meanwhile, keep their distance (particularly cold, critical Charlotte) — their success and the secrecy it’s wrapped in forming an exclusive bond. Unable to find his place within the family, Brontë is also adrift in the world, disgraced as a tutor, sacked from his position on the railways for ‘an accounting discrepancy’, and unacknowledged as the father of a long-dead child.
Not everything about this novel works: the dialogue doesn’t always convince and, in the final, distressed stages of Brontë’s life (which ended when he was just 31), his narration is a little too lucid. On the whole, however, it’s a restrained and sensitive portrait. (Stephanie Cross)
We didn't think it possible for anyone to romanticise Lowood, but this columnist from The Collegian does:
I dream of Kenyon having a serious snowstorm or a blackout, literally or figuratively. Then it might turn into an English boarding school like Charlotte Brontë’s Lowood Institution and professors might tell us pilgrims’ tales by the fire, taking us back to the days where the reader was more important than the book, bringing us close to that plane where we grasp the fundamentals. (Kelly Reed)
The novelist Ayelet Waldman writes about travelling to London with a family of fans of Doctor Who on Condé Nast Traveler.
Outvoted but mollified by promises of proper English teas—though not a committed Whovian like my children and husband, I am a devoted re-reader of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters and know well the attractions of cucumber sandwiches and clotted cream—I set about planning the trip. 
Dos Manzanas (Spain) finds Peter Cameron's novel Coral Glynn somewhat reminiscent of Jane Eyre.

by Cristina ( at November 21, 2014 11:30 PM

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

New Volume of Poetry Translated into Russian

31212920.l84dnzxzt4.W330Russian poet/scholar Dmitry Yermolovich has produced a volume, Охота на Угада и прочие странные истории (The Hunting of the Snark and Other Strange Tales), of Carroll’s poetry, containing his new translations of “Hiawatha’s Photographing,” “The Hunting of the Snark,” “The Three Voices,” “The Lang Coortin” and a number of other poems. All of them are printed in English and Russian side by side, and are supplied with endnotes and the original illustrations. An appendix contains poems by Lear and Milne.

His website is here. You can order it directly through the publisher through eBay here for $19, including shipping. The ISBN is 9785990533936.

by Mark Burstein at November 21, 2014 08:08 PM


And more High School Jane Eyre

This one in Kennebunk, Maine:
Jane EyreAdapted by Willis Hall
Kennebunk High School

The Visual and Performing Arts Department proudly announces Jane Eyre as the Fall Play!  This powerful theatrical production based on the immortal classic by Charlotte Brontë and adapted by Willis Hall, will be performed Friday and Saturday, November 21st and 22nd at 7:00 pm, and Sunday afternoon, November 23rd, at 2:00 in the Alexander Economos Auditorium. There are no advance reservations for this production.  Tickets are $8.00 at the door.
SeaCost Online gives more information:
“It's a unique play for our stage — highly stylized, minimal set, relying on lighting and movement and characterization to bring the story to life. It's a great play for November — a dark and mysterious Gothic romance,” said the play’s director, Val Reid.
“It is a very intense classic, but it is family friendly — anyone can come and see it,” said junior cast member Rosemary Crimp. (...)
Set and lighting design is by Benjamin Potvin and student stage director/manager Ben Walker-Dubay.
“It’s a large cast with students from all grades working together. It’s great to come together across the board like that, we always have fun,” said junior Meira Clark.

by M. ( at November 21, 2014 12:30 AM

November 20, 2014

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Frank Dicksee, This for Remembrance

 photo FrankDickseeThisforremembrance-1.jpg

I was going to comment that this is a nice bit of Victorian sentiment, but I find that it was painted in 1924; all the same, it is really quite Victorian, he was an old dog who hadn't changed his tricks. I assume she is almost dead rather than actually dead, it would be a bit morbid in the latter case, or at least a bit more so. Or do we find such paintings morbid because we no longer accept death as part of life, and prefer to look aside from it?

November 20, 2014 10:18 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates

waterloo 200 military masculinities

Keynotes: Doctor Holly Furneaux and Professor Joanne Bailey. To commemorate the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo and the lasting impact of the Napoleonic Wars upon the history of militarism, […]

by letitbeprinted at November 20, 2014 09:08 PM


Mordantly Funny (or how Fundraising and Sewer Work is quite a metaphor for the snooty wars)

The Spectator chooses the best books so far in the year and Melanie McDonagh's selection is:
Muriel Spark wasn’t only one of the great British novelists but a cracking literary critic and a lovely essayist. Her book on Mary Shelley is extraordinarily perceptive; ditto, but more fun, is her writing on the Brontës. Carcanet Press, having last year reissued the Shelley book, has now republished The Essence of the Brontës (£12.95), Spark’s compilation of their letters, with essays. It’s a joy on both fronts. Her piece on the siblings as teachers (‘genius, if thwarted, resolves itself in an infinite capacity for inflicting trouble’) is mordantly funny — her sympathies are entirely with their pupils — while the selection of letters is very fine and occasionally downright malicious. Consider Charlotte on Pride and Prejudice: ‘An accurate daguerrotyped portrait of a commonplace face; a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but no glance of a bright, vivid physiognomy, no open country, no fresh air.’ Fabulous.
The Irish Times reviews the Dublin production of Wuthering Heights as adapted by Anne-Marie Casey:
Retaining the novel’s framing device, which has the bumbling visitor Lockwood (Bosco Hogan) and the earthy, sympathetic housekeeper Nelly (Fiona Bell) as narrators, the production never settles on a theatrical frame. If anything, it seems to follow a shooting script, zipping through locations and images: the hand through the windowpane, Catherine and Heathcliff tumbling through the moors, Catherine desperately calling his name.
Where the adaptation finds something new to say is the suggestion (informed by the critic Terry Eagleton) that the adopted Heathcliff is an Irish Famine refugee. (We first find him, as a child, muttering the Ár n-Athair.) That might lend Heathcliff’s brutalisation – and ensuing brutality – a political dimension, were there room to explore it.
For Tom Canton’s towering and husky Heathcliff and Kate Stanley Brennan’s whirling Catherine, who hope to dissolve into one another in fantasies both romantic and macabre, their onstage relationship becomes, inevitably, a more physical expression. Conveyed in leaps and lifts and laughs and lunges, though, it threatens to tip into parody. That is the peril of a literal approach; it sticks to the the surface of the story, and here, the book’s most pivotal moments – Cathy’s fatefully overheard conversation or Heathcliff’s grave digging – are served unadorned and strangely muted. (Peter Crawley)
The Yorkshire Post (and several other local newspapers) talk about some sewer works that have to be done in Haworth and that will sadly interfere with the local Christmas celebrations:
Hundreds of people from across the UK were due to flock to the Brontë village over the weekend of December 6 and 7 for the Victorian Christmas Market.
Bands, street entertainment and a diverse range of market stalls had all been planned to entertain the crowds.
But contractors need to move onto the street from December 1 to carry out essential engineering works - and the organiser has decided to cancel after taking council advice.
Despite the disappointment, organisers have praised Bradford Council for the way the issue has been handled. (...)
Mike Powell, Bradford Council’s emergency planning officer, said: “It’s regretful that the event has had to be cancelled, but safety of the public is paramount and the road work has to be done. Council officers will work with the organiser when he submits the new date for his event.”
Darren Badrock, Bradford Council’s principal highway engineer, said that the highway surface - which is made up of stone setts - would be restored to its original condition once the work is completed.
A spokesman for Yorkshire Water said the engineering work related to waste pipes which had been incorrectly connected during the development of a private housing scheme.
A date for the work has been agreed with the council, the company said. Work is expected to start on December 1 and finish on the 13th. (Andrew Robinson)
Also in Haworth the Haworth Church Website makes the following appeal:
Haworth Parish church has played a significant part in English church history. Rev’d Grimshaw, Rev’ds John and Charles Wesley are among key people and pioneers associated with the church. The parish had close links with the Methodist Revival movement. The Brontë connection meant that the parish was, and is, a place of pilgrimage for Brontë fans. (...)
But the building is not just a historical monument. It is central to the Haworth Community; and provides regular worship as well as being extensively used for Wedding, Funerals, Civic occasions etc.
It costs £1,000 a week to keep the church open. Sadly, like so much of our national heritage it needs a great deal of money spending on it to restore it and make it fit for the 21st century.
In 2012 £0.26m went on the new South Roof; the heating system was replaced at a significant cost this autumn. An application to replace the North Roof, around £0.3m, has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Completion will make the building weather-proof; however, to make it fit for the 21st century further work, such as new eco-friendly lighting, new wiring, toilets, etc., needs to be done at an estimated cost of £1/4m.
The church, like the Society, is dependent on those who attend services and well-wishers for its funding. If you believe that you might be able to help please speak to the Rev’d Peter Mayo-Smith. Tel: 01535 648464 or e-mail:
The New York Times reviews the book Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti:
Rough wood furniture on pale stone floors reminded her of chairs at Wuthering Heights that Emily Brontë called “high-backed, primitive structures.” (Eve M. Kahn)
Vulture reviews the latest episode of Sons of Anarchy (Suits of Woe, S07E11). The Brontë reference of the previous episode is still briefly mentioned:
Juice has been squeezed dry. He talks to Unser and Jarry as they frantically try to get him a deal so he will tell them the truth. “It doesn’t matter anymore, Sheriff. I’m done. It’s too late, for all of us,” he says, tear-stained and numb. He tells them he told Jax the truth and that Gemma knows the truth. By the end, guards are taking him to the infirmary, where Lin’s men will be waiting for him. And he had just gotten into Brontë. Jax did promise it would be quick.
 An ode to the use of imagination in reading is what we found in Kentucky Kernel:
My English teacher of that elk was Mrs. Hunter. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights was her favorite novel, and she ripped the mammoth to shreds. Every conversation was chewed up and spit out in four different ways.
At the time, I had not the slightest bit of idea or ounce of care to figure out her points about the character development and progression of Mr. Heathcliffe (sic). The book was massive, and my attention span was not as such. (Nick Gray)
Noticias Mercedinas (Argentina) announces the broadcast of the play The Love Course (1969) by AR Gurney on Radio Fénix (November 19, 21.00 h and November 23, 19.00 h):
Both Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and Emily Brontë’s "Wuthering Heights," which have big parts in this play, are elements in other plays I wrote later on. I guess those two works won’t leave me alone.
The Edmonton Journal talks about the release of a live album by Mike McDonald. Regrettably it won't include his 1997 track 'Wuthering Heights vs The Guns of Navarone'
The evening went smoothly, though some songs were dropped from the finished recording due to errors both large and small.  (...)
"There were other songs I wanted on there, too, like Wuthering Heights vs. The Guns of Navarone, but the mistakes would have driven me crazy every time I listened to it.” (Tom Murray)
And more music and Wuthering Heights. Kate Bush's song is performed in many different ways today in the news. As a kind of Christmas show in Canberra:
We've Got Our Standards. Devised and performed by John Shortis and Moya Simpson. Teatro Vivaldi ANU Arts Centre. November 29,30.
Shortis says Simpson  also sings Ralph McTell's Streets of London and tells stories of being a schoolteacher in the East End of London, as well as performing Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights and a "thrown-up-in-the-air" rearrangement of the old Eurovision Song Contest winner Puppet on a String. (Ron Cerabona in Canberra Times)
With puppets on Boris & Sergey's Preposterous Improvisation Experiment at the Mimetic Festival 2014 in London (The Vaults, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, November):
The final part of the showcase for us was “Boris and Sergey’s Preposterous Improvisation Experiment”. Unfortunately, Sergey wasn’t with us, as Boris explained, but he (along with his three handlers) carried out regardless and delivered a version of ‘Wuthering Heights’ which made Kate Bush’s original look almost sane. (Neil Cheesman on London Theatre 1)
Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner interviews the writer Louisa Treger:
What three novels could you read over and over? (Kayla Posney)
I could give you a list of ten! But if I must restrict myself to three, I would probably choose "Villette" by Charlotte Brontë, "Fugitive Pieces" by Ann Michaels, and "The Hours" by Michael Cunningham.
And Muzikalia (Spain) reviews the BBC documentary Kate Bush: Running Up That Hill:
Si alguien se quedó en que Wuthering Heights (1978) era la música del anuncio del perfume de Gloria Vanderbilt aprenderá mucho con este film. Típico documental estilo BBC, 60 minutos de impactos revisando la consistente, personal y ecléctica carrera de Bush. (Sonia Galve) (Translation)
Televisión Cubana (Cuba) interviews the actor Roberto Perdomo:
¿Cuánta fantasía de niño has podido realizar mediante la actuación?
La mitad. Me queda mucha fantasía y mundos por experimentar y dibujar. Me hubiera encantado interpretar uno de los personajes de la novela Cumbres Borrascosas, además de encarnar a Teresa Racán y a otros clásicos. (Mayán Venero) (Translation)
El País (Spain) describes Àngel Guimerà's play Terra Baixa as 'Wuthering Heights with pubilla' (Jacinto Antón).

Finally, a new installment in the Brontë Society internal little wars: the Brontë Parsonage Blog gives voice to the President of the Brontë Society, Bonnie Greer who completely disagrees with the 'snooty' accusations to some of the leaders of the Brontë Society:
“One of the reasons that I accepted the Presidency is not only because I love the work of the Brontës, but because both the members and the Council have been welcoming and supportive. And because of Yorkshire - the people and the region. I’ve been London-centered for all of my almost thirty years in this country. So to get away from the south east bubble to somewhere “real” - to me that’s great!
One of the reasons I love Yorkshire is because I, too, don’t do “snooty” and “snobby”. I never have, don’t now, and never will. And believe me, if I felt that there was an atmosphere like that around me, I’d be out of there.

by M. ( at November 20, 2014 02:49 PM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Fanny’s first sight of Mansfield Park (1983 BBC MP)

Scenes must be beautiful which daily viewed
Please daily, and whose novelty survives
Long knowledge and the scrutiny of years:
Praise justly due to those that I describe.
– Wm Cowper as quoted in the 1983 MP

Dear friends and readers,

It’s been more than a month since I attended the yearly JASNA AGM at Montreal, which this year focused on Mansfield Park as 200 years ago it was first published. I’ve blogged on my and Yvette’s experience of the conference itself, and the Burney conference and its papers; I’ve yet to offer some summaries and comments on the lectures and papers I heard on Austen and MP. As with my reports on the Burney papers, I will be in most cases offering the gist of what was said.

Rozema substitutes the narrator of the Juvenilia as Fanny (Francis O’Connor dreaming over satiric writing in 1990 Rozema MP)

For Yvette and I this part of the conference began on Thursday at 9 pm when Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield offered some thoughts on the “Fanny Wars:” this phrase is understood to refer to an assumed hostility to Fanny Price which flared up on the Internet when Austen-l was founded after the airing of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice which exponentially expanded the membership of this, other listservs and eventually blog-rings as well as JASNA itself. They and all others from here on in are hampered because the archives from Austen-l from the years 1994-1998 have vanished due to technological obsolence. I once told the history of those years (on a Burney page where I tell of how a group of us fared trying to read and discuss Cecilia), but of course what one wants is to read the actual postings. Surprisingly (to me they found a dislike of Fanny Price as a character, type, or personality (hard to say which) goes back to the earliest comments on the novel (gathered by Austen herself) at the same time as voiced admiration for the character (Whateley, 1821). Basically they offered a brief survey of criticism of Mansfield Park. I was disappointed because they did not bring out how Speaking About Jane Austen was the first published criticism to bring out into the discussably open how the average non-professional and woman fan reacted to Austen’s books: it’s here you find the first vehement rhetoric rejecting any identification with Fanny Price. Unsurprisingly (but registering this discomfort with this character and also book) they found radio and film productions have been influenced by the perceived popular dislike of this heroine.

At 1:30 pm on Friday the AGM proper began with the opening plenary lecture: Robert Miles, “Mansfield Park and the News.” Prof Miles is known for his admirable and ground-breaking work on Ann Radcliffe and the gothic. Prof Miles began by defining news as including gossip, particularly of the type found in lurid newspaper stories of the era. His talk consisted of regaling the assembly with stories of violence (executions and deaths from all sorts of causes), hanging of women for infanticide and men for sodomy, melodramatic elopements, heroic and disruptive incidents at sea and during wear and other catastrophes, gambling, executions for and the murdering of slaves (this enabled him to include stories of Antigua), local squalid internecine family preying on one another. His point seemed to be that this is the background crowding into Mansfield Park.

Gillray’s typical caricature propaganda: Slippy Weather outside a print shop

I did get up and made an objection. First I praised his book on Ann Radcliffe, but then suggested ther were two problems in his talk: the first, he took the stories he told at face value: told them as if this reporting was of what really occurred when quite a number seemed to be exaggerated re-tellings of what was supposed to be the truth (it’s been shown that the accusation of infanticide was often deeply unjust); second, if this is the feel of much of this material, we cannot know how Austen felt about what she read in such newspapers, which in any case are kept at the margins of the novel, whether it be vague references on the part of Tom Bertram asking Grant what he thinks about the trouble in the US, Fanny asking a question we never hear nor its answer, Mr Price reading about the Rushworth-Crawford scandal at Portsmouth. It is true that some of this material seeps into Austen’s letters where she is gleeful about scandals she occasionally glimpses in the appearance of people at assemblies, but Prof Miles made no reference to those places in Austen’s writing where we can try to glean what was her attitude through the jeering satire. In fact he turned away and didn’t answer my objections. Arnie Perlstein also spoke: it was to support Prof Miles and say all this material was deeply relevant to the subtext of Mansfield Park. I can’t remember a third person talking.

There were then two break-out sessions. Maria Sorbo’s talk on the Mansfield Park heritage films (she excluded any consideration of Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan) was of real interest to me as I have been working on a book and written extensively on the Jane Austen film canon. She approached the 3 films from the point of view of how the film-makers “read” Austen’s novel which she regards as a “rich, intricate and provocative” book treating courtship and love ironically. She argued that the 1983 BBC MP often described as “faithful” is deeply unfaithful (because of the serious earnestness with which the film invests the book’s themes); the 2007 MP has a miscast central star (Billie Piper whom she described as “sullen”), which while it shows how Fanny is marginalized and makes Mary Crawford a witty heroine remains inert. Her talk was designed to show that Rozema’s 1999 MP came closest to replicating Austen’s distruptive (of sentimentality), playful and quizzical tones; the lens is that of the confident and assertive Juvenilia. Prof Sorbo’s analysis of the ironic and sceptical outlook of the book brought out why it is so relevant today.


Rozema’s comical close of self-absorbed characters who by chance end up the way they do, with the happy rewarded couple walking off to their parsonage (1990 MP)

While I felt she also made a strong case for the brilliance and subtlety of the use of film by Rozema, as in the incident of the release of the doves, the unadmitted to (by her) departures from Austen in the whole of the Portsmouth sequence, I felt she was unfair to the 1983 film when she suggested that its Fanny was silent and protested that the over-voice throughout was Sylvestre le Tousel’s, that it made a genuine attempt to capture the epistolary and subjective consciousness of the novel, and that filmically the 2007 MP became a work of art (however truncated) in its own right against artifice. But what was most ironically telling and indeed generally indicative of a number of the break-out sessioss I attended was the audience reaction to all she said and her clips (mainly from the 1999 Rozema film, including the sequence showing Maria and Crawford caught in bed by Edmund, and the painfully vile sexual exploitation of women slaves in the drawings by Tom of what he saw in Antigua): when she asked what they felt about each film, it was as if she had not spoken at all. The majority of her audience (no more scholars of film than literary texts) remained adamant in their dislike of Rozema’s film. There was an utter disjunction between this scholar’s approach to Austen and film and the fan understanding (I sensed they hated the sexualized clips from Rozema’s MP). Sorbo’s published book, Irony and Idyll: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park on screen uses the same criteria as her talk offers an informed history of a selection of the film adaptations of these films (for P&P she does only the 1940, 1980, 1995 and 2005 films) while looking to see how her and other scholar’s reading of Austen’s 2 books is captured in these chosen films.

Kentchurch at Deer Park

For the second break-out session I attended Sarah Parry’s “‘Did you not hear me ask him about the slave trade last night: Looking for Clues in Real Houses Which Point to the Wealth and and Lifestyle of the Pictorial Mansfield Park.” Ms Parry took the audience through a journey of slides showing us a series of great country houses in England whose size, lifestyle, and source of wealth make them good surrogates for the house at the center of Austen’s book. When the owning family’s source of wealth for house after house is examined she found war profiteering, slavery, corrupt politicking, enclosures (whole villages erased or moved), Nabob and Barbados colonialist practices (including the occasional massacre) as what “made it all possible.” I couldn’t begin to take down the caterpillar (her word at one point) details. I assume the ironical information and pictures she provided will be published in the coming Persuasions on the conference. I find especially entertaining those passages she quoted which showed that what today is seen as “timeless elegance” in a mansion and landscape was in Austen’s time seen as vulgar, pretentious (a family trying to make up for not having a long upper class genealogy). She mentioned how when websites on line about such houses try to tell the truth about their pasts, some tourists protest. This reminded me of what I saw in the self-repression of the MOOC I watched on the Literature of the Country House. Afterward she was at the Chawton Library table (she is a member of their staff) and I congratulated her on the nature of her talk and mentioned how a course on country houses never mentioned the source of these houses’ wealth, their actual economic basis and working. She said such sites when they told such truths got vociferous mail demanding such truths not to be told as it “spoilt” the enjoyment. At Winterthur Museum similarly no one tells important truths or even admits what is the nature of the Downton Abbey exhibit or some of their others.

It was then 5:30 and the sessions for the day were unfortunately over. There had been no less than 8 sessions on at one time during this 2 hours and 15 minute period — an absurdity for those who would have liked to hear more of what was seriously on offer at the conference. (I am far from alone in this frustration.) The morning had been given over to tours, a dance workshop (for those few lucky enough to get in); since I had been at the Burney conference I had had to miss Marcia Folsom’s Teaching Mansfield Park. At around 6 I and Izzy filled with period called ” dinner on your own” with an enjoyable meal with a friend and the people who had judged the essay contest (though the restaurant like so many nowadays was so noisy we could hardly hear ourselves speak). At 8 there was the one-hour play, A Dangerous Intimacy: Behind the Scenes at Mansfield Park, by Diana Birchall and Syrie James and then for a second hour the glee singing (which I have described as lovely in my account of the social activities of the conference).

Saturday though was the one full day of the conference and I include the second plenary talk of the conference which occurred from 9-10:20 am, Lynn Festa’s “The Noise in Mansfield Park” here, so as to keep this report of the conference talks to two blogs (my next will cover 4 break-out sessions plus an account of what Izzy remembered of what she had heard and enjoyed).

Quiet star-gazing by Billie Piper as Fanny and Blake Ritson as Edmund (2007 MP, scripted Maggie Wadey)

Prof Festa’s lecture was a rich and stimulating display of an post-colonial, feminist and subtle psychological reading performed by a an intelligent mind engaging with the text at a close reading level. She began by saying it may seem perverse to discuss MP featuring a quiet unobtrusive heroine in terms of noise: Fanny is a quiet, gentle, timid character whose sharp observant mind throbs with emotion, and Mansfield Park quiet and peaceful [under the governance of Sir Thomas] though Mrs Norris, Lovers’ Vows and Portsmouth provide dissonance. Prof Festa suggested Austen wants us to listen to the kinds of noise we hear: soft fretful tones of Lady Bertram, strident cadences from Mrs Norris; Maria does not want to hear the noise of the cottage or church bells (everyone has her taste in noise); slamming doors and hallooing in Mrs Price’s hallways and stairs shows how power is seen when someone can control noise (Fanny is grateful when Sir Thomas stops Mrs Norris from discussing Henry’s proposal to her) and for those can speak freely (no Austen heroine has the right to speak freely). Mansfield Park lacks a language in which to discuss issues among themselves and listening itself is underrated: Fanny looks upon the voices of the Crawford as what she wants not to hear; her silence ignored by most but to some she speaks volumes with it. the rewards and punishments of the novel measure the characters: Mary is not evil but flawed because she does not control what she says and her understanding of what she is told and her wit superficial (so she ends up frustrated but at peace with her widowed sister); a harsh condemnatory language is used by Fanny of her mother; she speaks out of embittered disappointment and escapes back to Mansfield Park whose oppressions she never acknowledges. That hole in Fanny’s heart was put there when she was brought to MP and brought up displaced and marginalized and abused which Henry Crawford does recognize. Prof Festa seemed to have heard and been using Prof McMaster’s talk when she mentioned that Fanny was a proxy child for Mrs Norris, and suggested the terror Fanny feels at the approach of Sir Thomas’s footsteps an index of the brutality Fanny fears from powerful people.

Aubrey Rouget (Fanny, Carolyn Farina) and Tom Townsend (Edmund, Edward Clemens) discussing Trilling’s dislike of MP (1990 Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan)

The blurb about the conference apologized for Mansfield Park as a book a lot of readers of Austen don’t like. If this is true, all 5 talks thoroughly countered this dislike by demonstrating that the speakers’ at least found it in all the insight, drama, fraught trauma and comedy and satire, and depiction of levels of society and attached exploited worlds found in any great Victorian novel.


by ellenandjim at November 20, 2014 04:39 AM

The Little Professor

Turning conference papers into articles

The past few days have been divided between finishing up a distressingly-overdue article ("er, hi," I say to my editor, waving weakly) and reading student drafts, but I've also started the process of upgrading an older conference paper to article status.  This can be an odd process, given that the conference paper is its own genre.  As I said here several years ago, one of the best pieces of practical advice I got as a graduate student was that for every three conference papers, there should be one article or similarly-finished work.   That is: conference papers are exploratory projects; at some point, one needs to stop exploring and begin writing the final product.  I like to use conference papers to jumpstart my writing process, as with the paper I gave this past summer on representations of interfaith marriage (something that has interested me for a while).    Some of my conference papers turned out to be dead ends, which is a useful discovery ("hey, there's no there there"), while others have spawned chunks of Book One and Two, and still others have become, indeed, articles.  

In this case, I'm returning to a conference paper on the first decade or so of a super-popular Victorian anti-Catholic periodical (still around, incidentally).   It was written for a themed conference, so the topic is fairly narrow but has demonstrably wider significance for our understanding of mid-Victorian anti-Catholicism.  Like virtually every conference paper since the dawn of human history (ahem), the paper as it stands is a) ten pages long; b) phrased for oral delivery; and c) somewhat skimpy on the footnotes.  What do I do?

1) I've actually got a target journal in mind, so I check their requirements.  They don't have a maximum length, but most of their articles are not that long.  Ergo, maybe eight or nine more pages.  If they're not interested, that still leaves the article at a manageable length for other venues.  

2) In a conference paper, one has to dispatch context quickly and brutally.  That's no good for an article, so I need to beef up the historical and religious background: for example, I need to say a bit more about the editors, especially the guy in charge, and spend more time explaining the journal's very topical genesis and eventual cultural status.  (In other words: why on earth would a random innocent Victorianist want to know about this ultra-anti-Catholic periodical?)

3) Then I have to historicize the core issue, which is why, exactly, is this periodical pretending to do an increasingly-popular social-sciencey Thing at mid-century?  Really, they aren't doing Thing at all--I mean, they are so not doing Thing that it's kind of hilarious--although they have all the appurtenances of Thing going on.  What, then, are they getting out of it from a purely rhetorical POV? The difficulty here is how much detail to provide about Thing (well, more than I'm providing here!), as Thing is extremely technical, and, as I've already said, the journal is engaging in Fake Thing and not the Real Thing (which has nothing, incidentally, to do with Coca-Cola).  In the original conference paper, the context consists of one or two secondary sources, discussed very briefly; now I need to locate the periodical's rhetorical strategy with much greater precision and detail.  

4) Right now, the paper's organization looks OK to me, but once I've beefed up the context, I may find myself yearning to rearrange it.  I won't know until I get there.

5) More analysis of extant examples, and probably more examples, period, especially in the shorter paragraphs.  There's also room now to point out that the journal's approach was not idiosyncratic.  

6) And then I have to rework the language from beginning to end.  There's still space for humor, but the quirky colloquialisms and sentence fragments, both of which help when speaking aloud, need to be dequirked and defragmented.  

by Miriam Burstein at November 20, 2014 03:23 AM


"It's fun to wear corsets"

A.V. Club suggests which adaptations of the classics you need to see in order to 'cheat English Lit 205'.
Jane Eyre (1997): Anyone in search of exacting fidelity regarding Charlotte Brontë’s definitive character study should turn to the 1983 series, in which an entire episode is spent in Lowood and Timothy Dalton pretends not to be handsome. A&E’s 1997 outing is short on time and low on budget: Scenes fade awkwardly to make room for commercial breaks, and whole subplots—like Jane’s journey to settle accounts with dying Aunt Reed—happen entirely offscreen. But this also means an Eyre tightly focused on its leads (Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton), who nail crucial and difficult characterizations of the plucky, introspective governess and the asshole who loves her. Hinds’ Rochester is every inch the abusive blowhard who manipulates Jane for his amusement, and a viewer has zero trouble believing he would stash a wife in the attic. It’s no wonder Morton’s Jane—whose steely gaze barely disguises her temper—often seems intrigued by him despite her better instincts. Backed by a score overwrought enough to make Brontë proud, these two duke it out for the best-earned codependent happy ending of the 19th century.
The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall (1996): Of all the Brontë novels, this might be the trickiest to adapt. Its prickly heroine, Helen Graham, is the most determinedly feminist Brontë heroine, feet planted firmly in a suffragette future: disregarding unfair laws, resenting men’s legal control, and shunning the behind-the-scenes support network of women. But she lacks the relatability of plucky Jane Eyre—Helen’s the wife that’s been locked in the attic. And Wildfell Hall’s plot, which parallels a slowly unspooling tale of marital abuse with a slowly unspooling tale of Helen being harangued to open up in her new life, could feel stagnant on the screen. Instead, director Mike Barker imbues the frame with the cool illumination of a Vermeer, and shows Helen as a natural fit among the scrub trees that have twisted and toughened to survive. There’s even the occasional grace note of uncomfortable sensuality, as Toby Stephens’ Gilbert becomes romantically entitled about her in a way the series suggests makes him a questionable improvement on the last guy. It’s a largely uncompromising adaptation of an uncompromising novel. [...]
Wuthering Heights (1998): Emily Brontë was the most openly Gothic of the sisters whose work came to define the Romantic era. Wuthering Heights, though often described as a dark love story, is actually a two-person horror story that catches a generation of innocent parties in its terrifying wake—which makes it awfully tricky to adapt, since a successful one will have to acknowledge their mutual monstrousness, and most versions softball Cathy. The 1998 miniseries is no exception; Orla Brady’s Cathy is mildly determined rather than poisonous. But Robert Cavanah is as cruel a Heathcliff as the small screen’s ever seen; he’s more bombastic than Tom Hardy’s quietly sinister sociopath in the 2009 iteration, but Cavanah’s right at home in a wholeheartedly Gothic take. (Heathcliff digging up Cathy’s coffin to embrace her bones is a succinct encapsulation of the entire novel.) It’s not perfect—the dated effects mark this as distinctly ’90s, and Polly Hemingway isn’t as compelling a Nelly as she could be. But this version comes closer than most to capturing the psychological sinkhole at the novel’s center. (Genevieve Valentine)
We are sorry but we don't really agree with the versions of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights that have been selected.

We doubt they were there for the cheating, but the Irish Independent carries the story of the celebrities who were there for the opening night of Wuthering Heights at the Gate Theatre.
It has been 70 years since Emily Brontë's haunting romance 'Wuthering Heights' was last staged at Dublin's Gate Theatre.
So there was plenty of excitement in the foyer of the theatre as broadcasters Pat Kenny, Marty Whelan and Gay Byrne crowded through the doors to watch Cathy and Heathcliff's love story play out on the Yorkshire Moors.
"It's a classic book," Whelan said. "And we all love a bit of high drama and romance in the build up to Christmas don't we?"
Actresses Cathy Belton, Ingrid Craigie, and author Joseph O'Connor also attended the opening night as did Master of the National Maternity Hospital Holles Street, Dr Rhona Mahony.
Directed by Michael Barker-Caven the production has been adapted by acclaimed playwright Anne-Marie Casey.
Tom Canton takes on the brooding lead role of Heathcliff while Kate Brennan - daughter of thespian Stephen Brennan and 'Fair City' actress Martina Stanley - plays Catherine.
"It's like a ghost story," Brennan said. "I really connected to the raw passion. I never really do stuff in this period so it's fun to wear corsets and dresses with big skirts for a change." (Kirsty Blake Knox)
Jane Eyre is one of seven life-changing books for MyDaily:
3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë. This gothic novel tells the story of Jane Eyre, one of the most independent female protagonists in literary history. The story follows her journey from her loveless home to the grand Thornfield Hall where she works as a governess. She finds herself falling in love with her employer Rochester only to face the ultimate dilemma. Jane Eyre was written in 1847 and dazzled readers with its intimate voice and portrayal of a young woman's search for equality and freedom. (Tara King)
Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden) reviews Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries:
Men till skillnad från den viktorianska romanen à la Brontë eller Dickens – på vilken ”Himlakroppar” får sägas vara en pastisch – finns hos Catton ingen moraliserande slutsats att hämta. Det tycks i slutändan framför allt vara en postmodern berättelse om verklighetsåtergivningens svårigheter, ett slags genreparodi på den realistiska roman som vill synliggöra tillvaron från alla dess skilda perspektiv. (Viola Bao) (Translation)
This is how Vulture describes the song Chocolate by Giraffage:
Damn, this song is pleasant. It sounds like the soundtrack of a video game about a polar bear who just drifts lazily down an icy, yet calm, river. Periodically, fish jump into her mouth, and she eats them clean, pulling out the bones (Heathcliff-style). (JDF
Eloquent Codex posts about Wuthering Heights.

by Cristina ( at November 20, 2014 12:31 AM

High School Jane Eyre

An alert for today, November 20.

The Drama students at Anchor Bay High School (Michigan) are playing Willis Hall's adaptation of Jane Eyre. Further details on The Voice:
"JANE EYRE" PRESENTED at ABHS Nov. 20-21-22: Our Town is invited to attend the play, based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë and adapted by Wills Hall. Curtain time is 7:15 p.m. Mrs. Dawn Battice, in her 19th year as director of the drama department at Anchor Bay High, is excited to provide the students with another rewarding experience in the genre. The production is sure to be another outstanding performance by the students. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students, senior citizens and members of the military.
Also on the ABHS Drama Twitter account.

by M. ( at November 20, 2014 12:30 AM

November 19, 2014

Victorian Poetry Network

CFP: Augusta Webster (special issue of Victorian Poetry)

CFP: Special Issue of Victorian Poetry (Spring 2017) on Augusta Webster

Guest Editor: Patricia Rigg

Please consider submitting an essay for a special edition of Victorian Poetry devoted to Augusta Webster. Writing prolifically across genres, Webster produced dramatic and lyric poetry, verse drama, long and short fiction, and translations of Aeschylus and Euripides. She contributed incisive essays on a variety of literary, political, social, and cultural topics to the Examiner and served as one of the main poetry reviewers for the Athenaeum. She was a member of the first London Suffrage Society, and she was twice elected to the London School Board.

Essays concerned with any aspect of Webster’s work, with Webster in relation to her contemporaries, or with Webster in the context of Victorian culture, politics, and society are welcome.

Please submit essays to by 15 January 2016 for publication in Victorian Poetry (Spring 2017). Early expressions of interest and proposals of topics are welcome as well. Essay submissions should follow the conventions of Victorian Poetry and be formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style 15th Edition.

by Alison Chapman at November 19, 2014 09:28 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


Jane Eyre at Gaskell's House

Tomorrow, November 20, at Elizabeth Gaskell's House in Manchester, UK:
Thursday, November 20, 2014 - 14:00 to 15:30
Elizabeth Gaskell's Book Club: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Join Dr Karen Laird for an informal discussion of this popular nineteenth-century novel. Whether you read the book fifty years ago or yesterday, we'd love to have you join our conversation.
Drop-in, booking not required. Free activity. Standard admission charges apply. (Please note that standard admission is a ticket which includes entry for a year).

by M. ( at November 19, 2014 12:28 AM

November 18, 2014


She Gave What She Had

It seems that the fate of the Ovendon Cross hotel in Halifax was not so black after all. It has beem reborn as Nursery:
The former Ovenden Cross hotel was left ravaged after a fire ripped through the premises in December 2012.
The building lay derelict for more than a year before a savvy nursery owner restored it to its former glory.
The Ovenden Private Day Nursery opened two weeks ago and has risen from the ashes of the former hotel. (...)
The former Ovenden Cross hotel was left ravaged after a fire ripped through the premises in December 2012.
The building lay derelict for more than a year before a savvy nursery owner restored it to its former glory.
The Ovenden Private Day Nursery opened two weeks ago and has risen from the ashes of the former hotel. (The Halifax Courier)
Yesterday's BBC Two Mastermind programme (S43E13) was in part Brontë-related:
John Humphrys invites four more contenders to answer questions in the black chair. The subjects are the sitcom Peep Show, the Battle of the Atlantic, the band Suede and the life and works of Charlotte Brontë.
The Folio Society new edition of Wuthering Heights with introduction by Patti Smith appears in The Washington Post:
Just as the weather turns brutal and wild, comes a gorgeous new edition of “Wuthering Heights,” the perfect classic for a howling winter’s night.
Emily Brontë’s only novel is the latest volume from the Folio Society, those folks who still remember that reading can involve tactile pleasures, too. This hefty book ($69.95) is bound in buckram with a subtle drawing of the moors wrapped around the front and back covers. Dropped throughout the text inside, several slightly nightmarish illustrations by Rovina Cai accentuate the story’s gothic tone.
(...) Surely, somewhere Catherine and Heathcliff are singing:
Forgive, the yearning burning
I believe it’s time, too real to feel
So touch me now, touch me now, touch me now
Because the night belongs to lovers.
(...) If only the Folio Society had encouraged Smith to write something more personal and intimate about how “Wuthering Heights” speaks to her. Instead, her introduction trudges along dutifully with all the passion of those opening pages in a Norton Anthology: “Emily, the fifth of six children, was born on July 30, 1818, in the village of Thornton, to Maria Branwell and Patrick Brontë, an Irish Anglican clergyman.” So far, so wiki.
But this is Patti Smith! Why not give her some room to reflect on Brontë’s evocative story?
Only near the end of this brief introduction do we really get to hear her distinctive voice and feel her sympathy for these characters. “You hold a volume hard-pressed to contain the words within it,” Smith writes. “Emily died on a bright December afternoon. She was but thirty. Where did she go when she tuned her eyes from the sun? Perhaps to roam unfettered in the wild and desolate Yorkshire hills. Let us not interfere with her. She stood her ground. Her untied mind did not create a neat package. In the writing of Wuthering Heights she did not give what she wanted; she gave what she had.”
That’s a reader who understands what Catherine feels when she proclaims, “I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free!” (Ron Charles)
The Globe and Mail reviews Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg:
Ortberg’s “texts” feel true to the stories she draws from, but they’re also transposed into her voice, which is more and more recognizable. I asked her if she thought of herself as a channel for old characters or an inventor of new ones. “Ooh, I like that mental image, like I’m a 19th-century mystic at a Ouija board trying to channel Mr. Rochester,” she replied. “I do like to think of the original character and hone in on their most over-the-top, grandiose traits.” Does she feel any tension between the author’s imagination and her own? “No tension, no remorse,” she said. “I regret nothing.” (Alexandra Molotkow)
On the same newspaper a review of the YA novel Throwaway Girl by Kristine Scarrow:
Moved from her mother’s home into foster care at age nine, Andy Burton endures terrible abuse, neglect, and an unattended personal famine for love. Acts of kindness, though, shine blindingly bright, and there is a touch of Jane Eyre’s narrative somewhere in Andy’s, though without the wealthy relatives. It’s a story not told often enough: the forgotten child, left to the resource-poor system, but the heart of the book does not bleed. Andy is sentient, not a victim, but more an observer, and her narrative unravels gently, awaiting its readers. (Lauren Bride)
Natasha Gilmore is a new Publishers Weekly staffer who writes on PW:
The books I read as a child and teenager are the ones that left indelible impressions on me, though it took me a while to realize I wanted to dedicate myself to young people’s literature. After college, I moved to Boston and landed a job as a bookseller at Curious George Books and Toys in Harvard Square. Around this time, Twilight was hitting big, and I happened to be (embarrassingly, finally) reading Jane Eyre for the first time. I remember being struck by how Jane lives—her reactions, her tenacity, and also her capacity for love. I felt that Jane was not only most assuredly a YA heroine, but she also seemed to me a significantly better role model than Twilight’s Bella Swan. 
Charlotte Brontë is mentioned in an article on Dawn (Pakistan) which only will be understood by people well versed in internal Pakistan politics:
Life is so constructed that the event does not, cannot, will not match the expectation. — Charlotte Brontë
It is not Charlotte Brontë, with all her plaintive quotes, who is relevant to where we live. It looks more appropriate to resurrect George Orwell, the architect of polemical journalism and a novelist struggling against totalitarianism, to tell the grotesque saga that Peshawar and in fact the entire Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has turned out to be. Until that is done justice will not be seen to have been done. (Nasser Yousaf)
The New Republic celebrates Taylor Swift's Black Space music video:
For centuries, “crazy” women have been beholden not only to their husbands but also to their disorders, literally and figuratively “trapped” by systems they had no hand in creating. (See Jane Eyre, The Yellow Wallpaper,or just about any chapter from The Madwoman in the Attic.) Though they are sometimes sympathetic, they are thoroughly unenviable. (Becca Rothfeld)
The Guardian remembers that 'new writers' doesn't necessarily mean young:
Jean Rhys, who, after success as a young writer was widely believed to have died soon after the publication of Good Morning Midnight (1939), before returning with the internationally acclaimed Wide Sargasso Sea (1966). They’re all brilliant, so it’s impossible to say. (Joanna Walsh)
DesiBlitz interviews the Indian actress and writer Huma Qureshi:
Which authors influenced you growing up?
“As a teenager while growing up, I was obsessed by the classics – Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Thomas Hardy. I was conditioned by the curriculum but also, bizarrely, Austen’s world made sense to me, in terms of propriety and conduct. (Aisha Farooq)
On Arab News we found another reference. But this one completely wrong as it seems to connect Emily Brontë's prose with melifluous and corny poetry. Mr Vohra, you have not read any Emily Brontë poetry (and if you have... well, then, it's even worse):
I am reading this magazine and there is this article about childhood memories and six people have written these ghastly, flowery pieces about sunsets and walks in the park and gamboling in rose gardens and treks to some flipping hill station and babbling brooks and the shade of old banyan trees and their first little pet called Rover and loving relatives and even more loving cousins and the one who has written about the most purple prose you can imagine (my childhood days were spun from gossamer thread, each skein a personal memory, precious and as special as the dew kissed tulips in the garden where the fountain tinkled its own symphony and we sat around the pond where goldfish played tag and recited poetry) has won first prize of a free air trip for two.
Ugh. Ugh again.
This Emily Brontë piffle was your childhood, what utter nonsense, pretentious rubbish. Poetry by the pond is your most vital memory of childhood, give me a break. How do magazine editors allow such drivel to pass as the real stuff. And then give awards for it. It is pretentious, contrived and corny. (Bikram Vohra)
Wyborcza Gazeta (Poland) interviews  Sally Gardner who remembers perfectly clear the book she read when she first realised that she could read in spite of her dyslexia:
 Co to była za książka?
"Wichrowe Wzgórza" Emily Brontë. Natychmiast pobiegłam do wychowawczyni się pochwalić. Uznała, że zmyślam. Ale przekazała tę informację dyrektorce, która wezwała mnie do gabinetu i wręczyła dziennik "The Times". "Słyszałam, że czytasz - powiedziała z przekąsem. - To pokaż nam jak". Dukałam, ale udało mi się złożyć kilka zdań do kupy. I wtedy dyrektorka powiedziała coś zaskakującego: "Zawsze wierzyłam, że będą z ciebie ludzie". (Agnieszka Jucewicz) (Translation)
Le Devoir (Quebec) reviews the comic book Vous êtes tous jaloux de mon jetpack by Tom Gauld:
On y parle de Shakespeare, de Pierre Bourdieu, des soeurs Brontë, des intellectuels et de leurs tours d’ivoire ou encore des interminables conflits entre grande littérature et science-fiction. Avec cette finesse, cette intelligence, cette densité cachée dans une apparente légèreté qui au final tissent surtout un art de l’effet, particulièrement bien maîtrisé. (Fabien Deglise) (Translation)
Chicago Magazine remembers that this the final week to see LifeLine Theatre's Jane Eyre in Chicago; La Voz de Galicia (Spain) recommends revisiting 'old' TV series like Jane Eyre;  the Brussels Brontë Blog reviews The Dark Quartet by Lynne Reid Banks, originally published in 1986 and now republished by Endevour Press. On the Parsonage Facebook we find that:
Visitors to the Museum this afternoon will have a rare opportunity to hear Emily's piano being played. Pianist Maya Irgalina from the Royal Northern College of Music will be informally 'practising' on the piano, playing Bronte music from our library.

by M. ( at November 18, 2014 06:38 PM

Inside the Brontë Society

The Yorkshire Post wonders, 'What’s really going on inside the Brontë Society?'
After 40 years in the Brontë Society, Imelda Marsden has gathered enough material for a pacy novel of her own.
If she ever put pen to paper, the story might have allegations of snobbery as a central theme with added intrigue provided by “agitators” calling for sweeping changes at an ancient literary society. The 68 year old former nurse, a life member of the Society, lives and breathes the Brontës but fears “snooty” behaviour is thwarting its full potential along with that of the Parsonage.
She has watched recent events unfold with a feeling of deja vu, having witnessed the controversial departure of a director back in 2000. She has also met many wonderful leaders of the Society but, she says, some are distant and unfriendly.
“Sometimes you can be made to feel as though you are a nobody. I’m a trained general nurse, just an ordinary person. I know that some people have been made to feel inferior. One or two (among the leadership) think they are above everybody else, they are snooty. Yes, it’s a literary society but there are people who are interested in history or art too.”
The apparent disconnection between the leadership and the rank-and-file is acutely felt at meetings, she said. “People on the (Society) Council don’t talk to you, not even to say hello.”
Mrs Marsden, who splits her time between Mirfield and her beloved Haworth, believes changes are needed to widen the appeal of the Brontës and the Parsonage Museum and to boost membership.
“People like Bob Barnard (former Society chairman who died last year) must be turning in his grave. He was brilliant with everybody.” She adds that “people skills” should be a requirement for leadership, not just academic or professional qualifications.
The Society’s recent troubles have included the sudden departure in June of executive director Ann Sumner, who was in post for only 16 months, and last month’s resignation of chairman, Christine Went after just 28 days. Ms Went hit out last month at “agitators” who forced an emergency meeting in a bid - which failed - to bring in a “modernising” leadership. If the Society appoints a successor to Ann Sumner, they will be the fifth director in 15 years.
“There is a depressingly cyclical nature to these departures, as someone pointed out at the emergency general meeting (EGM) in October,” said a Society member, who asked to remain anonymous. “I believe some members of Council are not letting executive directors get on with their jobs without day-to-day interference. ‘Micro managing’ was mentioned several times at the EGM.” The member added: “It’s time to stop being so precious and exclusive and just celebrate the fact that we have this family on our doorstep for everyone to enjoy.”
It’s a view shared by Bradford-based writer Joolz Denby, who tweeted this month: “As a person who has felt the sharp end of the Brontë Society I agree they need to change their attitude.”
She has worked on Brontë -themed community events in recent years but hasn’t received invitations to Brontë Society events. “They see themselves as having an exclusive little club,” she said. “And, like all exclusive cliques, they don’t want outsiders in.” She also described the Parsonage as “deadly dull” and in need of updating.
In Haworth, work is needed to get locals and the Parsonage reading from the same hymn sheet, according to Peter Mayo-Smith, priest in charge at Haworth Parish Church, who says the village has the potential to be a “Stratford-upon-Avon of the North” if people put aside their differences.
He finds spats among members “perplexing” particularly as there have been several over the years. “It seems to keep happening, there is a little bit of a pattern. They seem to have had a high turnover of chief executives.”
Mr Smith was impressed by Ann Sumner who had got involved with the village and was a “breath of fresh air.”
He believes the next executive director must continue her good work.
“I hope and pray that the Parsonage and the Brontë Society get far more involved in the community. We have seen what happens when we do that. The 1940s weekends are run by a community group which raises tens of thousands for charity.”
He called for the creation of a forum, made up of Brontë Society leading lights and local people. And he believes Society members who have been critical of the leadership can play a big part in taking the group forward.
A month on from the EGM, the Brontë Society is keen to move on. In a statement, a Brontë Society spokesman said meetings had taken place between members, Parsonage staff and Society trustees “to build and progress a number of exciting plans to take us through the upcoming bicentenary celebrations and beyond, ensuring the legacy of the Brontë family’s achievements is further strengthened.”
The spokesman said members expressed their “clear support for the Brontë Society Council and the way forward” at the EGM.
“We are aware that some members would like to see the Parsonage Museum run separately from the Brontë Society. However, the Parsonage Museum was given ‘in perpetuity’ to the Brontë Society in 1928 and has been run by Society members ever since, achieving a world renowned collection and visitor experience. Any proposed changes to the constitution of the Society would be subject to a vote amongst the whole membership and would, therefore, need to be put to the AGM in June 2015.”
On the issue of leadership, the spokesman said: “Nominations have been invited from among the trustees for the post of Chairman, and we look forward to receiving them.”
On membership, the spokesman said it has been “stable against a trend of falling membership of Societies and we look forward to it increasing with the bicentenary enthusiasm.”
A conference in August attracted new members and a new database would “transform communication” with members and non-members, improve fund-raising and promote the Society to prospective supporters.
“The publicity that will surround the bicentenaries will generate interest around the world, and the Society looks forward to seeing membership rising as the momentum builds locally and internationally.”
He said the Society is focused on developing relationships in Haworth, including with the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, Christmas market, primary school, parish church and 1940s weekend.
“The leadership team at the Parsonage and the trustees are determined to renew and develop relationships with local, national and international partners to ensure that we not only continue to safeguard the legacy of Brontë family, but add valuable new chapters and interpretations to it over the coming years.” (Andrew Robinson)
The Irish Times features the current stage production of Wuthering Heights at the Gate Theatre in Dublin and talks to the cast.
They sweep in from the Yorkshire moors together, Catherine and Heathcliff, both a little exhausted and a little exhilarated, but seeming more at ease in each other’s company than they have been for nearly two centuries.
The morning is barely over, but the adopted foundling and the daughter of the Earnshaw manor have already moved from the intimate bonds of childhood to a love so consuming that neither can imagine life without the other. Then came adult betrayal and bitter, callous revenge seeping like poison into new generations. Then, finally, the calm peace in the grave.
Now, though, it’s time for lunch, after which the vivacious Kate Stanley Brennan and the strapping Tom Canton will have to do it all over again. Rehearsals for the Gate Theatre’s forthcoming production of Wuthering Heights have reached the run- through stage, and the stars of Anne- Marie Casey’s new adaptation are beginning to experience the destiny of their characters, playing out their romance, division and supernatural reconciliation for all eternity.
Even those who have never read Emily Brontë’s novel will have some sense of it; the story has been absorbed into popular culture, ceaselessly and sometimes uneasily adapted in film and television, famously transformed into poetry and song. A few years ago the novel topped a British readers’ poll to find the “greatest love story of all time”, an odd accolade for so fevered a depiction of affection and abuse, class struggles, near-incestuous desire and scenes of borderline necrophilia.
It is a gothic romance, certainly, but that doesn’t quite cover the intensity and brutality of Emily Brontë’s only novel. It is a battle between untameable nature and the genteel strictures of culture, sure, but it is governed by more metaphysical struggles. In short, it’s a novel that means countless things to countless people. What did it mean to its latest interpreters? (Peter Crawley) (Read more)
The Guardian looks at writers-turned-lyricists and concludes that,
Better, arguably, than any face-to-face collaboration is music’s plundering of pre-existing texts, liberated by the writer being uninvolved and often long dead: Led Zeppelin’s serial use of Tolkien and Icelandic sagas, for example; or the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”, inspired by Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita; Jefferson Airplane’s Lewis Carroll-derived “White Rabbit”; The Ramones’ Stephen King-derived “Pet Sematary”; Nicki Minaj’s wholesale, somewhat less forgiving reworking of Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise; and Bush’s homage to Wuthering Heights and adaptation of Molly Bloom’s monologue in Ulysses. (John Dugdale)
And the Guardian Books Blog wonders what it is that attracts readers to anti-heroes yet makes the avoid anti-heroines.
So in the meantime, what makes a good “anti-heroine”? The definition usually draws on two categories: bad behaviour and unconventional life choices. Anti-heroines come in many guises. Here are some of my favourites … [...]
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
She was my first. I was with her when she was made to stand on that chair and be called a liar. I was with her when she stood “so grave and quiet at the mouth of hell”. Intense, straight-talking, brave and a little bit spooky, Jane Eyre is a lonely teenage girl’s dream. Through her, Brontë challenged many Victorian preconceptions about gender and class, and told a nicely twisted Gothic romance. (Emma Jane Unsworth)
Librópatas (Spain) lists 6 stories featuring mad women:
Jane Eyre, de Charlotte Brontë. Es la novela por excelencia cuando se habla de la loca del ático. Jane Eyre es una joven institutriz que llega a una mansión para instruir a una niña de filiación confusa pero que está bajo la tutoría del señor Rochester. Rochester y ella se enamoran y cuando están a punto de casarse… ¡sorpresa! El ático en el que vivía Bertha Mason (y la casa, en general, del señor Rochester) están inspirados en un lugar real.
Ancho mar de los Sargazos, Jean Rhys. No es una historia decimonónica ni victoriana, así que de entrada no debería aparecer en esta lista. Pero, sin embargo, en justicia debe aparecer: ¿cómo se convierte una mujer en la loca del ático? Rhys lo analiza en una novela magistral, que va más allá de ser la precuela de Jane Eyre. Escrito durante el siglo XX y publicado en los 80, es una fascinante historia de una escritora no menos fascinante. Antoinette es una jovencita que vive en el Caribe con su madre, su hermano y su padrastro. Y que acabará conociendo a un hombre llegado de Inglaterra que se enamora de ella… (Raquel C. Pico) (Translation)
The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel suggests a literary quiz as entertainment for Thanksgiving. One of the questions is:
6. “Reader, I married him” is the first line in the last chapter of what book by Ms. Brontë? (Betty Stein)
You may have overlooked that line because according to The Free Press Journal (India),
Over and above his innate charm, Nehru came to us through his books. In Form IV (Standard VIII), one of the prescribed texts was ‘The Discovery of India’, edited by the well-known academician, Prof C D Narasimhaiah. Unlike other texts like ‘Treasure Island’, ‘Jane Eyre’ and the best of Mark Twain, ‘Discovery’ needed careful and concentrated reading. (V Gangadhar)
Grace and Faith 4 U interviews writer Christopher Shennan:
What is your favorite book/character? My favorite book is Jane Eyre, and my favorite character is Jane Eyre. The richness of description and noble theme of the book captures both my attention and my heart. The character of Jane Eyre satisfies my sense of justice; the downtrodden gaining ultimate fulfilment. (Keith Dixon)
Kudika (Romania) lists the 'top 5' book-to-film adaptations and credits Charlotte Brontë with having written Wuthering Heights. Sofia Loves Reading posts about the novel.

by Cristina ( at November 18, 2014 06:34 PM

Jane Eyre in Edmonton

In Edmonton, Canada a new student production of Gordon & Caird's Jane Eyre. The Musical:
Jane Eyre
Tue, Nov 18 & Wed, Nov 19
(7:30 pm)
Directed by Linette Smith.
Musical Direction by Daniel Bolland
Semi staged concert with full orquestra.
Myer Horowitz Theatre
The director describes the piece on Vue Weekly:
“The music’s really epic and challenging, so it’s a great piece if you’re studying theatre,” Linette Smith says. “But it also pushes the boundaries of fate, so it’s something really amazing for people that are going through so much change in their life to be able to identify with these characters; and has that whole identity and questioning of woman’s place in the world and that proto-feminism.”
Smith had read the novel “about a million years ago” and was only vaguely aware of the musical until she took the mantle of director and choreographer for Two ONE-WAY Tickets to Broadway’s upcoming production of the show, which runs for only two days at the Myer Horowitz. It’s a pared-down, concert-style production liberated from the expected grand set design and stuffy Victorian trappings. (...)
“We will always question our place and how we get to be who we are,” she continues. “In this show we are dealt these amazing female figures that really question what we think is supposed to be present in society, what we see in magazines, what we see on television, what we see in politics. Jane pushes the boundaries of all of that.”

by M. ( at November 18, 2014 12:30 AM

November 17, 2014


Literacy Fail

The Coronation Street Blog has published the Corrie Weekly Awards. One of them is
Literacy Fail award: Did Alya really not know that Wuthering Heights was a book before Kate Bush did a song with the same name? She's got a librarian for a mother. I don't buy it. 
Mirabile Dictu posts about the novel and selects several of its beautiful covers. The Review Broads reviews Texts from Jane Eyre. A new Jane Eyre post on Babbling BooksSCBWI Japan Translation Group reviews Minae Mizumura's A True Novel.

by Cristina ( at November 17, 2014 10:54 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


“Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life…” 23rd January 2015, University of Northampton (time tbc – approx. […]

by letitbeprinted at November 17, 2014 01:05 PM

William Morris Unbound

Adjectives for Utopia

The British critic F.R. Leavis used to denounce the ‘adjectival insistence’ of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, by which he meant the way in which Conrad would relentlessly bang on about ‘implacable forces’, ‘inscrutable intentions’ and ‘inconceivable mysteries’ to heighten the enigma of Marlow’s quest for Kurtz in the African jungle. There can hardly be any doubt that Morris is guilty of such insistence in News from Nowhere, though with a very different set of epithets from Conrad’s own.

Everything in Morris’s utopian Thames valley, as John Helmer argued in a fine article on ‘The Prettiness of Utopia’ in 1979, is ‘touched by the same adjectives – pretty, nice, quaint, dainty, handsome and gay’ (p.5); and I’ve been particularly struck by the recurrence of the word ‘little’ in my recent readings of News from Nowhere: little cottage, little river, little hill – the list is endless! I think there is no doubt that, cumulatively, such adjectives have a diminishing effect on the utopian world, reducing it almost to the status of a dolls’ house. How much of the hostile critique of Nowhere as too pastoral and placid is actually the incremental effect in the reader of this relentless patterning of Morrisian adjectives?

Leavis occasionally recommended drastic surgery for texts which displeased him, famously wanting to throw out the Daniel Deronda material from George Eliot’s great novel of that title to produce a much slimmer new work called Gwendolen Harleth. Could we do something similar with Morris’s utopia? How about producing an edition from which all the belittling adjectives – pretty, dainty, quaint and especially little itself – had been entirely banished? Would the utopian world of Nowhere then feel more substantive and challenging? I suspect so; but is there is a publisher bold enough out there to give it a go?

by Tony Pinkney ( at November 17, 2014 12:22 PM

Regency Ramble

Athlelhampton Part 3

No doubt you noticed the door to the right inside that lovely oriel window we looked the last time we visited Athlehampton.  If not you can go back and take a peak here.   That stone arched door led into what is called the King's Ante Room.

It is a small room and far more cozy than that of the Great Hall. But it had several doors leading off from it, clearly a transitional space, but with a peculiar charm.

 Needless to say, finding a neat little passage into a room like this is what makes the adventuring into Regency England so worthwhile.

  There are a couple of items of note in this ante room other than its delightful quaintness, perfect for a scene in a novel,on  is the item on the table on the right. It is a Coade-stone torchere by Coade and Sealy, Lambeth, 1810, part of a set of ten that once belonged to the Prince of Wales.
The second is the large portrait.  This is Princess Sophia, daughter of George III believed to have been the mother of an illegitimate son who lived not far away at Islington House in Puddletown.

My newest novel, Captured Countess will be in stores on tomorrow, you can purchase print copies on line at:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Barnes and Noble
Chapters Indigo Canada

Or your favourite bookstore

The e-book will be out on December 1, so I will post links for your convenience on that day too.

Until next time

by Ann Lethbridge ( at November 17, 2014 11:00 AM

The Cat's Meat Shop

Sherlock at Museum of London

The Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Museum of London (runs until 12 April 2015) is a masterful and marvellous piece of work. Anyone with an enthusiasm for Holmes or his late-Victorian/Edwardian milieu, will absolutely relish the experience. I've been round twice now; I've taken my parents. I almost bought a deerstalker.

I joke about the deerstalker (though they are on sale in the shop, naturally). 

The exhibition is divided into four main sections. The first (entered through an amusingly concealed doorway) contains banks of screens, showing highlights of numberless TV and film adaptations, from a John Barrymore 1922 silent to the work of Robert Downey Jnr. (and seemingly every major UK character actor in between). There's also a lovely 1903 film reel of traffic and scenes in Edwardian London, taking up an entire wall.

The video walls are, perhaps, a prelude to the exhibition proper. For the next section considers the origins of Holmes from Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue to Conan Doyle's faltering start, which almost saw his great detective christened Sherrinford. There's also a chance to hear a 1927 interview with Conan Doyle, and note his Scottish accent; see a rare original of A Study in Scarlet as it appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887 (only eleven copies survive) and see Holmes come to life in Paget's famous illustrations.

Sherinford Holmes in Conan Doyle's original MS (copyright Museum of London)
The next section explores Holmes' London, largely through maps, paintings and photographs. Video monitors show modern hi-speed dashes through routes taken in the stories. Nineteenth century maps, above the screens, place them in context. Small photographs of street scenes, on a wall nearby, are fascinating documents of the period (and include quite a few I have not seen before). The paintings are familiar from other exhibitions but gorgeous (Dollman's Les Miserables - showing a snowbound cab shelter, cabs and horses - is a real treat). Neat touches include a wall of random Edwardian postcards, showing Imperial London in all its grandeur (and a chance to read the messages on the back - including one in indecipherable shorthand).

(copyright Museum of London)
(copyright Museum of London)
Finally, you come to Sherlock himself - or, rather, the character and his world, broken down into material categories: clothing (from Edwardian evening wear to - gasp, ladies, contain yourselves - Benedict Cumberbatch's coat); technology (telephones, telegraphs, typewriters); detective equipment (police handcuffs, fingerprinting kits); and various everyday (and not so everyday) things that feature in the stories. Thus you can also see pipes and tobacco; a box of Victorian theatrical make-up (in honour of Sherlock as master of disguise); and guns and swordsticks (loved the swordsticks).

(copyright Museum of London)

(copyright Museum of London)
Throughout, there is a sense of perfect balance: between the demands of hardcore fans (several items in the exhibition are normally in the hands of private collectors and won't be seen again in a hurry) and the general public; between the broader 'world' of Sherlock Holmes, and the details of the character; and, not least, between the various competing TV/film adaptations and the original Victorian literary origins. There is not much at all of the present Benedict Cumberbatch version (I guess some people may find that surprising, but I was grateful for it); and I came away with two thoughts - that the Museum had really captured the essence of Sherlock; and that they'd had a whale of a time putting this together, an enthusiasm which will undoubtedly transfer to their visitors.

The curator hard at work (copyright Museum of London)

by Lee Jackson ( at November 17, 2014 08:56 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


An 18th century trunk

Gentle readers and friends,

Now where were we? I hope you have not forgotten the Burney Society Biennial Conference? We had reached the later afternoon. Due to the unexpected popularity (sense of exclusion) that actuated large numbers of JASNA people to join the Burney people to listen to Juliet McMaster’s “Female Difficulties: Austen’s Fanny and Burney’s Juliette,” and the time it took for them all to obtain coffee and/or tea, and snacks, Prof McMasters was forced to rush through her talk and leave little bits off. Luckily I heard it again in the very late morning the next day so can convey the gist of what she said and a few notes. In the later evening after dinner at the Burney conference members performed scenes from Burney’s Love and Fashion.

The next day, Friday morning, the Burney group were given a tour of the Burney Centre at McGill: at the McGill center we saw all the tools and papers and microfilms and microfiches at the scholars’ disposal and were told something of their procedures. Catherine Parisian’s talk ended the conference. She linked The Wanderer to MP (both published 200 years ago — as well as Edgeworth’s Patronage, Scott’s Waverley) she mentioned the War of 1812, Napoleon’s abdication, but her focus was Burney’s life that year.

To begin with Fanny in MP and Juliette in The Wanderer:

Fanny’s trip with Mrs Norris in the carriage (dramatized in Ken Taylor’s BBC 1983 MP)

Prof McMaster’s most remarkable insight made me see Mansfield Park anew: she suggested that Mrs Norris so loathes Fanny because Fanny was to be her way of having a child with Sir Thomas; things go awry immediately in the first carriage ride where Mrs Norris finds Fanny’s personality to be deeply antipathetic to her own; Fanny’s crying and yielding personality sabotages Mrs Norris’s project and she hates her ever after. If you reread the 1st and 2nd chapters, you see a lot of language which supports this thesis. Prof McMasters brought the two novels together in the context of other women’s novels of the era also about women in distress: we also know Austen’s high opinion of Burney’s work from Northanger Abbey. In both novelists nature is a moral force, where the heroines endure trials demanding the greatest fortitude. In Fanny Price we see dramatized the pain of enforced passivity (we also see this in Anne Elliot); Burney’s Elinor Joddrell does not accept this kind of role, fiercely resisting this socializing, but when she is rejected for her rebellion, she tries to kill herself. We do find a free spirit in Mary Crawford, but note that it is Fanny who is the catalyst in the scene between Mary and Edmund in the attic where they act out of the lines from Inchbald’s Lovers’ Vows. Fanny knows deep mortification, distress, gnawing jealousy as she is bullied and pressured into accepting a role in the play taken on for its usefulness in erotic exploitation. Juliette’s adventures are as harrowing as those in a Hardy novel, reflecting the French upheaval, the nameless Juliette is hurled from job to job, showing the same reluctance as Fanny to display herself in public (she gives up means of support); her wanderings include an eloquent depiction of the blighted lives of seamstresses. Fanny is forced to come out of silence; Juliette is silenced for volumes. Juliette may be a picture of perfection, but she is jeered at in public; she hates making money, it’s embarrassing. It seems what gets in their way is their “delicacy,” their fear of exposure. She ended on the thought that now in 2014 that we females have left these paths of avoidance and repression no matter what the cost, we find new hard difficulties.

I move to the concluding moving (poignant) matter of Frances Burney’s 1814:

Norbury Park

Prof Parisian’s chosen topic was “Frances Burney in the year 1814,” and she showed what a tough year it was for Frances. Charles Burney died and Frances finds that her father’s wish that the estate be divided equally is thwarted by her brother, and nephews; the sales of The Wanderer are poor, part of the run destroyed. Burney has her £2000, but her husband remains in France (he had visited for 4 weeks but had to return while hoping for an ambassadorship); he has an appt with no pay, and Burney foresees that his health will not hold up (he was to die painfully of cancer in 1817). Her beloved and now dead sister, Susan’s oldest son died, and a crushing blow, Camilla cottage is sold, and she can do nothing about the money she sunk into the place as she has only a lease on the land. Her long-time friend Fredericka Locke sides with her son, saying that the cottage does not belong on the big estate. Frances goes on to endure penurious circumstances, sharing quarters with Charlotte over Sloane Street (they have no visitors, no carriage). Her apparently apathetic son, Alex incurs expenses;the only alternative for him is a military career in France, but this is unrealistic given what he is. (He is presented as hopelessly unworldly but I wonder if there is something else here: was he a homosexual man? autistic and disabled?) Burney begins to sell things to make ends meet. D’Arblay wrote a letter to the Lockes that offended and Frances intervened to smooth things over, but here she is a mature adult but finds she had no rights (over Camilla cottage) and where she has (her father’s wishes at least) cannot act in court on her own behalf. The bright future she had hoped for her older years did not happen.

How can I bring these papers together? Austen’s life also began to go seriously awry a year later, in 1815 when Henry went bankrupt and she began to show the first symptoms of her fatal illness. There is a mad abuse of Fanny Price in Mrs. Norris’s fierce castigating antagonisms, matched by scathing censure Juliette experiences in the worlds she wanders through. Perhaps it is not overstating to say these novels are expressionistic mirrorings of the inner and outer lives of their authors and their own enforced (and for Austen soon fatal) passivities.

Bath where Austen and Burney both lived — contemporary photo of a bridge Austen and Burney both knew well


I regretted very much that I was not able to stay for the performance of Act I, scene 2 of Burney’s Love and Fashion though I had read the play. This is an area of talent Burney was not permitted to allow to flourish and develop. Only recently have her plays been edited and even played:

From a performance of The Witlings; a review of another performance (Houston, Feb 1998)

I can at least contribute Doody’s accurate reprise in her The Life in the Works:

Love and Fashion … is a stageable play … with many good things in it. Burney here uses the circumstances she had once sketched as the ground plan of the novel that became Camilla — the story of a family plunged into poverty, and the different members’ reactions to the change. Lord Exbury, his daughter, and his younger son Valentine are impoverished because of the extravagance of his elder son, Mordaunt Exbury. The family is forced to move to a humble dwelling in the country. Lord Exbury’s ward, Hilaria Dalton, good-hearted but volatile, flippant, and worldly, has doubts about life in the country, and is torn between Love (for Valentine) and Fashion, in the prospects offered by marriage with the wealthy if unpleasant Lord Ardville. Hilaria, who seems more like the original “Ariella” than does the ultimate heroine of Camilla, goes very near making the same mistake “Clarinda” almost makes, marrying a disagreeable old peer for his money. But Hilaria has little capacity for sentiment or self-reproach and a very strong sense of what she wants. When the fop Sir Archy Fineer woos her for” old Lord Ardville, her mind runs on the attractions of the life Ardville can offer:

Hilaria. Is it not provoking one can’t marry a man’s fortune, without marrying himself? that one can’t take a fancy to his mansions, his parks, his establishment, — but one must have his odious society into the
Sir Archy. But think how soon you’ll be free.
Hilaria. No; I hate to think about people’s dying.
Sir Archy. But you don’t hate to think about people’s being comfortably wrapt in fleecy hosiery, –reclined on an easy chair, & unable, by the month together, to hop after & torment their fair Mates?
Hilaria. Why no — that is not quite so disagreeable. But, really, poor Women are cruelly off: ’tis so prodigious a temptation to be made mistress in a moment of mansions, carriages, domestics — to have Time, Power, & Pleasure cast at once at their disposal –
Sir Archy. And where is the cruelty of all this?
Hilaria. It’s [sic] accompaniment is so often discordant! If the regard of Lord Ardville be sincere –
why can he not settle half his wealth upon me at once, without making me a prisoner for life in return?

One recognizes in Hilaria the tone of the Frances Burney who had thought that “a handsome pension for nothing at all would be as well as working night and day for a salary.” Hilaria, analyzing the situation in which marriage is a lady’s only way to come at mansion, establishment, power, and pleasure, mocks and (with the help of Sir Archy) caricatures the powerful but strangely impotent and unnecessary male who can command all this data, and she has the same desire for choice that other Burney heroines have. She carries forward the theme of woman’s choice — of libido, if you will — so marked in Burney since Evelina first laughed in the fop’s face, and refused to dance with the man she found unattractive, intending to choose one she liked. Hilaria, of course, has to come about. When she hears that Valentine has been ruined at play and is being pursued by a bailiff who wants to arrest him, she accepts Lord Ardville’s present of jewels, in order to free her true love, even though that means she must accept Lord Ardville. Her act of self-sacrifice is misinterpreted by Valentine, though she is persuaded to break off with Lord Ardville by Valentine’s homily: “You wish … to unite Love with Fashion? … The happiness of true Love is domestic life: the very existence of Fashion is public admiration” (V.i.204-20S). Lord Arville, in order to get out of the embarrassment of being considered “a disappointed Man,” will not take back the jewels, pretending they were a free gift and that he had no particular interest in Hilaria. She gives the jewels to Lord Exbury, and from them, presumably, the family debts may be paid-a dubious transaction, sorting ill with the moral that ends the play: “What is there of Fortune or distinction unattainable in Britain by Talents, probity, & Courage? … Has a Man hands, & shall he fear to work for the Wife of his choice?” (V.iV.233).

Independence achieved through work — this moral is similar to that of The Witlings … Love and Fashion reflects Burney’s own pride in the choice she had earlier made of “love in rural poverty” with General d’Arblay, and a “retort courteous” to those who mocked and cut her.” But the play also peculiarly validates the choice of Sally and James in 1798 99 (Frances half-sister and brother who eloped to live together), for they had chosen love, poverty, and “domestic life,” if not in a cottage then in a slum up Tottenham Court Road. Sally and James act like distorting reflectors of Burney’s own values (289-92).

The cast and scenes performed.

It seems to me (humbly do I say this of course), that Burney’s play reflects the experiences of her own family and its insecurity and ways of surviving in a patronage culture. There is the bad careless brother for whom all is sacrificed, who however would not be a bad person given some other asusumptions and alternatives: Mordaunt Exbury whose best moment is his last: “I have been the ruin of yuou all, — & I feel cursed queer. I’ll go and lie down again.” This time the father is evasive (in Cecilia he was simply a hectically active sycophant).

In rehearsing Act III, the Burney players noticed a Freudian blockage in a line of Miss Exbury’s, lamenting that she doesn’t know about pin money. Burney wrote “now how my uncle can be so cruel…” but it ought to be “father.”

The autobiographical is ever central to her text. The tone of the play recalls (to me) the benevolent comedy of the era, yet the threat is much harder than say School for Scandal: real poverty, the marriage of a young girl to an old man. Again we see much sycophancy. Innis the maid is a character worth study — she is another form of heroine Burney relates to (silent, an exchange item between male servants). I was amused to find that Burney was concerned to mock the uses of ghosts on the stage: consciously she was not a gothic fiction writer.

To conclude with Doody’s thoughts on this play: Burney (understandably) is sympathetic to the “abused sycophant.” We see what toadying costs, the psychic penalties that warp a personality: “Burney is always interested in, and resentful of, snobbery and condescension, and keenly observes what different effects social tyrannies have on different people” and some of the play’s best lines are given over to Litchburn, the “fragile humbly explanatory toady (292-93).”

The great actor, Clive Francis as Sir Roderick in a performance of Burney’s The Woman Hater at the Burney Center December-February 2007


by ellenandjim at November 17, 2014 05:31 AM


Charlotte Brontë and the Author Portrait

A Brontë talk given today, November 17, at the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society:
Charlotte Brontë and the Author Portrait
Dr Julian North
Senior Lecturer in 19th Century English Literature University of Leicester
Monday 17 November at the Art Gallery and Museum, New Walk, 7.30 pm

Charlotte Brontë has always been seen as a writer who was shy of publicity, but the evidence suggests that she thought carefully about how her reputation might be shaped through portraiture - and that she was less modest in her self-image than has previously been recognised. This lecture will consider Brontë's own, fantasy author portraits, drawn in the 1830's when she was a teenager; her feelings about the now-famous portrait by George Richmond (1850); and the new evidence that she was invited to sit for a daguerreotype portrait, and refused. the lecture will end by showing how her image was used and transformed by the Victorians after her death.
Dr North said: “Charlotte Brontë has always been seen as a writer who was shy of publicity and wanted to "walk invisible".
“But the evidence suggests that she thought carefully about how her reputation might be shaped through portraits – and that she was less modest in her self-image than has previously been recognised.
“This lecture will consider Brontë’s own, fantasy author portraits, drawn in the 1830s when she was a teenager; her feelings about the now-famous portrait by George Richmond (1850); and new evidence that she was invited to sit for a daguerreotype portrait, and refused. The lecture will end by showing how her image was used and transformed by the Victorians after her death.” (Source: University of Leicester)

by M. ( at November 17, 2014 12:30 AM

November 16, 2014


Full of Atmosphere

We understand perfectly this columnist on Frome Standard:
We all have special places. Houses or rooms within houses that hold powerful memories: a secluded pub by a beautiful beach, the summit of a high mountain overlooking a Scottish loch, a garden, a forest, a railway platform where a proposal of marriage was made, a grave where the remains of a loved one are laid.
The Yorkshire home of the Brontë family is one of my special places.
I love to stand in the hallway and imagine what it would be like to be in that very spot in the years long ago when Charlotte, Emily and Ann (sic) were producing their great writings, to hear father warning them not to stay up too late, as he turned to wind the long case clock half way up the stairs where you can tread today. The place is full of atmosphere, and I just soak it up.
The Sunday Times reviews the upcoming novel Sanctuary by Robert Edric:
Sanctuary, his latest novel, is set closer to home on the bleak moors of Edric’s own county. It is 1848, and the story is narrated by Branwell Brontë, the scapegrace brother of three soon-to-be famous novelists. Buffeted by his own literary failure and a disastrous love affair, Branwell has returned to Haworth Parsonage to live with his father and sisters. Miserable and self-pitying, he is descending into a morass of drink, debt and despair. Edric eschews a conventional plot in favour of vividly realised scenes that build up an extraordinary, poignant portrait of a man lurching towards self-destruction.  (Nick Rennison)
Alison Thompson also in The Times's Hearing is Believing discusses Staying On by Paul Scott:
At 18, I’d read Pride and Prejudice,  Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina and Lace. I knew all about unrequited love, doomed love and a bit about sex with a goldfish thanks to Shirley Conran. But there was nothing on what happened next. Every book stopped with: “Reader, I married him”, or a tragic death. The rest of life was obviously irrelevant.
The Boston Globe interviews the writer and theatre critic Hilton Als,
BOOKS: Do you have a favorite biography? (Amy Sutherland)
ALS: I think Gerald Clarke’s biography of Truman Capote is amazing. I like really old biographies, such as Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography of her friend Charlotte Brontë. Quentin Bell’s biography of his aunt Virginia Woolf has enough sensibility to keep you amused but not enough to make you feel bad about your own writing. Michael Holroyd’s biography of Lytton Strachey is amazing in terms of describing these minor figures in a big world. 
Hull Daily Mail discusses reason why Hull is better (ahem) than Paris:
5) Yorkshire scenery: Have you seen the North York Moors recently? Or our wonderful coast? It's enough to make the most hardened townie come over a bit Wuthering Heights.
The Hindu quotes the writer Dan Brown saying:
“I wrote a lot as a kid. I studied writing. I enjoyed writing, but I thought I would be a musician. I wrote music too. I played the piano but, after a decade as a starving musician, I took to writing novels. I had read all the classics like Shakespeare, Brontë and others. But I did not know about the popular genre. Then I happened to read Sydney Sheldon on the beach, and found it fast and racy. I thought, well, I could do it.” (Ziya Us Salam)
The Hamilton Spectator discusses reading nowadays:
There are depressing stories about celebrated, award-winning authors who lament slow sales and allegedly can't make a living from writing.
Yet there are other stories about stay-at-home moms who become millionaire self-published authors.
There are, indeed, too many readers who have missed the joys of reading Melville or Brontë or Faulkner.
And there are all those children — and adults — who were introduced to the joys of reading Rowling, people who might never have picked up a book were it not for "Harry Potter."
I suspect humanity is reading — and writing — more than ever before. (Paul Berton)
Asbury Park Press talks about some Vincent Price films. Particularly Roger Corman's adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe The Tomb of Ligeia:
The story owes a big debt to literary giants beyond Poe (Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca” and Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre” can be particularly sensed between the lines) and Price has a fine sparring partner in Elizabeth Shepherd. It’s a genuinely unsettling dive into the demons of memory and manipulation. (Alex Biese)
Fantasymundo (Spain) interviews the writer Raquel García Estruch:
Carmen Jimeno: ¿Y como escritora?
Raquel García Estruch: Como escritora he aprendido mucho de autores de otros géneros literarios. En los que a mi género respecta empecé en mi adolescencia con las novelas de Jean Austen y Victoria Holt. Adoraba aquellas historias que se desarrollaban en mansiones victorianas, en una época en el que el destino de las mujeres no era otro que el de casarse con alguien de buena posición y tener hijos. Después descubrí a las hermanas Brontë, me enamoré de Stendhal, de Dickens, de Oscar Wilde. Después Nora Roberts y Rosemunde Pilcher han sido una auténtica inspiración para mí. He leído sus libros tantas veces que puedo repetir de memoria páginas enteras. (Translation)
We-News (in Italian) reviews Wuthering Heights;  Shelf Love and Hopelessy Devote Bibliophile review Mallory Ortberg's Texts from Jane Eyre.

by M. ( at November 16, 2014 04:49 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


I am sorry to announce that I will not be posting Edward Lear’s diaries for some time due to health problems in the family. I hope I’ll be able to resume around Christmas time.


by Marco Graziosi at November 16, 2014 12:14 PM



A new play inspired by the life and works of the Brontës is now touring the Netherlands. Maatschappij Discordia presents:
Weiblicher Akt V: Bron/Brontë
Played and written by Annette Kouwenhoven, Maureen Teeuwen, Miranda Prein. With the special appearance of  Jan Joris Lamers
Wat heeft het romantische werk van de Brontë zussen ons nu nog te zeggen?
Dat het gemis (van een moeder) het niet deugen (van een broer) en ontberingen (eenzaamheid en armoede) een bron kan zijn van grote literaire schoonheid.
Het ruige leven en de vroegtijdige dood van Branwell Brontë was voor zijn keurig opgevoede zusters Emily, Charlotte en Ann hét moment waarop de deur naar hun eigen donkere binnenwereld openging. Dat gaf hun werk de sinistere ondertoon die ons nu nog steeds zo aanspreekt.
In Bron/Brontë spelen Maureen, Miranda en Annette scènes uit de nacht.
    ‘Op een nacht in november waarin de mistige natte sneeuw definitief overging in een sneeuwstorm en      de wind om het huis gierde zaten we allemaal bij het warme keukenvuur na een ruzie met de keukenmeid Tabby over het recht om een kaars aan te steken. Een ruzie die zij won omdat ze weigerde er één te halen. Er volgde een lange stilte die uiteindelijk werd verbroken door Branwell die op lijzige toon zei: ‘Ik weet niet wat ik moet doen.’ Emily en Ann herhaalden hem.
De keukenmeid: Nou, ga dan naar bed.
Branwell: Alles liever dan dat.
Charlotte: Waarom ben je zo mistroostig vanavond Tabby? Oh, hadden we allemaal maar een eigen eiland.
Branwell: Dan ik koos ik het eiland Man.’
Met als bron Shelley, Shakespeare, Brontë én onze eigen Duistere Kant zoeken we antwoorden op vragen als:
            Waar ben je als je slaapt?
            Wie ben je als je slaapt?
            Wat zijn je diepste verlangens?
            Durf je ze te zien?
            Hoeveel duisternis kun je aan?
            Ben je bang voor de schaduw,
            schaamte, schuld, sex en sadisme
of kun je eigenlijk niet zonder?
Hoe langer je in het duister staart hoe meer je ziet….
Gemaakt en gespeeld door: Annette Kouwenhoven, Maureen Teeuwen, Miranda Prein. Met ook altijd een speciaal optreden van Jan Joris Lamers.
             The best thing in the world
             is a shot of whisky
            Have you got some?
11 November to 15 nov, Frascati Amsterdam
25 nov, Theater Bouwkunde, Deventer
277 nov, Walhalla, Rotterdam
2 December to 4 December, Theater Kikker, Utrecht
20 Dec, Monty, Antwerpen
2 and 3 January, 2015, Toneelschuur, Haarlem
January 8, 205, Grand Théâtre, Groningen
De Volkskrant publishes a favourable review of the Amsterdam performances.

by M. ( at November 16, 2014 02:20 AM

November 15, 2014

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Jean-Louis Forain

 photo ForainAfter-the-Ball-the-Reveler-1881.png

After the Ball, The Reveler, 1881

 photo forainjewishpeddler.jpg

November 15, 2014 09:04 AM

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

  • S. Horton, Her Bonnie Pit Laddie: A Tale of Northern Methodism (Thomas Mitchell, c. 1892).  Set in a Victorian mining community, and involves local religious politics, union organization, and the like.  (eBay)
  • A. L. O. E., The Children's Tabernacle: Or, Hand-Work and Heart-Work (John F. Shaw, n.d. [c. 1872?]).  In the subgenre of parents (and/or governesses, etc.) telling their children stories from the Bible.  A. L. O. E. is the missionary Charlotte Maria Tucker. (eBay)
  • Nayah, The Little Hindoo Convert; The Gold-Mine; The Name on the Rock; The Plate of Cherries; The Rose-Tree; Charles Dwight, or The Missionary's Son (American Sunday-School Union, n.d. [1870s]).  Six Religious Tract Society tracts, reprinted in the USA and bound together.  (eBay)
  • Rachel Cusk, The Country Life (Picador, 1997).  Young woman answers ad for au pair, discovers strange goings-on in distinctly Jane Eyre-ish fashion.  (eBay)

by Miriam Burstein at November 15, 2014 01:58 AM


Poetry By the Book

In Milano, Italy:
Bookcity Milano
November 15, 17:00
La poesia è indispensabile. Ma a cosa? Maratona di poesia
Maratona di poesia in occasione dell'uscita di 21 preghierine per una nuova vita di Antonio Moresco, nella collana di poesia in ebook "" diretta da Maria Pace Ottieri e Andrea Amerio.
Poesie di: Emily Brontë (letta da Ginevra Bompiani), Chandra Livia Candiani, Vivian Lamarque, Vittorio Lingiardi, Antonio Moresco, Patrizia Valduga, Blanca Varela (letta da Stefano Bernardinelli).
Chandra Livia Candiani, La bambina pugile ovvero la precisione dell'amore, Einaudi
Emily Bronte, 33 poesie, Nottetempo
Vivian Lamarque, Poesie. 1972-2002, Mondadori; Poesie della notte, Rizzoli; La gentilèssa, Stampa
Vittorio Lingiardi, La confusione è precisa in amore, Nottetempo
Antonio Moresco, 21 preghierine per una nuova vita, Nottetempo
Blanca Varela, Crocifinzioni, Nottetempo
Patrizia Valduga, Quartine. Seconda centuria, Einaudi; Lezioni d'amore, Einaudi; Il libro delle laudi, Einaudi; Prima antologia, Einaudi
And in Rowlett, TX:
Amateur Community Theatre of Rowlett presents
Murder by the Book
by Craig Sodaro

November 7th, 8th at 8PM & 9th at 2PM
November 14th, 15th at 8PM & 16th at 2PM
What happens when some of the world’s greatest writers get together?  Murder, that’s what! (...)
The Raven Society is holding its annual meeting to select the best mystery book of the year to win the coveted Smoking Gun Award. Because of the prestige of the prize, the membership in this sacred club is secret, even amongst themselves.
Each member attends the three day meeting, cut off from the rest of the world at the Dickens House, disguised as a famous author.
This year, Edgar Allan Poe introduces a dashing upstart, William Shakespeare, as a new member to replace the recently departed Jules Verne. Spouting poetry, Will instantly captures the hearts of Mary Shelley, Charlotte Brontë and Louisa Mae Alcott. (Via Rowlett Lakeshore Times)

by M. ( at November 15, 2014 12:30 AM

November 14, 2014

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


The Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies and the Northern Nineteenth-Century Network is pleased to announce a one-day colloquium, to take place at Leeds Trinity University on Friday 17th April 2015. […]

by letitbeprinted at November 14, 2014 06:28 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


The Bennet Sisters in a Brontë novel

Haworth's Scroggling the Holly is almost here and The Telegraph & Argus knows it:
The festive season gets under way in style with a weekend of activities in Haworth.
The Scroggling the Holly event will see pixies and fairies prepare the streets for the opening of Christmas on Saturday and Sunday, November 29 and 30.
Parades each day in Main Street will make their way sprinkling fairy dust, while the Ivy Princess and her attendants hand out sprigs of decorative holly.
There will also be musical entertainment on offer.
Parking will be available for the event in the Brontë Parsonage and Brontë Village car parks.
The Stage publishes the obituary of the actress Pamela Marr:
Together with her actor-writer husband Roger Weldon, Pamela Marr was a stalwart of the weekly rep company Pyramid Players that flourished in the early part of the 1950s.
Formed in Birmingham in 1948, the company presented 51 plays in its first year, and continued apace into the late 1950s, enjoying residences in a variety of locations including Birmingham, Cannock, Shrewsbury, Wellington, Swindon and Bridlington. In 1950, the couple organised the first ever Brontë festival in the sibling novelists’ hometown of Haworth, Yorkshire. (Michael Quinn)
Margaret C. Sullivan in The Huffington Post lists several 'creative' covers for Jane Austen' s Pride and Prejudice, including this one for Signet Classics:
Signet Classics are reliable and inexpensive paperback editions, often used in the secondary-school market and just as often read by adults who appreciate their low cost and ubiquity. It probably seemed like a good plan to choose a vaguely old-fashioned-looking painting of two women who could, perhaps, be Elizabeth and Jane Bennet...had the Bennet sisters somehow been transported forward about 40 years into a Charlotte Brontë novel. (Noooo! cry the Janeites. Not the Brontës!)
Chicago Tribune reviews Sarah Ruhl's 100 Essays I don't have time to write:
This is a political stance as well as an aesthetic one, although Ruhl avoids saying so outright, noting only that there are relatively few plays written from a mother's point of view: "(W)e don't have many playwrights who have also been mothers." Before we think too hard about why, the essay is over, the rhetorical equivalent of ending a sentence with "7." In another essay, when approaching an explicitly feminist statement, she interrupts herself mid-sentence, chiding, "Virginia Woolf said that Charlotte Brontë wrote badly when she was angry. Let me rephrase." (Amy Gentry)
Nicole Russell in The Federalist gives advices on her ten-year marriage anniversary.
As a Midwestern girl with an English degree, I grabbed hold of Emily Brontë’s adage, “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same” as zealously as Mr. Darcy loved Elizabeth (thank you, Jane Austen). But that maxim has only allowed me, when things have gotten difficult, to teeter on the edge of thinking: “This guy isn’t right for me. Is there someone else better?” The grass isn’t greener, folks. It’s all a dingy shade of yellow because we’re all flawed, selfish people. Just focus on watering when and where you can and take a big drink from the hose yourself—you need the most work, anyway.
The Irish Independent recommends a visit to the Gate Theatre's production of Wuthering Heights:
"Heathcliff! It's me, it's Cathy, I've come home, so cold! Let me into your window." Sure, Emily Bronte's novel is source material for Kate Bush's song but it's normally seen in the flesh on stage. This production, directed by Michael Barker-Caven and, promises the "darkness and intensity" of the novel. (Niall Byrne)
The Yorkshire Post on that eternal subject, the greatest books ever written:
As the discussion flows, along with the red wine, there’s a fair chance that Wuthering Heights, The Great Gatsby and the magnum opus that is James Joyce’s Ulysses will get at least a mention, while others might fly the flag for the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s modern masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude, or William Golding’s searing rites of passage novel, Lord of the Flies.
Greater Kashmir finds similarities between Kashmir's landscape and a Brontë novel:
Tiny little hamlets, straight out of a Charlotte Brontë novel - must have been near Shupiyan - had visible impression of impending fall. Swathed under balmy afternoon Kashmir sun, where thin line of lean poplars run with an air of flourish, a land yellow in summer, its funereal brume rolling over paddy fields, and one felt a deep sorrow, the kind of melancholy you feel when you’re with a pretty woman and the sun is going down. Kashmir, the cursed damsel with a thousand scars, perched in her bosom, its air breathing fey, ruined, star-crossed her fate. (Faheem Jeelani)
On Travelmole:
Leading ethical agent rounds up 10 award-winning destinations which will not only give you the holiday of a lifetime, but where your travels will also make a real, positive difference to local people and conservation efforts.': (...)
4. The North York Moors, UK
Conjuring up images of wild, remote landscapes and atmospheric adaptations of Bronte novels, Winner of the best Protected Area in 2004, the North York Moors are a spectacular mixture of coastline, open moorland and quaint, Georgian spa towns. Take the waters in Harrogate, or take to two wheels to explore the open, heather-filled expanses.
According to Patriot News, the name Jane is going to be fashionable again:
Jane Austen. Jane Eyre. Jane Darling from "Peter Pan." Jane is a unique yet sensible name that should top the list for any parents-to-be who majored in English Literature. (Josette Plank)
Business World Weekender talks about the 1985 film Hindi Nahahati ang Langit by Mike De Leon:
His character might be likened to Hindley Earnshaw (in fact characters and portions of the plot recall Wuthering Heights) -- an alcoholic weakling who lashes out, with diminishing effectiveness, in his hatred and growing despair. (Noel Vera)
Les Echos (France) reviews the novel The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon:
On est loin des romans de Charlotte Brontë et de Jane Austen, mais à sa façon Nell Leyshon poursuit leur œuvre _ la complète. En exprimant le « non-dit » de la condition des femmes de cette époque : des femmes, qui très jeunes sont esclavagisées, humiliées, engrossées par des hommes égoïstes (Violette, la soeur de Marie, doit cacher que Ralph, le fils du pasteur, est le père de son bébé). (Philippe Chevelley) (Translation)
France TV (France) talks about the book Le vrai lieu by Annie Ernaux:
On y retrouve aussi la sœur morte avant sa naissance ("L'autre fille", Editions Nil, 2011), la mère ("Une femme", Gallimard, 1988), le père, la lecture, comme "lieu de l'imaginaire et ouverture sur le monde" et les livres qui l'ont marquée ("Jane Eyre", "Autant en emporte le vent", "Le 2e sexe"). (Translation)
Zócalo Saltillo (México) has a booktuber and Brontëite.

by M. ( at November 14, 2014 08:15 AM

Wuthering Heights in Dublin

A new production of Wuthering Heights opens tomorrow, November 13, in Dublin, Ireland:
Wuthering Heights
By Emily Brontë, adapted by Anne-Marie Casey

Gate Theatre. Preview Thursday 13 November
Opening night Tuesday 18 November
Until January 24, 2015

Director Michael Barker-Caven
Catherine Earnshaw/Linton                  Kate Brennan
Nelly Dean                                            Fiona Bell
Heathcliff                                              Tom Canton
Francis/Zillah                                        Maeve Fitzgerald
Lockwood                                             Bosco Hogan
Hindley Earnshaw/Mr Earnshaw          Ronan Leahy
Isabella Linton                                      Rebecca O’Mara
Joseph                                                   Karl O’Neill                      
Edgar Linton                                         Stephen Swift

"I have not broken your heart - you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine."

Emily Brontë's novel of intense desire and impossible love has thrilled generations of readers since its first publication in 1847. Set in the magnificent and desolate landscape of the Yorkshire moors, it tells of the doomed relationship between the wild and beautiful Catherine Earnshaw and her adopted brother, the brooding, elusive Heathcliff, whom her father discovered as a mysterious foundling on the Liverpool docks and brought back to his home - Wuthering Heights.

Humiliated by his adopted family and spurned by the woman he loves, anger and resentment grow in Heathcliff. Will his all-consuming passions ultimately destroy both himself and those around him?

by M. ( at November 14, 2014 06:29 AM

The Little Professor

The Astrologer

I've mentioned Scott G. F. Bailey's The Astrologer a couple of times here, but as I'm about to finish teaching it, I thought I'd discuss it in a bit more detail.  As I've said, The Astrologer reworks Shakespeare's Hamlet by setting it in Denmark at the turn of the seventeenth century (at roughly the time of Hamlet's composition, in other words).  Strictly speaking, the novel is positioned before Hamlet, as the King Hamlet figure, King Christian, remains alive and kicking; in addition, the novel often deploys Hamlet to mislead as much as to guide (the surplus of drownings, for example, among other more important issues...).    It's a "historical" novel, in the sense that the (dead) Tycho Brahe is integral to the plot and the chief royals, King Christian and Prince Christian, are presumably King Christian IV and his son the Prince-Elect, Christian.  Once the reader begins to play "match the dates," though, she notices that historical chronology and the novel's chronology don't match at all--Christian IV didn't die until decades after the novel is set and his son wasn't even born in 1601.  The warping continues throughout the narrative (e.g., the identify of the king's mistress is "right" but her fate is not; Ulfeldt, similarly, is a real person, but not the person he is here; Christian IV's successor was a different son, not his brother; and so on).  In fact, Bailey's historiography is cheekily Shakespearean in its wholesale transformations of historical figures and chronology alike, dropping us into an alternate universe that is recognizably Hamlet, recognizably Denmark, and yet not quite either.

The novel's most radical decision is stripping Christian/Hamlet of his revenge plot and reassigning it to an entirely new character, the titular astrologer, Soren.  Soren, dubiously reliable and tragicomically lacking in empathy--the flurry of bodies around him usually elicits responses that vary from non-existent to hilariously inapt--announces at the end of the first chapter that King Christian "was my enemy, and I had sworn to kill him" (loc. 168).  According to Soren, King Christian murdered Soren's idol and teacher, Tycho Brahe, hence motivating Soren's revenge--although even Tycho's cousin comments, in some puzzlement, that "I do not share your absolute devotion to my cousin" (loc. 562).   Although he has inherited Hamlet's revenge plot, Soren does not take Hamlet's position as the tragic hero: at some points in the text he channels Hamlet (his plot), at others Polonius (whether in dialogue or by hiding in a chest), at others yet Horatio (he's Christian's primary confidant), and at still others Claudius (initially opting for poison as his weapon of choice).   Equally, Soren straddles multiple historical positions as astrologer and astronomer, inhabiting both roles as equally scientific; as a harbinger of modernity, as he likes to think of himself, Soren is simultaneously Janus-faced and unaware of his own imminent anachronism.  And despite his belief that "what we can see is to be more trusted than what we are told without evidence"[loc. 207], Soren is also very much not Sherlock Holmes, badly misreading the evidence when it comes to both Vibeke and Prince Christian.  

This instability, as opposed to the one-to-one correspondence of most of the other characters (Ulfeldt is Polonius, Vibeke is Ophelia, Cornelius and Voltemont are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and so on), is matched by his increasingly undermotivated revenge plot.  As eventually becomes clear, Soren's hero-worship does not measure up to reality: despite Soren's loathing for King Christian, he and Tycho have more in common than Soren would like to think, just as Tycho twins with Soren's despised father in Soren's own subconscious.  Revenge tragedies are not normally righteous, but this revenge plot itself has sand at its foundation (did Christian actually kill Tycho in the first place?); moreover, Soren is arguably taking revenge on the wrong person, as his own father was accidentally killed by Tycho's collapsing paper mill.  Very much unlike Hamlet, who spends his play thinking about the fact that he's thinking about taking revenge, Soren has no difficulty in getting himself motivated; the problem is that he has a bleakly comic set of mishaps that result in him accidentally killing the wrong people--twice--before the king's Swiss mercenaries, who share his goals, step in to provide guidance.  (The mercenaries in question, Marcellus and Bernardo, are the only characters who share names with their Hamlet equivalents; in a more serious Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead-type twist, they're minor characters who are actually major players.)   Fittingly, when Soren accomplishes his mission, he feels a "vague sense of empty release, no more" (loc. 3404), ending his plot not with a Hamlet-style spectacle of cascading corpses--he and the King are alone at the time, in fact, reversing Hamlet's notorious non-murder of Claudius when the opportunity presents itself--but a mere (quasi-sexual?) whimper.  

Of course, if the Hamlet-figure doesn't have a revenge plot, then what does he have?  While Soren works out his father issues by trying to avenge the father he has chosen (and who, by all accounts, did not want him), Prince Christian seeks to emulate his father through violence.  The difficulty, however, is that Christian is a coward:  despite joyously comparing his father to Beowulf (loc. 136) and insisting that "I am not afraid to go to war" (loc. 654), Christian cuts and runs in his first experience of actual battle.  For Christian, this disrupts his identity as both potential king and potential man--significantly, the physically underpowered intellectual Soren repeatedly compares himself to a woman, only becoming a "man" (loc. 3538) once he kills King Christian--and his failure to duplicate his brutal father's gory exploits are at the root of his own (possible) insanity.  "My father was in his fullest glory," Christian says, "and I saw what it is to be king of Denmark" (loc. 1885).  In Hamlet, Horatio exclaims "Why, what a king is this!" (V.i) when Hamlet coolly announces the impending demise of R&G; by contrast, in The Astrologer, Hamlet's contemptuous masterminding of two minor villains' deaths for the crime of getting in his and Claudius' way turns into something far more dangerous and far more senseless.   Christian interprets killing as a display of pure (masculine) power: he therefore orders Cornelius' and Voltemont's deaths (for no good reason) to show that "I am a ruler now, a warrior, prince of the realm" (loc. 2315) and then kills Ulfeldt when the older man accurately reports the king's adultery.  In both cases, he kills men who are either far away from him or not his physical equal; near the end, he decapitates a soldier who poses him no current threat.  Every death simply confirms Christian's cowardice, his inability to become his father, as Soren is unable to become Tycho.  In a remarkably snarky echo of Hamlet, when Christian angrily asks Bernardo if he "seems a cowardly boy," Bernardo replies, "I know not 'seems,' my lord" (loc. 3507) before going on to murder him in a horrifically one-sided parody of the Hamlet-Laertes swordfight.  As repurposed here, Hamlet's initial defiance instead deflates Christian into a mere mockery of a would-be monarch, flailing about with his father's unwieldy sword while Rome (or, to be more precise, the castle) burns behind him.  Given the noticeable absence of tragic heroes, it's no wonder that the erasure of everyone in sight ends not with Hamlet's tragic tableau, but instead all the survivors living comically ever after (sort of), with the new king a supporter of the arts (also sort of) instead of a bloody-minded brute.  



by Miriam Burstein at November 14, 2014 01:20 AM


Kate Bush Handwritten Wuthering Heights Lyrics Auctioned

Today, November 14, an auction is taking place on TracksAuction with a Brontë (à la Bush) twist:
Beatles And Rock 'n Roll Memorabilia Auction. November 2014
Lot 8 of 214:
Kate Bush Handwritten 1978 Wuthering Heights Lyrics, Letter And Signed Photograph 

Estimate: £1,000 - £2,000
Starting bid: £1,000

A handwritten letter from Kate Bush which includes the lyrics to her first single Wuthering Heights, written verso, accompanied by a signed promotional photograph. The letter is written in blue ballpoint pen on a sheet of Hotel Intercontinental Paris letter-headed paper and was sent in response to a letter from a fan in 1978. The letter reads, “Dear David, thank you very much for writing to me – I’m thrilled that you want to know the words of my single, it’s no trouble to write them for you + it certainly won’t cost you! I’m glad you’ve read the book, I think it is so beautiful. I hope you enjoy the album. Best of luck with all that you’re doing. God Bless, love Kate Bush xxx. (Kate has written the lyrics to Wuthering Heights on the reverse of the letter.)

by M. ( at November 14, 2014 12:04 AM

November 13, 2014


'A match made in a very weird section of heaven' indeed

More on the latest episode of Sons of Anarchy titled Faith and Despondency. As usual, beware of spoilers! Vulture recaps:
“But this world’s life has much to dread / Not so, my Father, with the dead.” —Emily Brontë, “Faith and Despondency” [...]
And then there’s Tulley and Juice, a certainly nonconsensual relationship fueled by heroin, Vaseline, and Emily Brontë. Tulley reads him Brontë’s “My Comforter” (“Was I not vexed, in these gloomy ways / To walk alone so long? … A brotherhood of misery … ”), and Juice snorts heroin. Juice’s victimization in this situation is amplified by the fact that he is of African-American descent, complicating Tulley’s actions. The fact that Juice and Gemma both are “bent over” and in some way victimized in this episode is noteworthy. [...]
Faith and Despondency,” a poem by Emily Brontë, is a dialogue between father and daughter on life and mortality. The father hears the daughter’s strength and lack of fear in the face of sorrow and despair. At the end he says, “Well hast thou spoken, sweet, trustful child! / And wiser than thy sire.” Abel’s knowledge has outpaced his sire’s, and it’s on the table now, just waiting to be dealt with. (Leigh Kolb)
Nerd Core Movement writes about it too:
Now Juice is somehow coming to peace with doing cocaine, being Marilyn Manson’s bitch in prison while having Emily Brontë poetry read to him. In other words, not all of his dogs are barking. [...]
Tully also promises to take good care of his “Puerto Rican” and Jax knows Juice needs a lot of love right now, signifying that he either knew or didn’t care that the Nazi leader was turning him into his prison bitch. As a token of his appreciation, Tully sends Juice a care package — a poetry book by Emily Brontë (which is where the title of this episode came from), a vile of cocaine and a jar of petroleum jelly (does anyone use petroleum jelly anymore?!?). Later in the episode we find Juice snorting the coke off his hand with no clothes on while Tully lays in his lap and reads “My Comforter” from the book of poetry. This is a match made in a very weird section of heaven. (Damon Martin)
Paste picks some lines from the poem as one of the episode's favourite quotes:
“A brotherhood of misery, their smiles as sad as sighs; Whose madness daily maddened me, Distorting into agony, The bliss before my eyes!”—Emily Brontë’s poem “My Comforter,” read by a postcoital Tully to Juice (Emily Worden)
On to something else. As The Huffington Post puts it,
Cornel West -- the famous public scholar and political polemicist whose many books include Race Matters, Democracy Matters, and The Rich and the Rest of Us -- cares about the novels of a dead, white, privileged British woman of the Regency Era. [...]
West views the fact that one still has to make a case for Austen's place at the top of the pantheon of great literature as evidence of how much men still dominate. It pains him that writers such as Twain, Emerson, James, and even Brontë could be so harsh toward her. (Kathleen Anderson)
Jane Austen appears in several of the '50 Novels Featuring Famous Authors as Characters' selection made by Flavorwire as do the Brontës:
As for the most popular fictionalized writers? No surprise to see a ton of Shakespeares, Austens, Dickenses and Brontës scampering with pens through the pages of other peoples’ novels. [...]
Daphne, Justine Picardie. Daphne DuMaurier’s life and her own obsession with the Brontës juxtaposed with a young writer’s obsession with DuMaurier, with lots of passionate correspondence, of course. [...]
Solsbury Hill, Susan Wyler. Emily Brontë’s ghost, literal and figurative, haunts a young fashionista visiting the moors in this recent Wuthering Heights paean. [...]
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë, Syrie James. James is another writer who specializes in recreating the lives of our favorite authors, this time through an ultra-passionate look at Brontë’s diaries and love interests. Not to be confused with…
Emily’s Ghost, Denise Giardana. This novel of the Brontë sisters hews as close to facts as it can, and despite possibly manufacturing love quadrangles for them, is highly recommended for devotees of the sisters’ Gothic fiction. (Sarah Seltzer)
Coincidentally, The Independent briefly discusses fan fiction in the light of a new project:
A guarded welcome for Project Remix, a new initiative in schools which suggests that students aged between 13 and 19 years of age re-make literary works in new genres: re-casting books, stories and poems – from Pride and Prejudice to “Ozymandias” by way of The Hound of the Baskervilles – as strip cartoons, music, film trailers, book-jacket designs or “creative writing.” [...]
Literary classics have also been appearing in strip cartoons since the 1960s; I know well-read people familiar with, say, Titus Andronicus only through such cartoons. A recital of Shelley’s “Ozymandias” was used as a trailer for the last season of Breaking Bad. And so on.
But I’d certainly like to see scholars encouraged to try “fan fiction” adjustments to Wuthering Heights or David Copperfield. The only problem would be to stop them bringing some of the famous characters together in unlikely sexual convergences.
It’s one thing to write  a fan fiction in which Harry Potter and Hermione get it on. Not so with Uriah Heep and Betsey Trotwood. (John Walsh)
The Yorkshire Evening Post recommends Further North, a bar in Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton.
Of all the seasons, autumn is where we re-ignite these ancient rituals, the flames and fireworks of bonfire night revisits sectarian division; the wizards and witches of hallowe’en reach back yet further to a pagan past. Such a night, clear and moonlit, with a whiff of smoke on the frosty air, seems an apt backdrop to launch my very own beer on an unsuspecting world.
The name That Quiet Earth invokes the Gothic of Wuthering Heights and the pomp of Genesis, its dark, mysterious nature, its deep toffee taste, prodigious strength and soft, soporific finish ideal for the time of year. That Further North should lay on pork pie and parkin makes for a perfect night out.
Lecturas de Beltrán, kaitlynn's book blog and  Free Through Fiction post about Wuthering Heights. Julie Akhurst, owner of Ponden Hall, writes on Carolyn Mendelsohn Foto about her experience hosting a Wuthering Heights Creative Residency.

by Cristina ( at November 13, 2014 11:58 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Vuillard, a Parisian scene

 photo vuillardparis.jpg

Evidently a cheerful spring day, as opposed to the wet and windy autumn that we have here at present.

November 13, 2014 08:44 AM


My Red Jane Eyre Book

Andrew Keeling an Otherworld is an alt rock 'recording collective' whose latest released album is My Red Book. It contains a track (the last one of the album) whose name is clearly a Brontë inspiration: Jane Eyre.
My Red Book
Andrew Keeling and Otherworld
Original Release Date: 1 April 2014
Label: Spaceward
The track can be listened on Spotify or JunoDownload among other places.

by M. ( at November 13, 2014 12:16 AM

November 12, 2014


Attention-grabbing Wuthering Heights

The Fraser Coast Chronicle (Australia) tells about a local project:
Picture source
Baddow House became the setting for a scene from a Charlotte Brontë novel when six young drama students filmed scenes from Jane Eyre for a national competition.
Trinity Smith, 12, who co-wrote the 15-minute film with Addictive Dramatics drama teacher Tamara Bailey, said she chose the location after looking at it online.
"Baddow House is authentic, old and perfect for the film," she said.
Trinity, the most outstanding drama performer award winner at the Eisteddfod 2014, spent a month writing the script with Ms Bailey.
The girls only had one week to learn the script and practise the five short scenes.
Ms Bailey said Trinity, who plays Jane Eyre, was a true artist.
"She's full of energy and enthusiasm," she said. (Robyne Cuerel)
Evoke interviews the cast of the Dublin Gate Theatre production of  Wuthering Heights opening tomorrow, November 13:
 Kate Brennan — Catherine Earnshaw  (...)
‘I completely relate to her; I just love the absolute darkness about the piece, and the raw passion. It’s just a really instinctive piece. It’s the kind of stuff I love to do.’ (...)
Tom Canton — Heathcliff (...)
‘You have to justify your own characters choices, and I can wholeheartedly see where he’s coming from, but the choices he makes are maybe not the best ones, they are destructive. But I think he operates from a place of absolute adoration and love,’ he says. (...)
‘Adoration for someone and hate for someone can be very close emotions.’ (...)
Fiona Bell — Nelly Dean (...)
‘She is an unrealisable narrator because she is involved and she has her opinions about the characters,’ Fiona says.(...)
‘She comes and goes with everybody, but ultimately she sides with the good characters.’ (Eleanore Hutch)
Still in Australia, The Canberra Times discusses the book of the year chosen by the University of Canberra.
It's amazing that no matter who you speak to you find they've got half a dozen books they think should be the UC Book of the Year. And we've got all sorts of things in mind for the future, from the classics of fiction to the classics of non-fiction. We've played it fairly safe for these first few years, making sure they're all recent novels and award-winning novels. But let's wait and see. I think the classics will be one of the options coming up soon. And imagine the controversies there'll be then! How dare you choose between Dickens and Brontë?!  (Ian Warden)
An Express and Star columnist wonders,
When was the last time a piece of literature grabbed your attention?
Perhaps it was recently, with the global success of Donna Tartt’s latest epic offering The Goldfinch? Or maybe it’s been a while; The Lovely Bones, Harry Potter, or The Da Vinci Code? It could be that you’re a fan of the classics, and it’s Dickens’ Great Expectations, Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, or Orwell’s 1984, that set your pulse racing. (David Handley)
It looks as if this columnist from the University of California Highlander didn't have his pulse racing - or not in a good way - when reading Wuthering Heights:
However, there are books that merit more attention than those of an average fiction writer — the “classics,” the sort of books you would be forced to read in an English class. And yes, for most people, it is a matter of “force” when it comes to reading these classics. And no, I do not claim to have read everything that might be called “classic,” nor do I claim to have enjoyed the classics that I have read (I’m looking at you, “Wuthering Heights”). (Quinn Minten)
Collider recaps (beware of spoilers!!) the latest episode of Sons of Anarchy, titled Faith and Despondency after the poem by Emily Brontë.
So Tully and Juice … the book of love poems by Emily Brontë, the vaseline, the cocaine — all typical stuff from Sutter. (Allison Keene)
The Brontë Sisters explores the Brontës-Keighley connection. Ana' Fiches de Lecture reviews Wuthering Heights.

by Cristina ( at November 12, 2014 11:27 PM

The Cynic Sang: The (Un)Official Blog of the William Blake Archive

Manuscript image of a "mad man"

Wikipedia says that

“Although Blake was considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, he is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work.”

I wonder whether this is anything like a useful opposition, in the sense that I doubt most “later critics” would make a case for Blake’s sanity as a necessary condition for his “expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work.” It seems to me more like we just don’t care if Blake was mad or not because of his “expressiveness and creativity,” etc. etc.. It is certainly not an either-or scenario. However, the fact that my colleagues and I spend our time digitally archiving the works of a madman certainly cheers me on the days (more and more frequently, as the end of the semester approaches) when I feel like this guy:

Manuscript image of a "mad man"

by mspeer2014 at November 12, 2014 09:35 PM

November 11, 2014


A Brontë crisis

More on the Brontë Society's inner troubles in the Yorkshire Post today:
The Brontë Society is in “crisis” and urgently needs to change the way it operates and address poor morale among staff at the Parsonage Museum, according to an expert.
The literary society’s recent extraordinary general meeting, called by 53 disgruntled members, was told by an independent adviser that it needed to review its structure and ask “whether it is now fit for purpose”.
In minutes seen by The Yorkshire Post, the adviser says that four problems faced by the Society added up to a “crisis situation”.
“You are currently without a chief executive of the museum, without a chair of your Council, you’ve got a body of staff who are asking for recognition by a union and you’ve got a group of members who have called an EGM. Any one of those individual situations would put any society under stress and pressure but having four at once is a very, very unusual situation.”
The adviser questioned the structure of the society.
“You are in a very unusual situation, as a literary society but with responsibility for a need to look at your structure and ask yourself whether it is now fit for purpose in the 21st century with the responsibilities that you have.”
The adviser said that museum staff were “clearly unhappy” and that it was clear that the Society board “should not be involved in the day to day running of any operation, that should be paid employees.”
The adviser added: “This board, for whatever reasons, are very involved in the day to running of that museum and that’s very unusual.”
One Brontë Society council member is quoted in the minutes saying that it had “made huge efforts to become strategic and to separate its work” from the running of the Parsonage.
Another member claimed that museum staff “feel undermined and interfered with, but do not speak about it”.
There was also criticism that the Society does not work closely enough with the village of Haworth, home of the museum.
The EGM was called by members who wanted to elect a new governing council but were unable to do so because of company law.
Yesterday a spokesman for the Brontë Society stressed that the transcript of the meeting was not an official document.
He said a governance review had started last year and will progress into 2015 with the support of an external advisor and a specialist in charity law.
Society members will be invited to participate in the governance review.
“We are aware that some members would like to see the Parsonage Museum run separately from the Brontë Society. However, the Parsonage Museum was given ‘in perpetuity’ to the Brontë Society in 1928 and has been run by Society members ever since...Any proposed changes to the constitution of the Society would be subject to a vote among the whole membership and would need to be put to the AGM in June 2015.” (Andrew Robinson)
The Christian Science Monitor reviews Mallory Ortberg's Texts from Jane Eyre and picks one of Jane and Rochester's exchanges as a favourite.
1. Between Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester:
J: "do you really want me to describe my walk to you."
J: "it is fairly cloudy out. looks like rain soon." (Molly Driscol)
The Christian Times joins the ranks of those trying to guess what Emily Brontë's poem in the title of the next episode of Sons of Anarchy may imply:
. . . the title of the upcoming episode is actually taken from a poem written by Emily Brontë. The poem implies that there is death around the corner and a "sweet trusting child" could be involved in the plot. (Virginia D'Cruz)
The Irish Times reports that a forthcoming auction
contains a handwritten set of lyrics for Kate Bush's first hit 'Wuthering Heights'. She wrote them out and posted them to a teenage fan who had contacted her record company requesting them. They are expected to sell for up to €2,500.
The Brussels Brontë Blog looks into the connection between Constantin Heger and Constantin Meunier, a 19th-century Belgian artist. Escritoras inglesas writes in Pottuguese about Jane Eyre. Gordon Book Review Blog posts about Wuthering Heights. Vonnie's Reading Corner is reading Jane Eyre.

by Cristina ( at November 11, 2014 11:17 PM

The Little Professor

Three cheers for the Skype interview?

Rosemary G. Feal argues that, all in all, the MLA supports multiple "best practices" for the interview process, which may include Skyping, traditional conference interviews, all of the above, or perhaps none of the above.  One might add that if Skype fails to work--incidentally, I tried to sit in on our interviews via Skype last year after my flight to Chicago was canceled, and Skype indeed failed to work--committees could always resort to that old-fashioned technology known as the phone.  Obviously, there are always potential issues with Skype access, like poor connectivity, but if a university can afford to run a doctoral program, they can certainly afford to make it possible for their graduate students to interview on Skype (or related teleconferencing applications).  Departments will need to invest time in prepping their candidates for Skype, as there are some very basic issues that need to be resolved--e.g., where to sit in relation to the camera so as to make eye contact with the folks on the other end, how to eliminate distractions if the candidate is interviewing at home, and so forth.  But departments should be prepping their candidates for interviews anyway.  

by Miriam Burstein at November 11, 2014 05:26 PM

The Cat's Meat Shop

The Food of the Poor

[note: my paragraph-isation, just to spread things out a bit, ed.]

It is a busy night in the market street. The street is in the midst of neighbourhood that boasts of a great many factories, a population of what might be termed "casual mechanics," poor labourers, and a large percentage of bad characters - these last, however, keeping "themselves to themselves" in their own particular courts and slums.

As we wedge our way though the stream of purchasers at the gutter stalls, we can see that the majority of the men are unskilled labourers, earning a somewhat precarious living, being occasionally out of work, and never being absolutely certain of getting the next week's pound to five-and-twenty-shillings. Most of those who are not eagerly making their way to the Blue Boar are busy marketing with their wives; and truly the market is a good market, with a plentiful supply of food sold at very moderate rates.

Watching a man who stands with his wife and little girl before a butcher's shop, let us see what they have to choose from in buying for the next day's dinner. On the shelves set out in front of the shop meat scraps are offered at 3½d the lb.; better scraps (or "block ornaments" as they are termed) at 4d.; somewhat shapeless small joints of beef from inferior parts at 5d.; one coarse shoulder of mutton at the same; tolerably good-looking meat at 6d.; mutton chops at 7d. and 8d., and rump steak at 10d. Our labourer is a decent and sober - well, not over-beery-looking fellow. In making up his mind at what he is going to buy he takes but little time - he instantly points to the rump steak, the dearest of all the food in the shop, and his wife asks for a pound and a half, producing her 1s. 3d. with a cheerful alacrity. 

Next, the family proceed to the greengrocer's. Potatoes there are sold at five, four, and three pounds for 2d. The good wife buys the best, at the same time taking, for a Sunday treat, a pound - at a penny the pound - of unpleasant-looking squashed-up dates. For her pound and a half of steak and three pounds of potatoes she gave then 1s. 5d., that is to say a possible third of her husband's daily earnings, presuming him to be at work. 

After the family have gone on their way, we ask the butcher what sort of meat men and women of that class generally buy. He answers promptly, and somewhat indignantly, "The best." And is a fact that a destitute man or woman who gets a shilling ticket for meat is hardly ever known to spend it on anything but prime steak. But let us look again at the butcher's shop and then at the gutter stalls, and see what sort of meal might be had for three people (father ,wife and one child, say), with something to leave over for the man to take with him to work the next day, the meal, of course, to cost less than 1s. 5d.

At any of the stalls onions are sold at a penny the pound, turnips and carrots at three pounds for twopence; mixed lots, too, of turnip, carrot and onion, weighing apparently over a pound, the lot for a penny. Now, with a pound and a half of meat at 5d.  for the block ornaments at 4d. and 3½d. it must be owned, do not look particularly tempting, and a penny lot of carrots and onions, a good haricot could be made for 8½d. This with 4lb. of potatoes at two pence, they being quite good at that price, would give the family a supply of food two pounds heavier in weight for 10½d. than with the rump steak and potatoes they paid 1s. 5d. for. 

But for what particular reason is it that stew is so little favoured? The answer is promptly given by the proprietor of a rough-and-tumble china and glass shop, who seems not to be on apparently good terms with the butchers. "For three reasons - first of all, the woman don't know anything at all about cooking; secondly, they're too lazy for it; and thirdly, they like to have everything to the last, and so haven't time to make stews." It is not, we are told that anyone has any objection to stews. On the contrary, cold Irish stew, if "oniony" and with lots of pepper, is always liked. Besides, there is no reason why the labourer should have his Irish stew cold. He works near by, and his wife or child could bring it to him in a basin hot. Our Saturnine shopman shakes his head somewhat mysteriously, and says that the wives can't abide the basin business - that is to say, they do not care to the take the trouble to warm up the cold food, and they do not care for the exertion of walking half a mile with it.

On the subject of the laziness of women, which he evidently considers the key to the position, our informant waxes eloquent, and subsequent investigations go a long way to sustain his facts. It is a curious thing, he observes: but women seem to grow lazier and lazier with regard to cooking. In the corner of the china shop is one of those brown earthenware double baking dishes that are used for baking a joint, a batter pudding, and potatoes at the same time. The sale of these dishes has fallen off considerably. The batter took time to make, and the journey with it to the baker's was "too much of a good thing." Yet this was once almost the Sunday national meal with the London labouring classes. Lying about us here are a number of blocked tin articles of various sizes and uses. There cannot be possibly any objection to cooking at home on the score of the expense of the utensils. A quart saucepan can be had for fivepence, a two-quart for tenpence. It is mentioned, too, as an odd proof of the laziness of wives, that our informant sells a hundred teapots to one coffee-pot, and yet coffee is more drunk for breakfast than tea. The reason for this is that ready-made coffee of good quality with sugar and milk can be got from the coffee-houses, while ready-made tea loses its flavour by being kept boiling. In fact, the women buy the good ready-made coffee always, of course, at a profit to the maker, only to save the trouble of making good tea at home, although most of them prefer the taste of tea to coffee, as most women have done ever since tea has been brought into the country. Yet tea can be bought for 1s. 4d. a pound in the market and loaf sugar at 2½d. Looking in a grocer's shop window to take note of prices, we see that calico bags of table-salt are sold at 1½d. It occurs to us to ask the grocer's assistant whether the ready-ground table-salt is ever bought by the wives of labouring people. He answers, of course it is, and that it saves them the trouble of grinding and scraping at home, although of course it is dearer than buying in the lump.

One's attention is also directed to the great increase in the sale of cooked food. Brawn can be bought for 6d. a pound, and brisket is ever so much cheaper than it used to be. It is only laziness that makes the demand. An experienced police inspector, with whom we have some talk, tells us that he knows the case of a woman who often gives her children tinned lobster (7½d. the tin) and bread and butter for dinner because she does not care about the bother of cooking. Another thing noticeable is the great demand for, and supply of, cheap and certainly not always wholesome luxuries. Thousands of pots of jam at 3lb. for 7½d., sardines at 3½d., dried sprats a halfpenny a bundle, dates a penny the pound, chocolate (so-called) three ounces a penny, gill-and-a-half bottles of sauces at 1½d., mixed sweets four ounces a penny.

It is not always the fault of the wives that labourers feed extravagantly. Their husbands insist upon having the most expensive rump steak. In fact, from a sort of ludicrous spirit of snobbery, a labourer will term a fellow he dislikes a "beggar who eats a chuck," chuck being a low-priced part of the carcase. Still, this is by no means the general rule. Indeed, the wives are going from bad to worse from having less to do. Even the School Board, by taking their children from them, leaves more time on their hands than in the old days when the children hung round about the house and wanted more looking after, And the children do suffer terribly from being fed on so-called "handy snacks". The grocers shops are crammed with jars of pickles, sold at a sixth of the price they were twenty-five years ago. And no child dislikes a meal of saveloys and pickles, or coarse German sausage or brisket. Of course, such food must and does have an injurious effect. It trains their stomachs so that they care only for sweetstuff and savories. And the grocers seem specially to lay themselves out for children's caterers. At a grocer's shop near by, sweet rich cake can be had for 2½d. a pound, and damaged cake for 2d. and less, yet but a few years back it was thought quite a wonder when cake was offered for 4d. What will the future of the London poor be, as far as their digestions are concerned, is, indeed, a problem - fed on makeshift meals of prepared salted meats, cheap pickles, cheap sweetstuffs, and abominable cakes and pastry. 

On all sides the story is that "It's all the fault of the mothers and the cooked-food shops only encourage them in their laziness. What with the penn'orths of stewed eels and ha'porths of fried fish, and saveloys and brawn and sausage, it will be a miracle to make them go in for honest food."

Doubtless the drink has a good deal to do with all this. Bad drink and bad food are alternately cause and effect in a dozen ways. A man gives his wife, say, ten pence to find food for the day. The woman has four pennyworth of gin out of it; she has lost her time gossiping in the public-house, and then, meal times coming on before she notices them, she dashes to the cookshop with the money that she has left.

As to any talk as to the expense of fuel for cooking purposes, that is altogether absurd. Loose wood can be bought at the shed for 3 lb. a penny, coke at 5d. the bushel, and coal at 1s. a cwt. And a woman if she cooked properly, even if she had but a few pence in hand, could still have plenty of variety. Rice can be got at 1d. a pound, oatmeal at 2d., fish is to be bought at less than 4d. a pound, and surely out of all this there need be no lack of change. It is worth noticing also that although rice is so cheap, the London poor do not seem to take to curries, despite their taste for savoury foods. As to a woman thinking of making fish curry at a time when there is a glut of fish in the market, such a thing has never been dreamt of. Even, too, when fresh herrings are sold from the barrel for five a penny, as they were during the season last year, it was quite common to see working men's wives buying the soused herrings from low-class fish shops. The trouble of pickling herrings in the Dutch fashion, so as to have a cheap relish for the Winter would be looked upon as gratuitous martyrdom.

The idea of taking advantage of a glut of anything in the market seems to be beyond the comprehension of the London poor. Even the increased popularity of tomatoes arises a great deal from idleness. Last year tomatoes could be bought at twopence a pound; yet they were very rarely cooked, being nearly always eaten as a "handy" relish, sliced, with vinegar. If they had required cooking of the simplest kind the run on them would have been ever so much less. Still, the number of tasty dishes that could be made from the "love apple," at a very low price indeed, is well known to everyone having the least knowledge of cookery.

When we inquire where the thriftless wives come from, a little more light is let on the matter. But few of the mothers, we are told, have ever been in any domestic service. They have been bookbinders, boot closers, label pasters, and such like. In fact, they have been girls who have been used to "their liberty," and flimsy finery. They are deep readers of novelettes and cheap penny awful literature. That is, they are as unfitted as they well can be, to be frugal wives and careful mothers. They never had any home training before they were married.and they are not any more likely to learn it afterwards. And, of course they have never had the chance of knowing how to cook. They have not oven got so far as to know that it would be of any advantage to them. It is only the rich who go to schools of cookery, whereas it is a great deal more important that the poor should.

Walking further down the market our ears are greeted with "Observe the price before going elsewhere. Now, buyers, come along, do. Don't be down-hearted, observe the prices! " And really the prices are very low. But how as to cheap drinks? We walk into a gin palace of the latest fashion: that is to say, of the fashion which England has been so busily importing from Scotland during the last few years. The bar is divided into a number of small compartments, so that the good wives can do their drinking on the sly much more conveniently. This compartment fashion, one need not be told, is helping on drunkenness admirably, especially among many women who like drink, but are afraid of drinking openly. Overhearing the talk outside the gin palace, we catch one woman saving to another, "Have a drink; I've got four soup tickets." In this case the economy of the household is evidently very little affected by outside charity. While the mother may have a little more money for drink, the children will in all probability have only soup and bread for dinner instead of cold brisket or saveloys and bread.

And now as to the quality of the drink. Being in Rome, we do as Rome does, and try it. The glass of stout is comparatively harmless, but a "nip" of Scotch whisky is apparently compounded of  "silent" spirit and paraffin. Zeal in the good cause of inquiry should tempt to a trial of the gin beloved by slattern wives, but there are limits to self-sacrifice even in the public service. Seated on a table in the open space at the end of the passage, into which the drink-boxes open, is a young fellow of about twenty. He is singing, "If I were in a colony I'd live like a lord." Looking at him admiringly is a decent-looking girl of seventeen. In the next compartment a pair of ladies are engaged in a noisy quarrel over a social quartern. That quartern will cost a husband an unwholesome dinner, and dyspepsia probably send him here for Scotch whisky, which will send him home mad to beat his wife, who will console herself with more gin tomorrow. Such is the merry-go-round.

"The Poor at Market", The Standard, 20 January 1888

by Lee Jackson ( at November 11, 2014 11:12 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Darcy (Matthew Rhys) apologizing to Georgiana (Eleanor Tomlinson), freeing her from an engagement to Fitzwilliam (Tom Ward)

Climax (2)
Darcy, having apologized to Elizabeth (Anna Maxwell Martin), admit he’s wronged her

Climax (1)
we see the core family reconfiguring itself

after which Darcy and Elizabeth make love for the first time in a while, wake and decide they must tell Lydia about Wickham’s affair with Louisa Bidwell (Nichola Burley)

Dear friends and readers,

As the second part of Death Comes to Pemberley has its pivotal climax (it’s literally half-way through) in Elizabeth’s climb to the temple and Elizabeth’s finding in Jane (Alexandra Moen) a resource for strength because Jane believes Darcy continues to love and respect Elizabeth, so the third and final part has as its pivotal climax (it’s literally half-way through) Darcy’s resolution to give up the idea of a marriage of Georgiana to Colonel Fitzwilliam, his apology to Georgiana and Elizabeth, and his resolution not to look upon everyone but close blood family suspiciously, but to be genuinely generous-spirited to all around him. In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice the central recognition is Elizabeth’s of herself, in Towhidi’s movie script, it’s Darcy’s of himself. The only other heritage Austen film (characters in 18th century costume) where the hero instead of the heroine apologizes, is the much-maligned 2007 Mansfield Park (scripted by Maggie Wadey). Most movies on whatever subject humiliate the woman as the maturation event. I was very moved by this scene because it was carefully built up to.

I follow with another outline of the weaving; while I indicate most of the scenes generally I do miss out some sequences of images in the form of brief flashbacks within flashbacks or sudden moments of brooding between characters; these are many and as is common today, brief and swift, but the outward movement holds them within itself. For example, Darcy brooding in the dawn after we have seen shots of a midnight and early dawn sky over the woods:


We open with Wickham in prison, brooding, the camera on his face as he writes an autobiography in the spirit of self-release; we move into his face for a flashback sequence of his remembering his following Louisa into an area of Pemberley wood where they make love.


The film moves away from his mind and the image becomes Louisa trying to jump off a bridge with her baby, to kill them both, and collapses on the bridge unable to jump.


As is common in this and many contemporary movies, an overvoice from the coming scene is heard, Elizabeth’s and we are listening to Sir Selwyn Hardcastle (Trevor Eve) propose to her and Darcy that Louisa Bidwell’s story is centrally connected to the murder of Denny, to Darcy’s denial, Hardcastle’s scepticism (he has seen from Louisa’s behavior that Freddie Delancy is Wickham), and then we are with Darcy in Wickham’s (Matthew Goode) prison cell where Wickham asserts he didn’t murder Denny, and Darcy pretends to believe him. Wickham asks Darcy to care for his son, says he does care (in a limited way) for Louisa, and, as if by association, we are staring at Mrs Reynolds (Joanna Scanlon) worrying over Louisa and the children of such misalliances (she seems to care little for the woman in front of her, Louisa, the mother, only the imagined baby) and then turn to Louisa who Mrs Reynolds and Elizabeth are questioning. They elicit from her her memories of the day she took her baby to a ruined cloister where she met with Denny (Tom Canton), Mrs Young (Mariah Gale) and saw Fitzwilliam, and, where it not for the hesitation of the reluctant Denny, Louisa would have had her baby taken by Mrs Younge.



An intensity of interactive, juxtaposed psychological presences, fills the first ten or so minutes of this hour, and then the camera moves out to film at a greater distance the social scene and landscapes of Louisa and baby hiding behind a tree, and back again inward and suddenly we are in the dark Bidwell cottage with Elizabeth questioning Louisa and Mrs Bidwell (Jennifer Hennessey) there, warily, on guard, all of them interrupted by the sick and dying Will (Lewis Ranier) who comes out for a moment, elusive, as we shall learn the key figure in what happened. There is a distinct fade out, switch and Elizabeth is telling Mrs Reynolds to find a home for Louisa’s baby (and we hear if Janeites delightedly of Mrs Reynold’s widowed sister who runs a boarding school, in Highbury, Mrs Goddard).

None of this is rational; like many melodramatic films today it follows an associative psychological trajectory to tell a story through its past and present simultaneously. The point is to involve us on a deeply emotional level, work up suspense.

There is a relaxation as we find ourselves watching Elizabeth walking and talking with Darcy on the Pemberley grounds: Elizabeth is telling him all she has learned, but they get into a quarrel as soon as she brings up Fitzwilliam’s activity in the story and he refuses to believe her, thinking family honor and safety require that Georgiana marry Fitzwilliam.


The parallel next sequence is of Georgiana and Fitzwilliam walking along the great hall, his proposal of marriage, and her obvious nervous distaste while she accedes that she will marry him.

Tomlinson as Georgiana deeply unhappy as she says yes to Fitzwilliam

A transition of Darcy coming upon Sir Selwyn in the woods examining evidence in the trees, stones, before the trial scenes open.


I won’t go over these in detail as they provide the central mood (they culminate) and are the outward manifestation of what we have seen the inner life of. James and Towhidi (it must be remembered that James is credited with helping Towhidi with the screenplay) are not above condescending comedy as they expose the innkeeper’s wife’s nosiness and absurdities (she overheard Denny and Wickham’s quarrel which we now know was about betraying Louisa).

They drag in Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Penelope Keith) apparently because they feel the audience would be disappointed if the snobbish useless dragon lady were not seen; the purpose of the scene is to show Elizabeth’s invulnerability to this woman now.

Keith as Lady Catherine explaining to Elizabeth how she tells sick people to get better or hurry up and die … (this reminds me of James’s long-sick husband and how she must’ve cared for him)

In court all is going badly for the proud Wickham and his helpless attorney, Alveston (James Norton). We have two scenes between Darcy and Mrs Younge prefaced by his memory of her extorting money from him to find Wickham years ago to force Wickham to marry Lydia (Jena Coleman): Mrs Younge defends herself ably, she behaves ruthlessly because she has nothing and the only person she has known love from and for is Wickham, her brother. What interests me is what this is in service of: on the coach ride home the first day, Darcy finally confronts and demands an explanation from Fitzwilliam and when he sees Fitzwilliam regards Georgiana as nearly spoilt goods, is unrepentant about his deceit, manipulation of Mrs Younge, breaks with him, and then we get the central scene of Darcy’s apology, change of heart, self-recognition and new resolution.

Darcy suddenly seeing Fitzwilliam as they ride home

What is important is Darcy has his change of heart before the trial reaches its climax. Despite Hardcastle not telling all he knows (about Louisa — much to the prosecuting attorney’s disappointment), Wickham is declared guilty and told he will hang the morning after the next day. Upon the verdict, Mrs Younge rushes out, throws herself under a carriage, and dies. (Probably improbably; the carriage is treated as if it were an automobile.) Darcy writes a letter telling the verdict to Elizabeth (we have him communicating by voice-over. This last phase has Elizabeth trying to tell Lydia that Wickham had an affair with Louisa, and Lydia, movingly for once, refusing to know, telling her sister she lives on different terms with Wickham than Elizabeth with Darcy; they pretend not to have around them the evil they do is the point. This scene between Elizabeth and Lydia is Lydia’s best moment in the movie:

Lydiasbestmoment (2)

Lydiasbestmoment (1)

A matching shows Lydia in prison with Wickham and although he has about told Darcy that he regards her as an irritating foolish nuisance (a parallel with her mother as Mr Bennet sees Mrs Bennet), he is suddenly kind, regretful, expresses the idea he has not given Lydia much of a life; she denies this and says they have had a good time. This is an instance of getting through life by telling gay lies sufficiently intensely to believe them.

Elizabeth is next seen in church, presumably praying, when the vicar comes upon her to say Will Bidwell is dying but refuses to see him as Will has done since the murder. As they walk on, Elizabeth suddenly sees it: Denny had gone to the cottage to warn Louisa both Darcy and Hardcastle said, and she can add that Will must’ve seen him, and so she breaks through Mrs Bidwell as barrier to Will and rather than see Wickham hang,


Will tells of how he came to the door, hit the man he thought had ruined his sister, with an iron, the man fell back through the wood and fell down a hill, with a huge stone ripping the back of his head. The scene of the crime we have now seen and heard ceaselessly repeated, is gone through once again, only now the missing murderer is there to explain it all.

We move to the area of improbable rescue with Mr Bidwell (Philip Martin Brown) offering to drive Elizabeth to the magistrate through the night with Will’s signed confession. Mr Bidwell blames himself for not staying by Will’s side — he was too faithful a butler, too interested in the upper class family he served than his own. I did very much like how the camera made sure that we noticed that although Wickham was saved in the nick of time, two other helpless poor people are murdered by hanging (as was the boy long ago hung for poaching, whose death has been repeated like a recurring nightmare predicting coming hanging deaths).


The sudden uptick into comedy and daylight (from a kind of film noir that the film is drenched in on and off, all shadows and darkness) comes with the return of gay music, Darcy and Elizabeth in the coach as he tells her there is no reason why Louisa should not keep her child and they act up to their responsibility and provide for them and the boy as an upper servant as he grows older. A king of mocking fast-paced voice-over narrative of Elizabeth’s dismisses Wickham and Lydia back to their insouciant publicly proud ways as they are turned off to make their way in America. Some how good feeling is conveyed by Martin — as she has shown a strong good heart and generosity throughout.

Anna Maxwell Martin near the end of the film

I love her as Elizabeth; perhaps I prefer this conception of Elizabeth to Austen’s own, only I would say it is an outgrowth of Austen’s: this Elizabeth recognized herself in a previous novel and the older soberer woman was inherent in the younger one.

I can’t quite explain why I was so moved by the rush of Georgiana and Alveston into one another’s arms as part of Martin’s narrative telling us how it all ended (the combination brought tears to my eyes). Perhaps because I loved my husband so, married him for love (he had nothing, no job, no presentability, no college degree, was just my peace, my stability, the one person I had met who I found trustworthy, tender, loving, with real understanding).


I did not care so much for the ending which was an amalgam, a layering on of allusions to Austen films: Darcy and Elizabeth stand on the other side of the lake from Pemberley (apparently Howard Castle was filmed from afar), but a house as such (whether Chatsworth or another) has become an icon since the ending of Joe Wright’s 2005 Pride and Prejudice with Matthew McFayden as a young Darcy and Keira Knightley as Elizabeth celebrating their marriage and love. Now Elizabeth lets Darcy know she is again pregnant, and true to a very mild feminism about wanting a girl more than a boy, Darcy hopes for a girl. He picks Elizabeth up, swirls her about: this recalls the 2008 Sense and Sensibility where Dan Steevens as Edward Ferrars swirls an ecstatic Hattie Morahan as Elinor Dashwood about. Our reunited couple are last seen in front of the grand house — as the 2007 Persuasion placed Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth and Sally Hawkins Anne before a very grand Kellynch. The difference is the young master (boy) which adds domesticity to this re-establishment of the oligarchic paradigm where the great houses carry on no matter what the individual sacrifice (in this film, Denny, Will Bidwell, Eleanor Younge — none of them important characters or even in Austen).


This hour works because it is the culmination of all that went before carefully woven in. Like other recent costume dramas, it attempts to soften the reactionary material, here of P.D. James’s redaction of Pride and Prejudice as a moralizing hierarchical detective story, by making the central characters appealingly vulnerable, humane, as Elizabeth says at the opening of Part 2, acting responsibly for and with one another through life. The 3 novels by James I’ve read, her non-fiction and autobiography have a deep vein of melancholy awareness of the continual losses and hurts we sustain and try to recuperate ourselves from by art, and that is here too in the surface beauty of the film and as I’ve said the quieter scenes.

It’s a mini-series where important scenes occur in carriages, important decisions taken. I never mentioned Alveston and Georgiana overlooking the book of illustrations of Scottish castles and lakes (Part One) so in Part Three (despite its hectic pace) beyond the moments between Darcy and Elizabeth (their talk in bed), I found the hands of women writers in the returns to the phases of daylight and night, and liked the owning up of having been wrong by Fitzwilliam to Alveston and Sir Selwyn’s rueful quiet asides to Darcy (Trevor Eve is excellent in the role).

Lydia at dawn waiting to be told Wickham’s dead

While at the EC/ASECS conference I heard two each perceptive and informed papers by undergraduates on P.D. James’s book and Jo Baker’s Longbourn: the two undergraduates suggested that James (they did not take into consideration this film comes from Howtidi’s screenplay) was too faithful and worshipful of Austen and invented the Bidwell family in order not to have to use Darcy and/or Elizabeth as guilty parties to a murder, and to deflect attention from her unwillingness to move beyond Austen by developing Georgiana and Alveston’s love story as well as the Wickham-Lydia-Louisa triangle. I would put it the reason the book and film of Death Comes to Pemberley are ultimately unsatisfying is this unwillingness to go deeper into pain and hurt, to subvert and transgress Austen’s conservatism. For example, we are supposed to look upon Louisa as just fine now, having a good life because her son is kept at Pemberley to become servant to the master of the house.


By contrast Baker crosses over, goes beyond Austen in her story of an illegitimate son for Mr Bennet, an exploited servant girl, the Peninsula War.

Still for me the problem with Death Comes to Pemberley is its subgenre formulaic unserious use of mystery thriller material, and with Longbourn is the author stays within the historical franchise of Austen’s novel instead moving out also to make an original historical novel set in the later 18th century which happens to use parts of Austen’s story as Valerie Martin makes of her sequel to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Mary Reilly, a serious historical fiction by including in her novel’s world her own assessment of the cruel hard later 19th century world and an idiolect, a style of her own fitting for her new heroine.


by ellenandjim at November 11, 2014 04:21 AM

The Cat's Meat Shop

Leicester, England

The Victorians were wont to transport small groups of 'natives' to England and, often, exhibit them in mock-ups of their 'natural habitat' as instructive entertainment. The people in question - from China, Japan, Africa, Australia, New Zealand et al. - were not confined in these spaces; but these were, in effect, human zoos. The interactions of the 'exhibits' with the locals remains a source of queasy fascination. Here's a piece from The Standard 31 January 1851, which contrasts the 'South African' (presented as something of an innocent 'noble savage') with the hooting mobs of English ...

SCENE IN A CATHEDRAL. In the Worcestershire Journal of Wednesday last appeared the following announcement:-- "South Africans. - An interesting physiological fact occurred at Leicester on Saturday, December 21st, at which place the South Africans were being exhibited, the Amaponda woman, wife of the Zoolu chief, having given birth to a female infant, the only instance of a child of these African tribes being born in Europe. We understand that their conductor intends introducing the party to a Worcester audience, and that the infant will be baptised in our cathedral on Monday, the Lord Bishop having promised to administer the sacred rite in person."

Just before the afternoon service on Monday a carriage, which was followed by hundreds of women and children, drove up to the cathedral. It contained the African woman, whose name is said to be Macomba Faku, the godfather, and two godmothers, one of whom carried the infant. They were conducted to seats between the pulpit and chancel, had they were no sooner seated there than the cathedral began to fill, while two or three hundred persons crowded themselves into that confined part of the choir where the attraction presented itself -- squeezed themselves in heaps on the seat mounted each other's shoulders, bestrid the chancel rails, and got into every position which commanded a view of the poor, wondering, half-frightened woman. Presently the bishop arrived, also Canons Benson, Wood, and Cocks, and occupied their usual stalls. When the service commenced, as also when the organ struck out, Macomba evinced some surprise, but on the whole her conduct and demeanour were decidedly a pattern for those by whom she was surrounded. Neither the solemnity of the service nor the, sacredness of the place produced any effect, in checking the: disgraceful extravagancies of the mob, who were walking about, laughing and talking loud all the time, some men in their shirt sleeves, women and girls without bonnets, &c. Meanwhile, a large party had taken possesion of Jesus Chapel, in the nave where the font is placed, and which of course was to be the scene of the principal part of the ceremony. Here were men and women of the lowest character, using language which would have disgraced a gin palace, and all struggling to obtain the most advantageous positions. By and bye the services in the choir were concluded, and as by this time upwards of 2000 persons were assembled, the rush towards the font was terrific. With great difficulty the bishop arrived at the spot, accompanied by Canons Cocks and Benson, Macomba Fako, and her friends with the baby, the choristers and vergers, &c. The pressure was now terrific; children were knocked down, the shouts. and catcalls became deafening, and boys who had climbed on the tops of the monuments in the chapel screamed with delight as though they were the genii of the anarchy around them. The canons and Lord Sandys (the latter of whom was obliged to do battle with the multitude) were nearly taken off their legs, and at one time we thought that the font itself would have been upset by a coup de main. The lay clerks also were compelled to act as special constables to  ward off the multitude. The bishop, however, proceeded with the rite, which, it is needless to add, was a dumb show to all who were not close to the spot. The woman, who stood resting against the font, behaved in the most exemplary manner, eyeing the bishop at times with some curiosity; the infant also (which was dressed in a long white robe, that contested curiously with its little black limbs) proved itself to belong to a well-bred race by preserving the utmost decorum, and not allowing even a whimper to escape its lips ; indeed, the poor thing had been so kissed and pulled about that mere fatigue might account for its quietude. On its being sprinkled with the water the mother looked with great surprise and concern and held an eager conversation with her guardian and the women; his lordship hastened this part of the ceremony, as though fearful of the consequences, and soon put down the child, which had the effect of restoring confidence to the poor woman. The name given to the child, we are told, was "Leicester, England,"

by Lee Jackson ( at November 11, 2014 02:42 AM

The Floating Academy

Mr. Fezziwig's Ball by John Leech. Image courtesy of Philip V. Allingham and the Victorian Web

One of my Digital Humanities classes is working on a digital archive of A Christmas Carol. In addition to encoding and annotating each stave, they will be creating introductions to the text, to John Leech’s illustrations, and to a few key early 20th-century adaptations (from the first film version (1901), to Edison’s adaptation (1910/1911), and […]

by Constance Crompton at November 11, 2014 01:53 AM


French Theses

A couple of French Brontë-related recent theses:
L’expression Féminine dans les romans d’Anne Brontëby Nourchen Sadkaoui
Supervisor: Alain Jumeau
Ecole doctorale Civilisations, cultures, littératures et sociétés (Paris), 2012

Anne Brontë makes use of her talents as a novelist in view of exploring the realm of the feminine. This work proposes to study the different manifestations and usages of feminine expression in her novels. To start with, her first novel is to be read as an example of a feminine Bildungsroman describing the journey of formation, of maturity and fulfillment of the heroine who evolves from a passive, silent and shy young woman to a self-confident and eloquent wife, mother, educator and writer. The second chapter explores the metaphor of embedding in relation to the second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The chapter examines the different levels of discourse overlapping in the narrative structure in order to illustrate the complex relationships between the sexes in the model of patriarchal society the novel presents. The third and last chapter studies the creative identity attributes of the heroine. Her ingenuity manifests itself in her writings, her paintings, her educational skills and her empathy, not only allowing her to survive and create in a hostile environment but also her close friends to benefit from her personal experience. A review of the studies on the author shows that the theme of feminine expression has not received much critical attention. This thesis, presenting new paths of research, offers a synthetic vision of the question.
Intrication textuelle, et déchiffrement du sens dans l'oeuvre de Charlotte Brontëby Gaïane Hanser
Supervisor: Jean-Pierre Naugrette
École doctorale Études anglophones, germanophones, et européennes (Paris), 2012

The Brontës' childhood was informed by their literary games: they created an imaginary world where they staged the confrontations between their heroes, real or fictitious, and which they used as a setting for numerous tales. A close study of these early writings sheds light on the formation, in Charlotte Brontë's work, of a dialogical mode of writing, which remains present throughout her later novels. Her new enunciative situation as she submits her work to the public at large leads to a shift in her perception of her readership: her new critics do not dissociate in her the woman from the writer, and assess her texts accordingly. This results in the creation of two Model Readers, each of whom is given a specific role within the frame of a same text. Brontë's narrators ask for the leniency of the Model Reader / Judge, at the same times as they call upon the Model Reader / Interpretant's aptitude at deciphering signs. This thesis aims at identifying and analysing the narrative strategies resulting from the creation of a double Model Reader, which help understand the meaning of the novels. These strategies include the insertion within the text of secondary texts or intertextual references, as well as the semanticisation of non-textual elements, such as visual arts or accomplishments. This intrication of various cyphers creates a locus of equivocation and undecidability, which must be invested by the empirical readership.

by M. ( at November 11, 2014 12:30 AM

November 10, 2014


Jane Eyre and the two blue ticks

As most Mondays, it's a slow news day in Brontëland. But if you are intrigued about how Mallory Ortberg's Texts from Jane Eyre came to be, NPR has the answer:
What if the greatest characters in literary history all carried around smart phones and typed out messages to each other? That's the conceit of the new book Texts from Jane Eyre. Author Mallory Ortberg knows it sounds gimmicky, but she loved imagining how Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester might have texted.
"It's just re-imagined dialogue that I think all of these characters would absolutely say in a slightly more familiar context," Ortberg explains. (Neda Ulaby)
A review can be found on Early Book Reviews .

The Brussels Brontë Blog has an article on the recent talk Shoes of Silence and a Face of Stone: Surveillance and Secrets in Charlotte Bronte's 'Villette' by Lucy Hughes-Hallett:
Students and members of the Brussels group met to hear award-wining historian and biographer Lucy Hughes-Hallett give the talk at the Université Saint-Louis. Group committee members Myriam, Lisbeth, Sharon and Marina brought local cakes and tarts for listeners to buy, along with the regular free tea, coffee, juice and biscuits. The audience was set to watch and learn on a sunny Saturday morning in October.
Babbling Books, The Frugal Chariot and A Night's Dream of Books posts about Jane Eyre, part of their Jane Eyre Read-along.

by Cristina ( at November 10, 2014 11:32 PM

Regency Ramble

Athelhampton - Part II

Athelhampton Great Hall is a masterpiece of fifteenth century domestic architecture.  

How exciting to discover that the timbered roof is more or less the way it was built before 1500. 

 You will recall the outside of the house and that oriel window in the corner. Here it is from the inside.  It would not have been in the corner originally, since the wing was added later.

This window contains fine tracery and sixteenth century heraldic glass depicting marriage alliances of the family.

It is this great hall I am using in the novel I have just completed, the Duke's Daring Debutante, though it is set much closer to London.  It has a lovely Gothic feel, and it is the site of one of Thomas Hardy's short stories The Waiting Supper.

This view of the fireplace gives such a wonderful perspective of the grandeur of this hall.  A truly magnificent and impressive space for its time. 

One can only imagine our Regency folks complaining of the drafts and the cost to heat it.

The linenfold panelling is particularly lovely in its delicacy.  

The tapestry above the fireplace is Flemish, "Sampson slaying the Philistines with the jaw bone of an ass." and is dated as late sixteenth/early seventeenth century.

An the piece de resistence as we artistic types like to say, the Screen.

This is set in the original position, though a later version and separates the Hall from what were the service areas, and of course the front door. 

It boasts a very fine George III mahogany and gilt organ on the minstrels' gallery above.

More to come, until next time

by Ann Lethbridge ( at November 10, 2014 11:00 AM


Metal Emily

Stardust Reverie is a symphonic metal band which enlists several well known names in the metal scene: Graham Bonnet (Rainbow/Alcatrazz), Zak Stevens (Savatage/CIIC), Lynn Meredith (ProtoKaw), Melissa Ferlaak (Visions of Atlantis), Bill Hudson (Jon Oliva´s Pain/CIIC)Zuberoa Aznarez (Diabulus in Musica), Jonas Hansson (Silver Mountain), Dougie White (Rainbow/MSG) and Edu Falaschi (Almah, Angra). Precisely Edu Falaschi's website we found this curious information:
Brazilian singer, composer and producer Edu Falaschi (Almah, ex-Angra) has recently recorded his vocal part for the second album of “all-stars” project Stardust Reverie “Proclamation of Shadows”. Edu participates in a song “Resemblance” (based on Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”).
Stardust Reverie is an international project established by Spanish musician and composer Victor Banner. Such world stars as Graham Bonnet, Dougie White, Bill Hudson, Zak Stevens and others are participating in the recording sessions of “Proclamation of Shadows”. The album is planned to be released in March 2015.

by M. ( at November 10, 2014 12:30 AM

November 09, 2014

Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Peanuts in Wonderland

IMG_20141109_0001The Peanuts in Wonderland exhibition opened yesterday at the wonderful Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California (in Wine Country, a bit north of San Francisco). The gallery welcomes visitors with what seems to be a Victorian parlor, replete with photographs of or by Dodgson (and J. M. Cameron), books, and the like. With many framed examples of original art and glassed-in displays of comic books, toys, and such, the history of the intertwining of Carroll’s characters and the mediums of comic books, comic strips, and animation unfolds, with many examples from Peanuts and other strips. The display is beautifully mounted, with many “Easter eggs” (e.g., a disappearing Snoopy and his grin on a wall, a minuscule Sally Brown falling down a rabbit hole behind a tiny door), not to mention great swag (a Disappearing Cheshire Beagle mug, etc.).

The Museum itself is always worth a visit to fans of Schulz and Peanuts of all ages; this exhibition is a fine excuse for Carrollians. The show is open until April 26, and there’s a panel discussion on March 7, but come anytime!

by Mark Burstein at November 09, 2014 08:20 PM


"That gets me every time"

The Driffield Times-Post interviews the local writer, Valerie Wood:
So which methods of research do you undertake to ensure period authenticity?
I often read books by authors who were living in the nineteenth century. One of the greatest storytellers of all-time is Charles Dickens who was writing contemporary novels when he wrote “Oliver Twist” and “Great Expectations”. He was telling it as it really was. The Brontë sisters, too, were telling something of their own lives, but there are many books of research that describe life in another century pertaining to how people dressed, for instance, or their customs.
More  websites are intrigued by the title of the upcoming Faith and Despondency episode of Sons of Anarchy (S07E10, November 11, 2014):
Just in case you have not heard, this episode title is a reference to a classic poem from Emily Brontë, and there may be a little irony in here, given that we don’t see any particular reason to have faith at all, given everything that all of these characters have been through. (Cartermatt)
The Irish Independent recommends
Anne-Marie Casey's adaptation of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë at the Gate Theatre. Desolate Yorkshire moors, a brooding Heathcliff (played by Tom Canton, above), a story of intense desire and impossible love - perfect November-evening fare. Opening night November 18, previews from November 13.
In the same newspaper there is an interview with the actress Kelly Campbell:
The last time I cried
I'm reading Wuthering Heights again. I'm a desperate romantic. "I am Heathcliff." That gets me every time.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reviews How To Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman:
As an avid reader of Victorian literature, I often yearned to time-travel there, where I would read new novels by Dickens and Brontë, ride in a horse-drawn carriage, take high tea with my erudite and charming friends, go to masked balls and wear some pretty darn cool clothes. (Patricia Hagan)
The Medford Mail Tribune reviews a local production of The Secret Garden:
With the support of some kindly servants (supportive Martha, played by Caitlin Lushington, old Ben, played by David J. Rowley, and Martha's brother, 12-year-old nature boy Dickon, played by Matthew Figurate) Mary begins gaining confidence and venturing from the big old mansion (think "Jane Eyre") onto the moor (think "Wuthering Heights"). (Bill Varble)
We wouldn't really say that the Brontës were 'fans' of Robert Burns but the Largs & Millport Weekly News has no problem writing it:
Famous English authors, the Brontës, John Keats and William Wordsworth were fans as was famous American president, Abraham Lincoln. -
Bibliochile (Chile) lists several romance classics:
Cumbres Borrascosas, de Emily Brontë: una historia de amor trágica entre Catherine y Heathcliff. Este último era un niño que el padre de Catherine llevó a la casa y lo crió como propio.
Pese al odio hacia él que tenían la señora de la casa y el hijo mayor de la familia, su hermana Catherine y Heathcliff se hacen grandes amigos, algo que luego se convierte en una amistad. Sin embargo, una serie de hechos desafortunados provocarán que nunca puedan estar juntos.
Jane Eyre, de Charlotte Brontë: el título lleva el nombre de la protagonista, quien es huérfana. Ésta llega a trabajar como institutriz donde la familia Rochester, donde se enamoran con el señor de la casa. Ambos intentan casarse, pero entonces un terrible secreto es descubierto. (Francisca Rivas) (Translation)
100 Greatest Novels of All Time reviews Wuthering Heights.

by M. ( at November 09, 2014 05:18 PM

OUP's Selected Brontë Poems

A recent student selection of the Brontës poetry:
Oxford Student Texts: The Brontës: Selected Poems 
by Helen Cross (Author), Steven Croft (Series Editor)
Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 12, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-0198393412
December 12, 2013

One of a series designed to provide an accessible approach to the works of great poets and playwrights. Each title includes general notes on the text; discussion of themes, issues and contexts.


Complete literary texts with line-by-line notes
Detailed commentary on writers, themes and contexts
Activities to encourage close work with language, structure and critical interpretations
Practice essay questions offering preparation for assessment

by M. ( at November 09, 2014 12:35 AM

November 08, 2014


The Brontë Society Civil War

Museums  Journal publishes an unofficial account (based in an alleged full transcript  filtered by an anonymous Brontë Society member) of the Brontë Society EGM held on 18 October. Deeply disturbing and sad:
“I’m worried that this will all just be swept under the carpet again,” said the member, who asked to remain anonymous.
According to the transcript, the EGM was told that employees at the Brontë Parsonage Museum were unhappy with their treatment by trustees and had asked to join a union.
One speaker described an “atmosphere of bullying and criticism” at the museum and another said staff felt undermined and were “afraid to put their heads above the parapet”. The meeting heard that there was a “depressingly cyclical nature” to the departure of the museum's directors.
The EGM also heard complaints that trustees had not made enough effort to investigate whistleblowing emails sent by three museum employees about the “disturbing” treatment of one former member of staff.
A Brontë Society spokeswoman told Museums Journal that the society was not in a position to comment on the allegations because the transcript was not an official record, but she confirmed that the society had met with a union.
She said: “Staff have been informed that the society has met with and welcomes the approach of Prospect Union and a draft agreement is being put together by the union.”
The EGM also saw the defeat of a resolution to consult with members, partner organisations and the local community over its bicentenary plans, and to apply to the arts council for Designation.
According to the source, a number of members were concerned that the council had urged them to vote against the resolution, telling them it was unnecessary because its recommendations were already in place.
The source said: “People are aghast because in effect it is sending out the message that we don’t want to consult with anyone.”
Before the vote took place, the society had been criticised by one speaker during the EGM for a lack of communication and engagement with local community groups and traders.
The society’s spokeswoman told Museums Journal: “Bicentenary planning and consultation has been underway since June 2014 involving staff, trustees, outside advisers, the president and vice president and a former president of the society.”
She added: “We are also currently in the process of recruiting a project manager to co-ordinate the bicentenary plans, with a focus on working closely with local people, businesses and community groups.”
The society was this week awarded a grant of nearly £100,000 from the arts council for a contemporary arts programme to coincide with its bicentenary plans.
Concerns were also raised during the EGM about the society’s governance structure. The meeting heard from an independent museum advisor that the society was in the midst of a “crisis situation” and should seek help from an outside consultant to ensure its governance was “fit for purpose in the 21st century”.
The society’s spokeswoman told Museums Journal that a governance review has been underway since 2013 and that the society plans invite members and non-members to join a focus group to assist with the review.
The Brontë Society is also inviting nominations for a new chairman and vice chairman, she said, and will elect those roles at the next council meeting.
The group of members who called the EGM will also be coming together shortly to discuss what course of action they will take following the meeting. According to the source, the group will continue to call for the resignation of the society’s trustees and the election of a new council. (Geraldine Kendall)
Jeanette Winterson writes in The Telegraph about the stories/novels that shaped her. The censored (but imaginative) way in which she was introduced to Jane Eyre (which is a fundamental part of her Oranges is Not the Only Fruit) is mentioned:
Mrs Winterson was adept at making her own version of a text. She read Jane Eyre to me, suitable because it has a minister in it, St John Rivers, who is keen on missionary work. There is the terrible fire at Thornfield Hall and Mr Rochester goes blind. In our version Jane doesn’t bother about her sightless paramour; she marries St John Rivers. Years later I discovered what my mother had done. And she did it so well, turning the pages and inventing the text extempore in the style of Charlotte Brontë.
Bloomberg lists buildings that have inspired great books:
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre recalls her first impression of Thornfield Hall: “I looked up and surveyed the front of the mansion. It was three storeys high, of proportions not vast, though considerable: a gentleman’s manor-house, not a nobleman’s seat.” According to the U.K.’s Historic Houses Association, her description is largely based on Norton Conyers, a North Yorkshire home that Brontë visited in 1839. Like Thornfield Hall, the late-medieval building features a grand oak staircase, looming latticed windows, and a square hall decorated with family portraits. Perhaps most tellingly, though, the home’s owners often related the long-standing family legend of a madwoman trapped in the attic—the inspiration for the first Mrs. Rochester. (Hadley Keller)
Nevertheless, a reader from Darlington & Stockton Times remembers that Norton Conyers is not the only Thornfield Hall inspiration contender:
I quote from the book The Brontës at Haworth by Ann Dinsdale which is available from the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth, Yorkshire.
"Although there are no references to Norton Conyers in Charlotte Brontës' surviving letters, Charlotte's friend Ellen Nussey remembered receiving from her a verbal description of the place, but other contenders for the original Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre are North Lees Hall at Hathersage or Rydings at Birstall which Charlotte also visited." (Margaret Scott)
Entertainment Weekly is also promoting Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg:
In Texts from Jane Eyre, Mallory Ortberg imagines conversations between a host of different literary characters, authors, and innocent bystanders. (The one through-line? Most of them are terrible jerks.) Because the humorist and Toast cofounder is also a practiced Twitter whiz, we decided to give her another challenge: Sum up nine great works of fiction—yes, Sweet Valley High counts—without going over the site’s notoriously slim character limit. Here’s what she came up with. (P.S. High schoolers: You’re still gonna have to read the actual books.) (Hillary Busis)
A young woman discovers that she is related to everyone. #JaneEyre
The Independent interviews the writer Andrea Levy:
Which fictional character most resembles you?
At the moment I feel a little like Bertha in Jane Eyre.
And Chicago Tribune interviews Arsalan Iftikhar, international human rights lawyer and writer:
I liked
"The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas, "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontë, "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger, and "Notes From the Underground" by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Sandra Ballentine writes in W Magazine about her visit to Yeotown, a spa retreat in the UK:
Thanks to my tweenage obsession with books like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, I knew early on that English moors were wild, windswept places where lovesick heroines flirted with (or fled from) their suitors amid gnarly trees, craggy rocks, and carpets of heather and bracken, often catching their death from cold in the process. What I didn’t know was that I would one day find myself being herded across just such a moor by a super-buff (and annoyingly fast) former Royal Navy officer named Davey, as I struggled to free my snazzy (but woefully unwaterproof) exercise tights from a clump of prickly gorse, under the quizzical gaze of a flock of sheep. “Don’t stop!” cried Davey, pointing to a roiling mass of storm clouds so dark and violent-looking that I would have broken into a run were I not already out of breath. Where was Heathcliff when I needed him?
Alison Hammond talks about her Strictly Come Dancing experience in the Birmingham Mail:
“My favourite dance is whichever one I’m doing that week, but I do have a soft spot for the Wuthering Heights American Smooth.
“Just for the fact I floated down in that wonderful white dress. All that wafting was the best.” (Roz Laws)
The Beckley Register-Herald talks about a local production of Charles Ludlum's The Mystery of Irma Vep:
The rapid-fire exchanges between Medsker and Sawyer are laced with allusions to literature and classic gothic horror films. The two dominating influences are Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” and Charlotte Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights.” The dynamic between the housekeeper Jane and Lady Enid mimics the relationship between Mrs. Danvers and the new Mrs. De Winters in “Rebecca.”
Meloleggo (Italy) reviews Charlotte by Antonella Iuliano:
Charlotte è un romanzo fresco e passionale, scritto in maniera impeccabile da Antonella Iuliano. La storia è ambientata negli anni ’50 e narra di una ragazzina sedicenne che porta il nome del romanzo, Charlotte, che per caso, nella camera della madre, viene a conoscenza di uno dei classici della letteratura. Ha inizio così la sua passione per la lettura, che la porta in breve tempo a ‘divorare’ Cime tempestose. (Marzia Giosa) (Translation)
Bodythongs has uploaded Brontë country pictures on Flickr. The Brontë Bell Chapel Facebook wall posts  picture of the Brontë font and remembers that
You can view our Brontë Artefacts on any saturday morningn 10-12am.

by M. ( at November 08, 2014 02:31 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


A curious day. ―― Slept well: curtains closed & no mosquitoes.

Rose at 6.30. & at 7.30 had taken coffee; &, as previously resolved ― set off in a 2 ass carriage ― for Mentone.

All the views of Nice as you rise on the Genoa road, are beautiful ― & I think I drew somewhat here in 1841 ― with Uncle & Aunt James. ―Long ascents follow, gulfily looking down into vallies. Bad bits of fallen road ― or rox. First sight of Eza[1] ― beyond Villa Franchi, assuredly very sublime ― & still more so as I went on. Turbia[2] is also grand, & portions of the vast cliffs above the road as one descends are really tremendous. Monaco below, & Roquebrune[3] are also full of beauty, & nearer Mentone, olives worthy of Paxô. But Mentone disappoints me: it is a line of one street ― tho’ the environs are far fuller of near beauty than those of Nice. Hotel Victoria, ― ordered breakfast, & went out to ask if Roberts’s name was among the “strangers.” Lo! I came upon him just outside in the street ― setting off to St. Remo with his friend “Gardner” ― but he goes in 2 days to malta so we met & parted: ― a kindly good man. Returning, I breakfasted, & by chance looked at the list of Strangers; ― & Lo! Viscount & Viscountess Strangford! So I sate an hour or more with them, & afterwards, with her in the table d’hôte room. And at 2.30 ― set off in “my Carriage” ― with the [live] Lord & Lady, who are so full of knowledge & taste that I consider this a white day. ― They left me ― (πάντοτε μόνος)[4] near Rochebrune,[5] & I came on alone. The day all through was divinely lively ― light grey clouds & calm shiel-like sea ― far spread out. Eza was more magnificent than ever. Setting out at 2.45 ― it was moonlight as we came to the Nice descents, & I arrived at 6.30. Έγευμάτισα καλά.[6] ―

But; ― something must be settled as to where I am to work.

Perfectly clear lovely fresh day.

[1] Èze.

[2] La Turbie.

[3] Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.

[4] Always alone (NB).

[5] Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, again.

[6] I dined well (NB).

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at November 08, 2014 08:00 AM

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

  • Nicola Griffith, Hild (Picador, 2014).  Historical novel about Saint Hilda of Whitby.  (Lift Bridge)
  • Jonathan Grimwood, The Last Banquet (Europa, 2014).  Historical novel set in eighteenth-century France, featuring a gourmand who seeks out the world's most esoteric tastes.  (Amazon)
  • Loren D. Estleman, ed., The Plated Spoon and Other Tales of Sherlock Holmes (Tyrus, 2014).  Of the making of many Sherlock Holmes anthologies there is no end.  This one features both old and new tales, including Doyle's self-parody "How Watson Learned the Trick."  (Amazon)
  • The Churchman's Monthly Penny Magazine, vol. V (1851).  Full year of this Protestant magazine, featuring a combination of missionary sketches, short tales for children, discourses on various doctrines, and (as one would expect, given the year) angst about the "Papal aggression."   (eBay)

by Miriam Burstein at November 08, 2014 02:25 AM


Let us meet on the moors

Keighley News reports that a group from Oxenhope are trying to find the real locations behind the Brontës' work in order to make a documentary.
An Oxenhope man is on a mission to track down some of the real life locations which inspired the works of the Brontë sisters.
Ian Howard, who began his research in earnest 12 months ago, received a major boost when his friend Josh Chapman provided him with the memoirs of his grandmother, Joanna Hutton, who was the first female curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in the 1960s.
Also included amongst the memoirs was an unpublished manuscript by a woman called Dorothy Van Ghent, who died in 1968.
Mr Howard, who works as a landscape gardener, said Dorothy had been trying to locate the same locations he is hunting for.
"It was really nice to find out that there was someone else who wasn't sticking to the better known story of which locations the Brontës had used," he said. "It showed that my own ideas weren't just a wild goose chase!
"She is very specific about the places she thought the Brontës were referring to, and she was definitely onto something."
He said Josh Chapman's brother Oliver, who like Josh and Ian also lives in Oxenhope, would be making a documentary about the project.
Mr Howard said: "Josh has been looking at Google images to spot likely locations on the moors. One of the interesting things about the Brontës was how they were inspired by local legends.
"Their books are very cleverly written with a lot of layers of meaning."
Oliver Chapman said his grandmother, who was the last person to actually live in the parsonage, had a fascinating story to tell.
"She talks about rich Americans turning up at nine or ten o'clock at night wanting a tour of the parsonage," he said.
"The Brontës were her vocation, and it was a subject she spoke very passionately about."
He said his grandmother had talked about souvenir hunters damaging items in the parsonage, because they were so keen to grab and make off with fragments of this historic site.
He said it had been revealing to find out how much opposition there had been in his grandmother's time to the idea of a female curator of the parsonage. He noted that some of this opposition had even come from other women.
"The documentary is only in its initial phases so far," he said. "We'll start with a five-minute film and see how that goes.
"It'll be very interesting, not least because this is about someone whose ideas about the Brontës are so different from the official version." (Miran Rahman)
Keighley News also features a Haworth councillor who thinks the Brontë Society's relationship with the villagers should be closer.
A Haworth politician has called on the Brontë Society to improve its links with the local community.
Parish council chairman John Huxley urged the long-established literary society to forge closer ties once it had overcome its current internal problems.
Complaints that the society -- which runs the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth -- had lost its way culminated in an extraordinary general meeting last month when 53 members called for a change of leadership.
Cllr Huxley suspected this internal strife had affected the society’s communication with the wider community in recent months, but said the situation been “patchy” for many years.
He said: “We’ve been through several directors in the past few years, and initiatives where the Society has wanted to engage with the community, but there have been several false starts.
“We would like a regular communication with the Brontë Society for activities that would sustain jobs and the tourism industry.
“There’s an important legacy which I feel many people in the community would like to take part in. We want to be supportive.”
Cllr Huxley welcomed new moves by the Society to work closely with the community, as part of a £99,178 Arts Council England-funded contemporary arts programme.
He said: “I have met the new operations manager, but we’ll have to wait until management has settled down.
“A well-coordinated Brontë Society is an important and integral part of Haworth. It would have spin-offs for the whole community if they could get themselves together. “
A spokesman for the Brontë Society this week said that discussions about several forthcoming bicentenary celebrations – funded with the Arts Council grant -- had involved society members, museum staff and representatives from Haworth.
She added: “This will assist in developing and delivering an exciting and innovative programme of events and exhibitions around the bicentenaries.
She said: “We are also currently in recruiting a project manager to co-ordinate the bicentenary plans, with a focus on working closely with local people, businesses and community groups as well as with the newly-appointed membership officer and the marketing and communications officer.
“The leadership team at the Parsonage and the trustees are determined to renew and develop relationships with local, national and international partners to ensure that we not only continue to safeguard the legacy of the Brontë family, but add valuable new chapters and interpretations to it over the coming years.” (David Knights)
New Republic interviews Mallory Ortberg about her book Texts from Jane Eyre:
There’s an affinity that a particular kind of girl who likes to read has for Jane Eyre, the Brontës, Austen, George Eliot. How much of that exists for you, especially for Jane EyreI love Jane Eyre and I love the Brontë sisters. I actually didn’t read any of them until I was in college, so I don’t have quite the same connection with them that I think a lot of women do. But I also think this isn’t just a book for childless lady English majors who live with one and a half cats in a two bedroom apartment in one of six different cities. I mean, my dad likes this book and he’s not a childless lady, so I’m hopefully that some dads will read this.
But, certainly, there is a culture that I identified with. We are a weird little gang, and when we find each other there’s that moment of “Sister! Let us meet on the moors tonight!” It’s nice to find one another as adults and say “Oh, did you also have weird burial for your dogs based on the Lady of Shallot scene from Anne of Green Gables? Fantastic!” I repeatedly attempted throw myself out of the first story window of my house because I was so into the scene where Rebecca almost does an Ivanhoe. (Hillary Kelly)
Inspired by Alexander McCall Smith's take on Jane Austen's Emma, The Conversation discusses retellings, etc.
So it seems we’ve no problem adapting pre-1900 texts to the modern day. What about the Victorians? Let’s take the Brontë sisters, for example. Jane Eyre has been adapted in numerous ways for stage and screen – and through literary appropriations such as Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw (1898) and Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca (1938) – though DuMaurier never declared this was actually her intention. Jean Rhys went back in time rather than forward in her influential prequel, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) and Jasper Fforde sped ahead in The Eyre Affair (2001) to an alternative universe in 1985. But, for all that, I’m less sure how we’d respond to a text bringing Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights to our 21st-century reality.
Imagine a Jane who appears to us as a highly-educated, well-paid live-in tutor, teaching her pupil as they jet between their country home and various exotic locations with her fabulously wealthy employer. So far so good. But then there’s the Jamaican wife locked away on a private psychiatric ward. Or what about Heathcliffe, the socially-mobile rogue devoted to his childhood sweetheart, Catherine? He might be reincarnated as a footballer, but one with a cruel streak who dupes poor Isabella Linton into becoming his WAG to boost his celebrity profile. Neither sit all that comfortably, do they?
Brontë rewrites, like those of even later texts such as Michael Cunningham’s reworking of Mrs Dalloway in The Hours (1998), are more challenging and less likely to reward us with the consoling fantasy of social order, which is what McCall Smith suggests is key to Emma’s continued appeal. We’re fascinated by them nonetheless. Rewriting classic texts for contemporary audiences is about so much more than enticing new readers – it’s about recalibrating the old with the new, taking stock of the ways we’ve changed and the ways in which we don’t want to change. And most of all, it’s fun. (Lisa Regan)
Both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have been given the 21st century treatment in recent years.

The Conversation also echoes a recent study which looked into how reading impacts a person's vocabulary. Predictably,
People varied widely in the types of books they liked to read – and this was linked to their level of educational attainment. We were struck by the differences in literary tastes between graduates of the elite Russell Group of UK universities and other universities. When asked which kinds of books they usually liked to read, 43% of graduates of Russell Group universities included classic fiction such as Jane Eyre or Bleak House, compared to 29% of graduates of other universities and 11% of people with no qualifications. (Alice Sullivan)
The Albuquerque Journal interviews Kali Hughes, Catherine in the touring Aquila production of Wuthering Heights:
“It’s exhausting and it’s a lot of fun,” Hughes says of the character and play. “Catherine is a complex character and we learn so much.” (...)
Hughes says in the adaptation that Aquila Theatre puts on, the play doesn’t delve into the past dimensions like the book does.
“At the beginning there is a brief bit where I speak some of the diary entry,” she says. “Other than that part, the play is very much in the present tense.”
Hughes enjoys the journey that Catherine is on in the play.
“We get a sense of who she becomes until her death at 27,” she says. “It’s a huge emotional journey for me to portray Catherine. She does a lot of living in her short time.” (Adrian Gomez)
While on the subject of university, The Cavalier Daily classifies majors into Hogwarts Houses:
Ravenclaws are either quirky oddballs or intense overachievers — either Luna Lovegood, or Cho Chang. They take pride in their academic prowess, even if this can sometimes be off- putting to others.
House Traits: Witty, eccentric, wise, original
English: Creative but introverted, English majors would be perfectly at home reading Plath and Brontë and Shakespeare in Ravenclaw’s tower common room. (Laura Holshouser)
This Buzzfeed columnist discusses books and relationships.
And so a year ago I revisited Jane Eyre (my copy, as it happens, given to me as a gift by an earnest litigator who desperately wanted to impress me with his appreciation for Brontë) and took my cue from the book’s best line: Reader, I married him. (Helen Rosner)
Here's an opinion on the genre debate from The New Yorker:
A book like “Station Eleven” is both a literary novel and a genre novel; the same goes for “Jane Eyre” and “Crime and Punishment.” How can two contrasting categories overlap so much? Genres themselves fall into genres: there are period genres (Victorian literature), subject genres (detective fiction), form genres (the short story), style genres (minimalism), market genres (“chick-lit”), mode genres (satire), and so on. How are different kinds of genres supposed to be compared? (“Literary fiction” and “genre fiction,” one senses, aren’t really comparable categories.) What is it, exactly, about genre that is unliterary—and what is it in “the literary” that resists genre? The debate goes round and round, magnetic and circular—a lovers’ quarrel among literati. (Joshua Rothman)
The Guardian looks at the 'Top five most scathing book reviews' and of course this is one of them:
James Lorimer on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. Among the baffled praise in contemporary reviews of Wuthering Heights, Lorimer’s piece in the North British Review stands out, attributing to it “all the faults of Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Brontë) ... magnified a thousand fold, and the only consolation which we have in reflecting upon it is that it will never be generally read”. But this scorn is more than matched by the anonymous reviewer in Paterson’s Magazine: “We rise from the perusal of Wuthering Heights as if we had come fresh from a pest-house. Read Jane Eyre is our advice, but burn Wuthering Heights ...” (Alison Flood)
The Millions is pretty scathing about the month of November too and remembers that
 Jane Eyre begins on a “drear November day,” with a “pale blank of mist and cloud” and “ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.” (Tom Nissley)
This is how Lightly Buzzed describes Lorde's Yellow Flicker Beat video.
The clip starts with Lorde looking deliberately different, sporting a sleeker, more adult look. But soon the real Lorde appears. The one who looks like a Japanese horror movie version of a heroine from a Brontë novel. (Dan Zinski)
The Chicago Tribune reader of the week says he liked Wuthering Heights. Via the Brontë Parsonage Facebook page we have come across this Wuthering Heights-inspired photoshoot by Carolyn Mendelsohn made at Ponden Hall a few weeks ago.

by Cristina ( at November 08, 2014 12:24 AM

November 07, 2014

The Victorian Peeper

The 'Peeper' on Pause

Just a quick note to readers of The Victorian Peeper: as more and more of my time is devoted to writing up my PhD thesis, I have temporarily shifted my focus away from this blog and towards Facebook (VictorianLondon) and Twitter (@Tetens). Please follow me in one or both of those places for the latest information on books, exhibitions, and events of interest to Victorianists. I will continue to update the "Exhibitions and Events" listing here, as well as the lists of search tools and resources. I will return to writing this blog in the spring of 2015. Thank you all very much for your understanding and support.

Shown above: Louis Haghe (1806-85), The Great Exhibition: The Medieval Court (1851)

by Kristan Tetens ( at November 07, 2014 10:26 AM

The Cat's Meat Shop

Gin Palaces

The original gin palaces were lavished open-plan bars, which you were expected to drink standing up. Here's a nice description ...

A splendid gin palace has been lately erected in Rosemary-lane, in the midst of the old clothes market called “Rag Fair”; and its magnificent fittings up, polished mahogany doors, large squares of plate glass, a very handsome lamp, which alone is said to have cost 100 guineas, and a large clock, which is illuminated after dark, as a beacon to lure the victims of the liquid fire gin, to the Moloch within, forms a very striking contrast with the mean dwellings, dirt, and misery which surround it. The interior is fitted up in the same splendid manner, with massive gas burners and casks of the most gaudy colours. A gin palace on a very large scale is about to be erected in High-street, Shadwell (a continuation of the Ratcliff-highway), on the site of an old and unpretending public house, called the “Ship and Shears”, which, with another house adjoining, has been pulled down for the purpose. The police expect a very great addition to their labours in this disorderly neighbourhood, on the completion of the gin palace, as the street already abounds with liquour shops, which are always filled with sailors and drunken prostitutes. The shopkeepers view the intended erection with feelings of dismay.

The Standard, 19 August 1834

by Lee Jackson ( at November 07, 2014 10:11 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Edward Lear's Diaries


A dreadful night! & so unexpected. Whether from the noise of the sea, ― or from the many Mosquitoes, ― or from some unknown physical cause, I cannot tell, ― but truly miserable it was all through.

The sudden ― so sudden transition of body & mond from one world as it were to another, seems by some great rule to call out a reactionary & confusing state of life.


No sleep at all till 3 or 4, but violent attacks of cramp & nervous head miseries. ―

Rose, however, at 7.30 ― determined not to give way: ― & till 10.30 ― walked about: ― to Greek Consul’s ― & to the Post, where I found an enclosure from T. Cooper, with letters from Evelyn Baring, poor W. Nevill, (who had not got mine,) Day (the drawings are erased,) & maclean’s receipt. The letter I wrote to George remains there. Breakfast ― many flies abhorrent disturb me. ― Then went to see lodgings ― all odious with hideously colored furniture ― & nearly all outrageous in price. 2 or 3 small villas were very pretty & delightful ― but with no good roads to the distant city. One of 800 fr. was good for nought; the others 2500 to 3500. An apartment at the top of the Villa Lions ― 6000 was delightful. I returned by the Gare & broad new road, ― but all 3 quarters, St. Etienne, S. Filippe, & Carabacelle are quite new, & comparatively roadless. Went home at 2-2.30 & had some bread & wine, & set out, (having ordered a carriage for Mentone tomorrow,) to walk ― over the hill ― to Villafranca. Many pretty olive views ― & then Villafranca harbour is somewhat like a Spezzia view. ――― Returned by 6. ― & at 6.30 dined ― 8.30 ― write this.

I do not like this Nice, ― μὰ τὶ νὰ κάμω,[1] ― some pied-a-terre must be found to work in. And I incline to the 2000 fr. M. Michel more than any other. The villas ― however surrounded by lovely flowers, are so far from the town: & the rooms are so stuffy & bothery. Grim & dim obscurity abounds; quâ the future.

Day wholly fine.

[1] But what can I do (NB).

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at November 07, 2014 08:00 AM


Brontës at Fowey

An alert for today, November 7, from the Fowey Women's Institute:
Fowey Community College
Fowey, south Cornwall
November 7, 7 pm
Yvonne Thoms, will give a talk on the Brontë Sisters.

Source: Cornish Guardian.

by M. ( at November 07, 2014 12:30 AM

November 06, 2014


Conspiracy and Despondency

Yesterday - given the date - The Guardian devoted an article to literary conspiracy theories. Number one of which was
1) Charlotte Brontë killed her sisters
According to criminologist James Tully, the author of Jane Eyre was not the secluded, intellectual spinster we imagine, but a violently envious and lustful murderess. All was peaceful in the Brontë household, Tully says, until the 1845 appearance of a (debatably) handsome and wily curate named Reverend Arthur Bell Nicholls. Tully claims that Nicholls encouraged Charlotte’s already envious disposition, and together they poisoned each one of her siblings. Emily and Branwell (who another theory says wrote Emily’s Wuthering Heights) died in 1848 at ages 30 and 31 respectively. Anne died in 1849 at 29. The common conception is that they all contracted tuberculosis or cholera, but Tully, who is also an expert in 19th-century poison, is convinced that they were murdered. A few years later Charlotte’s father “angrily chased” Nicholls from their estate. Soon after that, Charlotte eloped with Nicholls, only to die a year later. Tully claims that it was Nicholls’s plan all along to inherit the Brontë estate, and thus Charlotte met the same bleak fate as her siblings. Tully originally wrote his theory as non-fiction, but was unable to find a publisher; so he retold the story as fiction from the point of view of real-life maid Martha Brown. His book, The Crimes of Charlotte Brontë, gained some recognition, but was generally rejected by Brontë enthusiasts. (Ema O'Connor)
Another literary story comes from BBC Culture, which looks into literary characters taking on lives of their own:
And then of course there’s Jean Rhys’s The Wide Sargasso Sea, a slender, majestic depiction of the life of the first Mrs Rochester before she becomes the madwoman in the attic who terrifies Jane Eyre. (Hephzibah Anderson)
Episode 10 of season 7 of Sons of Anarchy is called Faith and Despondency after the poem of the same name by Emily Brontë. International Business Times looks into what this may mean:
The episode titles usually tease what’s in store for the boys in leather and from the analysis of “Faith and Despondency,” things aren’t looking too good for Charming's finest. The 1846 poem, written by Emily Brontë, is a haunting piece of literature that surrounds the theme of death -- something we’ve seen a lot of in the past seven seasons of “SoA.”
But what makes Brontë’s work even more chilling is the reference she makes to a “sweet, trustful child” -- a correlation that can clearly be made to Abel (Ryder/Evan Londo).
“Well hast thou spoken, sweet, trustful child!

And wiser than thy sire;
And worldly tempests, raging wild,

Shall strengthen thy desire—

Thy fervent hope, through storm and foam,

Through wind and ocean’s roar,

To reach, at last, the eternal home,

The steadfast, changeless shore!”
Abel knows Gemma is the one responsible for murdering his stepmother and has recently witnessed the detrimental effects of her actions through the death of Bobby. The only question is what will Jax’s eldest son do with the information? Do you think Brontë’s poem is suggesting Abel’s innocence and truth will find a way to reach the raging war occurring in Charming? (Megan Schaefer)
The Galway Advertiser announces the opening of the exhibition Physiognomy by local artist Michelle Campion by reminding us of the fact that,
Physiognomy is the practice of judging character from facial features, an idea which dates back to Ancient Greece. The belief continued into the 19th century with Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, and Charlotte Brontë making character descriptions based on facial features.
The Brontë Parsonage Blog has a post on a reader's visit to Ponden Hall. Dawn of Books reviews Wuthering Heights. Bust and Vox Talk recommend Mallory Ortberg's Texts from Jane Eyre.

by Cristina ( at November 06, 2014 11:13 PM

The Cynic Sang: The (Un)Official Blog of the William Blake Archive

Manuscript page of William Blake's Vala, or the Four Zoas.

Clarity is elusive—a particularly ironic characteristic of a manuscript that Blake so heavily marked up with instructions on how to read it.

Of course, reading is one thing. Encoding is another.

Check out the opening paragraph of Vala, or the Four Zoas:

Screenshot of manuscript page from William Blake's Vala, the Four Zoas.

First, Blake provides several sets of line numbers to determine the final poetic sequence. Second, lines are drawn connecting inscriptions to spaces on the page.

As documentary editors, we are committed to the physical artifact, not Blake’s final intentions. So, of course, we don’t alter our transcription to “complete” Blake’s revisions. But we are interested in describing certain textual relationships between discrete physical inscriptions that seem to be working together to complete an identifiable act of composition. (We do it all the time with substitutions, deletions, insertions, etc. that are often multi-step acts of revision.)

But the marks pointed out in the example above are of a different variety—numbers and drawn lines that are not “content” but rather compositional instructions.

An outside observer might suggest we just encode the numbers into the lines of content and skip the drawn lines altogether, or include them in a note. But then I would suggest flipping a few pages to Exhibit B:

Manuscript page of William Blake's Vala, or the Four Zoas.

Oh, yeah.

The issue must be dealt with sooner or later—textual relationships between discrete inscriptions. We have a few options vis-à-vis TEI. Fearless Project Coordinator Laura Whitebell recently turned us on to <metamark>, which gives us a lot of options for encoding the actual instructive marks, like the drawn lines or numbers. However, we’re still struggling with how to encode the connection/relationship across textual space (“zones”). Is it enough to use <metamark>’s @target and connect a mark to a general zone?  Or can we be / do we need to be more specific, on a line level? What combination of internal targets and ID’s would make the most sense? Do we need to worry about this at all?

Each week, working on Four Zoas usually results in one answer and a few dozen more questions.

In any event, I think Blake would have dug track changes and MS Word comments.

by Eric Loy at November 06, 2014 03:00 PM

Regency Ramble

Regency Fashion November 1814

From Ackermann's Repository

Now I am not sure about your idea, but this looks far from warm. Nor do I much like the Vandyke French ruff. What do you think?

Walking Dress

An Italian striped sarsnet lilac-coloured dress, ornamented round the bottom with a double quilling of satin ribband; short full sleeve, trimmed to correspond; the fronts of the dress cross the bosom and form an open stomacher; a Vandyke French ruff, and full bordered cap to correspond.

The satin straw hat, tied under the chin with a check or striped Barcelona handkerchief, crossing the crown with a small plume of ostrich feathers in the front. 

French shawl, a white twill, embroidered with shaded scarlet and green silks, and fancifully disposed on the figure.

 Gloves, Limerick of York tan, drawn over the elbow. Half-boots of York tan or pale buff kid.

Until next time

by Ann Lethbridge ( at November 06, 2014 10:00 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Slepp uncommon. But woke at 7 ― & riz ― taking Maggneisher, & coffee. Then walked out: bright & lovely morning ― Hotels & lodgings innumerable. Saw many ― let all by the season ― but none under 2000 fr. ― 80£ ― & those furiously horrid with colors & furniture. Walked quite beyond the “Promenade des Anglais,” ― & saw a Casa Ginesi, where were rooms, (2200 fr.) more to the purpose ― but requiring a servant, & fuor di strada: also some 1500 fr. ― 60£ ― but with stables below: ― [“]mais, savez vous, Monsieur, la famille qui prederà le premier etage ― peut être elle n’aura pas des chevaux.” ― So I returned by 11. (Both steamers are in from Genoa, but no George.) Breakfasted ― & then about 1 or 2, (having arranged to take 2 rooms here for an uncertain time at 10 fr. A day, & moved up all my things,) went out again ― by the castle, & to the Gk. Consul, but he was out: afterwards to Pantaleone’s ― where I saw he Dr. & also Madame, & sate a while pleasantly. Ἔπειτα ― at 3 or 3.30, walked to the Carabaselle quarter, & found Lady & poor Anna Duncan, who poor thing is most sadly changed. O! how sad is most human life! So bright now ― so dark afterwards! ――

Walked back ― rainy now ― to the Hotel du Nord, & at 5.30 dined at the table d’hôte. An agreable person next me ― talking French, yet not a Frenchman, ― talked of America &c. ― a Pole. ― Query: are there many Poles in all Hotels in Nice? It is needles[s] to observe the I said nothing of Poland. At present, 7.30, I am writing this: ― if poor good dear George is on his way, I fear he is a suffering ― for the road near Ventimiglia is broken up by the rains. I may hear  (from Stratford Place ―) on Thursday ― or he may come, ― or neither of these may happen: ― patience only is the rule & hope.

Thank god for health.

Willington is married ―― & to a Miss Hopwod. (??)

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at November 06, 2014 08:00 AM


Ghost Hunting

We feature today one of the latest books by Peter Underwood (his 53rd!) which devotes a chapter to the Brontës:
Ghost Hunting With Peter Underwood
by Peter Underwood
The King's England Press (6 Jan 2014)
ISBN: 978-1909548329

There is an inescapable link between ghosts and historic houses. One has only to think of the gothic towers, the battlements, the ivy-covered ruined abbeys where bats emerge to flit low at dusk between the  remains of crumbling stone arches. There is something about long, curving country-house drives, lined with ancient yews or poplars, that seems to almost cry out for the sound of drumming hooves and crunching gravel, as a headless coachman sweeps past, driving at a furious pace, his coach pulled by six black horses, foam-flecked at the mouth, with funeral plumes and eyes of blood.
It is all too easy to dismiss the supernatural on a sunny afternoon with the birds singing and the trees in full leaf in your garden, but imagine reading this book at midnight in an empty house, on a winter evening when the wind is stirring the bare branches, and one of them is persistently tapping and scratching at the window – or is it, in fact a branch, or a bony finger? White ladies, grey ladies, forlorn and wronged wraiths, walled-up nuns,and monks from a bygone age of prayer and persecution are all likely to be found gliding noiselessly across immaculately-mown lawns.
This is the spooky territory that Peter Underwood, former President of The Ghost Club, doyen of the international ghost-hunting fraternity, author of countless books and articles on the subject, and tireless chronicler of the supernatural, explores in this book. From a long and glittering career of psychic investigation into the occult and the paranormal, the author has cherry-picked over 30 cases of hauntings and manifestations at historic houses and gardens –many of them open to the public. Each one of these instances is freshly described and re-examined from the perspective and point of view of a lifetime’s experience.In addition, while re-telling the salient features of each one, the author offers his own considered opinions regarding the vary nature of ghosts and hauntings.
Skilfully augmented by over 60 black and white plates, many of them exclusively from the author’s own collection, plus a select bibliography, Ghost Hunting With Peter Underwood is set to become a classic of its genre, whether it be read avidly from cover to cover in one sitting, while listening for things that go"bump” in the night, or kept for reference in the glove-compartment of your car when touring the country’s roads and lanes in your own private ghost-hunting odyssey. Read it, and believe!

by M. ( at November 06, 2014 12:26 AM

November 05, 2014


Literary comfort food

According to National Review Online,
Many colleges want their students to have read a book before they start their first semester. Not just any book, but one carefully selected by a committee to represent the college’s ideals and aspirations. Translation: No Impact Man in, classics out. [...]
Colleges exclude the classics for three reasons. First, they say older books are irrelevant. Colleges fail to see how old-fashioned notions about marriage (e.g., Anna Karenina), class warfare (A Tale of Two Cities), personal morality (Jane Eyre), or slavery (Huckleberry Finn) have anything to do with the world today. They are more interested in the topics du jour — some of which right now are immigration, racism, global warming, the elusiveness of the American Dream, LGBT life, genocide in Africa, “food justice,” and the war in Iraq. (Ashley Thorne)
Fortunately, this columnist from Pocono Record knows better:
I came to Jane Austen relatively late in life. I was approaching 30 and had so far avoided “Pride and Prejudice,” having assumed it was a snobby kind of book, full of antiquated manners and concerns. An English friend assured me I was finally old enough to appreciate Jane — and lucky that no high school English teacher had ruined her for me.
I devoured “P&P” and haven’t stopped since. I usually reread one of the six extant Jane Austen novels every year (this year, it was “Persuasion”). They are literary comfort food for me — reliable cultural companions. I also enjoy Dickens, the Brontës, E.M. Forster and Trollope. Even the American novelists I like — Henry James, Edith Wharton — are English in their sensibilities. (Jacqueline Damian)
The Mail & Guardian (South Africa) has an article on the song Larney, Jou Poes! by Dookoom and Isaac Mutant,
And then there is Mutant [...]
He is the olive-skinned gypsy of DH Lawrence stories and the Dark Prince of Emily Brontë novels – the extreme version of Heathcliff – the mulatto slave who scowls in the shadows, scheming of ways to take the daughter of the landowner. He is the scary man, the bogeyman, the dirty lover in the darkest fantasies of the pious Victorian woman’s seething repressed libido – wanting, wanting, wanting. (Gillian Schutte)
Daily Sabah on 100 years of Turkish cinema:
A new documentary by Turkish director Cem Kaya, entitled "Remake Remix Rip-Off" (Motör), debuted on August 13 at the Locarno Film Festival. It squeezes in seven years of research on Yesilcam cinema, into a full feature that includes many of the aforementioned films as well as a five-minute montage of all of the Turkish film scenes that have been ripped off by Wuthering Heights. Catch this unique insight into the Turkish film industry at the 20th Festival on Wheels (Gezici Film Festival), which kicks off on November 28 in Ankara and runs until Dec.4, then heads to Eskisehir from Dec. 3-7 and closes in Sinop on Dec. 5-8. (Leyla Yvonne Ergil)
Feed Your Head interviews writer Anita Grace Howard, who picks Charlotte Brontë as one of her imaginary dinner guests. Mon Univers Lunatique writes in French about Jane Eyre 2011. Sololibri (Italy) features The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

by Cristina ( at November 05, 2014 11:41 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii


 photo 640px-Francisco_de_Goya_-_Still_Life_with_Golden_Bream_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Goya, Still Life with Golden Bream, 1808-12

 photo goyabream3.jpg

 photo ewcookemackerelseashore1837.jpg

E.W.Cooke, Mackerel by the Seashore. Goya's fishes are also by the sea-shore, and seem to be gasping their life away there, but one has to look to notice it.

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J.M.W. Turner, Mackerel, watercolour.

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William Merritt Chase. Chase's fishes are very fishy like Goya's, but his approach is that of an aesthete, there is no existential pathos.

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William Merritt Chase

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Anders Zorn, St Ives; do they really catch fishes like that in Cornwall?

November 05, 2014 10:06 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


The night passed very decently ― smoke nonostante.[1] & as morning came on the society was pleasant. The man next to me ― (I suppose Prince Stradella of Sicily) told me his brother had married Donna Caterina Giardinelli (of Antrodoco 1843 memories ―) who has 3 children! ― He also told me that Pippo Gaetani is dead.

A cup of Coffee at Lyons ― but no other pause ― to Marseilles at noon. Carriages changed ― no time for food. Near Cannes, saw Giuseppe Posidoni, ― & lo! Mrs. Saltmarsher & what memories of Mr. Whitmore, ― & far far deeper & older of dear Mrs. Empson!!

Reached Nice ― (the Rlway now complete,) by 7.45. a journey just 24 hours ― too long to be taken at one breath.

Came to the little Hotel du Nord ― but, as indeed I could not otherwise expect, ― no George. 2 Steamers come to morrow, but all Diligences are uncertain, vû the rains, & roads.

Dinner, & bed, before 10.

Morning gray & slighty [sic] drizzly ― but after Avignon, it cleared, & was quite bright & fine towards noon, & after.

[1] Nowithstanding.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at November 05, 2014 08:00 AM

November 04, 2014

The Little Professor

The Surrender of Margaret Bellarmine

"Hey, this isn't bad" is probably not anyone's idea of high praise, but given the soul-searching frequently inspired by my usual reading--as in, "why am I doing this to myself?"--Adeline Sergeant's relatively sophisticated The Surrender of Margaret Bellarmine: A Fragment (1892) was a pleasant surprise.  Sergeant (d. 1904) appears to have been less a religious novelist than a novelist who often wrote on religious themes, and what I've seen so far of her work draws on sensationalism, New Woman literature, the detective novel, and romance.  Her biographical sketch in Helen C. Black's Notable Women Authors of the Day (1906) lists authors like Henry James, George Eliot, and Gustave Flaubert among her favorites (167), and one can feel their influence in Sergeant's attempt to balance her conventional didactic lesson (self-sacrifice! it's a good thing!) with her less conventional attention to the narrator's frustrated maternal and erotic desires.  Surrender's romance plot is in dialogue with several more famous predecessors, and indeed we might think of the book as the heroine's quest in search of an appropriate plot.  (It's no wonder that the book is a "fragment.")

Margaret's first plot is the May-December romance, so beloved (or loathed) by Victorian novelists.  The novel begins with our formerly Anglo-Catholic heroine, Margaret, reduced to despair: as a teenager, her devout parents married her off to the elegant and much older Sir Edward Bellarmine, who believed that "agnosticism meant virtue and strength and noble fortitude" (10). Although she does not love Edward, she does her "duty" (37) in marrying him, but soon finds him given to "inveterate jealousy" (38); he insists on giving her a "complete training in metaphysics and philosophy" (39) designed to remake her mind in his own image, and to detach her completely from her religious roots.  The dynamics here echo, although they do not replicate, Dorothea Brooke and Casaubon in Eliot's Middlemarch, Isabel Archer and Gilbert Osmond in James' Portrait of a Lady, and Belinda and Professor Forth in Rhoda Broughton's Belinda.  (And behind all this, there may well be yet another echo of Mark Pattison's relationship to Emily Francis Strong.)  The marriage proves literally and figuratively infertile, soon declining into a "polite frigidity" (48) that leaves Margaret childless and sexually unfulfilled.  All brain and no body, Edward leaves the passionate Margaret no outlet except for a secret, successful career as a poet writing under the pseudonym of "Erica Vane."  As the Casaubon/Osmond/Forth figure, Edward seeks to transform his wife into not just property, but even more, into an asexual extension of his own whims and needs; Margaret's confessional poetry, which soon becomes part of an independent persona, both resists Edward's mind-control and safely compartmentalizes that resistance.  The reader expects that after Edward dies, then, Margaret will enjoy, or at least come near, something that looks like a grand passion.  And so she does! Or does she?

The sexless Edward meets his match in the all sex, all the time Victor Dayrolles.  Early on, Victor is banished from Margaret's home for Undisclosed Yet Serious Reasons, but before he goes, he wildly kisses Margaret in a garden (hmmm, I detect symbolism)--a moment that marks her soon-to-be-frustrated sexual awakening.  We are therefore primed to interpret Victor as the True Love (right age, her sexual match) to whom Margaret will obviously return once the Inappropriate Husband (too old, no sex) departs this earth--the Will Ladislaw to Margaret's Dorothea.  And besides, the man's name is Victor, right? On cue, Victor reappears once Margaret has been widowed, yet Margaret seems to have competition for Victor's interest in the form of a New Woman named Constance Pilkington, a tennis champion (!) who is up on her Ibsen.  Over the next few chapters, Margaret will react to Constance (another suspiciously symbolic name)  with a sense of "a slight but distinct repulsion" (90) that indexes not Constance's true nature, but Margaret's own moral blinkers. For on meeting Victor again, Margaret finds herself "awake" all night, "tossing to and fro upon my bed" (76), and her lust (that is, after all, pretty much what it is) corrupts her vision.  It also corrupts her reasoning abilities, apparently, given the quickness with which she manages to overcome a Minor Detail: Victor explains that Margaret's father had chucked him out of the house because "I had married 'beneath me'" (80).  Oh, dear--that romantic smooch in the rose garden was an adulterous one.  (This is a rather George Gissing-esque revelation.)  Margaret, being in lust--er, love--not only forgives him, but wallows in grand passion.  "If once I loved, what matter what the man's past life had been," she declares to herself, scorning Constance's greater prudence, "if he but loved me in return?" (97) "Still, strike one," says the reader.

Margaret's problem, one might say, is that having exited Middlemarch/Portrait of a Lady/Belinda, she nows believes herself ensconced in Jane Eyre.  (There's an honest-to-goodness-lifted-from-Jane Eyre moment towards the end, which I'll discuss in a bit.)  Her passion for Victor, she is convinced, is of a Grand and Earth-Shattering nature, one that elevates romance above merely conventional mores (another Jane Eyre echo, albeit more Rochesterian than Janeite).    This passion continues even though Victor is engaged to Constance, which surely constitutes a bit of a moral problem.  Victor soon convinces Margaret to move to London in order to further her poetic career (a bit of an Aurora Leigh moment, if gender-swapped)--and also, it turns out, in order to make it easier for them to see each other.  "Wait," says the reader, "I thought you were engaged."  Well, yes, Margaret remembers that too, and once he declares his own Grand Passion, she quite properly gives him his walking papers.  ("Good job," says the reader.)  Margaret's better nature, though, soon droops under an infusion of Matthew Arnold-cum-Walter Pater-esque reasoning: "was it not the duty of a human being to perfect himself, to bring himself to the highest point of development?" (140) This hyper-individualism, trammeled by no sense of obligation, appears to be what is left of moral reasoning in a godless mind; in fact, Margaret's post-Edward obsession with Victor represents not her repudiation of Edward's secularism, but instead her complete embrace of it.  Not surprisingly, then, Margaret asks no questions when Victor assures her that his engagement to Constance has been ended "by mutual consent" (149).  ("But her name is Constance," says the puzzled reader.)  This allows her to give way to Bronte-esque extremes of passion, in which she declares that "[w]ithout him--without love--life was not worth living" (160).  Margaret's unbridled romantic excess, while a reaction from Edward's absolute sexual repression, nevertheless still signifies the effects of agnosticism, which leave her without a divine rule to moderate her idolatry (once again, see Jane Eyre).  ("But strike two," says the reader.)  

Indeed, Margaret continues to badly misread her own plot.  It is Constance who winds up dying, not Margaret, partly from severe illness but partly of sheer heartbreak.  As it turns out, Victor neglects to mention that Constance had never actually agreed to end the engagement (raising the threat of a breach of promise suit, although it doesn't happen).  Constance's scathing denunciation of Victor--"He is mean: he is a liar and a coward: I never wish to set eyes on him again" (176)--turns Margaret's supposed Rochester figure (remember, Jane still loves Rochester despite the evidence of multiple mistresses and that inconvenient wife in the attic) into an unmanly figure of contempt.  And yet, despite Constance's warning that Victor is untrustworthy, an enraged Margaret declares that "even if it were true that he deceived me [...] [e]ven then [...] I should not love him less" (179).  Echoing Margaret's own "repulsion" from Constance, Constance stares at her "repelled and dismayed" (179)--a moral judgment Margaret fails to comprehend.  In other words, the novel deconstructs Jane Eyre-ish romantic passion as simultaneously hurtful (to others and oneself) and foolish, an abdication of moral conviction instead of proof of constancy.  Understandably, Margaret resists Constance's deathbed message, delivered by the Anglo-Catholic priest Father Clermont, that she must "save Victor's soul" (197), as she seems unaware that his soul needs saving, let alone that there is a soul there to save in the first place. 

Nevertheless, Constance's request ultimately propels Margaret into her final plot, in which she abandons both realism in the Eliot/Broughton/James style and romance in the Bronte style for Anglo-Catholic conversion narrative (Charlotte Yonge, perhaps?).  Margaret and Victor are on the merge of marriage when, on a visit to her home, she chances to encounter an ailing young woman from the village named Mary Bennell.  It turns out that Mary is ailing because...well, after strikes one and two, it should come as no surprise that Victor has been dallying where he should not.  Moreover, as a horrified Margaret realizes, "[s]o Victor had been false to his love for me, as well as to his plighted troth to Constance" (219).  Far from being redeemed by Margaret's love, Victor has simply demonstrated himself to be an uncontrollable sex-seeker, Edward's opposite in more ways than one.  And romancing Mary, much as he once married a woman his social inferior, implies that Victor sees working-class women primarily as sexual toys.  Initially resisting her own desire to give up Victor, Margaret channels not Jane Eyre, but Rochester: "Why tie oneself down to the dictates of a morality, which was not divine, but merely the result of centuries of organised self-seeking? Why should I sacrifice a life-long joy for the sake of a scruple about an imaginary virtue?" (222)   The third temptation of Margaret, as it were, rests in this relativistic appeal to personal fulfillment instead of communal obligation.  But she saves her own soul, in choosing "renunciation" (223): any marriage to Victor would be unavoidably rotted out by the "evil" (224) of which she has become all too conscious, and--worse still--would mean renouncing the very possibility of religious conversion.  

It is here that Sergeant lifts directly from Jane Eyre.  First, in Margaret's final confrontation with Victor.  Here is Sergeant:

"What do you want me to do?" he said.

"You must make Mary your wife. You must make amends."

"Don't you see that it is impossible?"


"Don't you see that it means social extinction, the death of all that makes happiness—culture, harmony, joy in life?"

"Yes, I see all that. It is what happens when one does wrong and has to pay."

"You don't see that these things—loss of happiness and social distinction and so on—"(there was a note of sarcasm in his voice)—" make your plan for me impossible."


"You are telling me to commit suicide, Margaret."

"I cannot help it. This thing is right. We must make amends."

"Even by killing myself?"

I looked up at his scornful face. Then again I seemed moved by bare necessity to say what I did.

"Kill your base lower self," I said. "Then all that is your true self will remain. He that loses his life shall find it—find it—in God."  (263-64)

And here is Bronte:

"One instant, Jane. Give one glance to my horrible life when you are gone. All happiness will be torn away with you. What then is left? For a wife I have but the maniac up stairs; as well might you refer me to some corpse in yonder churchyard. What shall I do, Jane? Where turn for a companion, and for some hope?"

"Do as I do; trust in God and yourself. Believe in Heaven. Hope to meet again there."

"Then you will not yield?"


"Then you condemn me to live wretched, and to die accursed?" His voice rose.

"I advise you to live sinless; and I wish you to die tranquil."

"Then you snatch love and innocence from me? Yot fling me back on lust for a passion — vice for an occupation?'

"Mr. Rochester, I no more assign this fate to you than I grasp at it for myself. We were born to strive and endure—you as well as I; do so. You will forget me before I forget you."

"You make me a liar by such language; you sully my honor. I declared I could not change! you tell me to my face I shall change soon. And what a distortion in your judgment, what a perversity in your ideas, is proved by your conduct? Is it better to drive a fellow-creature to despair than to transgress a mere human law—no man being injured by the breach? for you have neither relatives nor acquaintances whom you need fear to offend by living with me."' (ch. 27)

 Sergeant borrows Bronte's distinctive dialogue rhythms (the long exchanges without any tags), along with her themes--the man is self-centered, the woman insists on the need for renunciation and a turn to God.  However, Victor is denied Rochester's Gothic visions (the madwoman in the attic, the figurative necrophilia)--he lacks Rochester's flamboyance.  (He is, in other words, more obviously a jerk.)  Notably, where Rochester tries to cover for his selfishness by invoking the possibility of their future, Victor emphasizes only his own.   In a sense, Victor's plot recapitulates Rochester's problems over the course of multiple women: he has married badly, he has betrayed one woman with another (and another, for that matter), and now, he is faced with a woman who opts for God instead of him.   However, by replacing Jane Eyre's threatened bigamy plot with the abandoned woman plot, Sergeant refuses to let her Rochester equivalent off the marital hook: Mary Bennell is in bad shape, but still marriageable, and "mak[ing] amends" means true renunciation with no hope of a romantic reunion.  Victor complains that this is nothing more than "suicide," but what needs to die is the romance plot in its entirety.  Unlike Jane Eyre, where the heroine gets her guy at the end (suitably tamed and minus a few body parts), Surrender warns that there may be no conventional happy ending for her heroine.  Indeed, Margaret finds her true comfort in becoming a celibate Lady Bountiful, assisting her aunt's Anglican sisterhood in London and later returning home to help the ailing poor on her own estate.

The novel confirms this alternate plot, in which agape succeeds eros, in its second major reworking of Jane Eyre.  After returning to her estate, Margaret "seemed" to hear a call, "Margaret!", which she admits "was but a fancy and a dream; yet, trembling all over and cold with an unspoken fear, I felt myself constrained to answer 'Yes'" (280).  But, as she later says to Victor, even though "You called me--and I answered: our souls touched each other, although our bodies were far apart," this means not that they are destined to live together for all eternity, but that "there must be no union at all" (307).   Here, Sergeant invokes the miraculous telepathic connection between Rochester and Jane Eyre, then subverts it: although Victor immediately seizes on Margaret's admission in order to insist on their eternal love, there is no sign that he actually "called,"  and worse still, he stakes his ongoing claim on Margaret while his wife (Mary, as Margaret demanded) is still alive.  Despite "atoning" in deed, Victor has not done so in heart; the person on the other end of the figurative telephone, as it were, is the Devil (the remnant of their sinful passion).  As I said before, the novel rejects Jane Eyre's ending: renunciation does not mean "renunciation for a little while," or "renunciation until you get better," but simply renunciation, end stop.  "God has not told us to love one another," Margaret warns, "and we must listen to His voice" (307).  Once she truly renounces Victor to both his wife and to God, she is rewarded with his deathbed conversion--no romantic ending possible--but also with the family she never had, in the form of Mary and Victor's daughter Maisie.  In effect, although she never formally enters an Anglican sisterhood, her new household is itself a celibate female community, held together by divine rather than erotic love.    

by Miriam Burstein at November 04, 2014 11:29 PM


The clarity of her voice

The Epoch Times reviews Lifeline Theatre's stage production of Jane Eyre.
It was a relief to see Jane Eyre told as something more than a love story. The love story is fully present in Lifeline Theatre’s extended-run production of course, but it’s only a part of a bigger theme. The thrust of Christina Calvit’s adaptation captures the whole tale of a young woman who, staying true to herself, unites passion and principle. [...]
As always, Lifeline’s adaptation of a classic tells a big story on a little stage. What is lacking in space is made up for in creativity, and in this particular production, remarkable staging and technical solutions.
Galloping together, cast members create the horse from which Rochester is thrown when he first sees Jane, and in a comic touch, Pilot (Moaney), his dog, barks in excitement.
The fire scene benefits from the evocative use of lighting (designed by Kevin D. Gawley) on a long white piece of fabric, which covers Rochester and then hangs from his balcony-like bedroom.
The sparse scenic design (William Boles) adds to the many scene transitions, where the unique use of long upright two-by-four planks, easily adjust to create different locales. The sound design and music (Christopher Kriz) accent these transitional moments.
A talented cast adds to the effort. Roberts works well as the passionate, desperately lonely, yet trapped Rochester. And Bhatt as Jane, although anything but plain, is his equal in strength and will. She is not as young as Jane might be, but this makes her wisdom and strength easier for us to accept.
Currie is delightful as the garrulous Mrs. Fairfax as well as the oblivious yet doting Lady Ingram, mother to Blanche Ingram (Jhenai Mootz), an oozing flirt. Mootz also makes a fine wretched hag as Bertha.
Kayer contrasts the paunchy, self-righteous Brocklehurst with a humble, sweet Porter, another role.
Despite her stage composure, Hlava is miscast and likely too young to display Helen’s otherworldly, ascetic nature. Adding to this misstep is her makeup, which seems more ghoulish then saintly.
Because of these problems with Helen, we lose the contrast between the two ghosts who follow Jane on her journey to selfhood: Brocklehurst, with his harsh demands for deprivation in others, and Helen, with her otherworldly self-denial
Despite this failure, Lifeline’s “Jane Eyre” is another wonderful creation for the small theater, and puts Jane’s voice squarely front and center, the maker of her own life.
It’s all the more amusing, then, to read posted in the lobby snippets of the critical reception the novel received when it was published under the pseudonym of Currer Bell. This masterful work was considered too virile and insightful to be penned by a woman, despite of (or because of) the clarity of her voice. (Sharon Kilarski)
Bustle highlights Mallory Ortberg's Texts from Jane Eyre as one of '7 books you'll want to read this November'.
This book will genuinely make you laugh out loud (as opposed to the “lol” you might text when your honest response is more of a tepid “ha”). Toast co-creator Mallory Ortberg imagines what famous literary characters would sound like if they had cell phones. These informal, off the cuff missives are true to each character’s voice, as Ortberg understands them deeply — and the result is hilarious. Hamlet’s moroseness is amped up to an angsty teenager who texts his mom asking for her to leave a sandwich by his door but DON’T come in the room. Jane Eyre fends off an over eager Mr. Rochester who’s blowing up her phone way too often. John Donne’s seduction skills are exposed: the poem the “Flea” is basically simplified to: omg the flea already bit both of us, our blood mixed, you might as well have sex with me… please? How can you argue with logic like that? Don’t resist. Just give in to this crazy, wonderful book. (Laura Creste)
Flavorwire also reviews the book:
When we first got the Texts from Jane Eyre book in the office, I flipped through it with some curiosity, wondering if Ortberg was going to search for meaning in these funny bits, whether she’d expand beyond the medium of text; and thankfully, the book doesn’t even attempt to be anything but texts from your favorite fictional characters. What makes it a complete joy is the breadth of Ortberg’s knowledge and love — she understands, perfectly, how the extreme passions of literary characters (or writers like Emily Dickinson) lead to ridiculous, dramatic, over-the-top texts, and the juxtaposition of all these feelings with the universal mundanity of technology is hilarious. (Elisabeth Donnelly)
Refinery29 also mentions the Mallory Ortberg book.

While The Telegraph and Argus reports on the most recent goings-on back where it all started at the Brontë Parsonage Museum:
Youngsters used autumn leaves to create artwork in a workshop at Haworth’s Brontë Parsonage Museum.
They produced collages and woodland creatures in the session, led by village artist Vic Bhuta.
About 20 people took part in the event, held on Friday to coincide with the school holidays.
“The workshop went extremely well and some lovely pictures were produced,” said amuseum spokesman.
“Vic has done various projects for us and they are very popular.
“We usually do quite well for visitor numbers in school holidays and this last week was very good, certainly up on the same week in 2013.”
The Telegraph discusses how singers approach their most famous songs.
Imagine going to a Kate Bush show and not hearing Wuthering Heights? Well, that’s what happened to everyone who went to see the reclusive chanteuse’s much heralded comeback, in which she only played three hits amid two hours of less familiar work. It’s the kind of set list that forces you to confront the person on stage as an artist rather than a mere entertainer, but it can certainly backfire. (Neil McCormick)
Nathan Kotecki posts about Jane Eyre.

by Cristina ( at November 04, 2014 10:29 PM

Texts from Jane Eyre

An alert from the Bookstore Cafe in Crosby Street, New York:
Texts from Jane EyreAnd Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters
Mallory Ortberg
Henry Holt and Co.
November 2014
ISBN: 9781627791830

Hilariously imagined text conversations—the passive aggressive, the clever, and the strange—from classic and modern literary figures, from Scarlett O’Hara to Jessica Wakefield
Mallory Ortberg, the co-creator of the cult-favorite website The Toast, presents this whimsical collection of hysterical text conversations from your favorite literary characters. Everyone knows that if Scarlett O’Hara had an unlimited text-and-data plan, she’d constantly try to tempt Ashley away from Melanie with suggestive messages. If Mr. Rochester could text Jane Eyre, his ardent missives would obviously be in all-caps. And Daisy Buchanan would not only text while driving, she’d text you to pick her up after she totaled her car. Based on the popular web-feature, Texts from Jane Eyre is a witty, irreverent mashup that brings the characters from your favorite books into the twenty-first century.

The book is presented today in New York:
Texts from Jane Eyre: Mallory Ortberg in Conversation with Rachel FershleiserTuesday, November 4, 2014at 7:00PM
Celebrate the launch of Texts from Jane Eyre with author Mallory Ortberg; Mallory will be in conversation with Tumblr's Rachel Fershleiser.
Mallory Ortberg’s Texts from Jane Eyre And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters (Henry Holt; on sale: November 4, 2014) is a laugh-out-loud collection of imagined text conversations, featuring all the characters you know and love (but like you’ve never heard them before).
When Charlotte Brontë published Jane Eyre in 1847, more than a century before the advent of cell phones, the protagonist Jane had to endure the agony of a face-to-face confrontation with St. John in order to reject his romantic invitation to India. In the brilliant imagination of Mallory Ortberg, their awkward exchange is amplified with cell phones and when re-written via text, Jane’s obvious discomfort and St. John’s woeful ignorance are brought to life in a way that’s both fresh and familiar.
Ortberg masterfully applies this method to characters across the canon, from Plato and the Wife of Bath to Nancy Drew and Ron Weasley (and everyone in between), zeroing in on character flaws and magnifying them to great comedic effect. If Scarlett O’Hara had an unlimited data plan, she’d try to tempt Ashley away from Melanie with suggestive messages. Hamlet would bicker with his mother. Daisy Buchanan would not only text while driving, she’d text you to pick her up after she totals her car. Cathy and Heathcliff would send impassioned messages back and forth for hours. And, of course, Mrs. Bennett would still try to fix her daughters up with eligible suitors.
Witty and irreverent, Texts from Jane Eyre is a must-read for any book lover and brings the characters from your favorite books into the twenty-first century.

by M. ( at November 04, 2014 10:18 PM


INCS 2014 Essay Prize
Guidelines and Eligibility

Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies (INCS) invites nominations and submissions for its annual essay prize. The $500 award recognizes excellence in interdisciplinary scholarship on any nineteenth-century topic.

Articles that appeared in print in a journal or an edited collection in 2014 are eligible; if the date of publication is not 2014, but the essay appeared in 2014, it is eligible. Essays published in online, peer-reviewed journals are considered to be “in print” and are thus eligible.

We encourage INCS members to nominate essays written by other INCS members or to submit their own work. To be eligible for the prize, authors must be current members of INCS. Potential contestants may join INCS for the purpose of competing. Current and recent INCS board members are not eligible for this contest.

The winning essay will be announced at the 2015 INCS conference, sponsored by Georgia Tech University in Atlanta, from April 16-19, 2015. The winner will be invited to assemble a panel for the 2016 INCS conference.

Please send an electronic copy of the nominated essay (PDF preferred) to Professor Lynn Voskuil, University of Houston, at no later than January 20, 2015; in the case of an essay that appeared only online, a durable link is acceptable in lieu of a PDF. For more details about the essay competition, the conference, or the organization, we invite you to visit the INCS website: Specific questions about the 2014 essay contest may be directed to Lynn Voskuil at

by Unknown ( at November 04, 2014 11:13 AM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

George Lambert (1873-1930)

 photo glmbertthesonnet1907.jpg

The Sonnet, 1907. Lambert was born in St Petersburg to American and English parents, was educated in England, and then emigrated to Australia with his mother and sister. These paintings date from 1900-1916, while he was living in England. They have a pleasing touch of eccentricity.

 photo georgelambertconvexmirror1916.jpg
The Convex Mirror

 photo gLambertEquestrianPortraitofaBoy.jpg
Equestrian Portrait of a Boy

 photo GlambertLottyandaLady.jpg
Lotty and a Lady

 photo Glambert.jpg
A strange confection to end with, perhaps you can make more sense of this than I can.

November 04, 2014 10:06 AM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 8. Breakfast ― 9. An American couple. Thinking that the butter was in common with the table, I took some of that close to me ― whereon the American pulled it away. “Pardon me” said I ― & explained, “You may have a little bit, I guess,” said the lady. To a vulgar Englishman, who, hearing the talk about the last war news, said, “what do you think now will be the end of the war?” ― she answered well, “I guess we ain’t in the habit of talking about ˇ[our] National politics to strangers at public tables.” At 10 to Hotel de l’Empire, & sate with Adml. & Mrs. Robinson & Miss Louis till       : Mrs. R. kindly gave me a pair of slippers. The Adml. was very jolly & delightful, as to the Spanish trip, & in all ways. His account of the D. of S. abord at the interview with Marshal McMahon was impayable: so also his story of his early Captain, Lord ― Townshend, whom an American Whaler’s mate followed & reviled ― (Lord ― being lame & deformed.) Robinson, on whose arm the Capt. leaned walking, was checked as to his desire to punish, but all at once Lord ― said “Coxswain ― kick that man down!” ― which Coxswain instantly did, & wheeling round & saluting said “Knocked down my Lord.” ― Left these kind people, & walked: saw the mutilated statue of “Silla[”]― & from 12 ― to 3 was at the Louvre Gallery. Roberts pictures are very dreadful as to color. Hotel de Louvre, & dined sparsely ― for me: good. Got things ready, & set off by 6 to Rail. Long waiting, weighing, &c. &c. Off at 7.45. Carriages very full. Old sick man, & “servante=maitresse,” & 3 men ― 2 got out at [Montereau];[1] & the remaining one began to drink brandy, & got quite drunk ―: so at Tonnerre I absquatulated & got into another voiture.



Mem: to buy back the Rembrandt & Gevartius portraits of C. Hanson. ――

[1] Perhaps Moneteau

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at November 04, 2014 08:00 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


The Strained family group

Dear friends and readers,

Having last week watched the ruined version of Juliette Towhidi’s Death Comes to Pemberley; that aired on PBS, as I began the new second half and saw immediately that the centrality of Pemberley itself, which begins Part 2 of the 3 Part British version, was lost in the re-arrangement, and again the sensational so-called thriller elements dominate, I gave up on PBS (not for the first time); watched no more, and instead watched Part 2 of the 180 minute three part Death Comes to Pemberley.

Elizabeth responds to Darcy’s “I will do no such thing” (he refuses to renege on his promise to Fitzwilliam to push for a marriage to Georgiana) with “I will do no such thing” (she refuses to persuade Georgiana)

The hour plots the growing estrangement of Darcy (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Anna Maxwell Martin), which leads to the break-up of Georgiana’s (Eleanor Tomlinson) promised possible engagement to Alveston (James Norton). The continuing mystery emphasized over and over as what importantly needs to be explained is why Captain Denny (Tom Canton) suddenly jumped out of the carriage and rushed into the dark woods; this mystery is in Part 2 contextualized by Colonel Fitzwilliam’s unexplained visit to Mrs Younge (Mariah Gale) in a tavern where he gave her £30 that turned up in the lining of Wickham’s hat. That more than one person asserts this can have nothing to do with the night’s events makes it all the more probable that Fitzwilliam (Tom Ward) was providing Wickham (Matthew Goode) with some sort of trigger, but for whom and what?

The guarded harsh Fitzwilliam

Fitzwilliam is the first to visit Wickham in jail (early in the hour) and their dialogue shows that Wickham could blackmail Fitzwilliam for some amoral behavior both know about. What is Fitzwilliam’s relationship to Wickham? If Mrs Younge was Fitzwilliam’s mistress, who is Mrs Younge (now we see she was the woman found in the wood thought to be Mrs Riley’s ghost) to Wickham? (Part 3 reveals she’s Wickham’s sister.) Elizabeth wants Darcy to investigate and interrogate his cousin closely, and Darcy refuses at the same time as he insists Elizabeth should help him forward the marriage of Georgiana to Fitzwilliam.

Will peering out the window: POV Elizabeth’s

We get some clues. The new Bidwell baby in the cottage, called little George by Louisa (Nichola Burley), turns out to be Louisa’s (Elizabeth sees her breast-feeding the baby), and the climax of Part 2 is Louisa identifying the father who called himself Freddie Delancy (first initials the same as Fitzwilliam Darcy) as Wickham just as he is declared sufficiently suspicious by a jury to be tried for the murder of Denny. The cottage is in the depths of the woods where the carriage stopped and Elizabeth also notices that Louisa’s brother, Will (Lewis Namier), is kept from her by Mrs Bidwell, his mother (Jennifer Hennessey), presented as sicker and unable to see anyone when he is rather behaving furtively and elusively. James’s explanation comes only at the novel’s huddled close, the Bidwell story and cottage we didn’t know about before.

This material is the central objective action of Part 2 of the mini-series. As in recent and older mysteries, our magistrate detective, Sir Selwyn Hardcastle (Trevor Eve) gathers clues he fails to understand but which we are expected to remember or make sense of. Often such bumbling is treated comically; here his pre-conceived idea that Wickham was the murderer is treated as a threat to the Wickhams and Darcys. The central part of James’s novel woodenly rehearses Pride and Prejudice and weakly (there is little dramatization) suggested Darcy’s original intense pride in place and family has reasserted itself when threatened by the re-appearance of Wickham, murder of Denny, and mortifying vanity-ridden absurd stories of Lydia (Jean Coleman). This suggestion in the novel is made the central meaningful emotional trajectory that fills out and gives Part 2 its gravitas.



Near the opening of Part 2 Darcy speaks to the Pemberley household declaring brusquely that the Lady Anne Ball is cancelled. He then dismissive of the disappointed (hard-work was done in the preparations) walks away, leaving Elizabeth to soothe wounded feelings and assert James’s conscious moral: the upper class family at Pemberley and the servants are all one in their devotion and work, sustaining one another, grateful and acting responsibly for one another. The stages of Darcy and Elizabeth’s alienation are in the first half of this part dramatized as stages in Darcy’s acceptance of Fitzwilliam’s proposal for Georgiana, as he first tells Elizabeth privately about his desire for Georgiana, then supports Fitzwilliam’s idea Georgiana should be sent away to Lady Catherine de Bourgh rather than be “further” besmirched (only to reverse himself on Georgiana’s vocal protests over Fitzwilliam’s dismissal of her sense of where she belongs, who she is), then in front of Fitzwilliam demands Elizabeth’s acquiescence. The second half show Georgiana’s hysteria to Elizabeth that her sacrifice is the family way of holding on to Pemberley (Fitzwilliam has more money and rank than Alveston), her rejecting Alveston after having accepted him, their desolation, her crashing to the floor.


Across the hour a second female-female relationship (the first is Elizabeth’s with Georgiana) develops when Jane now Bingley (Alexandra Moen) arrives early in the hour, comforts Elizabeth, follows her to the temple in the grounds where Elizabeth experiences a nadir of despair,

Jane and Elizabeth

remembering again how she fell for Wickham and Darcy’s strained proposal; accompanies her to the cottage. Finally Jane takes Lydia and Mrs Bennett back to her home, seeing how Lydia’s stupid (she attributes Denny and Wickham’s argument to Denny’s attraction to her when he is a man of integrity) and vicious tongue (tales of how Elizabeth preferred Wickham and married Darcy for his money) has been making everything absurd during questions from Hardcastle or withering in the house.

Elizabeth questioning Louisa with Mrs Reynolds overlooking

Women’s connections to one another are central to this mini-series in the three part format: Elizabeth’s reliance on the conventionally punitive severe Mrs Reynolds (Joanna Scanlon) does not stop Elizabeth from coming to her own judgement when she questions Louisa and discovers that the father is one “Freddie Delancy” and sets about finding out who this absconded man is. Though Elizabeth cannot make a friend of Louisa nor Mrs Bidwell (who has too much to hide), she sees that their experience is somehow important to what happened that night — and she alone insists the woman in the wood (Mrs Younge) was not only real, but important. Mrs Bennett (Rebecca Front) is not simply a foolish clown, her sheer presence and mindless grating nagging about materialistic things helps accounts for Elizabeth’s dismissal of these things (reinforced by the brief appearance of Penelope Keith as Lady Catherine de Bourgh at the opening of Part 3).

Male bonding of a sort goes on. Wickham had a loss in Denny’s scorn of him (and in part there is suspicion of Wickham whose memory of a scene with Denny is replayed over and over in the film); Denny was his “only friend,” now he sees that Fitzwilliam is no one to turn to (he deserts). There are two scenes in the prison between Darcy and Wickham; in both Darcy remembers Wickham’s scoundrel demand for £10,000 before he will agree to marry the foolishly disdainful (of Darcy) Lydia; in the second, after Lydia has visited Wickham, Wickham (somehow ironically) shows that the payment he got was not enough really to compensate for his having to spend his life with such a woman. In Part 3 he suggests for a moment he would have preferred Louisa Bidwell; while how far that goes is doubtful, as he was trying to get Denny to buy the baby from her, we are supposed to see he might have been improved by this association. What Lydia gives him is Darcy; Darcy’s money, prestige, and dubious faith in his story that he did not murder Denny is all Wickham has to fall back on.


And that and Darcy’s pride in family is presumably what makes Darcy hire Alveston as a lawyer when Alveston (Darcy sees) generously offers his services after Georgiana’s rejection of him, which Alveston knows is at the behest of Darcy.

Alveston offering himself

Darcy (1)
Darcy realizing Alveston’s a good man

All these skeins of relationships are carefully threaded through the original part 2 in just the order I’ve told it and with the emphasis I’ve suggested.

I was most moved by Martin, as the quietly perceptive strong heroine who holds to her humane values; by Tomlinson’s performance as the vulnerable young woman who could have married a domineering man dismissive of her emotions; by James Fleet as Mr Bennett in the library unwilling to show himself after he inadvertently overheard one of Darcy and Elizabeth’s heated clashes. I felt the direction Darcy’s character was taken by Rhys under the direction of Perceval with Towhidi’s script was consonant with Austen’s adumbration of him as an arrogant young man learning to see the world less narrowly from pride.

One of Elizabeth’s flashbacks: here she remembers Darcy’s insulting proposal

Tom Ward gives a strong believable performance as an aristocratic military type. No one was weak. I just wish the immediate material, James’s intermediary novel between this film and Austen’s Pride and Prejudice had not been this inferior formulaic genre. Howtidi managed to rearrange, vivify select elements, and shape the two sets of matter, James and Austen’s — for Howtidi has Austen in mind in the principal characters found in Austen’s book — into a characteristically woman’s film, cyclical, woman-centered, intimately subjective in many of the scenes. But she does not transcend the intransigent material, as the plot-design she comes up with drives the story to a trial and climactic ending whose recursiveness is only felt in the comic departure of the Wickhams (they could and probably will return broke).

The best moments in the mini-series are some of the quiet ones, e.g., Elizabeth reading Gulliver’s Travels to the young Darcy; her standing on the terrace looking out; her washing her face for some emotional relief, cleansing herself of all this as it were:


Next week: Part 3, and coda


by ellenandjim at November 04, 2014 04:40 AM

November 03, 2014


One of the most frightening things in English fiction

Elle magazine features author Hilary Mantel, who speaks about Jane Eyre:
She got the measure of it young, reading Jane Eyre and Kidnapped and puzzling out their essential stories: of a madwoman in an attic, and of a boy who leaves home. "These are still governing me all the time," she says. "And then I found Shakespeare, so I found history. So that was it: my influences. By the time I was 11, it was all done and dusted."
Jane Eyre: Mantel sits for a moment, thinking about it, gleefully reconstructing the part where Rochester leaves Jane outside a closed door to wait, and she's frozen, unable to make sense of the terrifying shouts and groans coming from within. "I think," Mantel says with relish, "that's one of the most frightening things in English fiction—that she can hear the sound, but she mustn't go beyond the door." And for a moment she looks away, eyes gleaming, a woman who has spent the best part of a lifetime imagining the things that might be going on in the locked room of the past, the done-with, or the never-was, the unmappable region of the interior. (Olivia Laing)
A columnist from the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian praises Jean Rhys's work in Wide Sargasso Sea.
What makes this popular modern classic great is Rhys's decision to allow both Mr Rochester and his first wife, Antoinette, a voice in this prequel to Jane Eyre. (Debbie Jacob)
Persinsala (Italy) has an article on the Faust Marlowe Burlesque while The Telegraph comments on Strictly Come Dancing Halloween special.
Alison Hammond and Aljaz Skorjanec reprised their American Smooth to Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush, throwing in extra kicks, spins and wafts of her ghostly white gown’s billowing sleeves.
Heathcliff and Cathy must have been terribly dizzy out on those windy moors. (Michael Hogan)
The Brontë Parsonage Facebook page shows a couple of 'interesting' inscriptions on rocks near Ponden Kirk. Two Cheeky  Monkeys posts an example of Jane Eyre-inspired literature jewellery. Mostly YA Lit reviews Mallory Ortbeg's Texts from Jane Eyre; Babbling Books and A Night's Dream of Books continue their Jane Eyre read-along. 

by M. ( at November 03, 2014 11:05 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Letter from B.H. Hunt. Currey goes, & not he.

Very fine day ― & calm: great good fortune. Wrote, in bedroom, till 9.30. ― Breakfast, ― While I sate, afterwards, in the reading room, writing to Mrs. G. Clive, heard ˇ[the] loud voice of an old lady ― “Mentone” &c. &c. ― “prolong life ― I am 77” ― “built a house” ― “best there” &c. &c. “my brother Sir Thomas,” ― & lo! turning round it was the outrageous Mrs. Usborne! “horrid person.” (But poor W. Dudgeon is thus recalled to me.) By 11.30 ― came away, & saw luggage registered. 2/18/6. ― to Paris. On board by 12.30[.] Off at 1. Very good passage & bright & blowy. Arrived exactly at 3. Herring boats going out if the river were obstacles but beautiful. ‘Bus’ to station. Dinner, unintentionally expensive, by reason of unknown food, & loss by Belgian coin. They don’t box one up in the room now-a-days ― but one chooses one’s place early. Pleasant 6 hours to Paris: ― long waiting for luggage ― (we arrived at Paris 11.20,) ― one trunk only (fortunately that containing no paper ―) opened. Gave porters 2 fr. Small ‘bus’ to Louvre by 12.15. Bouillon & bed, before 1.

I can hardly remember that I ever came across & to Paris so easily in all respects.

Thank God.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at November 03, 2014 08:00 AM

The Little Professor

In which I gently hint that Alexander Pope is not ideal freshman summer reading

I will preface this by pointing out that the National Association of Scholars' assessment of freshman summer reading programs does raise some serious points.  First, the ways in which these programs have clearly turned, as the authors say, into a marketing "industry" (5, 20)--a more advanced equivalent to the Victorian Sunday School prizebook, dare one say--sometimes with dollar signs visible to the students.  The summer reading "genre," they suggest, runs to "inspiring stories, apocalyptic visions, self-assigned projects, identity crises, advice manuals, and current trends in human behavior" (38).   (The authors note that the signifiers of a summer reading book sometimes extend to the titles and covers [36].)  Second, the awkward fit between the summer reading programs and actual coursework (e.g., 26): as Average Faculty Member X has been presented with the text as a fait accompli, she is faced with the uncongenial task of trying to somehow fit the book into her course (or, for that matter, tyring to somehow base the course's theme on the book), whether or not she actually likes the book or thinks it's worth reading.    Ergo, Average Faculty Member X may choose the path of least resistance and shunt the book to one side, to the students' understandable annoyance.  Third, the near-absence of English professors on summer reading committees (27-28), which contributes to nonfiction's dominance over fiction in committee selections--72% of all selections, according to their current findings (37).  (Hey, somebody thinks that English professors know something about literature! That's unusual these days.)  

If only their own suggested reading list had anything to do with the reality of teaching freshmen, let alone the reality of a freshman summer reading program.  Few signs of anything of "lasting merit," they complain: "Dickens, Dostoevsky, Austen, and Hemingway were not to be found.  There was no trace of Twain, Tolstoy, Bronte [me: er, which one?], Wilde, Hawthorne, Douglass, or Steinbeck.  No To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, The Count of Monte Cristo, or even Catcher in the Rye" (38).  Moreover, among contemporary authors, there's no sign of "Marilynne Robinson, Thomas Pynchon, Wendell Berry, Donna Tart [sic], Tom Wolfe, and Don DeLillo" (38).  Oh, and no history, either.  To begin with, Mockingbird, Gatsby, and Catcher are all still standard high school fare.  (Huckleberry Finn, too.)  So why would you pick them for a freshman summer reading program? Then, the run of contemporary authors is maybe a trifle...strange. Tom Wolfe is on the same plane as Thomas Pynchon?  More to the point, you're going to give Pynchon to innocent teenagers who have never encountered experimental prose before? Yes, students should be able to handle Hemingway and Steinbeck without any problem, along with Wilde, Hawthorne, and Douglass, as they all eschew the paragraph-long sentences familiar from much prose of the mid-nineteenth century and earlier.  But it's been my experience that the style of early-to-mid-nineteenth century fiction (or nonfiction, for that matter) is different enough from contemporary prose that many students need practice before they can read it comfortably and independently.  This is not at all a complaint about contemporary students; nineteenth-century classics have now largely been displaced by their twentieth-century equivalents in high school syllabi, and reading earlier prose is a learned skill.   That is, it's not something you expect a student to do during an unsupervised summer reading program.  The authors do admit the problem of choosing suitable material, but then glide right over it.  Obviously, some students will handle Jane Austen comfortably all by their lonesomes, but an equal some (or sum) will be utterly baffled.  And, dare one say, some nineteenth-century authors don't strike any particular emotional or psychological chords until a student is a bit further along in their development: I've found this frequently to be the case with Dickens (and, oh dear, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy...).

The foreword to this publication complains that summer reading programs confuse the "ephemeral"--those books speaking explicitly to contemporary issues--as an approach to "common experience" with the possibility of "ushering a thousand young people into some significant part of the common experience of humankind, by means of a work that others before us have cherished, and that others after us will cherish, as long as men can read and eyes can see" (10). The common experience of mankind is summed up by a suggested reading list dominated by Anglo-American authors (twenty-three American, twelve British--forgive me if I've miscounted), plus one Polish man (Conrad), three French men (Camus, Voltaire, de Tocqueville), one Spanish man (Cervantes), one Russian man (Dostoevsky), one Hungarian man (Koestler), one Nigerian man (Achebe), four men in the Greek and Latin traditions (Virgil, Plutarch, Plato, and St. Augustine), and a couple of books from the Bible.  There are a grand total of three women (Hurston, Cather, and, of all people, Tuchman) and four people who aren't white (Hurston again, Ellison, Achebe, and Least Heat-Moon).  Now, despite being the kind of professor whose syllabi frequently run to the canonical, it seems to me that "the common experience of humankind" is often the most boring, most basic part of any work.  It's not much better than the dreaded "Since the dawn of time, human beings have..." sentence.  (And perhaps "we" need to learn about experiences that "we" have not had.)  The difficulties become apparent in some of the descriptions, like the one of the Aeneid: "An epic in every sense, The Aeneid is one of the masterpieces of Western civilization" (169). "Well, yes-s-s-s-s," the weary instructor writes in the margin.  Others are strangely reductive: does one really want to read Richard III "because it is English literature’s best portrayal of political manipulation and cunning self-advancement, which are qualities that students need to be on guard against in college no less than in the rest of life" (164)? That is, the authors effectively "sell" their chosen works as sound-bite commodities in their own right--just take three Shakespeare plays and call your senate representative in the morning.   The authors want politics on the syllabus (e.g., Parkman, Tuchman, Wilson, Chambers, Conrad, Kipling, Koestler, Ellison), preferrably their politics--just not recent politics, let alone recent novelists whose work might be political.  It's no accident that the NIgerian and African-American works all date from the 1950s and earlier.  I'm reminded of Victorian objections to teaching "Modern History" in the debates over university reform, where "modern" often meant "medieval."   

Some of the suggestions, however, just make no sense from any point of view.  No, Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism is not appropriate for incoming freshmen: if you think nineteenth-century prose is difficult for the average student, just wait until you try them on early eighteenth-century verse.  The actual form aside, like much seventeenth- and eighteenth-century poetry, the Essay is loaded with contemporary and classical references that will make no sense to an eighteen-year-old.  Nor is it Strunk and White.  (You are not required to like Strunk and White to get my drift.)  Meanwhile, any student who takes a class with me will get the "you must read Paradise Lost, the Bible, Shakespeare, and The Pilgrim's Progress" lecture, but I'm not sure that students would find The Pilgrim's Progress the world's most welcoming gesture, if you know what I mean. (And it's not a "a vivid introduction to Christianity that secular students can grasp."  A vivid introduction to some forms of Protestantism, maybe.) Ditto Don Quixote, which is the sort of reading experience that improves with assistance, familiarity with literary conventions, or some combination of the two.  Similarly, some of the classic authors are represented by some really odd choices: Hawthorne did write rather more interesting fiction than A Blithedale Romance. And I am...not sure that Harold Bloom is the best nonfiction author for incoming freshmen.    


by Miriam Burstein at November 03, 2014 12:44 AM


Faust, Marlowe... and Emily

A curious theatrical experiment (with Brontë connections) has been premiered in Milano, Italy.
Elfo Puccini Teatro
Sala Bausch| 30 October - 9 November 2014
Tuesday-Saturday: 19:30 / Sunday: 15:30
Faust Marlowe BurlesqueNuove Storie di Aldo Trionfo e Lorenzo Salveti
regia di Massimo Di Michele
costumi Alessandro Lai
con Massimo Di Michele e Federica Rosellini
disegno luci Alessandro Carletti
scene e aiuto regia Cristina Gardumi
produzione MaDiMi
foto di Cristina Gardumi
locandina di Mauro Balletti

Faust e Mefistofele, una storia di immortalità e dannazione, perdono e salvezza eterna. Una storia che, almeno per sentito dire, quasi tutti conoscono. Non molti, invece, conoscono la versione che due grandi autori di teatro, Aldo Trionfo e Lorenzo Salveti, hanno scritto nel 1976 per due monumenti del palcoscenico come Carmelo Bene e Franco Branciaroli.
Un testo arduo, ricco di inserti (che racchiude parti di Christopher Marlowe e di Wolfgang Goethe, ma anche di Cime Tempestose e di altre opere letterarie), rappresentato solo da Bene e Branciaroli e poi mai più messo in scena.
Gli autori elaborano un gioco straordinario nel quale i personaggi – Faust e Mefistofele – finiscono per rappresentare le due facce della stessa medaglia. La dannazione di Faust, spintosi troppo in là nella ricerca dell'immortalità, è anche la solitudine di Mefistofele. Il gioco – fatto di scherzi divertiti, inversioni di genere, ammiccamenti di seduzione reciproca, oscillante fra il disperante e il travolgente – invischia entrambi i personaggi in una progressiva crisi di identità. La dicotomia fra Faust e Mefistofele, il supposto seduttore e la supposta vittima, inizia a sfumarsi in una dicotomia del singolo personaggio che assimila parti dell'altro, trasformandosi via via da vittima in carnefice e da carnefice in vittima.
«L'umiltà necessaria per accostarsi a un'opera così complessa, ricca di sfumature e di caratteristiche psicologiche, non può che partire dall'accantonare gli interpreti originari - assicura il regista. Tentare di metterla in scena come fecero loro sarebbe solamente una scarsa contraffazione. La traccia è chiaramente quella indicata da Trionfo/Salveti e dal duo Bene/Branciaroli, ma Faust/Mefistofele devono vivere di luce diversa per non essere solo pallidi riflessi». (Translation)

by M. ( at November 03, 2014 12:30 AM

November 02, 2014

Regency Ramble

Captured Countess December 2014

Bragging just a little

Four Star Review for Captured Countess

Adventure, sensuality and Romance are beautifully blended as Lethbridge's captive/captor spy vs. spy tale unfolds.  REaders will be easily drawn in by intrigue as the author carefully builds her plot, wrapping the reader in a web of deceit, mystery and passion.  This is a quick exiting tale that Lethbridge's fans will devour  -  Romantic Times
Never trust a spy! 
Nicoletta, the Countess Vilandry, is on a dangerous mission—to lure fellow spy Gabriel D'Arcy into bed and into revealing his true loyalties. With such sensual games at play and such strong sensations awakened, suddenly Nicky's dangerously close to exposing her real identity. 
Gabe knows that the countess has been sent to seduce him. The only question is to what end? He's never met such a captivating woman—and he's determined to enjoy every seductive second she spends as his very willing captive! 

Sign up for the Goodreads Give away:   GoodReads Giveaway

Preorder at:

Barnes and Noble
Chapters Indigo Canada

by Ann Lethbridge ( at November 02, 2014 10:03 PM

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates


The Nineteenth Century Research Seminars (NCRS) invites proposals for twenty-minute papers addressing any aspect of nineteenth century literature, history, and culture from doctoral researchers and early career researchers. Papers might […]

by letitbeprinted at November 02, 2014 04:54 PM


Rochester and Jane over and over again...

Sheila Hancock talks about her first novel Miss Carter's War in The Telegraph:
The plot thickened to include themes of education, the French Resistance, and the shift in attitudes towards homosexuality. She researched hard and was given an editor as a sounding board. “There were endless rewrites, because I was coming at it new,” she says, and she almost gave up after presenting a documentary about the Brontë sisters.
“Bloomsbury had given me an advance, so I phoned them up and said, 'I’m writing a cheque, I’m sending the advance back. I can’t do this – I just can’t. Because I’ve read these great books by the Brontës and I can only be mediocre. I don’t like being mediocre.’ It took me about three months to get over that.” (Matthew Stadlen)
Many UK news outlets feature the Strictly Come Dancing Halloween special and, in particular, Alison Hammond's (and pro-partner Aljaž Skorjanec) take on Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights:
The TV presenter – taking on the role of Wuthering Heights’ heroine Cathy – did indeed descend on to the dancefloor while sitting on a giant swing.
As if that wasn’t enough for Craig Revel Horwood to describe her arrival as ‘one of the campest entrances I’ve ever seen in my life’, Alison proceeded to deliver an American Smooth with partner Aljaz Skorjanec to the Kate Bush classic, which was big on wafting and grand gestures. (Caroline Westbrook in Metro)

Second to take the dance floor was TV presenter Alison Hammond and Aljaz Skorjanec, who left the audience mesmerised with their American Smooth to Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush.
The 39-year-old star looked gorgeous in a white loose-fit chiffon gown as she took on the role of Cathy in Wuthering Heights, while Aljaz played Heathcliff.
Bruno described the couple as ’a match made in heaven’ but told them that their footwork needed to improve.
Darcey said: ‘I have to say it was fabulous to see you enjoy the American Smooth, I loved the theatricality of it. For me the wafting was beautiful. ‘ (Sharnaz Shahid in Daily Mail)
Los Angeles Times quotes Anne Rice, who is presenting her new book Prince Lestat, saying:
Rice, of course, has thought a great deal about the erotic element of her vampire myth. “The vampire is hyper-romantic, a Byronic hero – a larger-than-life, extremely strong, mysterious, tragic personality,” she says. “It’s Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre over and over again. … Basically the vampire is untamed mystery, and that’s what men seem to women. It’s a deep, deep metaphor for sexual difference. Every man’s a vampire to us, in a way.” (Carolyn Kellogg)
The Derby Telegraph talks about a journalist and fan of Terry Pratchett:
"I was allowed to bring in some books from home and from the library," she said. "I loved Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and the usual children's books but then one day one of my teachers lent me his copy of Jane Eyre and I just fell in love with it. It became one of my favourite books and still is today. (Jane McFarlane)
The Exeter Express & Echo reviews the second play of the Butterfly Psyche Theatre & Live Wire Theatre Brontë Season, Wuthering Heights:
Friday night’s performance of Wuthering Heights saw the intensity cranked up a notch at Exeter’s Barnfield Theatre – with an unearthly feel that seemed only fitting for this blustery Halloween night. (...)
The stage was starkly minimal, giving Campbell and Fowlds the freedom to make us imagine almost anything in the space – and the Yorkshire moors seemed chillingly real in the Barnfield last night.
Campbell’s versatility once again made for flawless transitions between characters – but the addition of Fowlds gave the piece an intensity even the most accomplished solo performance couldn’t have achieved. The power in Cathy and Heathcliff’s last embrace - holding fast onto one another while condemning each other, twisting love and hate together in a desperate grip - was quite simply staggering.
Fowlds’ Heathcliff was terrifying – as his frantic gazes scoured the audience, I could really believe these were the eyes of a crazed man. Given the small setting and close proximity, his tormented cries seemed almost too powerful at times - but then again, maybe it was only right for us to feel intimidated. It was Halloween, after all.
Wuthering Heights proved a darker and more harrowing experience than the first Brontë Season performance, with Saturday's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall set to bring the season to a shocking finale. (Hannah Butler)
Beguiling Hollywood posts a couple of rainy pictures in Wuthering Heights 1939.

by M. ( at November 02, 2014 04:19 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 5 ―; wrote & packed till 8. Left “all things” “in order” ― & gavbe last words to the Coopers ―: & came away at 11.15. ――――――

Rail, 12.20. one passenger only. Folkestone by 3.30. ―

Very lovely afternoon & sunset. Wandered about, though very cold. From 5 to 7 ― wrote 12 letters. But then, as no Husey Hunt came, I dined. Wrote again.

Loneliness: that gray cold feeling which comes over the heart as cloud.

Πάντοτε μόνος.[1]

[1] Always alone.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at November 02, 2014 08:00 AM



The prequel to Morwenna J. Homan's Westerdale is already published:
By Morwenna J Holman
ISBN: 9781784079185
Total Pages: 200
Published: 28 July 2014

In this prequel to the already published novel, “Westerdale” we find out how the early life of Heaton Grimshaw shapes and moulds the character of the man he later becomes. Born from a disastrous meeting of insanity and tyranny he struggles to make sense of the world around him, having no true knowledge of his absent parents. Tainted by streaks of cruelty and always dogged by black moods and dark depressions Heaton is hated by his peers and becomes the proverbial loner. Despite being raised as a gentleman the wild part of Heaton’s spirit dominates, ill-preparing him for the many injustices and tragedies he is forced to suffer as he struggles through life. But Heaton has one unique gift…his ability with horses and thus he uses this latent talent to carve a niche for himself when all else fails. But blood is thicker than water and as events and his siblings move against him we find him wandering beaten, penniless and homeless on the very moorland that is to lead him to Westerdale and a new chapter of his life.
If you don't remember, Morwenna J. Holman's previous novel was directly dictated by the spirit of Emily Brontë.

by M. ( at November 02, 2014 01:30 AM

November 01, 2014


A paranormal investigator will check the tensions at the Brontë Society

The Brontë Society internal wars are a matter of concern to the local politicians according to the Yorkshire Post:
Politicians said yesterday that internal arguments among Society members appeared to be taking precedence over more pressing matters.
Councillor John Huxley, chairman of Haworth, Cross Roads and Stanbury Parish Council, told The Yorkshire Post that recent developments were “perplexing” for everyone in Haworth.
He said the people in the village had seen a number of Society directors “come and go” over recent years and engagement with the community had fallen away.
Councillor Huxley said changes in leadership did not help the Society build on earlier successes in engaging with the community.
“There is a real tension in the air. People are asking about the latest development and are totally perplexed about what is happening. Everybody is conscious there has been a lot of trouble.”
He said that “internal Brontë matters have taken over from engagement with the community” and it appeared that the Society leadership had “gone back into their shell”.
“We were looking to develop something and then the director goes (Ann Sumner, who departed in June). This latest thing is really concerning; nobody knows what’s happening. A lack of consistency is not helping the working relationship.” (Andrew Robinson)
The Brontë Society replies that the Society continues its work in spite of all its internal affairs:
“Jenna Holmes, contemporary arts officer, her colleagues at the museum and the trustees, were thrilled to hear this month that an application for grant funding from Arts Council England has been successful. This grant funding for a contemporary arts programme for 2015/16, will assist in developing and delivering an exciting and innovative programme of events and exhibitions around the bicentenaries – bringing not only major events and new displays to the Parsonage, and visitors to Haworth but also enabling engagement with audiences nationally and internationally.”
The spokesman said the Society was in the process of reviewing governance procedures with help from an external consultant while a new operations manager had joined the Museum’s management team.
“We are also currently in the process of recruiting a project manager to co-ordinate the bicentenary plans, with a focus on working closely with local people, businesses and community groups as well as with the newly-appointed membership officer and the marketing and communications officer
“The leadership team at the Parsonage and the trustees are determined to renew and develop relationships with local, national and international partners to ensure that we not only continue to safeguard the legacy of the Brontë family, but add valuable new chapters and interpretations to it over the coming years.” (Andrew Robinson)
Keighley News reports the publication of the novel Shadows in the Mist by Amy Flint which features the Brontë Parsonage Museum:
Haworth's famous Brontë Parsonage Museum features in a newly published novel.
The attraction is a setting for Amy Flint's Shadows in the Mist, a ghost story centred on the experiences of paranormal investigator Dr Porter Biggleswade.
While Porter's work takes her to the parsonage, as well as locations in and around York, ghostly feuds are the least of her worries.
She also has to contend with a woman haunted by her living mother, a farmer plagued by spectral ewes and even a developer desperate to evict his medieval tenants.
The parsonage museum adventure is her first major case, where Porter is called in to investigate claims of poltergeist activity.
She meets the museum curator, a sceptic struggling to find earthly explanations for incidents happening at the parsonage. Porter then discovers that the historic building's old occupants are reluctant to leave... (Miran Rahman)
The Exeter Express & Echo reviews the Exeter performances of the  Butterfly Psyche Theatre and Livewire Theatre Jane Eyre production:
The Brontë Season at the Barnfield got off to a spine-chilling start last night with Jane Eyre – not least due to an astonishing solo performance from Alison Campbell. (...)
As Campbell’s solitary figure was illuminated on stage, my lack of homework was immediately betrayed as I waited for others to join her – even when Jane’s crisp voice morphed into the Yorkshire tones of Mrs Fairfax, I still supposed that Rochester’s arrival would see another figure enter the scene. Surely Campbell couldn’t single-handedly bring Jane’s tale to life?
I was proven wrong though – and happily so. When Campbell became Mrs Fairfax, or Adèle, or Rochester, it wasn't just her voice that transformed, but her face, her posture and her whole character - she became those people in the fullest way possible, which was breath-taking to see. (Hannah Butler)
The Guardian vindicates the figure of Ann Radcliffe in her 250th anniversary:
Obvious traces of her flawed, sprawling masterpiece The Mysteries of Udolpho are discernible in Frankenstein, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë shared a name with its heroine). (John Dugdale)
The Globe and Mail interviews Ann Todd about her novel After:
In crafting After, Todd drew “inspiration from all types of things,” she says, sitting in the offices of Wattpad earlier this week. “Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, even some Fifty Shades … there’s some Twilight influences. It’s kind of everything I’ve ever read thrown into one thing.” (Mark Medley)
Vanity Fair (Spain) says more or less the same thing.

Publishers Weekly explains the efforts of The Folio Society to be more known in the US and reminds us of
“The Folio Society remains a literary secret,” said marketing manager Jean-Marc Rathe. Though, in the last two years, Folio has channeled its efforts into raising its profile both in the U.K. and Stateside. To that end, in October, Folio was a sponsor of the this year’s New Yorker Festival, as part of a larger promotional effort with the magazine. (A Folio advertising campaign will run in the New Yorker through spring 2015). During the festival weekend, the publisher hosted a pop-up shop at the McNally Jackson bookstore, bringing in musician, poet, and National Book Award-winner Patti Smith to sign Folio’s new edition of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, for which Smith wrote the introduction.
Dr. Russell Lee in The Gazette-Virginian praises silence:
Some thoughts should never be spoken out loud. They are too precious, too Godly, too holy to be shared. The human heart, writes Charlotte Brontë, “has hidden treasures, in secret kept, in silence sealed; the thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures, whose charms were broken if revealed.”
And Rebecca Tinsley in The Huffington Post celebrates the bravery of orphans:
Orphan heroes have been the subject of literature for centuries: David Copperfield, Jane Eyre, Frodo, Harry Potter, Dorothy of Oz, Paddington Bear and Superman. Perhaps writers use orphans so often because they know how terrified most of us were of becoming orphans. As children we tormented ourselves with dark fantasies about suddenly finding ourselves alone in the world. 
Sara Hendricks remembers on Old Gold & Black her childhood Halloweens:
My days were already full with learning vocabulary words for the SAT, which was a mere six years away, and sprawling on the leopard-print bean bag in my closet and imagining that I was Jane Eyre (a character who resonated with me both because of her plainness and similar inclination to middle parts), and thus, I simply could not devote any energy towards a new task.
KPCC talks about the web series Classic Alice, played by Kate Hackett:
Alice continued her journey through "Pygmalion," Hans Christian Andersen story "The Butterfly" and "Macbeth." Hackett says she wants to push the audience beyond the classics normally loved by teenage girls like the work of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. (Mike Roe)
The Sun (Nigeria)  talks about the poetry of Promise Okekwe:
Whatever, her manifesto may be, Promise Okekwe’s poems, appear more penetrating and actualized when she treats the travails of women. Perhaps, her gynocentric focus may not carry the flame of earlier female writers, such as Emily Brontë, Sylvia Platt, Flora Nwapa, Buchi Emecheta, Mabel Segun, or Zynab Alkali, in that constituency, but we perceive the punch of her sensitivity and passion.
madmoizelle (France) has an article about Gothic in pop culture:
La déferlante Twilight y est sans doute pour quelque chose… Twilight est le gothique vidé de sa substance par excellence : l’auteure ne connaît rien aux vampires, mais se prétend dans la lignée de la très romantique Emily Brontë (Les Hauts de Hurlevent). Depuis, le teint d’albâtre est à la mode et les gothiques ont perdu leur force d’opposition. Terminé, les mannequins bronzés au cinéma : les égéries des jeunes sont souvent blancs comme des cachets d’aspirine, et même les plus petites peuvent trouver leur compte dans le mouvement gothique avec les poupées so fashion de Monster High. (Ladydandy) (Translation)
Elle (France) interviews the fashion blogger Leandra Medine:
Ma pochette, mon amour
« Je suis tombée in love avec les sacs adorables et ludiques d'Olympia Le-Tan. J'ai porté la pochette-livre brodée "Jane Eyre". Je trouve très marrants les modèles "Love Story", "The Happy Yes" ou "The Happy Bunnies". Quel humour! » (Translation)
UrbanPost (Italy) lists female romantic heroines:
-“Jane Eyre”dell’omonimo libro di Charlotte Brontë è una rivoluzionaria: fiera, intelligente, indipendente, una donna moderna che va contro le convenzioni sociali. Vive una storia d’amore insolita e passionale, senza calpestare mai sua dignità, neanche nei momenti più neri.
- In “Cime Tempestose” di Emily Brontë, Catherine è vittima di un sentimento oscuro, distruttivo, ossessionante, indissolubile a tal punto che neanche la morte riuscirà a scioglierlo. E anche se sposerà un altro uomo, preferendo una vita tranquilla e agiata, il suo spirito libero troverà la pace solo quando sarà finalmente unita alla sua vero amore.  (Sara M. Miusis) (Translation)
El País (Spain) lists literature which spins around love and revenge:
Ese rastro de llanto encolerizado de despecho está en la literatura, desde los clásicos griegos y romanos, la Biblia y Las mil y una noches, hasta El último encuentro, de Sándor Márai, y El túnel, de Ernesto Sábato; pasando por Otelo, de Shakespeare; o Cumbres borrascosas, de Emily Brönte (sic). (Winston Manrique Sabogal) (Translation)
Also in El País, Jaime Rubio Hancock talks about the progressive lack of imagination in book covers:
El caso más sonado que recuerda [Jónatan] Rubio es cuando Debolsillo lanzó sus portadas de Cumbres borrascosas y Orgullo y prejucio con un diseño similar a las de Crepúsculo, incluyendo el sello: "Los libros preferidos de Bella y Edward". Rozan casi la desesperación: ¡Te van a gustar! ¡Te lo juro! ¡La portada es negra! ¡No hay vampiros, pero hay pasiones tormentosas ocultas tras una elegante prosa victoriana!
Aunque hay que decir que Harper Teen hizo exactamente lo mismo. (Translation)
Crónica Viva (Perú) on love in literature:
El amor ha sido en la literatura universal, por supuesto en la local también, un sentimiento que ha producido atroces sufrimientos a sus protagonistas, recordemos novelas célebres como Cumbres Borrascosas (1847) o Madame Bovary (1856), ni que decir de las novelas o cuentos peruanos, tanto escritos, televisivos o los desaparecidos radioteatros. (Mario Gonzáles Ríos) (Translation)
Ilaria Perrone in Grazia (Italy) uses literary examples to talk about women and love:
Jane Eyre- La Rivoluzionaria
«Jane Eyre» - Charlotte Brontë. Jane è un personaggio rivoluzionario, una donna fiera, intelligente, non troppo bella (nel libro è definita, insignificante) e indipendente. Una donna straordinariamente moderna che compie delle scelte anche contro il proprio interesse e le convenzioni sociali. Vive una storia d'amore insolita, tormentata, passionale, in cui, per la prima volta, è la donna a dettare le regole. Un esempio di che cos’è il rispetto per se stesse, non calpesterà mai la sua dignità, neanche nei momenti più neri della sua vita. Quando sta per perdere tutto, e si ritrova sola, risponde così: «Io mi occupo di me stessa. Più sono sola, priva di amici, abbandonata, più devo avere rispetto di me stessa»
Catherine – Lo spirito libero
«Cime Tempestose» - Emily Brontë. Catherine è vittima di un sentimento oscuro, distruttivo, ossessionante, un sentimento malato, indissolubile a tal punto che neanche la morte riuscirà a scioglierlo. Ama Heathcliff tanto da non riuscire a respirare senza di lui, tanto da confessare di essere lei stessa Heathcliff: «Non so di che siano fatte le nostre anime, ma la mia e la sua sono identiche». È quest’amore folle e totalizzante che proverà con tutte le sue forze a rinnegare. Sceglierà, infatti, di sposare il ricco Linton, preferendo una vita tranquilla e agiata. Queste sono le passioni che non finiscono, non importa quanti chilometri separino i due, queste sono le storie in cui potranno trovare la pace solo quando saranno finalmente uniti. (Translation)
The Casper Star Tribune presents the Aquila Theatre production of Wuthering Heights;  The Times publishes the obituary of Oriel Malet (1923-2014), writer and close friend of Daphne du Maurier with who she shared a mutual interest on the Brontës (Letters from Menabilly: Portrait of a Friendship, 1994). John Atkinson has uploaded to Flickr a set of Haworth pictures.

by M. ( at November 01, 2014 03:27 PM

The Wilson connection

Frances Mary Richardson Currer.
Portrait by John James Masquerier (1807)
Private Collection. (Source)

Today, November 1, the Gargrave Heritage Group opens an exhibition with some Brontë connections:
Gargrave Heritage Group has been awarded £8,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The grant – from its Sharing Heritage pot - will be used to stage an exhibition in the village’s St Andrew’s Church.
It will explore tales of old Gargrave through the stories of the people who lived and worked in the village.
The exhibition – which will take place on Saturday, November 1 – will include information on the links between the Brontë sisters and the Wilson family in Gargrave and stories of men from Gargrave who went to fight in World War One and never returned.
There will also be a website and archive covering photographic and documentary records of Gargrave. (Lindsay Moore in Craven Herald)
The connection with the Wilson family comes through Frances Mary Richardson Currer (1785-1861), daughter of Margaret Clive Wilson and the Rev. Henry Richardson Currer who was born at Eshton Hall in 1785.
According to Robert and Louise Barnard's A Brontë Encylopedia she was a
rich book-collector, heiress to the Richardson family, whose charities and generosity to her tenants were well known. Her library ws famous, and in 1830 she loaned paintings to the Northern Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts Exhibition, in Leeds, including Veronese, Rembrandt, and Poussin.
In November 27, 1821, after the death of his wife, Patrick Brontë wrote to the Rev John Buckworth saying
I received on one day, quite unexpectedly, from a few wealthy friends in B[radford] not less than one hundred and fifty pounds! I received also several pounds from my old and very kind friend at B[radford], fifty pounds as a donation from th Society in London; and what is perhaps not less wonderful than all, a few days ago, I got a letter containing a bank post bill of the value of fifty pounds which was sent to me by a benevolent individual, a wealthy lady, in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Juliet Barker in The Brontës (and many other biographers) thinks that this wealthy lady was no other that Miss Currer of Eshton Hall. She was also the patron of Bierley Chapel, Bradford, William Morgan's (Patrick's fellow curate at Wellington and good friend of the family) previous living). She was also one of the patrons of the Cowan Bridge School and one of the most probable sources of Charlotte's choosing Currer as her pen name.

by M. ( at November 01, 2014 12:30 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose early ― getting thro’ much of “last arrangements.”

At 10, (leaving Foord’s men working at my Watercolour screens, ―) went to Carlton Gardens, & saw C.F. in his Dressing room: all serene & merry enough, in a way. Came to Waterloo Station, & thence to Leatherhead, ― day very cold. Dined with poor Ellen, who is always Kind; ― & left her at 2. (I should have gone to Mrs. Howard’s, but Lord Bristol died yesterday.) Back to London, & bought various things till 5, & then had some supper: & bed at 10, awfully tired.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at November 01, 2014 08:00 AM

Reveries Under the Sign of Austen, Two


Elizabeth Linley Sheraton (1754-92) as St Cecilia (1775)) by Thomas Gainsborough

Is it not provoking one can’t marry a man’s fortune, without marrying himself? that one can’t take a fancy to his mansions, his parks, his establishments, — but one must have his odious society into the bargain? (Hilaria, the heroine)

I have been the ruin of you all, — & I feel cursed queer. I’ll go and lie down again (the eldest son, a spendthrift rake responsible for the play’s chief family having to go live in a run-down cottage, from Burney, Love and Fashion)

Dear friends and readers,

It’s now nearly three weeks since I and my daughter, Isobel, attended the Burney Society Biennal, 9-10 October 2014, which this year overlapped with the Jane Austen JASNA, both taking place in or near (the Atwater Club) the same central Sheraton hotel in Montreal. The Burney people packed in as much intellectual, social and entertainment pleasure (not to omit eating and drinking) as the short time between Thursday all day (9 am to 9 pm) and Friday 9-11 am allowed. I’ve divided the report into a first part on the panels on Thursday; and a second part on Juliet McMaster’s separate hour long talk and the play-acting late Thursday, and the trip to McLennan Library and the Burney Center at McGill, and Cathy Parisian’s “Frances Burney in the year 1814″ on Friday morning.

After a continental breakfast, and welcome, there were two morning panels (with a break for coffee and talk). The first panel was called “Embodied Performances.” In her “Women of Enchanting Talents: Finding Elizabeth Linley Sheridan in Burney’s Cecilia,” Amy Fugazzi was one of two people to discuss the presence of Elizabeth Linley in Burney’s work. Ms Fugazzi told of Burney’s enthusiasm about Linley when Burney first saw her, Linley’s life (her elopement with Sheridan was partly to escape a coerced marriage with a man she did not care for), including the fallout from a duel Sheridan fought; the connection made between Linley and St Cecilia (though by 1772 she had married Richard Sheridan and and was ordered by him to give up her singing in public for money). Ms Fugazzi discussed parallels in Burney’s Cecilia and Sheraton’s life and character as known to the public and described in the young Burney’s journals.

An engraving after Angelica Kauffman’s Anne Home as the Pensive Muse

In “Performative Sociability: Burney, Edmund Burke,and Anne Hunter”, Natasha Duquette discussed how seeking in companionship solace from the world is a theme in Burney’s novels beginning with Evelina and Mrs Selwyn, how Burney admired Burke until Burke attacked Warren Hastings: Burke provided her with intellectual pleasure, and was attracted by the poet and musician, Anne Hunter, several of whose poems were set to Haydn’s music. Hunter would have been someone whose social identities changed while she remained involved in music from an angle different from those Burney usually came across. Burney and Hunter had mutual acquaintances: Joanna Baillie another Scots woman poet was Frances Burney’s aunt.


Alice Kerfoot in her “Fading into a State of Decay: the leftovers of Dress in Camilla; or, what can Princess Sophia’s Heliotrope shoes tell us about Camilla’s Lilac Uniform?” talked of how fashion, dress, shoes were seen as identifying someone’s social identity, the more extravagant in whatever was the direction of the day, the more the wearer rose in prestige, admiration — and debt. We see in Burney’s journals a quiveringly intense gratification in the glamor of costume-like outfits. Ms Kerfoot tried to work out which pair or particular kind of shoes a particular person wore. The discussion afterward included the question whether the performing self is a false or real self? The point was made however they might have reveled in performance or costuming themselves, the Linleys (so she brought in Elizabeth Sheridan) and Burneys taught performed music in public because they needed patronage and money. Esther. Burney’s sister, remained a harpsichordist after she married; Elizabeth Linley Sheridan’s problem was that it was not acceptable for a politician to have a performing wife; Sheridan was also possessive over her, and in effect did not want her competition. She died young of consumption.


The second panel, “Burney’s Public Performances.” Cheryl Clark’s “Traveling in Style and Walking the Circuit: Fashioning Femininity in Frances Burney’s Novels,” delighted me by its style, content and delivery: her central argument: how you traveled expressed who you were. First she named and described the various vehicls for travel (above) and how they were seen (a curricle like today’s young man’s sports car). Burney’s novels have over 300 references to carriages, and each of her heroines appears in scenes where they are judged by their mode of travel (including walking); these experiences provided opportunities for circulating, for empowerment and some independence (Elinor Joddrell is however punished for trying for too much freedom). They were opportunities to be seen in elegant company. Characters may be very hurt by how they are treated around carriages so Juliette is denied room because she is of no consequence to anyone. She quoted male characters’ scathing indictment of certain kinds of travel, but suggested Burney’s novels discredit this hostility and celebrate the female traveler. She also talked of the Burneys’ move to St Martin’s Street in London where the Burneys observed and participated in the social life of great artists of the era.

NPG D8932; Mary Ann Yates as Lady Townley in 'The Provok'd Husband' after James Roberts
Mary Ann Yates as Lady Townley in Van Brugh’s The Provok’d Husband (engraving after James Roberts)

In her “‘It seemed to me we were acting a play: Performance and representation of women’s identity in Frances Burney’s Early Journals and The Wanderer” Anne-Claire Michoux argued that Burney presented femininity as theatrical. Burney takes parts in real plays in her journals (Lady Townley) but she stages all conversations in which she participates: in life she acts out an inability to act, with an underlying idea that one’s seemingly final or mature self is not fixed. Ms Michoux talked of how letters themselves are forms of theater, of performance. Again Burney shows the female self is not fixed, but permeable Acting allows neurotic behavior as well as social evils become less obvious and/or hard to endure.

Reprinted in Tavistock Classics in the history of psychiatry

The thesis of Sara Tavela’s “‘Dr Lyster gave her much satisfaction:’ The Pressures of Gender Performance, the Problem of Madness, and the Doctor in Burney’s Cecilia,” was that in Cecilia the pressure to perform leads to Cecilia’s madness. Dr Lyster then functions as a conduit who mitigates misogyny and reveals a shift going on in the era to an understanding of people’s behavior as psychosomatic. Though sensibility remained suspect in this era, in 1732 George Cheyne’s The English Malady described how psychological disturbances affect the body. Cecilia discovers that no one will listen to her, but that a mad state enables her to go outside social control (Delville triggered the madness; Monckton is someone people want to give her to); the myth that marriage protects her is exposed. Dr Lyster alone does not pathologize her. Ms Tavela went over each of later heroine’s psychological journeys across their novels (Cecilia, Camilla, Juliette who is not so much deceitful as a nobody no one else bothers to control). This was a suggestively interesting paper about the state of medicine then and now too (where I would say social coercion is again enforced by psychologists).

There was much discussion after each of the panels in which many of the people there participated. Among the ideas thrown our were how Burney sees that female mobility puts women at risk and yet is fascinated and compelled by the liberty gained. Someone pointed out how in her journals a fascinating moment occurs when her husband is wounded and she is seeking him, she loses her way as she has to make a transition from one mode of travel or through one boundary to another place, and how intensely anxious and distressed she becomes. Peopel talked of how her heroines’ agonies include losing a social role or identity and recognition. I saw a great difference in the favorable attitude towards performance in Burney (both novels and letters) and the distrust Austen shows towards performance in her novels (in Austen’s letters she is far more open to performance). Colors were discussed: lilac had had prestige but was regarded as vulgar once shop girls could obtain lilac cloth for their dresses. Acting in this eras was still intensely gestural (pantomimic).


From a 2013 production of Sheridan’s A School for Scandal

Misty Anderson’s plenary lecture focused on Burney’s 1798 comic play, Love and Fashion, selections from which were performed after dinner in the later evening. Ms Anderson described the how in 1799 Harris was ready to stage Love and Fashion for 400£. That year (among others) had played Sheridan’s The Rivals and The School for Scandal; before it, Boaden’s Romance of the Forest. Love and Fashion belongd to this type of ultimately benevolent comedy at the same time as it has a ghost meant to mock the gothic. Its characters are inches away from catastrophe; money troubles everywhere, addiction, gambling; the play satirizes toadyism, hypocrisy; it has edgy connotations in its depiction of an apparently benign father, Hilaria a self-punishing daughter, who takes a jewel from a rich suitor to obtain love and some stability; a character kills himself like Harrel in Cecilia. Burney gives us social not political criticism. Ms Anderson saw in some of this a sense of an unsustainable order (there is a reference to the food riots in France), and thinks although it needs some workshopping, the play would have been a huge success. By 1815 18th century comedy was no longer being written.

Among the implications here is that instead of writing about how Burney included allusive material on Elizabeth Sheridan in her novels, she could have been a rival playwright to Sheridan and Goldsmith (She Stoops to Conquer). Ms Anderson quoted from one of Doody’s analyses of this play as about a woman’s independence, as showing Burney’s “interest in, and resent[ment] of, snobbery and condenscension, and [she] keenly observes what different effects social tyrannies have on different people: “the willingness of some of her family to humble themselves before the glamour of position was always a source of obscure unease” (The Life in the Works, p 292).


The third panel followed, “Textual Performances.” Jocelyn Harris’s “Jane Austen and the Subscription list for Camilla,” brought out and identified the relationships among an intricate network of friends and relatives who knew both Austen and Burney from this list. She seemed to think that Austen canvassed among Austen’s friends on behalf of Burney. Said she, if we have nothing in Austen’s letters about this, we must remember what a tiny remnant of her letters are left to us. Prof Harris also talked of individuals found on the list, e.g., Thomas Jefferson.

Elizabeth with her sister, Mary Linley as girls (by Gainsborough)

Kate Hamilton’s “‘The Voice of Fame’”: Celebrity in Evelina and [Burney's] Early Years,” found allusions in Evelina to Elizabeth Linley Sheridan as a model of virtuous celebrity; the novel also presents the negative aspects of a commercialized private story. Ms Hamilton saw in Elizabeth Linley Sheridan as well as a singer-actress Versanti (found in Burney’s early journals), an apparent public intimacy which may be seen or used a way of managing one’s career. The woman becomes a commodity and yet protects her reputation by maintaining a distance somehow from events; an analogy occurs in Evelina when the Vicar tells Evelina she must show disdain and grace and keep Willoughby at a distance from her.

A Kliban cat channeling social anxiety as belligerence

Kate Ozment’s “The Violence of Madame Duval: Performance as anxiety in Frances Burney’s Evelina,” was a subtle interesting interpretation of the sources and results of the scenes of explicit violence and terror in this sentimental romance. Evelina’s French grandmother is turned into a grotesque monster, both comic and tragic because sheis unable to manage the social awkwardnesses in life’s more public spectacles; her social anxieties and class consciousness, a gender tension in her lead to failure to adroitly perceive what’s happening around her and act. These social skills were not required of her when she was among lower class people. Violence then permeates the narrative, and she alienates and separates herself from Evelina and the other characters because she is calling attention to her anxiety rather than controlling it. This is the way to fail social life miserably. (She did say of course the primary purpose of the scenes are to prove humor from farce.)

I thought Ms Ozment’s paper broke new ground about what was happening to Madame Duval in these situations, why Burney and her associates refused to have compassion for Madame Duval: Madame Duval was breaking some deep unwritten social psychological-social code set up for self-protection, and if they reassured or helped her that would somehow threaten them by revealing their vulnerabilities too. To my way of thinking this kind of response is a fundamental cruelty at the heart of society which hits at the disabled especially.

A depiction of the Haiti-St Domingo Revolt of 1791

Shelby Johnson’s “Traces of Haiti: Narrating Agonistic Histories in Frances Burney’s Wanderer,” was the last of the individual papers that day. She discussed what she felt were traces in The Wanderer of the multiple narratives of the era by fugitives, migrant people, slave and other revolts, Burney’s time in Paris when Toussaint Louverture was brought there; her own trip across Europe. The novel has a bleakness, a historical subjectivity coming from the era Burney and her readership had just passed through. Ms Johnson went over the phases of Juliette’s taking off and changing her painful disguises and roles, to project a coherent collective experience of displacement and vehement agons. Ms Johnson felt these traces frightened the middle class white readership. (I think of how the full tales were received in the memoirs of women imprisoned so popular in the era; see my Blood Sisters.)

Again after the plenary lecture and these four talks there was a discussion ranging over all the topics, but it had to be cut short to allow for the bringing in of many tables and chairs, and setting up of a buffet for both people from JASNA and the Burney group to become a single audience for Juliet McMaster’s speech billed as an “Afternoon Tea.” It was not the intimate talk that has been envisaged, and Prof McMasters cut some of it because it took so long for people to get their snacks and drinks; luckily I heher speech twice: I caught it again very late Friday morning in the large assembly room at the Sheraton so I can provide a summary of the speech, one of Cathy Parisian’s the last of the conference, and a record of what was played of Love and Fashion in my second blog.


by ellenandjim at November 01, 2014 04:28 AM

William Morris Unbound

Terry Eagleton 50th Anniversary Interview

‘For the university, is there hope?’, Professor John Schad asked yesterday in the Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts Building. Terry Eagleton, whom he was interviewing there, seemed inclined to answer no, speaking apocalyptically of the ‘effective end of universities as a centre of humane critique’ in our time. So, in Kafkaesque fashion, plenty of hope, but just not for us, in the twenty-first-century academy. But is there not a performative contradiction here? Does not the very fact that Eagleton could make such an announcement, to an enthusiastic audience of 130 (including the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and admirers who had travelled up from as far away as South Wales), at a public interview that celebrated both Lancaster University’s 50th anniversary and Terry’s own extraordinary 50 years in the literary-critical business – does not all this suggest that we might in fact need a slightly more nuanced account of ‘hope in the university’ today?

John Schad’s wide-ranging and beautifully judged interview reminded us of the many ways in which Terry has been not just a brilliant literary critic and theorist, but also an important public intellectual, speaking on behalf of socialism and the oppressed in a variety of tones and registers (including humour, a topic which had some prominence in the interview: ‘I know I’m going to write a book on comedy’). The fact that a revered Marxist public spokesperson is now, since his enforced retirement from Manchester University in 2008, a celebrity intellectual in the neo-liberal university system, complicates matters no end, but does not just cancel out that former role.

Perhaps we need some new sociology of the role of stellar oppositional figures – particularly in retirement, as they now ‘sit loose’ to formal academic requirements – in the marketised university economy, since they are themselves commodities (in terms of institutional visibility and recruitment) and yet eloquent enemies of commodification. To walk that fine line, to sustain critique without just being absorbed and marketised oneself, seems a lot more complex now than it presumably was in the good old days when F.R. Leavis, after retirement from Cambridge in 1962, took up his new post at York three years later. So we look forward to a comparative study of figures like Eagleton, David Harvey and Alain Badiou, as they wrestle with such contradictions and do their best to speak for radical hope still. Moreover, as I reflected during the wine reception in the LICA foyer that followed this splendid Schad-Eagleton interview, we shall all hopefully be assembled here again in ten years time, for Terry’s 60th anniversary as critic, theorist and socialist.

by Tony Pinkney ( at November 01, 2014 05:25 AM

October 31, 2014

The Little Professor

This Week's Acquisitions

  • Anna Hanson Dorsey, The Old House at Glenaran (John Murphy, 1887).  Old Scottish businessman winds up raising his nephews.  Dorsey was a prolific and popular American Catholic novelist with something of an international following.  (eBay)
  • Leslie S. Klinger and Laurie S. King, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes (Pegasus, 2014).  Sherlockian short fiction by various and sundry mystery, SF, and horror authors.  As you may have noticed, this book was the subject of a lawsuit.  

by Miriam Burstein at October 31, 2014 09:39 PM

Pinacotheca Petri Plancii

The Floating Academy


The modern form of Hallowe’en isn’t particularly Victorian in its origins (unlike Christmas and Valentines Day), but there’s something very 19th-century about it nonetheless. Any holiday that celebrates ghosts is one that calls attention to the past’s uncanny tendency to manifest itself in the present, like the unquiet dead. Hallowe’en’s aesthetics are thoroughly Victorian, gothic, […]

by alangaley at October 31, 2014 03:13 PM

Edward Lear's Diaries


Rose at 6.30. Very fine ― cold. Breakfast alone ― & to rail at 7.30. Stratford Place by 10. Paid young Underhill £2.10.0 for his work: a good Lad.

John Leech is dead. ―――

Went out to get a hat ― brushes ― Bradshaw &, ― coming back met Sir Henry Storks. Went out again about Drummond’s Circular notes. Returned to pack ― pack ― pack, ― & paper up all things ― till 6. When I am going to the Digby Wyatts’.

The weather has become intensely cold all of a sudden, ― & I feel miserable accordingly.


Somehow ― I was sad  sleepy.

At 11. I came away, cab home.

Letter from C.F. who has returned.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

by Marco Graziosi at October 31, 2014 08:00 AM


The Gypsy Maiden

A new book and  republished one, both of them recently published:
Representations of the Gypsy in the Romantic Period
Sarah Houghton-Walker
Oxford University Press
16 October 2014

In early eighteenth-century texts, the gypsy is frequently figured as an amusing rogue; by the Victorian period, it has begun to take on a nostalgic, romanticized form, abandoning sublimity in favour of the bucolic fantasy propagated by George Borrow and the founding members of the Gypsy Lore Society. Representations of the Gypsy in the Romantic Period argues that, in the gap between these two situations, the figure of the gypsy is exploited by Romantic-period writers and artists, often in unexpected ways. Drawing attention to prom
inent writers (including Wordsworth, Austen, Clare, Cowper and Brontë) as well as those less well-known, Sarah Houghton-Walker examines representations of gypsies in literature and art from 1780-1830, alongside the contemporary socio-historical events and cultural processes which put pressure on those representations. She argues that, raising troubling questions by its repeated escape from the categories of enlightenment discourses which might seek to 'know' or 'understand' in empirical ways, the gypsy exists both within and outside of conventional English society. The figure of the gypsy is thus available to writers and artists to facilitate the articulation of dilemmas and anxieties taking various forms, and especially as a lens through which questions of knowledge and identity (which is often mutable, and troubling) might be focussed. 
And a republication of a book first published in 1991:
The Chamber of Maiden Thought (Psychology Revivals)
Literary Origins of the Psychoanalytic Model of the Mind
By Meg Harris Williams, Margot Waddell
October 13th 2014

Literature is recognised as having significantly influenced the development of modern psychoanalytic thought. In recent years psychoanalysis has drawn increasingly on the literary and artistic traditions of western culture and moved away from its original medical-scientific context. Originally published in 1991 The Chamber of Maiden Thought (Keats's metaphor for 'the awakening of the thinking principle') is an original and revealing exploration of the seminal role of literature in forming the modern psychoanalytic model of the mind. The crux of the 'post-Kleinian' psychoanalytic view of personality development lies in the internal relations between the self and the mind's 'objects'. Meg Harris Williams and Margot Waddell show that these relations have their origins in the drama of identifications which we can see played out metaphorically and figuratively in literature, which presents the self-creative process in aesthetic terms. They argue that psychoanalysis is a true child of literature rather than merely the interpreter or explainer of literature, illustrating this with some examples from clinical experience, but drawing above all on close scrutiny of the dynamic mental processes presented in the work of Shakespeare, Milton, the Romantic poets, Emily Brontë and George Eliot. The Chamber of Maiden Thought will encourage psychoanalytic workers to respond to the influence of literature in exploring symbolic mental processes. By bringing psychoanalysis into creative conjunction with the arts, it enables practitioners to tap a cultural potential whose insights into the human mind are of immense value.

by M. ( at October 31, 2014 01:30 AM

October 30, 2014


Charlotte's windfall

The Telegraph and Argus explains why nothing has been said about the Brontë Society's recent extraordinary general meeting:
Despite the EGM taking place on Saturday, October 18, the decision apparently cannot be revealed: minutes from the meeting have still to be agreed.
A spokesman for the Brontë Society confirmed that the minutes of the EGM were being circulated to members, adding that details would be made public in the near future.
The Telegraph and Argus also has good news concerning the celebration of Charlotte Brontë's bicentenary in 2016:
Plans to celebrate 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth in 2016 have been given a major cash boost of nearly £100,000.
The Brontë Society’s contemporary arts programme has been awarded a grant of £99,178 by the Arts Council of England.
As well as its museum role, Haworth’s Brontë Parsonage is home to a contemporary arts programme which celebrates the radical nature of the Brontës and the ways in which they have inspired successive generations of artists and writers.
The grant has come from The Arts Council’s Lottery-funded programme Grants for the Arts.
Across the ocean, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reviews the Jackson Hole High School stage production of Jane Eyre:
The actors’ lines are nailed down, and their blocking is tight.
“It’s got good pacing, and this incredible, amazing story is filled with romance and mystery,” Lewis said.
Go any night to find out who the lunatic is that stalks the shadows and sets fire to Thornfield Hall. Let these students take you back in time to find out if the champion of early feminism does find love. It costs only $12. (Jason Suder)
The Fairfield Mirror finds a Brontëite in writer Sarah Daltry.
GW:  What are you reading now and who are some of your favorite authors?
SD: (...) My favorite classical authors are Hemingway, the Brontës and Salinger.  My favorite contemporary authors include Courtney Summers, Lauren DeStefano, Jodi Picoult and Tom Perrotta. I like to read realistic contemporary and young adult fiction. A lot of adult fiction tends to have a certain focus, genre or literary. Sometimes I just want to read a story that isn’t genre, just realistic, but also not trying too hard to be literary. (Georgina White)
Dread Central interviews Axelle Carolyn about her debut as a film director with the movie Soulmate:
I think people enjoy it most when they know not to expect a conventional ghost story. Nowadays ‘ghost story’ seems to imply fast-paced, jump scare, nonstop terrifying situations, but while we have a couple of good jump scares here, the movie takes you in a very different direction. It’s a supernatural drama, but selling it as a horror is a bit misleading. It’s very much character-based, psychological; I often describe it as a spooky Jane Eyre. If you’re open to that, you’ll enjoy the different directions it takes you into. (Staci Layne Wilson)
The Huffington Post discusses sex in fiction:
Our sexuality is naturally (and I do mean naturally) a part of what we are. So fiction has to deal with it in one way or another (and I do mean one way or another). The spinsterly Jane Austen hints of 'intimate attachments'. Charlotte Brontë permits Jane Eyre more freedom of expression with her 'bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh' allusion to intercourse with Mr Rochester. (Richard Masefield)
What Mr Masefield seems to have overlooked is the fact that Charlotte Brontë wasn't coining a euphemism but quoting from Genesis:
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Paris Match has a 'dime a dozen' set of Brontë references in an article on the Clooney-Amal marriage:
Un mois après de luxueuses noces vénitiennes, l’acteur américain est présenté à la bonne société libanaise et à ses plus hauts dignitaires, dans un décor emprunté au romantisme des sœurs Brontë.
On croit voir Jane Eyre dans chaque recoin tapissé de ce manoir à la Hurlevent, sur les pelouses du parc qui borde la Tamise et sous les lambris de la salle de réception. (Pauline Delassus) (Translation)
The Wall Street Journal instructs readers on 'How to Make a Unique Fall Bouquet' and 'Embrace the darker side of the season with a Brontë-esque arrangement'.
The colors we most associate with fall are the warm tones of red and amber—hues that jostle alongside each other on trees and bushes as they burst into flame. But this time of year, with its grayer skies and longer nights, can put you in a mood that’s more Brontë than Binchy. Why not unleash your own creative force with an arrangement that uses flowers in mysterious dark plummy shades that are a little less obvious but no less autumnal?
To create a hauntingly beautiful Brontë-esque bouquet that wouldn’t seem out of place in that well-known household of English literature, you’ll want to look for brooding shades.
Taking inspiration from the sweeping Yorkshire moors covered in deep purple heather and expanses of silvery foliage contrasting against a dusky sky streaked with pale pink, I chose velvety chocolate Dahlias, chocolate Cosmos (which, delightfully, actually smell like chocolate), plum Astrantia, deep-red Black Baccara roses and dark Cotinus foliage. To offset these dark colors, I added some silvery purple-tipped Acacia, full-blown palest pink Sweet Avalanche roses and, for a final flourish, bunches of charming pink-flushed snowberry. (Robbie Honey)
The Motley Mind posts about Jane Eyre. The Brontë Parsonage website has a post on how the garden looks like in September.

by Cristina ( at October 30, 2014 11:17 PM