Miss Pym and a Friend

Miss Pym and a Friend

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

From Rumer Godden by Hassel Simpson

On poetry: Godden says "A love and understanidng of poetry brings a perception, a sort of sixth sense, that makes its possessor quick to life--quick in the sense of being very much alive--quick to the world around him. It rescues him from dullness, gives him as ense of form, a mental discipline." Amen

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Memoir; Writing your Life Story: How we read Changes Faces

Memoir; Writing your Life Story: How we read Changes Faces: From the newsletters of one of my alma maters; the changing face of reading.  How do you read? The Changing Face of Reading Tonight, wh...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ch 6 of my Book on Pym- A Few Green Leaves

Ellen Tsagaris Page 1 10/10/12 The Subversion of Romance in the Novels of Barbara Pym The Popular Press, 1998 ISBN: 0-87972-763-2 Chapter 6: The Sweet Dove Died, Quartet in Autumn and A Few Green Leaves The novels discussed in Chapter Five, No Fond Return of Love, An Unsuitable Attachment, and An Academic Question, all involve attachments which may seem unsuitable to some, but which result in some type of happy relationship. No Fond Return of Love and An Unsuitable Attachment involve single, excellent women who also fulfill the roles of romance heroines. An Academic Question deals with a wife who must endure a "rival woman" and who must also perform a task for her husband to prove she loves him. Pym's subversion of the romance genre is often light-hearted and witty in these novels. Death, when it appears, is a bit player. The same cannot be said, though, of the three novels discussed in Chapter Six. The Sweet Dove Died, Quartet in Autumns, and A Few Green Leaves also have their humorous moments, but the humor is laced with sadness, at times even with regret or bitterness. For example, the relationships in The Sweet Dove Died are often painful and humiliating for those involved. Moreover, of the themes in The Sweet Dove Died is the decay of beauty. So, for the first time, perhaps in a Pym novel, the heroine must cope with the fact that she is alone and losing her looks. She also suffers pain because she twice loses the younger man who is the object of her affection to youthful rivals. Quartet in Autumns, on the other hand, is perhaps the least romantic of Pym's books. The single women who are Pym's heroines in this novel lead isolated lives; they are forgotten by society and bereft of friends and family. The heroine of A Few Green Leaves acts as if she has read The Sweet Dove Died and Quartet in Autumn. In her mid to late thirties, she instinctively knows what her fate will be if she remains a spinster. Moreover, there are plenty of older spinsters in the novel who serve as examples of what might happen to her. In her last novel, Pym undermines romance by showing its hollowness; it fails its devotees after they age and lose their first youth, as it fails Miss Grundy, the one-time romance novelist. For Miss Grundy, Miss Lickerish, Miss Vereker and Daphne Dagnall of A Few Green Leaves, there is no Mr. Rochester waiting for them. Instead of love and happy endings, Pym's last three novels are full of irony , pathos, grim humor and contrasting portraits of loneliness. They are also about solitary existence which offers no community of support. Therefore, as Diana Benet writes in Something to Love, Pym's last three novels are about the "failure to recognize the need for love" (119). Lotus Snow writes in One Little Room an Everywhere that The Sweet Dove Died is a novel woven of "Ironic competitions" and contrasts (16). The main characters are Leonora Eyre, Humphrey Boyce, and his nephew, James. The two men run an antique shop dealing in porcelain, bronzes and small objects. James at twenty-four is beautiful but not too intelligent and "sexually ambivalent" (16). His uncle, a widower near sixty, is self-assured, financially successful and pompous. The two meet Leonora after she faints at an auction of antique books, and they immediately begin to compete for her favors. Leonora is sexually cold, but is attracted to the beautiful and passive James. Both men love beautiful clothing and objects, and Leonora uses these to ensnare them. Also, James could be the younger version of Leonora; they often have the same thoughts and refer to themselves in the third person as "one." Leonora is also brittle, harsh, vain, and elegant. She has no compassion for anyone but herself, but her friends Meg and Liz provide ironic foils for her own aloof personality. Liz is divorced; Meg is a spinster. While Leonora fulfills her need for something to love with the vapid James, Liz cares for siamese cats. Meg, however, is infatuated with a gay boy, Colin, who continually leaves her and returns to her. According to Annette Weld, Pym felt that The Sweet Dove Died was one of the best books she had ever written (171). The story paralleled her own unrequited affection for Richard Roberts, a man younger than she, who was an antique dealer (171). Like Leonora, Pym often suffered from Roberts' indifference and in 1962 she wrote about "the middle-aged or elderly novelist and the young man who admires her and is taken in by her . . . he is cruel to her (MS. 55 Fol.16, quoted in Groner 5). James Boyce may not have been as emotionally cruel to Leonora as Richard Roberts was to Pym, but James did take advantage of Leonora. For example, he accepted shelter, gifts and food from her as if it were his due. In accepting good food and in allowing himself to be waited on, James is not so different from other Pym men. If food for Leonora is a way of keeping James close to her, it is also a means for maintaining her own isolated existence and for emphasizing her love of perfection. The scene at the tearoom is an excellent example. Leonora prefers dainty, creme filled gateau with her tea. Like her, these tiny cakes are delicate, fancy, but without much substance. When Phoebe, whom Leonora does know at the time, inadvertently takes the last gateau, Leonora is at a loss. Her perfect world is physically diminished and she must settle for another cake. Perhaps the incident is a metaphor for Leonora's relationship with James. At one point, James says he feels like a creme cake, and Leonora does, at least temporarily, lose her "creme cake," James, to Phoebe. She must settle for her second-favorite cake, as she must settle for Humphrey's affections by the end of the novel. Leonora, moreover, is different from other Pym women because food, drink and clothing do not in themselves provide satisfaction for her. Instead, these simple necessities only become pleasures for Leonora when they serve to preserve her beauty and to maintain her elegant but isolated existence. For example, she dresses in extreme good taste in styles that are calculated not to reveal her age. When an outfit makes her look older, Leonora is not aware of the effect. So, only Humphrey notes the black lace dress she wears on one occasion makes her look washed out. Furthermore, when James comments on the fact that an outfit ages her by calling it Leonora's "autumnal outfit," she becomes flirtatious with James. Leonora is able to flirt with James about her clothes because she is a narcissistic woman who feels "secure enough" to joke with him (SDD 47). When James refers to her dress as autumnal, Leonora quips, "You mean that I look old? That I'm in the autumn of life?" (SDD 47). That may be exactly what James means, but she cannot accept his comment other than as a joke because she sees herself as ageless (Benet 124). Perhaps because she considers herself to be ageless, Leonora is one of the most romantic of Pym's heroines. For example, Diana Benet in Something to Love calls her an older Prudence Bates (119). In some ways, she seems to have stepped right out of a Barbara Cartland novel. For example, like many Cartland heroines, she belongs in a nineteenth century culture. In one scene, she looks into a flawed antique fruitwood mirror and is please to see a woman from what she thinks is another century (SDD 89). The mirror is "flawed," moreover, because it hides her age lines and aging skin. Also, like a character from The Age of Innocence, Leonora does not have to work because a legacy from her parents has left her what Woolf might call "a room of her own." She no longer has to work at her "unworthy occupation" of seeing textbooks through the press (SDD 17). She loves perfection, even in her surroundings, and hides a cream pitcher that is chipped. Yet, though she may be an incurable romantic, Leonora is not a pleasant or considerate person. She resembles the scheming Madame Merle in Henry James' Portrait of Lady . In fact, Leonora herself reads Henry James (SDD 200). Moreover, the plot involving an affair between an older woman and a younger man somewhat undermines the standard romance plot where the hero is often slightly older than the heroine. In some ways, Leonora's experiments with men echo gothic romance plots. Yet, unlike the gothic heroine, Leonora has an aversion to sex. At one point, while Leonora and Humphrey are walking, she sees a giant totem pole in the park, "shattering the peaceful beauty of the landscape" (SDD 37). Leonora thinks, "What a hideous phallic symbol. . . but of course one wouldn't mention it, only hurry by with head averted" (SDD 37). Passionate kisses also revolt her (SDD 92). Ironically, The Sweet Dove Died is about as sexually explicit as Pym gets. Humphrey fumbles with the front of Leonora's dress as he tries to kiss her, and she recoils in panic: He is going to kiss me, Leonora thought in sudden panic, pray heaven no more than that. She tried to protest, even to scream, but no sound came. Humphrey was larger and stronger than she was and his kiss very different from the reverent touch on lips, cheek or brow which was all James seemed to want. . . . Surely freedom from this sort of thing was among the compensation of advancing age . . . one really ought not to be having to fend people off any more. (SDD 92) Leonora, like other narcissistic women, finds the physical side of love distasteful. She is in some ways, like a character created by Elizabeth Taylor, a friend of Pym's. In Taylor's Angel, the heroine is a romance novelist who writes lurid tales of love, but who shrinks from sex. The narrator says, "Like many romantic narcissistic women she shied away from the final act of love-making" (Taylor 155). Furthermore, Leonora does not want the emotional pain she may open herself up to by loving someone else (Nardin 123). Neither does she care to substitute an animal. She is totally absorbed in her self and sustained by narcissism. For her, a full life consists of a home filled with her objects, decorated to her taste, and reflecting her own solitude and independence. Phoebe, Leonora's rival for James's affections, is the complete opposite of Leonora. Though Phoebe is a would-be author, her writing is unexceptional, her poetry worse, her housekeeping and cooking are downright disastrous. As Weld notes, Phoebe, who wears unusual clothes and is artistic, has a few traits in common with Catherine Oliphant of Less Than Angels, but she lacks Catherine's talent for writing and for cooking (175). In Susan Gorsky's terms, described in Chapter One, Phoebe does not make a satisfactory rival woman. Ned, James's homosexual friend, makes a far better rival for James's affections. Ned thrives on the drama of romance and for him the climax is "the defeat of a rival, the passion of a moment, the familiar ennui, the infidelities and the theatrical partings" (SDD 204). In fact, Ned sees himself as a protagonist in many of these situations. If Ned is the protagonist of the novel, James is the romantic hero. James is the nephew of an antique dealer, Humphrey Boyce. Both James and Humphrey are interested in Leonora, but for different reasons. Marlene St. Miguel Groner writes in her dissertation on Pym that James has no reality other than that which Leonora places on him (83). He does not know who he is yet, so he allows others to define his roles in life. Leonora, like the heroines discussed in Chapter Three, manages to transform James into her ideal and perfect companion. In fact, James himself fells at times that Leonora created him (SDD 51). Groner writes that as long as James and Leonora share the same "fictive reality" James is content to play the part Leonora writes for him (Groner 83). In playing the part Leonora that writes for him, however, James has lost whatever portion of his personality is already formed. He is passive, not at all Byronic, and unoriginal. He has beautiful golden hair like a cherub, but he lacks character. He does not even have the ridiculous idiosyncracies or quirks which other Pym heroes have, and which make them interesting. James is at a loss to deal with the relationships in his life, particularly with the controlling Leonora. Groner writes that he identifies with neutered cats and kittens and other caged animals (Groner 84). For example, the flat Leonora prepares for him at the top of her own house has bars on its windows. When James notices the bars with some chagrin, Leonora assures him that the room was probably a nursery (SDD 129). In some ways, the room is like the one which imprisons the heroine of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper, for there seems to be no escape for James from the clutches of Leonora. Yet, the nursery motif fits the immature James, too. It is a comic way for Pym to deal with the Oedipal attraction between James and the much older Leonora. Perhaps Pym was spoofing herself a bit, and her involvement with the younger Richard Roberts. Weld also notes that James is the "sweet dove" of Keats' poem for which the novel is named. Perhaps Pym reduced further the image of the Byronic hero in James. At least her other men who imitate Byronic heroes in some way are handsome, even virile. For example, Fabian Driver of Jane and Prudence may carry an umbrella and may be a womanizer, but he is, as far as the reader knows, sexually potent. Also, there is sexual attraction between Ianthe and John Challow in An Unsuitable Attachment, and Nicholas Cleveland of Jane and Prudence and Everard Bone of Excellent Women are handsome men, if a bit eccentric. James, on the other hand, is petulant and childlike. He quickly sickens on Leonora and feels at one point like a child who eats too many creme cakes. While Pym writes of creme cakes, she hasn't much to write about wedding cake in The Sweet Dove Died. Yet, marriage is present in the novel, if only in the way that Leonora rejects it. She considers her married acquaintances to be silly, and rejects the institution itself by refusing to be insulted by people who wonder why she has not married. Leonora also rejects suitable social roles for single women, many of which are discussed in Chapter Three in this dissertation. For example, she is not at all interested in church jumble sales or in charity work. Leonora reasons that she has not married because, as with everything else, she would expect perfection in marriage. Of course, no one has lived up to Leonora's inhumanly perfect expectations. While Leonora Eyre seems to be a bit inhuman because of her love of perfection, the characters of Quartet in Autumn are all too human, leading solitary, imperfect lives full of pathos. Quartet in Autumn is the story of four office workers in late middle age. Marcia, Letty, Edwin and Norman have seen each other every day at work for years, but they have virtually nothing to do with each other outside work. Instead, each lives a life that centers on his or her idiosyncracies and on how to survive in a world increasingly hostile to elderly people who are alone in the world. None of the four has family nearby, either. Letty has never married; she is, perhaps, what Belinda Bede might have become had she not had Harriet. Edwin is a widower, but his children live far away, so he is not close to them or to his grandchildren. As a result, the Church has become his family; his entire discourse is centered on religious affairs. Norman is cantankerous and appears to be unfriendly, yet he proves a capable friend to the others. Marcia is the most isolated and the most eccentric of the four. She collects and organizes tinned food and plastic bags, and is very specific about which milk bottles she will store in her shed. Marcia dresses in garments that resemble the tatters of a jester or of Harlequin, yet she is a kind of aging, romantic princess. In her mind, her surgeon is the Prince Charming she was denied in her youth. After Marcia and Letty retire, the four have little to do with each other until Marcia dies. When she leaves her house and its effects to Norman, the remaining three come together in an effort to help Norman settle the estate. They come to a better understanding of their relationship to each other and form a kind of community in Marcia's memory. In a world that forces them to be isolated because it has no place for them, Edwin, Norman and Letty make a place for themselves and give meaning to their lives when, perhaps, society will not. Perhaps because the social world does not hold much meaning for the characters of Quartet in Autumn, Annette Weld notes that unlike other Pym novels, Quartet in Autumn keeps descriptions of social gatherings to a minimum (184). In contrast, the novel focusses on aging and what Weld calls its horrors and isolation (185). Just as Pym keeps descriptions of social gatherings to a minimum in Quartet in Autumn, she keeps descriptions of meals to a minimum. Most of the characters eat sparingly from tins and prepared foods. Marcia Ivory eats less than everyone else, to the point where she starves herself to death. It is as if the narrator would have us believe that the elderly do not need much to eat. Ironically, Marcia eats less than any of the other characters, yet it is her use of food on which Pym focusses. Perhaps Marcia deliberately starves to express herself and to rebel against society. Gilbert and Gubar write in The Madwoman in the Attic that repressed female characters sometimes use hunger as a way to "escape" from their restrictive lives or surroundings (85). Yet, Marcia occasionally does share meals with others. For example, the meal the four share at Marcia's retirement party is, according to Jane Nardin in Barbara Pym, a step forward in their relationship (129). Nardin argues that for the four late middle- aged characters that the novel centers around, food is more seductive than sex (21). As Nardin says in, Pym's lavish descriptions of food and food preparation imply that food is a pleasure (20). Holiday meals like Christmas dinner, however, merely exacerbate the isolation the characters feel in Quartet. For example, Edwin's daughter lives so far away, that Christmas dinner at her house is a special occasion with people he barely knows. Yet, the narrator says, "Only Edwin would be spending Christmas in the traditional and accepted way in his role as father and grandfather. . . , though he would have preferred to spend the festival alone at home, with nor more than a quick drink with Father G. between services, to mark the secular aspect of the occasion" (QA 83). There is none of the camaraderie of a Dickensian Christmas dinner for Norman. He recites the rhyme "Christmas comes but once a year,/ And when it comes it brings good cheer . . ." with sarcasm because he realizes no one really wants his company (QA 83). As the narrator says, no one would argue with Norman for Christmas is a "difficult time for those who are no longer young and are without close relatives . . ." (QA 83). Norman is invited to spend Christmas with his brother-in-law, Ken, and his "lady friend," who would soon replace his dead sister's role of wife to Ken. Yet, there is little charity in the invitation other than that Ken and his friend realize Norman "has nobody," and they "allow" Norman to visit them from time to time (83). Yet, both Norman and Edwin regard Christmas dinner as more of a nuisance or necessity to be tolerated. It is Marcia and Letty who have the "real problem" with the loneliness of the celebration. As single, older women, their traditional role of holiday cook and hostess has been usurped. They have no home and tree to decorate, no family to gather at the hearth and bake cookies for. For the two women who "had no relatives they could spend Christmas with" the holiday had been for many years "an occasion to be got through as quickly as possible" (QA 84). Marcia, who gets vaguer and vaguer as the years pass, worries less and less about Christmas. When her mother was alive, the two lone women had a "large bird than usual," a capon their butcher recommended as suitable for two ladies dining alone (QA 84). Traditional society in the form of the male butcher even dictates how a widow and a spinster should celebrate holidays. Too big a turkey and too flamboyant a celebration won't do at all. When Marcia's mother died, Marcia marked Christmas quietly with Snowy, her cat, who filled her need for something to love. After the cat died, Marcia let Christmas merge into a haze of other days without noting it (QA 85). Marcia's neighbors, however, do not even respect her right to be alone on Christmas. The social worker, Janice, urges them to "do something" about Marcia, because society, while it ignores spinsters, feels it has a duty to force them to eat Christmas dinner with someone. They see Marcia as lonely and feel that "Christmas was the time for 'doing' something about old people or 'the aged'" (QA 85). Priscilla, the neighbor, is not even sure that Marcia is lonely, it is something she "hears" about older people, though her husband points out to her that though eccentric, Marcia is young enough and independent enough to work and to celebrate her own holiday (85). Marcia, however, disappoints them. She does not drink, nor does she eat a lot. Clearly, she does not fit their pattern of the grateful, elderly spinster enjoying a Christmas dinner provided by other's charity. Letty, however, might have welcomed Priscilla's invitation. She, of all the characters, regrets not having a family to spend Christmas with, and she is determined to "face Christmas with courage and a kind of deliberate boldness" to hold loneliness at bay (QA 85). She can no longer eat Christmas dinner with her friend Marjorie, because she has become engaged, and Letty would be an intruder. Also, Letty does not want people to pity her because they found out she had no invitation for Christmas dinner. Letty describes herself as a gooseberry who would be out of place, thereby describing herself as a particularly sour fruit known as the "woman's fruit" becomes only women would trouble to sweeten and cook it. At the end, Letty accepts a rough invitation from Mrs. Pope, her landlady, who spends the holiday discoursing on how people eat too much (86). The lonely Christmas Norman and the others spend is a far cry from celebrations in other novels, say An Unsuitable Attachment, where the characters visit each other and exchange gifts, and where Mark Ainger worries that the Father Christmas on his Yule cake is a bit shabby. Pym deliberately takes the romance out of Christmas in Quartet in Autumn, while a romance novelist would take a lonely character and give her a festivity filled Christmas that would lead to some kind of love connection. For example, publishers Signet Super Regency and Harlequin produce anthologies of Christmas romance stories each year entitled A Victorian Christmas (Signet) and Historical Christmas Stories (Harlequin). In "Kidnapped for Christmas" by Betina Krahn, a penniless but well-educated governess falls into the hands of a wealthy widower who gives her a fantastic Christmas and who later marries her (184). Almost all the stories involve poor and lonely but attractive women who are rescued by wealthy admirers, and who spend festive Christmases with them. By the end of the novel, it is not the traditional Christmas dinner which brings the remaining characters together. Instead, Marcia's death, and the fact that she leaves her house to Norman, forces them to gather and to share her horde of tinned food. The occasion seems more like a holiday for the three, because they find a bottle of sherry which they open. Marlene St. Miguel Groner writes in her dissertation The Novels of Barbara Pym that Norman's invitation to share the tinned food is sort of a breakthrough in their relationship. If, as Groner points out, Marcia has been hording the food as a replacement for something to love (Groner 57), then its sharing is a distribution of that love. Sharing among the heroes and heroines is not, however, apparent in their early dealings with each other. The two heroines of the novel are Letty Crowe and Marcia Ivory, whose last names invoke images of black and white. Letty is sort of an aging romance heroine who never had a "knight in shining armor." She is an "unashamed reader of novels" but realizes that her own life, that of an aging, unmarried woman, is of "no interest whatever to the writer of modern fiction" (QA 3). She no longer reads romantic novels, though because they no longer provide what she needed in them (3). Letty once read romances for the same reason the women Janice Radway surveys in Reading the Romance read them, for escape and entertainment (Radway 89). Some of Radway's women comment, for example, that they read romances because they are "light reading" and because "they always seem an escape and they usually turn out the way you wish life really was" (88). Perhaps reading romances enhances the identity of Radway's readers in some way. In The Novels of Barbara Pym, Groner writes that Letty's desire to be a character in a novel enhances her identity (56). For Example, Letty has romantic, almost Wordsworthian ideas about her own life and death when she visits Marjorie in the country. Like, perhaps, the Lady of Shallot, she imagines lying on the "autumn carpet of beech leaves" in the wood and wondering if it "could be the kind of place to like down in and prepare for death when life became to much to be endured" (QA 150). The image is romantic, yet morbid. Pym deflates it and makes it humorous by asking immediately after Letty's melancholy musings, "Had an old person--a pensioner, of course-- ever been found in such a situation? No doubt it would be difficult to lie undiscovered for long, for this wood was a favorite walking place for bustling women with dogs. It was not the kind of fancy she could indulge with Marjorie or even dwell on too much herself. Danger lay in that direction" (QA 150). Letty's fancies are dangerous, because they could lead to suicidal thoughts, but they are also "dangerous" in a comic vein, for the walking dogs could mistake her for hidden fire hydrant, or a leafy stump! Letty's imagination is not the only thing she has in common with romance heroines. She is also like them in the sense that she is independent. Just as Dulcie Mainwaring will not be shunted off to an apartment she does not want, Letty will not allow Marjorie to place her in an old ladies' home. Letty rebels against Marjorie, and society who, as discussed in Chapter Five, wishes to put away older spinsters. She feels indignant with Marjorie "for supposing that she would be content with this sort of existence when she herself was going to marry a handsome clergyman" (QA 151). Forty years ago, Letty might trail behind Marjorie, "but there was no need to follow that same pattern now" (151). Marcia, too, is independent and refuses to follow the pattern someone else designs for her. Yet, she shows vestiges of the romance heroine in her personality, too. Mason Cooley writes that there is an obscure thread of romance in Marcia's life which manifests itself in ambulance rides and new nighties for Mr. Strong to see (20). The young surgeon becomes for Marcia a hero, a sort of knight, who will save her from death, loneliness, and nosy social workers. His very name implies heroism and masculinity, and his handsome demeanor stirs Marcia's imagination. If Marcia were young and beautiful like a romance heroine, her eccentric personality would, as Janice Radway writes, be "tempered and undercut" by her extraordinary beauty" (124). Therefore, Amanda Quick can have a beautiful heroine who is also a nineteenth century paleontologist in Ravished, and Morgan Llewellyn can have a gorgeous heroine who is a pirate in Grania. Though Quartet in Autumn contains touches of romance, there are no weddings in the novel. The only proposed marriage, between Marjorie and David, never takes place. The lack of bridal ceremonies is rather a grim implication that there are no possibilities for people in late middle age to marry and lead full lives. Instead, three, not two characters, come together at the end of the novel in what Annette Weld in Barbara Pym describes as a kind of anti-wedding feast. There are romantic associations, however, for Marcia is linked with the Queen of Sheba because the sherry she owned was made from grapes that grew in vineyards that allegedly belonged to the Queen of Sheba (QA 216). While Pym de-emphasizes romance in Quartet in Autumn, she resurrects it as a point of emphasis in her last novel, A Few Green Leaves. A Few Green Leaves is the story of Emma Hovick, an anthropologist in her early thirties who comes to a small English village to do research on its unwitting inhabitants. As with Pym's other single women, Emma is on her own, somewhat dowdy in appearance, and a keen observer. She, like Mildred Lathbury and Dulcie Mainwaring, has "loved and lost," but her ex-lover, Graham Pettifer, comes back into her life after she views him on a television program. At the same time, Emma strikes up an acquaintance with Tom Dagnall, the local vicar who is a widower. Precisely because Emma remains "incognito," the other inhabitants of the village are curious about her. They wonder why she does not leave for work each day, why she dresses as she does, what friends and acquaintances she may have in other villages. Yet, Emma, the ultimate observer, also wonders about them, and begins classifying her neighbors almost before the pictures are hung on her new walls. Among the customs Emma observes is the flower arranging done for the church. One type of flower arranging involves a trick of extending the life of a floral arrangement by adding a few green leaves. Hence, Pym takes the title for her final novel not from a literary quotation, but from an ordinary household hint. Household hints notwithstanding, however, romance is a key element in A Few Green Leaves. Robert Cotsell says in Barbara Pym, "For Pym, novel writing always has a relation to the continuity of romance in life. In this, her last novel, she reaffirms this central tenet . . ." (138). Once again, food plays center stage in a Pym novel. Actually, other novelists use Pym's techniques, though perhaps not in such a mouth-watering manner. For example, George Bauer asserts in his study of Roland Barthes' work, "Eating Out: With Barthes," that Barthes states flatly that all novels could be classified according to "the frankness of their alimentary allusion" (39).For example, in his version of Plato's Criton which details the death of Socrates, Barthes centers the action on whether or not Socrates will eat a fig (41-42). (The friends of Socrates have attempted to take him to a place where fig trees flourish and are a staple of the diet (41).) There are similarities between Barthes' observations and Pym's work; for example, the question of whether or not to eat becomes a vital issue for Marcia Ivory in Quartet in Autumn. In A Few Green Leaves, the issue is similar for Magdalen Raven, though it is more centered on whether she would eat what she wanted in defiance of Dr. Shrubsole, her son-in-law, or whether she should give in to him. As in Pym's other books, characters are often categorized by what they eat, and food may serve as a means of expression as well. In this novel, however, food becomes a way for people to control each other. The most obvious example is young Dr. Shrubsole, who takes over his mother-in-law's diet to "preserve" her. Pym opens the novel with a panorama of the types of Sunday suppers people might serve each other in order to introduce the various ways she will represent food in the novel. Emma considers what people will eat for Sunday dinner as part of her study. She muses that Sunday supper would of course be lighter than the normal daily meal, with husbands coming back from work. Emma thinks that the shepherd's pie, concocted from the remains of the Sunday joint, would turn up as a kind of moussaka at the rectory because the vicar's sister, Daphne, is very fond of Greece (FGL 9). Emma speculates that some village inhabitants will have meals ready-prepared from freezers or "supper dishes at the supermarket with tempting titles and bright attractive pictures on the cover (FGL 9). Some citizens will have fish sold from the back of a van "suggesting a nobler time when fish had been eaten on Fridays . . . " (FGL 10). Others, like Emma, prefer a simpler meal, a bit of cheese or a small tin. Emma finally decides that, since she is a lone woman, her dinner "would have to ba an omelette, the kind of thing that every woman is supposed to turn her hand to . . ." Lone women, she reasons, are not to be fussy like lone men. For example, her neighbor, Adam Prince, is very fussy about food; he even makes a career of it as a gourmet food inspector (FGL 10). Yet, Emma manages to express herself through the generic omelette. Because she is not really "every woman," there is something different about her omelette (10). Emma is also different from other women, say Mildred Lathbury of Excellent Women, because she drinks red wine and other alcoholic beverages with her meals, though she suspects men like Adam Prince, the gourmet critic, wouldn't approve. Emma, though, does not care about approval, male or otherwise. She feels relaxed and at peace with her wine and often uses her leisure time to enjoy food and to watch T.V. While dining alone for some women represents their failure at building a successful family; dining alone for Emma is a time to relax and enjoy herself. Ironically, some of the men in the novel cannot enjoy themselves when it comes to food. For example, Dr. Shrubsole distrusts fattening foods and Adam Prince distrusts rich sauces, garnishings and attractive pottery. Prince critiques elaborate food because he feels its garnishings may hide mediocre cooking. Actually, he has a point; spices and rich sauces were originally created to hide the taste of meat that was spoiling. Michelle Berriedale-Johnson gives recipes for these types of potted meats in The Victorian Cookbook. Still, there is something interesting in the way Prince critiques food; he critiques food as other men criticize women's clothing. Like the male fashion designer who forms women's taste for them, Prince knows all the nuances of cooking. For example, he knows the proper butter to go with spaghetti, what beverage to have with each meal, and what wine the clergy use in their rituals (FGL 27). In a way, food is Prince's discourse, which he uses to express himself. Daphne Dagnall also uses food to express her love of Greece. She often incorporates Greek cooking into her own meals. For lunch, she concocts a Greek version of a "ploughman's lunch," which consists of a "hunk of stale bread, a few small hard black olives, the larger juicier kind being unobtainable . . . and something approaching a goats'-milk cheese. No butter, of course, such a decadent refinement didn't go with an attic luncheon" (FGL 29). Clearly, in this small meal, she has captured the history of an entire nation. At one point, Daphne ritualizes her meals. She forms leftover crust from a very English gooseberry tart into miniature female figures that remind her of Cycladic idols she saw in Athens (FGL 136). Also, her hellenicized meals represent Daphne's dissatisfaction with life in England; her meals imitate the kind of life in Greece she really wants. Daphne's brother, on the other hand, is in love with all things Medieval and Jacobean. So, when he spies Emma holding a bland, pudding-like dish, he immediately thinks she is holding a blanc mange, an ancient dish mentioned in the Canterbury Tales and popular in the seventeenth century (FGL 29-30). In reality, Emma is holding a ham mousse. The ham mousse, however, is not for Tom. Emma is really expecting Graham Pettifer and his wife, Claudia, to come to lunch. What Emma expects to be a boring and maybe uncomfortable meal of fashionably cold food and salad turns out to be a potentially "dangerous liaison" for Graham comes to lunch alone and informs Emma that he and Claudia are breaking up (FGL 32-33). Emma feels controlled by the situation once she realizes that she will be alone with Graham. Yet, other characters use food to control events and other characters. Dr. Shrubsole uses food to control the life of his mother-in-law, Magdalen Raven. For example, he forces her to substitute saccharine for sugar, forbids her butter, and has his wife serve fresh fruit instead of puddings and cakes for dessert. Dr. Shrubsole ostensibly takes over Magdalen's diet because he is concerned about her health, but he really wants the power of life and death over her. He speculates that " . . If Avice's mother were not so well . . . preserved, if she were allowed all the white bread, sugar, butter, cakes and puddings that her naturally depraved taste craved . . if she were to drop down dead, the Shrubsoles would have enough money to buy a larger house" (FGL 52-52). Shrubsole believes that he can regulate personally how long Magdalen lives by controlling the food she eats; when he tires of her, as he is beginning to, he can change her diet and be rid of her. Not having sugar is more of a deprivation than Magdalen may realize. She insists on having sweetener because even during World War II, she was not without sweetener for her coffee (FGL 53), but sugar, or dessert itself is a sign of being part of the privileged class. Irma S. Rombauer writes in The Joy of Cooking that desserts allow the hostess "to build a focal point for a buffet, produce a startling souffle or confect an attractively garnished individual plate" (684). Moreover, examples of all kinds of elaborate desserts are shown in Christmas issues of magazines like Good Housekeeping and Martha Stewart's Living. Thus, desserts are a chance to show one's creativity, to put a civilizing finishing touch to a meal that has already been civilized by cooking. The point Pym illustrates by the illustration of Magdalen and her sugar may indicate that food and drink compensate for not having something to love. For example, Tom thinks Daphne has been drinking Sherry to make up for not having a dog. Magdalen only has memories of "sweeter times" during the war, perhaps when her husband was alive. In this instance, food takes on sexual connotations. Adam Prince, the gourmet critic, is another person who substitutes food for sex. In fact, when he brings red wine to the "bring and buy sale," Miss Lee nearly embraces the bottle and is embarrassed, as are many of the other women present. It is as if Adam has introduced a sexual element by introducing the red wine. If food serves as kind of code for sex, then it may also be an indicator of compatibility between men and women. For example, Tom and Emma find they first have something in common when they discuss the making of jam. For Emma, the preparation of food is still an art, and she picks her own blackberries and is ashamed to serve canned rice pudding (169). Her thinking is similar to Tom's; he often laments the use of substitute, artificial materials for clothing. In fact, substitutes for food and quick preparation exist throughout the novel. For example, saccharine is substituted for sugar, margarine for butter, frozen food for fresh (Rossen World of Barbara Pym 169). Emma tends to classify people in A Few Green Leaves by what they wear as well as what they eat. Clothes, for example, illustrate and emphasize the generation gap apparent in the village. Young people wear jeans, the older villagers never do (FGL 6). Some of the villages wear smarter, and brighter, clothing than the rector and his group (6). In another example, Graham Pettifer pronounces Emma as thin, dowdy and bony, saying she has "pitifully little 'bosom wise'" (FGL 34). Furthermore, the young academic wife, Tamsin Barraclough, is classified as the type who is able to wear Laura Ashley dresses and jumble sale clothes and get away with it (FGL 39). Robert Cotsell notes in Barbara Pym that clothes are no longer a symbol of charity in a Pym novel, the poor "wouldn't look at cast-offs" as Daphne observes (FGL 47). Clothes can also symbolize changes in tradition and ritual. At the jumble sale, people bring offerings to the rectory as if they were offerings to the church itself. They give their items almost reverently, in a hushed way to Daphne, who, with her Greek name appears to be a sort of oracle, who critiques the quality of the clothes like a goddess of fashion. For example, Adam's good suit is hung on a hanger for all to see. His "bad boy" jeans are hidden away because they are deemed unsuitable (FGL 42). The doctor's tweed coat is almost revered because it is implied it has "magical properties" (43). Emma, in a sort of defiance, brings clean but well-worn underwear and displays it though she is embarrassed (47). In another sense, clothes, and the materials from which they are made, become historical artifacts. Tom Dagnall, who is fascinated with Medieval and Jacobean history, reads about people being buried in wool during the month of August, 1678 (FGL 21). Pym makes the Tom's observation humorous because in the same passage, Tom remembers that Miss Lickerish buries one of her hedgehogs in a woolen jumper (FGL 21). As in Excellent Women and her other books, Pym, through this example, points out that once solemn rituals have been reduced to meaningless ceremonies or humorous anecdotes. Instead of noble Jacobean subjects being interred in wool, hedgehogs are laid to rest in it. Tom also feels humanity has lost some of its solemn dignity and has estranged itself from nature by wearing artificial fibers like polyester. For the physicians in the novel, clothes are a panacea for the ills that plague their female patients. When Daphne consults with Shrubsole, he tells her to wear more clothes, and inquires about woolen underwear (16). His prescription is a variation of the "go and by yourself a pretty new hat mentality." In fact, his superior, old Dr. G., actually tells a depressed woman to buy a new hat (FGL 16-17). For Dr. G., women are clotheshorses, depressed when they are empty. Pym saves the hat prescription from becoming a cliche by having young Dr. Shrubsole observe in a deadpan manner that women hadn't worn hats in years (FGL 17). Shrubsole cannot understand that Daphne, who loves the warm Aegean climate, does not feel comfortable in the cold, damp English climate. He also does not understand that a woman may want a home of her own. To Shrubsole, two unmarried women making a home together suggests some sort of frustrated lesbianism (FGL 17). Yet, regardless of the nature of their relationship, unmarried women who live together are not always happy in Pym's novels. For example, Miss Grundy has a roommate who tends to bully her around. She is also sort of a prototype of what may happen to Emma. She is a romance author who has not been able to enjoy romance in her own life. The narrator calls miss Grundy the reputed author of a romantic historical novel. Pym makes her a subject of humor, for when she stumbles on a rocky path, she finds herself in the "kind of situation that might have provided a fruitful plot; but it was not the son of the house who came to her assistance or a handsome stranger but Emma . . ." (FGL 56). If this were Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, or another romance, a handsome hero would have helped Miss Grundy. Then, if it were a romance, Miss Grundy would have a romantic first name and would be young and beguilingly helpless, as the young Cathy is at the opening of Wuthering Heights when she is attacked by a dog and saved by her future husband. Rossen suggest in The World of Barbara Pym that Miss Grundy may have abandoned writing romance because the "failure of life to imitate art might have proved to disappointing for her to be able to keep writing romances" (160). Janice Radway in Reading the Romance would take issue with the idea that romance writers write in an attempt to create romantic scripts for themselves, but at least one real romance writer attempts to live out her novels, or to imitate her own life when she writes. Danielle Steel lives a fairytale, romance filled world and has carefully constructed an image for herself as a romance heroine. Moreover, she borrows heavily from her own life when she writes the plots for her stories. In any case, romance is hopeless for many Pym women, and various female characters in A Few Green Leaves are left alone like Miss Grundy is. For example, Miss Vereker, the former governess, is the last of Pym's Jane Eyre characters, but unlike some of the others, she does not find a Rochester (Rossen, WBP 161). Robert Cotsell says Emma's name links her to Miss Vereker and that Miss Vereker is a representative of the "neglected single woman of the late nineteenth century novels to which Emma is connected by name, if nothing else" (134). Finally, Emma's friend Ianthe Potts who is a museum worker is, according to Janice Rossen,"doomed to a life of loneliness; the man she loves turns out to be homosexual" (161). Emma, however, does not have the luxury of fainting and being rescued by anyone, son of the manor or otherwise. She is too independent to fall for cliches, and is therefore judged more harshly by society in everything including her appearance. For example, the narrator says that Emma "is the type that the women's magazines used to make a feature of 'improving' . . . " (FGL 1). Annette Weld describes Emma in Barbara Pym as a "not too young woman uneasy with her present situation" (196). Though it is the 1970's, not the 1950's, women's magazines still have influence over how women view themselves. Janice Rossen has observed about the "makeover" idea in The World of Barbara Pym that Emma suffers because she does not make the most of her appearance to attract a man (163). Rossen argues that this is a common failing of Pym's academic women. As if to prove Rossen's point, Tom is actually repulsed by one of Emma's drabber dresses. Rossen, however, writes that Emma's often non-descript clothes do not illustrate that she is at fault for not caring, but that life is difficult (163). Others, like Graham Pettifer see her as pathetically thin and dowdy, but Tom Dagnall sees Emma "only as a sensible person in her thirties, dark-haired, thin and possibly capable of talking intelligently about local history . . ." (1). Therefore, it is Emma's intelligence that attracts Tom, because he is passionately interested in local history and would love to have someone to discuss it with. Tom is a Pym male, however, and thus can't help but see Emma for her useful potential to him. He imagines she might be able to help in his parish as a typist, but is more considerate than other Pym men because he realizes he would be asking an educated woman to do menial work (FGL 7). Daphne Dagnall is not so kind; she scorns Emma's research and wonders "if you can call it work" (FGL 25). In fact, Emma, an anthropologist, is there to observe the other inhabitants of the village, just as they observe her. She, too, is a Pym "artist observer, who observes her fellow citizen in time-honored manner behind the shadow of her curtains (FGL 1). One wants to know if the curtains are lace, for, if they are, Emma takes on some of the attributes of a romance heroine, who plans her discourse among the lacy, but filmy and distortive world of romance. As Janice Rossen writes in The World of Barbara Pym, Emma is a heroine who has not achieved much distinction, partly because she is over thirty and unmarried. In fact, Emma is one of a series of women in the novel who represents the various stages of spinsterhood (159). Emma's name links her with the world of romance and with Jane Austen; yet she aligns herself not with Austen but with Hardy's first wife, "a person with something unsatisfactory about her" (FGL 9). Therefore, if Emma places herself in the plot of a romance at all, she chooses not the role of the heroine, but of the rival woman. Gorsky describes the demon and rival woman in her essay "The Gentle Doubters: Images of Women in Englishwomen's Novels, 1840-1920." One of the demon's most important personality traits is that she consciously tries to achieve something (46). she may even resort to tricks or crime to achieve her goals (46). Emma does have a goal: she wants to conduct secret research in the village for a study. Still, like many a romance heroine, Emma lives in an old cottage like the ones that appear in the eighteenth and nineteenth century novels her mother teaches. She speculates her mother named her Emma so that "some of the qualities of the heroine of the novel might be perpetuated." (FGL 8). The narrator tells us that she was not named Emily because her mother feared she would be associated with her grandmother's servants and not with the author of Wuthering Heights. If A Few Green Leaves' heroine is not associated with Cathy of Wuthering Heights, the novel's heroes are not associated with Heathcliff, either. In fact, there is hardly anything Byronic or splendid about the two men who are interested in Emma, Tom Dagnall and Graham Pettifer. Pym does her best to deflate their romantic importance or to make them look silly. For example, Emma thinks of Dr. Graham Pettifer, "To say he had been her 'lover' was to altogether too grand a way to describe what their association had been . . . " (FGL 11). Furthermore, Graham lacks Heathcliff's dark good looks; in fact, he must not have been that handsome when he was younger because when Emma sees him on television, she notes that he had improved in looks by filling out or something (FGL 12). Janice Rossen compares Graham to Rocky Napier of Excellent Women, but says that he lacks Rocky's charm; still, like Rocky, Graham will use the women in his life and he accepts a "constant offering of food" as his due from Emma (164). Besides the fact that he is an opportunist who constantly accepts food from Emma, Graham is also somewhat cold sexually; he doesn't visit Emma because he has feelings of romantic nostalgia. Instead, he looks her up because he expects her to be amusing for him. In fact, "Their meeting had not been the kind of amusing romantic encounter he had imagined. . . " (FGL 170). Though handsome, Graham is easily bored and becomes petulant. Pym undercuts Graham as a romantic hero by giving him an all too human childish personality. Pym also subverts setting to undermine romance in A Few Green Leaves. When Emma and Graham take a walk through the Sangreal Copse, the pair encounters an ugly little cluster of bungalows and a foul smelling but abandoned chicken coop. Emma sadly comments, "So much for my romantic ideas about Sangreal Copse" (172). Pym is not the only author to give her heroes childish or unusual traits, though. Many romance authors make their heroes different from other men or vulnerable in some way. For example, Anne Rice's Ramses from The Mummy is an immortal man who suffers from loneliness. Heroes in Rice novels that contain elements of romance often have so-called feminine qualities or like to collect antique dolls and Christmas ornaments. Yet, Rice and other writers only paint their heroes this way to endear them to their female readers. They give them traits and interests that their female readers may want for themselves. Pym, however, undermines her male characters' roles as romance heroes my making them look ridiculous. Even gentle Tom Dagnall is not spared in A Few Green Leaves. Though Tom is tall and "austerely good-looking," he is not that attractive (FGL 1). For one thing, though he is a widower, he does not pursue single women. For another thing, he is more interested in historical trivia like what types of materials were used for seventeenth century shrouds. Therefore, Tom's discourse is not of passion, but of musty books and grave clothes. His eyes are brown, like those of many a romance hero, but they are not warm and endearing; they lack the "dog-like qualities" often associated with that color which implicitly attract a woman's sympathy. The days when the local vicar was a good catch for a romance heroine are gone. So Tom, displaced in importance by the local doctors, muddles on alone. If she views heroes with some ambivalence in A Few Green Leaves, Pym views marriage with ambivalence in this novel as well. Janice Rossen correctly writes in The World of Barbara Pym that marriage in Pym's late 1970's seems to be more casual (157). For example, Beatrix, Emma's mother, wants her to marry, yet she herself does not set "all that much store by the status" (8). Beatrix continued to work as an academic throughout her short marriage, and when Emma's father was killed in the war, Beatrix felt comfortable resuming her life as a single woman. The narrator says that after his death, Beatrix felt she had "fulfilled herself as a woman" by marring and having Emma and she had been able to "return to her academic studies with a clear conscience" (8). On the other hand, Graham and Claudia give a more cynical view of marriage for they are about to be divorced (FGL 33-34). Yet, their status is unclear because they later reconcile. The Shrubsoles' marriage does not appear to be equal, either. For all that he loves to control others, Dr. Shrubsole is, in turn, dominated and controlled by Avice, his wife, who carries a cudgel when she walks. For Avice, marriage is a continual process in improving one's status and in symbolizing that improvement by obtaining bigger house. Her name is suspiciously close to "avarice." Still, the characters in A Few Green Leaves need something to love, just as they do in the other novels. For example, Daphne decides she could love a dog. (FGL 46). As Annette Weld notes, "Pym calls up a host of characters from earlier works for a final curtain call" (199). There is an obituary notice for Fabian Driver of Jane and Prudence and the death of Miss Clovis of Less than Angels is announced. Several elderly characters from Less Than Angels appear at her funeral. Pym finished the novel only two months before her death. Perhaps she realized it was her swan's song, and she wanted to tie-up her loose ends. In this last novel, Pym seems to leave the answer of whether a single woman can live a full or meaningful life of her own open. In hindsight, one wants to answer the question for Pym herself in the affirmative. She has left her readers a legacy of novels that are increasing in literary importance and in popularity, and she has answered the critics responsible for her years of silence. What the reader learns from reading Pym's work is that, for everyone, regardless of age and sex, there is always the possibility of change, for better or for worse.

Charlotte, Anne and Emily B Super Source

This is part of the Bronteana Blog which I love to browse for research; it was started by a grad student. The pictures won't copy well here, but the rest is very interesting. Home Resources Livejournal Feed Wordpress 'Brontëana' is a weblog devoted to the studies of the Brontë sisters, their family, works, lives, and times; discussing everything from their novels, to modern day criticism and adaptations. Brontëana The editor of Bronteana is currently a graduate student in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has a combined BA in English Language and Literature and Classical Civilization. She is currently working on a master's thesis on adaptations of Jane Eyre. Comments and contributions are always welcome at bronteana.blog@gmail.com View my complete profile Links (under reconstruction) · Austenblog · Bronte Country · Bronte Parsonage Blog · Bronte Spirit Blog · Bronteana Resource Site · BronteBlog · Brussels Bronte Blog · Brussels Bronte Group Website · Glaukopidos: An Anachronism in Modernity · Haworth Homepage Save The World - One Click At A Time! On each of these websites, you can click a button to support the cause -- each click creates funding, and costs you nothing! Bookmark these sites, and click once a day! Click here to post this on your page or 'blog Blog Archive · July (3) · July (2) · May (4) · January (2) · December (1) · August (2) · July (1) · June (4) · May (5) · April (7) · March (28) · February (13) · January (7) · December (12) · November (15) · October (48) · September (64) · August (45) · July (40) · June (33) · May (47) · April (47) · March (43) · February (29) · January (47) · December (27) · November (15) · October (32) · September (2) · August (2) · July (8) Labels (under reconstruction) · academic (1) · actors on Jane/Rochester (5) · adaptation (108) · adaptations (2) · advertising (1) · Alan Stanford (1) · anecdotes (1) · Anthony Crivello (11) · april fool's day (1) · Arthur Bell Nichols (1) · articles (122) · auction (2) · audiobooks (6) · auditions (1) · awards (1) · BBC (139) · biographies (1) · biopic (1) · blogs (65) · books (41) · bookstores (3) · bronte (1) · bronte birthplace (1) · bronte digest (3) · bronte land (1) · bronte society (25) · bronte spirit (1) · bronteana (3) · Bronteana in the news (1) · brontes (1) · brussels (4) · charlotte bronte (180) · clips (1) · comedy (1) · comic books (6) · crafts (2) · diederick santer (15) · editions (2) · Elizabeth Gaskell (1) · Ellen Page (1) · emily bronte (51) · etexts (12) · events (2) · exhibits (1) · eyre apparent (1) · films (38) · haworth (33) · illustrations (43) · interviews (44) · jane eyre (321) · jane eyre 1956 (7) · jane eyre 1963 (7) · jane eyre 1970 (1) · jane eyre 1973 (52) · jane eyre 1982 (13) · jane eyre 2006 (401) · jane eyre the musical (123) · jane eyre the musical classic-doyle/harris (1) · jane eyre the musical-Skousen/Thompson/Kilpatrick (1) · jane eyre: the musical (2) · jane's journey (6) · jasper fforde (1) · john caird (29) · john wilmot (5) · letters (24) · life of charlotte bronte (1) · literacy (1) · maintenance (3) · media (54) · monsieur heger (9) · music theatre (51) · novels (2) · patrick bronte (21) · paul gordon (33) · performances (4) · politics (2) · polly teale (6) · press releases (1) · projects (1) · resources (27) · reviews (1) · school systems (2) · shirley (17) · syrie james (1) · technology (1) · the professor (2) · the secret diaries of charlotte bronte (1) · theatre (3) · thornton (1) · thursday next (1) · university presentation (2) · video (2) · villette (38) · villette 1970 (1) · villette shirley (1) · websites (5) · wierd (10) · writers (1) · wuthering heights (104) · yorkshire (1) Electronic Texts · Agnes Grey- Anne Bronte · Albion and Marina- Charlotte Bronte · Albione e Marina- Italian translation by Prof. De Leo · And the Weary are at Rest fragment- Branwell Bronte · Biographical Note on the Pseudonymous Bells- Charlotte Bronte · Charlotte Bronte and Her Circle- Clement Shorter · Cottage Poems- Patrick Bronte · Emma Fragment- Charlotte Bronte · Henry Brocken: His Travels and Adventures in the Rich, Strange, Scarce-Imaginable Regions of Romance- by Walter De la Mare · Jane Eyre (play 1857)- John Brougham · Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte · Le Chat Belgian devoir- Emily Bronte · Life of Charlotte Bronte Part 1- Elizabeth Gaskell · Life of Charlotte Bronte Part 2- Elizabeth Gaskell · Miss Mix (Victorian Jane Eyre parody)- Bret Harte · Poems of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell- Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte · Sermons- Patrick Bronte · Stancliffe Hotel- Charlotte Bronte · The Butterfly Belgian devoir- Emily Bronte · The Cat Belgian Devoir- Emily Bronte · The Professor- Charlotte Bronte · The Rural Minstrel- Patrick Bronte · The Tenant of Wildfell Hall · Thornycroft Hall- Emma Jane Worboise · Villette- Charlotte Bronte · Willie Ellin fragment- Charlotte Bronte · Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte Tuesday, February 28, 2006 In Search of Anne Brontë... The saga continues. A Brontë scholarling, in a moderate sized Canadian city... trying to find a copy of Agnes Grey. I had to acknowledge that the chain stores will never stock the book, that the same goes for the university store- unless it is ordered for a class. Yes, the easy thing would be to order a copy myself but there's a point to be made here... Why is this so difficult? Today I went to B_______, the most respected rare and used bookstore in town. It is almost an institution among readers. It is located in the old city, and so I had to wind my way there on foot, through a small lane. I stepped into the lovely little shop absolutely stuffed with old books- antique books too. This is what is called book-lust, by the way. But I was on a mission. I had heard the owner speak to us about his passion for books, and heard his complaints of people stopping in only for some book Oprah had recomended- and then leaving. I had to smile to myself, and couldn't help but wonder exactly what he would make of me, then. "I'm looking for a book by Anne Brontë." "Which one?" (a good sign!) "Agnes Grey." He got up and disappeared behind a bookcase. "Anne Brontë...?" "Agnes Grey." "We have Tenant of Wildfell Hall..." "Yes, everyone does..." I smiled to a gentleman there who nodded politely but probably didn't really care that everyone has copies of Tenant of Wildfell Hall- or he didn't believe me. "We don't have that one." And so, I bid him good day and left him to shake his head and probably wonder what that was all about and why I didn't want to buy a copy of Dr.Aitkin's newest book or something. And my poor mom, who picked me up, had to hear my ranting all the way home. Looks like I must admit defeat and order one online. I can't feel bad for the bookseller. How often will he have someone run in from the cold demanding a copy of Agnes Grey? Posted by Brontëana at 11:54 PM 8 comments Jane Eyre 1952 Images continued... One more post after this ought to do it. Once more, these are the only screencaps of Westinghouse One's summer theater production of Jane Eyre from 1952 starring Katherine Bard as Jane Eyre and Kevin McCarthy as Mr Rochester. Posted by Brontëana at 11:12 PM 0 comments Labels: jane eyre 2006 Brontëana Index Firstly, long-time readers will notice a slight change to the Brontëana layout. I have been trying to find an efficient way to organise the archives for some time and have finally met with some limited success. This is only a start, but now for the first time you can search the archives from the bottom of the sidebar under 'Brontëana Index'. So far I have only indexed the primary works of the Brontës and the immediate family members themselves- although the archives contain information about the extended family as well. All of that and more will be more readily available in time. But it is a step in the right direction! Check back soon, I intend to keep working on it over the week. Secondly, I have been following the progression of a musical 'Emma' by Paul Gordon, the composer of the Broadway musical Jane Eyre, for Austenblog. I am not entirely sure what to make of this comment, however: How plays are born: Central Works' collaborative method is only one of many script development models in use in the Bay Area. TheatreWorks has been attracting increasing national attention in the new musicals field following a more traditional scheme. Its Spring Festival of New Works, expanded to two weeks (April 25 to May 7), features first-time staged readings of four new musicals: "Emma," adapted from Jane Austen by Paul Gordon (moving up the literary ladder from "Jane Eyre")... Humph! Not that I mean to demean Miss Austen and her works... But humph! all the same! And thirdly, I don't know what to make of the Mystery of Irma Vep either! The Mystery of Irma Vep finds two actors performing eight sizable roles in a tale that's a wildly improbable mix of melodramatic literature and film, from Wuthering Heights to The Wolf Man, The Mummy and vampire legends. Posted by Brontëana at 1:26 PM 5 comments Labels: articles, jane eyre 2006, jane eyre the musical, paul gordon, wuthering heights The Literary Misfits on BBC Radio 4 From BBC Northern Ireland, a week long radio program called The Literary Misfits will be airing in April. If you like Jasper Fforde, I think you'll like this. A week of literary chaos as some of our favourite fictional charactersstumble into the pages of the wrong book!Our favourite books are like old friends: comforting, reassuring, and familiar. We reread them time and time again safe in the knowledge that Elizabeth Bennett will end up with her Mr Darcy and that Sherlock Holmes will, after a pipe or two, solve the baffling mystery and unmask the villain. But what if there was some huge literary mix up? What if, in a bizarre game of literary musical chairs, some of our favourite characters crept out of the pages of their own book and stumbled into the foreign and anachronistic world of a different book? Would Lizzy still marry Darcy? Would Holmes retain his powers of deduction? [...] Will a title be enough to impress Oscar Wilde’s most famous matriarch, Lady Bracknell, when she comes face to face with a certain Count Dracula? When the great Victorian detective and Dr. Watson meet the unassuming Jane Eyre will they be able to solve a most puzzling literary mystery? If Gulliver made one final journey, where would his travels take him? What would Middlemarch’s earnest Dorothea make of the life of the irreverent drunkard Riley? And, when the notorious ‘Butcher Boy’ Francie Brady leaves behind the pigs of Cavan to tend those of a certain Bennett family in Longbourn, will Lizzy and Darcy live happily ever after? Monday 17- 21 April 2006 at 3.30pm on Radio 4 (10 episode Book at Bedtime) Writers : Elizabeth Kostova, Barry Devlin, Anne Haverty, Eilis Ni Dhuibhne and John Morrison Producers:Heather Brennon, Heather Larmour, Oonagh McMullan The episodes: A Vampire Vaudeville by Kerry Lee CrabbeProduced by Oonagh McMullan Pride and Homicide by Barry DevlinProduced by Heather Larmour Title tbc by Anne HavertyProduced by Heather Larmour The Case of the Scream in the Night by Eilis Ni DhuibhneProduced by Heather Brennon The Last Voyage of Gulliver by John Morrison Produced by Heather Brennon Thanks to Mr Croquet and Thisbeciel for the news. Posted by Brontëana at 10:06 AM 2 comments Labels: BBC, jane eyre 2006, jane eyre the musical Monday, February 27, 2006 Jane Eyre: The Musical Downloads and Mr Christi Now that we've all recovered from the news about the casting for JE 2006, we can move on. Several readers notified me today that the links posted last week or so, of video clips from Jane Eyre The Musical, had expired. Lady Branwen has been kind enough to upload them all yet again! She has also thrown in the entire Original demo CD (cast list to be provided once I dig it out of my personal archives). As always these links will be active for one week or 30 downloads, whichever comes first. An Icy Lane:http://s58.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=32BCBNVQNWPKL2WNTS53U1TGKI You Examine Me, Miss Eyre:http://s58.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=1KKL0GM3GV0O720C2ULN2LAOVG Waking Rochester:http://s55.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=0E08927F8BKO32ID1UCPOB96TN Saying Goodnight:http://s64.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=0MRQUREBQD63S2YT304D8755RRI Know Who Heals My Lifet:http://s64.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=0KF9PI05C6BNG0P0R2BK12DWZ4 The Gypsy:http://s64.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=0VJSU774PSR7X2L2SILY8HD6GT The Proposal:http://s64.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=16RKW2LU909OK22IGZZWMILZ1U Wild Boy/Sirens (reprise)/Farewell, Good Angel:http://s64.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=20QVCZ1LW197J3SDEBJ971087K Secret Soul, in the studio:http://s64.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3T6YLXIOV7NIH21I81JRMWYMPJ Broadway on Broadway - Secret Soul clips:http://s64.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=2K8AZME5NPDK62PZM3JBTTDNQM Jane Eyre Promo Clips:http://s64.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=30KXEGL0DB05F0NIPAMDTI9O9L Jane Eyre Original Demo CD:http://s62.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=0NCK8Y0XY59UA0PGGBXQK244BX Also, a little bit of Canadiana to go with this post... I am currently editing and annotating an unpublished novel by a Canadian author from the early 20th century. I have only read a few chapters so far, but I am exceedingly diverted as they say! It is called There Was a Mr Christi. Mrs. Christi runs a boarding house in Toronto. One day a small sort of young lady comes to look at a room. She has just taken a post as governess at a place called Rosedale across a ravine from the house. She is shown a large room which is too expensive so she is led up to the third floor. There's a nice, small room there but the governess thinks she should take one last look at the larger one. They entered the hall and began to descend the stairs, and the hush which had embraced the house was suddenly rent by a howl from the room next to the one they had been examining. Though it seemed an involuntary half-laughing screech, the girl looked around nervously. Mrs. Christi chattered gaily and jolted briskly down the stairs. I wonder where Mr Christi is...! Posted by Brontëana at 9:54 PM 11 comments Labels: jane eyre 2006, jane eyre the musical Cast for BBC Jane Eyre 2006 Hot off of the wire, we have our cast! EXCLUSIVE: BIG ROLE IN EYRE FOR FRAN By Nicola Methven FRANCESCA Annis is getting over her split from partner Ralph Fiennes with a major new TV role. The 62-year-old has landed a starring part in the BBC's production of Jane Eyre. She will play Lady Ingram in the £4million adaptation of the classic Charlotte Bronte novel. Other stars include Toby Stephens, who plays Mr Rochester, Tara Fitzgerald as Mrs Reed and Pam Ferris playing Grace Poole. A BBC insider said: "We hope to bring the novel alive for a whole new generation." Francesca and Fiennes, 43, split this month over his two-year affair with 31-year-old Romanian Cornelia Crisan. My goodness! Helen Graham is Mrs. Reed and Gilbert Markham is Mr Rochester?!! (Both starred in the BBC's 1996 production of Tenant of Wildfell Hall, set for DVD release this April). ETA: Image above is Toby Stephens and Tara Fitzgerald as Gilbert Markham and Helen Graham. The article shockingly neglects Ruth Wilson, who will be playing Jane Eyre (remember her?). Luckily she has her own Brontëana post here. ETA: Speaking of Brontëana posts, here is the original post about the DVD release. There's good news. I forgot the date (have I mentioned that I'm terrible with numbers?). The release is not in April... it's in March! In fact, it's March 13th! Posted by Brontëana at 9:47 AM 35 comments Labels: adaptation, articles, BBC, charlotte bronte, jane eyre 2006 Jane Eyre 1952 Images Continued... This is the third post in a series of 4 or 5 which contain the only screencaps available of this production from Westinghouse Studio One's Summer Theater production of Jane Eyre with Katherine Bard as Jane Eyre and Kevin McCarthy as Mr Rochester. Posted by Brontëana at 12:03 AM 0 comments Labels: jane eyre 2006 Sunday, February 26, 2006 The Brontës and Language- a brief rant. I don't usually bother with Brontë references such as this, but I felt comment was necessary in this case, if only to relieve a little frustration. The Editrix at AustenBlog- a lovelyblog for all things Jane Austen- knows my pain well only, unlike herself I do not have anything equivalent to her 'Cluebat of Janeite Righteousness.' Here lies the ever torturing pain: that the Brontës are criticised for writing in 'old English' or at least a more difficult kind of archaic English. From what appears to be either a tongue in cheek list of satistical favourites or a account executive's list of favourites: What book should everyone read? "Wuthering Heights" -- just so they understand that the English language is much easier today. I am very confused by this one. Has she actually read Wuthering Heights? At least with Jane Eyre I might point to words such as 'anathematized' and acknowledge that some readers of today not inclined to get a dictionary might find the book 'difficult' (not that you have to know what 'anathematized' means to get through or enjoy it...), I cannot find an equivalent in Wuthering Heights. This is by no means the first time I've heard the sentiment expressed but it is usually referring to Jane Eyre. In fact, I came across a certain review on amazon.com for yet another Brontë spin-off novel. This one was, in fact, a retelling of Jane Eyre- not a prequel or sequel. It was Jane Eyre as a science fiction novel, set in outer space. It is called Jenna Starborn and I mean to read it someday, really I do. And I've heard that it is rather good for being Jane Eyre in outer space... I don't remember all of the details at the moment but the basic plot is the same only Jane- I mean Jenna is some sort of reactor technician who goes out on a call to repair one at the complex of some incredibly wealthy person with a very silly name... Even fans of the author's work say the prose is not very good at least, and that at best it is an entertaining way to pass the time. However, there was a review declaring it is better than Jane Eyre because the language is simpler and easy to understand. It hurt my soul to hear such things... It is also ridiculous because I know people who speak this 'old English' on a regular basis and in casual company. In fact, I have a friend who so admires Samuel Jonson (going back a bit further than the Brontës now...) that he strives to perfect his speech and prose to what he feels is the richest means of expression (I once remarked the use of 'locupletate' in a book I was reading and he replied that it is in Jonson's dictionary- from which he can quote). And I was quoting Jane Eyre in casual company when I was 14. They should all be reading Chaucer, that's what I say. Or better still, Caedmon. See how they like that. /endbitterness. Posted by Brontëana at 10:13 AM 12 comments Labels: jane eyre 2006, wuthering heights Saturday, February 25, 2006 Jane Eyre 1952 Images Continued.. This post is a post of pictures and snark (teasing, witty commentary), just to keep things lively. Hopefully I will actually see this version and be able to report in full. See, Miss Mix- a 19th century parody of Jane Eyre, Brontëana, Monday January 30th, 2006. Wait, wasn't he favoring his left leg before? ... Looks shifty to me! Jane's not concerned. His strange ways are rather piquant. To be continued... Posted by Brontëana at 10:54 PM 8 comments Labels: jane eyre 2006 Jane Eyre 1952 (with Katharine Bard and Kevin McCarthy) This is the only one of the films known to be extant which I have not yet seen, but thanks (again!) to Thisbeciel, this will soon no longer be the case. In fact, I come bearing gifts of very rare screencaps (as far as I know, these are the only screencaps). I came to know of the existence of this version through 'The Pleasure of Intertextuality: Reading television and film adaptations of Jane Eyre' by Donna Marie Nudd, an article specially written for the Norton edition of Jane Eyre. Here is an excerpt from her brief discussion of the production: Structural norms change for commercial television, where the director, adapter, and editors also have to contemplate exactly where the corporate sponsors' ads will appear. Westinghouse Studio One: Summer Theater produced Jane Eyre in 1952. This production appears to be primarily one or two cameras capturing a live theater production, a production with very limited sets. During intermissions, an actress comes out and informs us of the glories of Westinghouse's self-defrosting refrigerator and later of the technical wonder of the "electronic clarifier" that stops the flutters on its all-new twenty-one inch, television. The structure of this adaptation is definately informed by the need to stop the action at the appropriate moment for Westinghouse commercials. Another strong, nonliterary influence on this particular Westinghouse adaptation was undeniably the budget. Early in this production, for example, jane is situated in one of the five or so standard, theatrical stage sets--a garden. The audience and Jane hear the neighing of a horse and then a crash. Then, with fake blood on his chin, Rochester limps into the garden and tells the new governess stationed there that his confounded horse has thrown him and run off. More images will be posted later (I am having trouble getting them all to post at the moment). Posted by Brontëana at 12:47 AM 0 comments Labels: adaptation, articles, films, jane eyre 2006 Thursday, February 23, 2006 'Wuthering Heights for Children: Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden' Today I came across this interesting article, hosted by the Universität Tübingen seeking to draw comparisons between The Secret Garden and Wuthering Heights. When I read The Secret Garden for a course on Children's Literature, I did not pick up on most of its resonances with Wuthering Heights, possibly because the influence of Jane Eyre seemed to be closer to the surface, and it seems that other readers have been similarly inclined: As they had on other impressionable young girls, the romances of the sisters Brontë had a tremendous impact on Burnett. As one of her biographers noted: “Principal themes in the fiction of Frances Hodgson Burnett were forecast in seven books published within two years of her birth . . . (and) the authors of these works would be among the most important in shaping her fiction—[these included] Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847), and Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield (1849-50) . . . .” Born during Charlotte Brontë’s lifetime to parents keenly aware of the contemporary literary scene, daughter of father who may have been related to one of Patrick Brontë’s curates, young Frances spent the first fifteen years of her life less than thirty miles from Haworth reading romances. More than one scholar has identified and described “the echoes of Jane Eyre in The Secret Garden” but the contribution of Wuthering Heights has been less recognized. Susan E. James draws comparisons here between Wuthering Heights and The Secret Garden. Since I will not get another opportunity to point this out, The Secret Garden (from 1991) happens to be one of the two musicals constantly compared with Jane Eyre: The Musical (the other musical is Les Miserables). Two recordings are available on amazon.com- such as the Broadway Cast, and the Royal Shakespeare CompanyRevival/London recordings. Posted by Brontëana at 2:05 PM 0 comments Labels: articles, charlotte bronte, haworth, jane eyre 2006, jane eyre the musical, wuthering heights Update on UK Release for Jane Eyre (BBC 1973) Thanks to Thisbeciel, we have another link to websites where our friends in the UK will be able to order their copies of Jane Eyre with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston. From this site we have the exact release date of June 5th. The synopsis is a little quirky... Starring Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston, this 1973 BBC television adaptation of the classic novel follows the fortunes of the heroine Jane Eyre who begins her life as an orphan without a penny to her name. After a dreadful childhood Jane Eyre acquires the post of Governess at Thornfield Hall. Once there she finds herself falling in love with the mysterious owner of Thornfield, Mr Rochester. Jane watches Rochester flirt with the beautiful and eligible Blanche Ingram and unable to bear their romance any longer, Jane resigns. Only then does Rochester admit that he loves Jane and asks her to marry him. But Jane's happiness proves to be shortlived... Pardon? I don't remember the scene when she resigns! ETA: I am still unable to read British dates, obviously. We put the month first in Canada... the release date is June 5th, not May 6th. I'm also too eager to see this, and a little bit of wishful thinking might have contributed to the error. Posted by Brontëana at 1:15 AM 3 comments Labels: adaptation, BBC, jane eyre 1973, jane eyre 2006 Tuesday, February 21, 2006 Face to Face with Charlotte Bronte at the Parsonage The Bronte Parsonage E-Magazine Blog has posted this great article by Diane Benn about a current exhibit at the Parsonage Museum called Face to Face with Charlotte Bronte. Among other things, there is this image of Charlotte only recently acquired by the museum. I remember when it was purchased among other items of the Brontes. If I remember correctly, it was supposedly drawn while Charlotte was in Belgium, but I cannot say for certain. It is wonderful to see what restorers are able to do with such material. I saved an image of the portrait from when it was posted on the auction website (where it was shown next to other portraits of Charlotte): Other news from the Parsonage Blog, the Bronte Society is organising their spring walk (route and contact information here), DNA tests may soon be performed on hair samples from the Brontes (more on this here). A film about Charlotte at Hathersage may also be in the works, and there's a new Bronte Society fanzine for children- 'Genius!' Posted by Brontëana at 8:13 PM 0 comments Labels: articles, blogs, bronte society, charlotte bronte, etexts Monday, February 20, 2006 Jane Eyre The Musical Video Clips Encore Back by popular demand, here are a few clips generated by Thisbeciel and this time brought to you by the lady Branwen- our royal patroness. Her magesty has managed to find more clips than I remember posting here, or perhaps this site has grown so large even I don't know what is hiding in the archives anymore. The first series are from a production on Broadway in April of 2001 (I believe), very near to the show's closing (which was in June if I remember correctly). The rest are from assorted publicity material- I have not actually had the time to view all of them. An Icy Lane: http://s65.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3IHTI0VT38HPA1OUG7OY7GX988 You Examine Me, Miss Eyre: http://s65.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=2TN9T5VXR7LMV3585TADXUOUZ8 Waking Rochester: http://s65.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=1P3QUWFTRSQUB0JE465AJ6W6QO Saying Goodbye: http://s62.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=2GBORQF0B1WYJ1A1WXT7DLCC5J I Know Who Heals My Life: http://s64.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=2PL4A8O3K3QZQ0RQ8NF7095RTA The Gypsy: http://s62.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=20OS9TXILLVYI0GSTKAKHLFHQR The Proposal: http://s62.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=07UN01ML5FESA37T3M2RQ4TKJ5 Wild Boy/Sirens reprise/Farewell, Good Angel: http://s62.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=37P0PAGAE5TQR0FJ7XJG83ZDQG Secret Soul in the studio: http://s57.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=2I14DF3SRYFOW1A10BJ68BPUXL Jane Promo Clips: http://s57.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3JQPH283MZS4F07S9KLE5KKT56 Broadway on Broadway Secret Soul Clips: http://s57.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3MTTI7SVJBCGH2MZHYXAQDRFIS ETA: These will be available for the next week, or for 30 downloads whichever comes first. Also, I may not be posting often between now and Friday. We are in the middle of midterm season which means I have exams of my own, as well as teaching assistant duties to attend to, and on top of this I have some seminars to write! Posted by Brontëana at 7:12 PM 10 comments Labels: jane eyre 2006, jane eyre the musical Saturday, February 18, 2006 Livejournal Brontëana Feed and Some Notes Ladyshrew has kindly created an LJ feed for Brontëana so now any Livejournal user can simply add the feed to their friends list and view Brontëana posts with greater ease. I have no idea how to set these up- I'm trying to make one for the Brontë Parsonage E-Magazine Blog but so far I have had no success whatsoever. To add the Brontëana LJ feed simply sign into your account, then visit this link. The feed has not yet become active at the time of this posting but apparently this usually takes some time. Mythosidhe also created one for BrontëBlog. Users can add this feed from this link. Now for the notes section of this post. I am still trying to catch up on mail and other work from this week. I ask that anyone awaiting a reply be patient. Also, when blogger emails comments to me they do not specify which post they come from and since I've been blogging for nearly a year now I have no idea which post the comment is referring to. If Heather is reading this, I recieved your comment that some of the links had expired. Reposting most links isn't a problem, but it would be helpful to email me at bronteana.blog@gmail.com . I try to read through and respond to all of the comments although I do miss them sometimes. Recent posts are not a problem but replies to earlier posts can become disconnected. ETA: Thanks to Mythosidhe we now have a link for the Brontë Parsonage Blog too. Also, it didn't take long for the feed to kick in- the Brontëana feed is now active. ETA: I'm now working on ways to include a 'cut' for LJ. I don't think this is possible, but I'm going to experiment with this. Posted by Brontëana at 2:54 PM 4 comments Labels: blogs Thursday, February 16, 2006 Jane Eyre(Erie Playhouse) 1998 Book by David Matthews, music by Michael Malthaner, lyrics by Charles Corritore. (The picture to the right is from Voices in which Jane hears Rochester calling to her). Interesting doesn't quite cover this ...4th... 5th? Jane Eyre Musical. I listened to it for the first time yesterday. I had been eager waiting to hear this one because it is actually based on the Gordon/Caird musical. According to Lillie who shared it with me someone- the composer?- saw the musical in Toronto during its very early, very brief run and felt he could do better. I am not disappointed. There are several points where the work is clearly influenced by the Gordon/Caird show. The show as a whole, however, fails to be entertaining or on key... I can tell that the lyricist, at least, had read the novel because one of the songs includes two more details not found in the Gordon/Caird version but otherwise it feels like the creators used a study guide instead. It sounds like a musicalised study guide which doesn't actually include many of the themes, characters, or plot elements from the novel. But it is interesting, and tolerable in places. Some of the tunes are not all that objectionable either. The full cast list and other information is available here. If you are interested in producing the work, the main page including information on obtaining a perusal script is here. Plot synopsis and pictures here. I have noted a few of the interesting points, to share for the moment. This work has a series of songs called Soliloques. These correspond to the songs As I Retired For The Night, and Secret Soul from the early G/C show. I cannot make out all of the words on the recording I have from the Royal Alexandra in Toronto which would correspond to Soliloques I, so I have chosen to compare Soliloques II with Secret Soul: Secret Soul (Royal Alexandra JE) Jane: What can I do now, my precious Lord? His dark love would be my best reward. I know I should not dare to go deeper in his madness But it's like a field I must run through No one's words will make me love him less. How much can I stand? I dare not guess. The secret voice that speaks to me Tells me he's in danger looking to the dust for tenderness. Deep in my secret soul I stand alone The purpose of why I'm here is still unknown. In the darkness of his day he's nearly blind but I keep looking for his goodness afraid of what I'll find. My heart moves through his unquiet sea. I pray a wave will come and carry me Closer to his troubled tide, waters of his fury, But how can I swim this great divide? Jane: Deep in my secret soul Rochester: My secret soul I cry his tears. Cries out loud! I weather his angry voice This angry voice I feel his fears. Cries out! Both: His/her life has infected every wound and every pore I feel this mystery possess me and I pray that mercy's hand will bless me! Jane: Deep in his secret soul... Rochester: Deep in my secret soul... Jane: His heart is cursed. Rochester: My heart is cursed! Jane: I summon my deepest will to still his thirst! Rochester: And I pray that God- Both: God give me the strength to go deep within his/my secret soul! Soliloques II (Erie Playhouse JE) Possibly after the fire scene. Rochester: Just when I thought my life was changing just as she rescued my soul. Giving me hope of one day finding happiness lost long ago. Now must I once again bury these thoughts again, helplessly watching her leave? When will she know how much I need her? How can I make her believe? Jane: What does it mean? Why did he kiss me? Why did he speak that way? Did I imagine hearing the things I heard him say? How can I know the answers if now my duty lies far far away from Thornfield and the kindness in his eyes. Both: No matter what's there for me where this road my bend I face it now willingly- this long journey's end. No matter how long it takes I'll wait for his/her song. Once more to have a life, once more to live my life, once more to share my life! Jane: And finally belong! Rochester: Once more to have a life, once more to share my life! Both: And finally belong! Posted by Brontëana at 1:22 PM 0 comments Labels: jane eyre 2006, jane eyre the musical, john caird, paul gordon Tuesday, February 14, 2006 Valentine's Day -When the thoughts writers turn to the Brontës I am still unwell, and read Joyce last night before bed which isn't good either (often when I read before going to bed I have very interesting dreams related to the material. When I studied Suetonius there were a lot of very strange dreams. This time I dreamt about language). Today is St. Valentine's Day, and the internet is buzzing with references to the Brontës. Novels are being recomended as gifts for the beloved, the stories are turned over for various reasons- sometimes to question whether such relationships exist in 'the real world', and sometimes to wonder what makes these stories so moving. For example, from The Hindu, Radha Nair, a retired English professor mentions Wuthering Heights: "Heathcliff and Catherine are the opposites and such strong individuals. They had to give each other up and that there was no fulfilment adds to the aura." But there are some articles which take a more unique approach to the day. This one discusses literary love, comparing Latin and 'American' writings (which apparently include Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë): For latin writers, the language of love comes naturally- The best lines, says Lynne Barrett of FIU, "are often of rejection or renunciation ... Often when one is declarative, there is a larger problem. In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy says to Elizabeth: `My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.' He then blurts out his struggle against loving her because of her `low connections,' vulgar sisters and silly mother, so by the end of his proposal she furiously rejects him." Or Jane Eyre's Mr. Rochester: `Come to me -- come to me entirely now,' said he. `Make my happiness -- I will make yours.'" But he's a man with a wife locked up in the attic. Perhaps I'm still not clear headed but does this actually make sense to anyone? Declarative sentences reveal what sort of larger problem? A lot of characters use declarative sentences but don't have wives locked in their attics! I cannot help but think that the Latin authors probably use declaratives as well, and that I can think of more expressive lines in Jane Eyre that would stand on equal footing with those of the Latins (sadly, when I read the title of the article, I thought about Ovid...). Posted by Brontëana at 9:28 AM 0 comments Labels: articles, charlotte bronte, jane eyre 2006, wuthering heights Monday, February 13, 2006 From 'Vision, Flame, and Flight: Adapting Jane Eyre for the Stage' - By John Caird I have been rather quiet. I was bedridden yesterday and still feel unwell. But I have a new reason to keep my faculties together- Harlene has sent me several fascinating items on the Jane Eyre Musical, one of these is 'Vision, Flame, and Flight: Adapting Jane Eyre for the Stage' written by John Caird, the lyricist for the show. Here are a few excerpts: An attic is a potent metaphor. If a house is a metaphor for a human life, then the attic is the mind where all the secrets reside. In this respect Thornfield is the ultimate example of such a metaphor, representing as it does the life and status and history of Rochester and all the centuries of Rochesters before him. Hidden in the attic is the awful reality of a tragic life but also a metaphor for the lies and deceit that haunt Rochester’s mind, making him incapable of honouring his love for Jane without perjuring himself into the bargain. Jane too has her secrets and her terrors – lies she has told herself about her unworthiness, her plainness and her lack of grace – all of which must be overcome before she is able to live for Rochester as she would live for herself, with absolute openness and integrity. One of the most evocative moments in our adaptation is when the secrets and lies in Rochester’s life collide with the secrets and lies in Jane’s, as the two brides stare at each other across the darkened attic and across the years with a mutual mixture of the most painful reproach and the deepest understanding. Another major difference in story-telling technique between the novel and our adaptation is the way that Rochester is treated. Because Bronte chose to write using an autobiographical narrative device, the reader must never know more than Jane herself knows. So Rochester and his motives must remain obscure until the novel is half over. The reader may suspect that all is not right but not so much that Jane would seem to be stupid not to suspect anything herself. In a sense the reader becomes Jane, and Rochester’s actions are every bit as obscured both reader and heroine. In the theatre this trick is all but impossible to pull off, and in any case not really desirable. A director or book-writer cannot instruct the actor playing Rochester that he must play everything as a mystery to Jane. Playing the part of an enigma would soon become tedious for the actor and audience alike. The actor needs to know what Rochester is to himself to his audience with whom he has as strong a relationship as the actress playing the part of Jane. For their part the audience is not looking at Rochester through Jane’s eyes – it is looking at the man himself without the aid of an interpreter. Paul and I decided therefore that we had to reveal Rochester’s deep feelings for Jane, at least before the intermission falls, or he would risk losing so much sympathy with the audience that they would never forgive their heroine for wanting to marry him! Achieving this dramatic end without giving away the central secret of the story was perhaps the most delicate task of the whole adaptation. This stripping away of the mystery around Rochester also allowed us to examine more closely one of the story’s most elusive themes – that of vision. At the beginning of the story, Jane has nothing. As we have Miss Scatcherd saying just before she leaves the school – she is ‘a girl with no money, no talents, no beauty and no class’. But without material possessions or prospects of any sort, she still has one significant talent, in spite of Miss Scatcherd’s mean portrait. Jane has her insight or moral vision, strong in her from childhood but greatly strengthened by her friendship with Helen Burns. So a young woman with nothing but insight travels across the moors to her first job and there she meets and falls in love with a man who has everything – everything that is except insight. His class, his status, his family and his history are all powerfully represented by the chestnut tree, growing proudly in the gardens of the house. But Rochester, materially rich and astonishingly enlightened about so much, is morally blind. Of course the greatest irony in the story is that he has to become actually blind before he is worthy of Jane’s love for him. The agency of his blindness is the fire – the first that in other parts of the story has illuminated and warmed and now returns to destroy and purge. Thus at the end of the story all the metaphors are powerfully linked together – blindness, the house and the fire – to provide a single potent dramatic image, the young woman of vision becoming the eyes and hands for her blind lover as they sit together under the stricken chestnut tree in the shadow of the burnt out house that was their home. As Paul’s lyrics put it ‘the secret of the flame is that there is no more to hide. It cures our blindness and our pride’. Posted by Brontëana at 6:53 PM 5 comments Labels: adaptation, jane eyre 2006, jane eyre the musical, john caird, music theatre Saturday, February 11, 2006 Brontëana Mail: Sezione Italiana I would like to thank Raffaella from Milano, Italy for writing in the other day. I had forgotten to include the link to the Italian chapter of the Brontë Society. I first heard of their webpage through The Brontë Parsonage E-Magazine Blog, but somehow didn't make a proper post about it. Here is my belated tribute to Brontë Society- Sezione Italiana! Unfortunately I cannot read Italian well enough to make full use of the site, but having learned Latin is proving helpful. This page is especially interesting for me. It is about film adaptations of the Brontë novels and includes several I had never come across before. I did not know, for instance that the Frank Hall Crane productions of Jane Eyre from the 1920s were two parts of the same production, or that there was an Italian production made in 1957. The link for the Italian Brontë Society is now available on the links list to the left. Reader comments, and questions are always welcome either as comments to the posts themselves or as emails addressed to: bronteana.blog@gmail.com Posted by Brontëana at 10:00 PM 0 comments Labels: blogs, jane eyre 2006 Friday, February 10, 2006 We Have Our New Jane! And it isn't Kiera Knightley or Angelina Jolie! Huzzah! In fact, she's just graduated from drama school. All the better! This just in over the wire (scroll to the bottom of the article): A young actress, barely out of drama school, has just landed the title role in a major new BBC TV production of Jane Eyre. The Bronte classic will star Ruth Wilson, a graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Miss Wilson has a small part in Five's forthcoming comedy series Suburban Housewives, but it's Jane Eyre that will propel her to stardom. Shooting begins at the end of the month on the South Yorkshire Moors and London. But director Susanna White has yet to find an actor to play the dark, brooding Mr Rochester, the secretive landowner whom Jane loves. This is a little amusing to me because one of the songs I was listening to was called 'Miss Wilson' from the York/Williams Jane Eyre musical- in which the guests at Thornfield 'quiz' Jane and call her 'Miss Wilson'! ETA: Photo and CV of Miss Wilson courtesy of Thisbeciel. And we have a request from several Bronteans that this man, Richar Armitage, play Mr Rochester. Posted by Brontëana at 7:15 PM 6 comments Labels: articles, BBC, jane eyre 2006, jane eyre the musical Thursday, February 09, 2006 The Latest on JE 1973 (All the pictures in this post come from scenes that were cut from the American broadcast of Jane Eyre (BBC 1973) The director of programing has sent word via Thisbeciel that the US release for the DVD of the BBC's 1973 Jane Eyre with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston will indeed be June 2006. However, UK fans will also have to wait until June- instead of May. I can only hope that this means we'll be getting some extras ;) Probably not, but I'll hope for them anyway. Obviously some parts which did not air in America will be on the DVD, and that's something to look forward to, considering that this includes all of Jane Eyre up to the point when Jane leaves Lowood (episode One in the American broadcast begins with Jane's voiceover: 'Hitherto I have narrated...' which was a natural point to chop off nearly an hour of footage). The Canadian broadcast was more complete although I maintain that some pieces were cut... I'm an artist, and have a good eye for changes. It seems that the individual frames where sliced out of the American broadcast, as well as little bits of dialogue. The most obvious instance of this editing is the Hay Lane scene. In the Canadian broadcast there is a part in the middle which had been cut for American television. When Jane approaches Mr Rochester (just before the commercial break), he looks up at her and says: "Who the deuce sent you?" (this version follows the novel very closely, but this addition brings it to precisely one more 'the deuce?' than the novel). There are also several seconds more footage showing the results of the accident. I'm convinced that something was cut from the scene of the day after the proposal. In both versions the dialogue is: Jane: ...I have observed in books written by men that period assigned as the furthest to which any husband's ardour extends. Rochester: Humph! Distasteful! And like you again! The words are directly out of the novel but there's something missing- Rochester's lines don't make sense without Jane's musing that she hopes she will never be distasteful to him and that he may learn to like her- not love her- after the passion wears off (it is not particularly 'like her' to say these things). Posted by Brontëana at 5:23 PM 2 comments Labels: BBC, jane eyre 1973, jane eyre 2006 'Devotion' This film, a loosely termed 'biopic' of the lives of the Brontës was filmed in 1946 and starred Ida Lupino as Emily Brontë, Paul Henreid as AB Nicholls, and Olivia de Havilland as Charlotte Brontë. Thisbeciel calls it: 'A universe where everybody loves Charlotte and everybody loves that sexy man AB Nicholls.' Here is a synopsis of the film: In the early 1800s, sisters Charlotte and Anne Brontë prepare to leave their sister Emily, their brother Branwell and their aunt and vicar father to work as governesses. Charlotte and Anne want to experience life outside their home as preparation for their careers as writers. Branwell is a talented, temperamental painter who is coddled by his sister Emily, and Charlotte and Anne plan to give the money they earn as governesses to him, so that he can go to London to study art. One night while Bran is getting drunk at a local tavern, Arthur Nicholls, his father's new curate, arrives. Bran insists that Arthur accompany him to the vicarage. At first Arthur refuses, believing that it is too late in the evening, but then, seeing how drunk Bran is, accompanies him. Emily answers the door and mistakes Arthur for one of Bran's drunken friends. The following day, after Bran leaves for London, Arthur reappears. After he is greeted by the unwelcoming Mr. Brontë, Emily's mistake is cleared up and she and Arthur become friends. One day, Emily shows Arthur a lonely house, which has inspired her novel, Wuthering Heights. After some time passes, disillusioned Bran returns home, blaming his sisters for his failure as an artist. Charlotte and Anne also return home. At a dance at the neighbouring Thornton house, Arthur is struck by Charlotte's beauty. When Charlotte realizes that Emily is interested in Arthur, she becomes interested as well... Thanks to Biedroneczka, I bring you a Lux Radio Theater radio adaptation of 'Devotion' starring Virginia Bruce (the platinum blond starlet who played Jane Eyre in the first talkie of the 1930s) as Charlotte Brontë and Vincent Price as AB Nicholls! Devotion The production will be available for download for a week. Posted by Brontëana at 11:42 AM 1 comments Labels: adaptation, charlotte bronte, jane eyre 2006, wuthering heights US Release Date for Jane Eyre 1973 We now have a US release date for Jane Eyre 1973 with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston. The latest news is that the release date for the US will be June 2006, while in the UK the DVD will be available in May. The date is currently being verified with the director of programing at Acorn, and I will relay the latest as it comes in. Posted by Brontëana at 11:34 AM 0 comments Labels: jane eyre 1973, jane eyre 2006 Tuesday, February 07, 2006 Comparison Chart This is my best attempt to reproduce part of a chart made by Rinabeana- one of Brontëana's faithful readers. This chart points out major points at which the lyrics of the Jane Eyre Musical appropriate or allude to the text of the novel. I have been puzzled over how to post it here. It seems best to simply quote the text of the novel and use font changes to show what had been used- unless someone knows how to post charts on Blogger? This chart also only covers those songs available on the official Broadway CD, and doesn't include those on the Toronto CD etc, etc... Words in bold were appropriated verbatim, those in italics were alluded to. I also must apologise because after all of the research I have done, I notice far more allusions than are in the chart- so I'm tempted to include things that ended up being cut later on. So, this won't exactly reflect the final draft of the show- I am sure to slip in things from earlier versions. There are also far too many to list, so I have chosen the most interesting? Or perhaps there is no real method to my choices... One last note, I see that there are only two clips left to listen to at amazon.com, so where possible I've linked to the older Toronto version of each song instead. The best thing about this is that you get to hear the entire song rather than a clip (and I like this version best so there's that as well), but on the other hand the lyrics are different from the Broadway version this comparison is based on, but it is very close. "We are, and must be, one and all, burdened with faults in this world: but the time will soon come when, I trust, we shall put them off in putting off our corruptible bodies; when debasement and sin will fall from us with this cumbrous frame of flesh, and only the spark of the spirit will remain,—the impalpable principle of light and thought, pure as when it left the Creator to inspire the creature: whence it came it will return; perhaps again to be communicated to some being higher than man—perhaps to pass through gradations of glory, from the pale human soul to brighten to the seraph!"—Chapter VI Forgiveness I tired of the routine of eight years in one afternoon. I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer; it seemed scattered on the wind then faintly blowing. I abandoned it and framed a humbler supplication; for change, stimulus: that petition, too, seemed swept off into vague space: "Then," I cried, half desperate, "grant me at least a new servitude!"—Chapter X Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.—Chapter XII Sweet Liberty (not in the Toronto version- replaced 'Silent Rebellion') "I have a past existence, a series of deeds, a colour of life to contemplate within my own breast, which might well call my sneers and censures from my neighbours to myself. I started, or rather (for like other defaulters, I like to lay half the blame on ill fortune and adverse circumstances) was thrust on to a wrong tack at the age of one-and-twenty, and have never recovered the right course since: but I might have been very different; I might have been as good as you—wiser—almost as stainless. I envy you your peace of mind, your clean conscience, your unpolluted memory. Little girl, a memory without blot or contamination must be an exquisite treasure—an inexhaustible source of pure refreshment: is it not?"—Chapter XIV As Good As You He was proud, sardonic, harsh to inferiority of every description: in my secret soul I knew that his great kindness to me was balanced by unjust severity to many others. He was moody, too; unaccountably so; I more than once, when sent for to read to him, found him sitting in his library alone, with his head bent on his folded arms; and, when he looked up, a morose, almost a malignant, scowl blackened his features. But I believed that his moodiness, his harshness, and his former faults of morality (I say former, for now he seemed corrected of them) had their source in some cruel cross of fate. I believed he was naturally a man of better tendencies, higher principles, and purer tastes than such as circumstances had developed, education instilled, or destiny encouraged. I thought there were excellent materials in him; though for the present they hung together somewhat spoiled and tangled. I cannot deny that I grieved for his grief, whatever that was, and would have given much to assuage it.—Chapter XV Secret Soul "You," I said, "a favourite with Mr. Rochester? You gifted with the power of pleasing him? You of importance to him in any way? Go! your folly sickens me. And you have derived pleasure from occasional tokens of preference—equivocal tokens shown by a gentleman of family and a man of the world to a dependent and a novice. How dared you? Poor stupid dupe!—Could not even self-interest make you wiser? You repeated to yourself this morning the brief scene of last night?—Cover your face and be ashamed! He said something in praise of your eyes, did he? Blind puppy! Open their bleared lids and look on your own accursed senselessness! It does good to no woman to be flattered by her superior, who cannot possibly intend to marry her; and it is madness in all women to let a secret love kindle within them, which, if unreturned and unknown, must devour the life that feeds it; and, if discovered and responded to, must lead, ignis-fatuus-like, into miry wilds whence there is no extrication. "Listen, then, Jane Eyre, to your sentence: tomorrow, place the glass before you, and draw in chalk your own picture, faithfully, without softening one defect; omit no harsh line, smooth away no displeasing irregularity; write under it, 'Portrait of a Governess, disconnected, poor, and plain.' "Afterwards, take a piece of smooth ivory—you have one prepared in your drawing-box: take your palette, mix your freshest, finest, clearest tints; choose your most delicate camel-hair pencils; delineate carefully the loveliest face you can imagine; paint it in your softest shades and sweetest lines, according to the description given by Mrs. Fairfax of Blanche Ingram; remember the raven ringlets, the oriental eye;—What! you revert to Mr. Rochester as a model! Order! No snivel!—no sentiment!—no regret! I will endure only sense and resolution. Recall the august yet harmonious lineaments, the Grecian neck and bust; let the round and dazzling arm be visible, and the delicate hand; omit neither diamond ring nor gold bracelet; portray faithfully the attire, aerial lace and glistening satin, graceful scarf and golden rose; call it 'Blanche, an accomplished lady of rank.'—Chapter XVI Painting Her Portrait Posted by Brontëana at 11:21 PM 0 comments Labels: jane eyre 2006, jane eyre the musical Sunday, February 05, 2006 Icons by Brontëana and Thisbeciel It looks like most if not all of Blogger was down for most of the day. I posted one of Thisbeciel's wonderful icons as a means of getting Brontëana back online. I am not sure yet if it worked or not. But it does give me an excuse to showcase some of these works of digital art! These all happen to be from Jane Eyre... Hm... I really like using text, especially the Edwardian font. The images are from: Jane Eyre 1973, ", Jane Eyre: The Musical, Jane Eyre 1996, ", ", an illustration I have- date unknown, Jane Eyre 1996, ", Jane Eyre: The Musical. Thanks to Arliamay for the illustration, and Metalkatt for coming up with the caption: 'Did he hit you hard? ...Some "man of God!" ETA: Now let's try Thisbeciel's animations...(all from Jane Eyre 1973) Posted by Brontëana at 12:51 AM 14 comments Labels: illustrations, jane eyre 1973, jane eyre 2006, jane eyre the musical Saturday, February 04, 2006 Posted by Brontëana at 8:05 PM 4 comments Labels: blogs Friday, February 03, 2006 Villette on BBC7 BBC 7 will begin broadcasting Villette next week which can be heard via http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbc7. Info as follows:Drama www.bbc.co.uk/bbc7/drama/index.shtml Catherine McCormack, Joseph Fiennes and Keira Knightly star in a Sony Award winning dramatisation of Charlotte Brontë's lesser known novel Villette. Lucy Snowe flees from an unhappy past in England and begins a new life as a teacher at a French boarding school... Brontë's strikingly modern heroine must decide if there is any man in her society with whom she can live and still be free. The three part drama is beautifully directed by Catherine Bailey and James Friel. Originally broadcast on Radio 4 in 1999.Wednesday to Friday 10 am 9 pm and 2 am Thanks to Aidan, my Cornish correspondent. ...Kiera Knightley? Posted by Brontëana at 5:14 PM 2 comments Labels: BBC, charlotte bronte, villette Thursday, February 02, 2006 Jane Eyre's Chutes and Ladders I know we were all wondering what was missing from out lives. And here it is! Jane Eyre's very own board game: A Game For The Whole Family! At last, the game that takes you to the great mansions and deserted moors of Charlotte Bronte's literary masterpiece! Jane Eyre's Chutes And Ladders is a wonderful game for all ages, a game that will teach youngsters all about loneliness, depression and the dangers of religious hypocrisy. Will you be the first to solve the mystery of Thornfield? Can you escape the horrors of Lowood and the claustrophobic memories of the Red Room? Excitement, romance and angst all await you in this exciting game! Game includes board, spinner, four player markers, the Reed household, Lowood, the Thornfield mansion, the village of Morton, chestnut tree, deck of 20 Red Room cards, and deck of 20 Psychic Revelation cards. Edward Rochester's horse sold seperately. Go to Gateshead, do not pass Millcote, do not collect 50 pounds from Mr Rochester... Pity this isn't a real game! Posted by Brontëana at 7:27 PM 5 comments Labels: charlotte bronte, jane eyre 2006 Wednesday, February 01, 2006 Literature Recomended for Children: Jane Eyre This is actually a very interesting article. In it Andrew Motion lists ten books children should read. The list is as follows: The Odyssey by Homer Don Quixote by Cervantes Hamlet by Shakespeare Paradise Lost by Milton Lyrical Ballads by Coleridge and Wordsworth Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte Great Expectations by Charles Dickens Portrait of a Lady by Henry James Ulysses by James Joyce The Waste Land by TS Eliot But at the end of this article there are some interesting comments that are well worth reading as well! Last year I took a Children's Literature course at the university I currently attend. We were invited each week to present some of the books we read when we were children. Most people brought out standard nursery rhyme books, and assorted stories of bunnies, children left on their own, and several children's classics. I felt a little odd because there were only two books I still had that I could present- one was My Biggest Bedtime Book Ever (which is still dear to my heart and reminds me of Pilgrim's Progress for reasons that I'll keep to myself) and the other was Jane Eyre. I felt very strange presenting Jane Eyre as my treasured childhood classic, especially since, as many of you loyal readers will know, the Brontes are next to unknown where I'm from. There is a vague idea that there is a Bronte- possibly several Brontes- and they wrote... stuff. The university does acknowledge their existence but they were never mentioned in my grade school or high school. So, I held up my gorgeous first copy of Jane Eyre, it's stitches looking like they were sown by someone using their teeth, the cover a fetching dark green duct tape (it was, I believe, the victim of a library rebinding gone horrifically awry). The professor came to my aid after my talk by describing Jane Eyre's long history as a classic of children's literature. I had presented it once before, when I was 16 or 17 years old. I was always very shy. We had a class assignment where we had to express what we show the world and what we keep to ourselves- in the form of a brown paper bag which we decorated. Inside the bag went whatever we feel deeply about, that somehow defines us but that we keep to ourselves. Inside my bag was the beat up copy of Jane Eyre. When we were asked to show what was inside, if we felt alright with it, I was the only one who volunteered. I took out the book and said something about how it was a lot like my life- then I thrust it back into the bag, feeling strangely exposed. A deep sense that I had already said far too much. Obviously, I've grown to be less timid. Now, as for Ulysses, all I can say is that it reminds me of when one of my teachers in high school discovered that I had been reading Joyce for fun. He said to my mother: "Your daughter is surprisingly literate!" But that was Portrait of the Artist- not Ulysses... I tried that when I was 16 and only made it four pages in but that wasn't counting 25 pages of endnotes! Even though I read JE at the age of 14 or 15, I didn't read any other Bronte novels until I was 23, with the exception of Wuthering Heights. As soon as I finished Jane Eyre I snapped up WH but I'm sorry to say that I was completely disappointed with it. My memory of the first reading is distinct in my mind- I did it all in one or two days, while lying on the living room couch. I reached the end, let my hand drop to the floor and I put down the book thinking what a waste of time that was. I can't say why this was the case, but I think, as one of my professor puts it, reading has much to do with the culture inside. I have a very angry family. I saw in WH a book about my family. And I wondered why anyone would want to read something like this. When I read it again I was 23 and living away from my angry family members. Now, this was a very different book. Now if it a powerful book, it is a disturbing book. It is not 'a waste of time'. As a shy little girl I was irresistably drawn to Jane but as a shy little girl with coping daily with tension, anger, and violence I completely rejected Wuthering Heights. Maybe I've said too much... Posted by Brontëana at 10:53 PM 7 comments Labels: articles, charlotte bronte, jane eyre 2006, wuthering heights March 2006 January 2006 Home Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) Create your own visitor map!