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Friday, March 31, 2006

A tribute.

I meant to copy out the entire tribute Thackeray wrote on the death of Charlotte Bronte. This is the anniversary of her death, and these are some of Thackeray's remembrances:

Of the multitude that has read her books, who has not known and deplored the tragedy of her family, her own most sad and untimely fate? Which of her readers has not become her friend? who that has known her books has not admired the artist's noble English, the burning love of truth, the bravery, the simplicity, the indignation at wrong, the eager sympathy, the pious love and reverence, the passionate honor, so to speak, of the woman?


I remember the trembling little frame, the little hand, the great honest eyes. An impetuous honesty seemed to me to characterize the woman. Twice I recollect she took me to task for what she held to be errors in doctrine. Once about Fielding we had a disputation. She spoke her mind out. She jumped too rapidly to conclusions. (I have smiled at one or two passages in the Biography in which my own disposition or behaviour forms the subject of talk.) She formed conclusions that might be wrong, and built up whole theories of character upon them. New to the London world, she entered it with an independent, indomitable spirit of her own; and judged of contemporaries, and especially spied out arrogance or affectation, with extraordinary keenness of vision.


She gave me the impression of being a very pure, and lofty, and high-minded person. A great and holy reverence of right and truth seemed to be with her always. Such, in our brief interview, she appeared to me.

From 'The Last Sketch' by Thackeray, the preface to the Emma fragment found in my volume.

Update on Bronte Studies...

Well... I did get accepted to the Dalhousie program. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to go. My mother and I live below the poverty line, and even getting to the school, several provinces away, is not within our means- not to mention housing and tuition. They've given me an unfunded offer, which effectively cuts any hope I had of being able to get something worked out to cover the cost. I will be remaining here, then, to continue my work for another year. There are several advantages, although my heart isn't here... It is very likely that I will be assisting our Victorian specialist with a bibliography on the female gothic which would include Jane Eyre, I imagine. The publisher I am studying with may try to fight her over this- he wants me on his editorial staff. The school is also offering me funding, and I can stay at home. This province also would cover my living expenses if things should go from bad to worse.

I ...would have prefered a rejection.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Librivox Villette

LibriVox- "acoustical liberation of books in the public domain." The site publishes audio books in the public domain, recorded by volunteers. Thanks to Heather, a co-ordinator for writing in to tell us about Villette, the first collaborative LibriVox Bronte work. There are no finished Bronte works yet although Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are being recited by two people attempting solo recordings. Most pressingly, under 20% of the chapters are claimed as of yet and they still need volunteers to recite chapters.

Aw, no Vanity Fair? ... Well, I do think that book just might kill anyone attempting a solo recitation.

A friend of mine has a similar project on hand. Very slow productions of Shakespeare, which each part recorded separately online and then pasted together. It is very very slow work. And, I myself have a project which, from the start, was doomed to never actually be done- to put together a similar performance of Jane Eyre: The Musical. The trouble (...one of the troubles) is that all of my friends willing to entertain the idea are young ladies, so our Rochester is a soprano and I'm playing St.John Rivers (I am likewise a soprano, but this isn't quite so bad in St.John's case. No, really, some of his demo songs are very high! It's creepy...). It doesn't matter that I have dark hair and dark eyes, but I do burst out laughing at inappropriate times. Very out of charater.It will never, ever, ever be recorded (although I do have one clip of our (Miss) Rochester singing 'As Good As You').

More Casting and News on Jane Eyre 2006

It looks like we have our young Jane, as well! The delightful Georgie Henley (Lucy Pevensie in the latest film version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) is going to play Jane in the new BBC production- and, it looks like we can expect a Christmas release!

From Georgie-Henley.com:
It has been confirmed to me personally by Georgie's management and agency that she will indeed be appearing in a new role: The BBC's (UK), "Jane Eyre" at Christmas time.

The website indeed also claims the production will be airing in December.

Bronteblog also informs us that the imdb.com page for the production now lists Derbyshire as a filming locale so perhaps the earlier report on filming taking place last week at Haddon Hall is spot on.

I was surprised by the casting choice, but not at all displeased! I think she is a talented young actress and resembles Ruth Wilson's rather elfish look. Miss Henley's second Narnia film is also scheduled to come out in December. The picture is from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


This is yet another personal testamony of a Brontephile in the land that forgot the Brontes. Today, in the very room where last week I had heard a tirade against all three sisters, someone began to talk to me about them, knowing of this blog. I was delighted, and surprised when he assumed that of the three Anne was my favourite. She is not, in fact, but it made me feel strangely happy nevertheless.

And, I did finally break down and order a copy of Agnes Grey. It should be arriving next week.

Some related Bronte news from the homefront- I did convince two people to read Jane Eyre this week. This is astonishing progress, believe me. Although I think the first person will not be pleased with the book... After rejoicing, I remembered that this particular person loathes and despises anything even remotely religious. I brought in a Bible once, to prepare for a medieval lit seminar I had to give, and she hissed at it. So... I'm not sure what she'll make of Jane Eyre! Alas. And the second is the fellow mentioned above who hasn't read the book, "but I saw the movie and that was enough." The minx. But anyway, he was only kidding. He also said he wanted to give "Violet... Violette... that V one, you know," a try. Oh bliss- I don't think many of you will comprehend this, but I had to get a copy of Villette from a friend in Iowa...

Lastly, blame me who will, I was alone in an auditorium room for several hours today so I worked on a short story (based on JE), talked out loud to Charlotte while I did so, then sang Amarilli, Mia Bella. No one else will ever know!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Gossip on JE 2006

Let me make this clear that this is purely gossip at this point. Someone in Derbyshire writes to say they believe that they witnessed filming of the BBC's new Jane Eyre this weekend at Haddon Hall. It may well be a baseless rumor, but it does look like an ideal Thornfield, does it not?

Haddon Hall is a fortified medieval manor house dating from the 12 th Century, and is the home of Lord and Lady Edward Manners whose family have owned it since 1567.
Described by Simon Jenkins in 1000 Best houses as "the most perfect house to survive from the middle ages", this remarkable old house is surrounded by terraced Elizabethan gardens and is set amongst the rolling countryside of the Peak District National Park.

Haddon has featured in many films and TV programmes including, most recently Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly, Mathew MacFadeyn, and Dame Judy Dench.
Should you wish to stay locally we can offer accommodation either at our award winning hotel, The Peacock at Rowsley or in our holiday cottage.
I hope you find this site informative and look forward to welcoming you to Haddon Hall.

Lord Edward Manners

The hall was also used in Franco Zeffirelli's 1996 Jane Eyre. I have a soft spot for this hall, so I do hope it will be Thornfield again! It was also Prince Humperdink's castle in The Princess Bride!

At Last! Jane Eyre 1973 Available for Pre-Ordering

Let the stampede begin, for all of you Britishers- ">pre-order the DVD from the BBC here. The rest of us will now look on broodingly until it comes out in region one. I would like to remind those who will likely be disturbed by the delay that from the start we had assurances that it will be coming out in region one, so never fear. I have emailed BBC America this morning, hoping to hear news of when it will be available here as well as Tenant of Wildfell Hall which is still unavailable in region one.

Jane Eyre 1973 costs £19.99
Product Ref: 877564
Official release date for region 2: 08/05/2006
Duration: 4 hours, 35 minutes

Starring Sorcha Cusack (Tame) and Michael Jayston (Flesh And Blood), this 1973 BBC television adaption of the classics novel follows the fortunes of heroine Jane Eyre who begins her life as an orphan without a penny to her name.

Jane Eyre is a poor orphan, brought up by a wealthy Aunt who is determined she should never forget her impoverished background. Surviving the cruelty of an oppressive boarding school, she becomes the governess of Thornfield Hall, owned by the enigmatic and rarely seen Mr Rochester. When Jane finally meets Mr Rochester in the flesh, she is consumed by an overwhelming attraction towards him that soon becomes mutual, however, their hopes for happiness will soon be jeopardized by a terrible secret.

New Theories of Love? Passion is Passé.

Are we Addicted to Love? is a very interesting artcle I found this morning: "Theories of intimate relationships in the modern world view passionate love as a problem to be managed."

At the very end we hear that Jane and Rochester, Cathy and Heathcliff are out of style but, perhaps, ultimately their passions are better for us all as human beings:

Forget Jane Eyre and Rochester, or Heathcliff and Cathy - the emotionally-correct coupling today is Harry Met Sally, only more self-aware. Which is fine when it comes to amicable discussions about work-life balance or avoiding inheritance tax, but quite a few steps removed from the passions that make us human.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Dear Jane... Austen

I came across this little Brontë reference this morning. It caught my attention, not because it is yet another comparison between the Brontes and Jane Austen, but because it seems like a peculiar way to make the distinction between the two.

Patrice Hannon, English literature professor, is 'jumpstarting' her career as a novelist by writing a self-help manual on love written with the voice of Jane Austen. The book is called 'Dear Jane Austen: A Heroine's Guide to Life and Love.' The idea for the book came from her students who were commenting on how realistically Austen depicts relationships. This is where the Bronte reference comes in:

As opposed to unrealistic romantic notions often found in novels like “Wuthering Heights” and “Jane Eyre,” Austen championed cynicism and lifelike dialogue, according to Hannon.

I know that Charlotte's portrayal of Mr Rochester was attacked when the book was published as being unrealistic, but as a whole it both books seem remarkably lifelike in their dialogue- for the period, of course. Both books also delve in the depths of the human psyche, rather than those parts which are most readily accessable. What Charlotte was more blunt in saying, it is in a sense superficial in comparison. I don't often trust Austen's good natured characters (not implying that all of them are good natured). I suspect what I don't know about them might show they are not what they seem to be. I can conceed some ground on the dialogue but cynicism seems a strange way of distinguishing the two. I have no read much of Jane Austen, however, so I may be unwittingly saying something foolish here. In conclusion, I believe neither Charlotte, Emily, not Jane are less realistic than the other. If this is heresy, I cannot help it.

Austenite readers of Brontëana will no doubt find this a little unsettling:

“When I was merely twenty, I fell in love with a young Irishman. We knew very little of one another — far too little, indeed, to have fallen so deeply in love,” Hannon writes in Austen’s voice. Convinced that Austen’s life was not as plain as legend might have it, Hannon hopes readers will pick up on the subtle drama that unfolds behind the love advice.

Friday, March 24, 2006

BBC Jane Eyre 1973 Available for Pre-Order

Thanks to Bronteana reader, Liz, we have confirmation that the DVD of the BBC's 1973 production of Jane Eyre with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston will be available for pre-order from their online store as of next week!

Good work, Liz!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

BBC Jane Eyre 2006

Now has it's own page on the Internet Movie Database. There is nothing there at all- just the title, date, and that it will be produced by the BBC. Nothing new, therefore, but news might break there in the near future. Also, somewhat new, I have a report from Yorkshire than filming began two weeks ago outside of the reporter's village. Correction, there is one bit of news- if the page is to be trusted, Jane Eyre 2006 will be a mini-series.

On a lighter note, I've been thinking how odd it is that we have no interviews with Ruth Wilson yet, but we have two descriptions of Toby Stephens' sideburns, grown especially for Jane Eyre. I wonder if he will merit a write up in Chops Quarterly.

CQ is an internet blog with no posts whatsoever, but a fabulous mandate to celebrate sideburns of all shapes and sizes. Although they haven't been updated much, especially when they were founded in 1854 and there still aren't any posts (well, to be fair, there wasn't an internet then either), I have already learned so much about sideburns! For instance, I always assumed that any long, wooly sideburn was a 'mutton chop' but this is not so! Mutton chop refers to having two long sideburns joined via a moustache.

Charlotte's husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls also had fine chops:

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Toby Stephens prefers the Conflicted Man

Here are a few more tidbits for those desperate to hear more from our newest Rochester. From 'I'm much happier playing messed-up guys rather than the heroic lead. It's dull playing those parts'

With his striking good looks and an acting dynasty to die for - no less than Dame Maggie Smith and the late Robert Stephens for his parents - you'd think that Toby Stephens would be cornering the market in dashing, romantic leading roles.

Instead, his forte seems to be quite the opposite; crazed Bond villains (Die Another Day), tormented Cold War intellectuals (Kim Philby in Cambridge Spies) and, about to start filming, the enigmatic and mysterious Mr Rochester in a new BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre.

'I'm much happier playing messed-up guys rather than the heroic lead,' says 36-year-old Stephens. 'It's dull playing those parts. I'd rather play someone conflicted. They're always more challenging, and you've got more to work with.'


Right now Stephens' physical profile is extremely striking; he's darkened his hair and he's growing some pretty impressive sideburns in preparation to play one of English Lit's most troubled and misunderstood anti-heroes, Rochester, in Jane Eyre.

'The perfect messed-up guy - what more could I ask for?' he laughs

Yay! Sorry... I mean, splendid...

"You have broken my heart today"

This post turned into something of a rant. I hope it is not entirely irrelevant.

This is what I said to someone I was having a very pleasant chat with today. I only met him recently, but he is the younger brother of one of my high school chums. He was not aware of my literary leanings, nor my intention of becoming a Bronte scholar. This is probably why he felt free to let loose a lengthy tirade against Emily, Charlotte, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights (at least Anne remained safe from his bile, although she was implied by the phrase: "three sisters who all died because they wrote bad novels." At the start, I averted my stunned gaze while he went on, not noticing my distress. My friend, seated next to me was in a similar state of shock. She, like most people in this particular area of Canada, had never read the Brontes. But she at least knew of my passion for their works- of Jane Eyre in particular.

"Jane Eyre wrote terrible novels! ..."

...I think I may have become slightly more distressed.

"What's her name? Em-"

"Charlotte! ...Charlotte..."

So, finally he just stopped on his own, and after a brief silence my friend turned to me and said: "Are you going to rebuff him for saying that?" I smiled, turned to him and meekly informed him that I'm going to be a Bronte scholar. And that Jane Eyre is my favourite book of all time. It was his turn to be alarmed, and he then attempted to "soften the previous outrage" and to stoke and soothe me into placidity, to coin a phrase. I am not easily vexed, so I engaged him in a discussion of Wuthering Heights. It turns out that the Brontes are now taught at my high school, where previously they had not. But he said that WH was taught "as an example of bad literature," and that "the whole concept of writing a novel around an anti-hero is terrible." Can I believe that this is true? Well... unfortunately, I cannot say it is outside of the realm of possibility but I intend to look into this.

My highschool was remarkable, unconventional, and extraordinarily liberal. One semester I had modern dance class before maths, geography, visual art, and vocal music. I spent about 80% of class time in some art class. The English program was horrid. I hated English until I entered university. English education, until grade 13 (now abolished), consisted of reading very bad Canadian fiction (such as the tale of an overweight teenage girl from a rich family who, depressed, goes to an island where she accidentally poisions herself until she is thin- and now she is happy, thin, and rich! Oh, and has a boyfriend). Doing plot diagrams, (which baffled me. I still do not understand their purpose, nor how one is constructed), and filling in charts of symbolism. I remember almost nothing from 4 years of English in this system- and only learned English grammar in university Latin.

In addition, the librarian was known as 'the Book-Nazi' (pardon the trivializing term- it is derived from the 'soup-Nazi' from Seinfeld). Upon entering the library all of your belongings were confiscated and placed in a detention area. The fiction section was forbidden, and the stairs leading to it were blocked with a chain. The librarian would select works of fiction each semester- they never seemed to change- and placed them on a table for us. You could be expelled from the library for sleeping, doing homework, or reading anything besides a book from the library itself. I had a friend who, early in the regime of this particular librarian, confronted her and said: "I refuse to obey these rules until you give me a reasonable explaination!" I thought: Why is she doing this to me? I will never read again! But somehow I escaped punishment.

And so, you see, I really can believe that WH would be used as 'an example of bad literature' at my dear old school! Do not be alarmed, grade 13 was completely different. It was run by a poet who demanded the best from us, and got it or else (there was at least one outburst of irrational rage per semester but we learned to expect them). And we learned to write proper essays, we wrote poetry and short stories, and begin to discuss books in a sane maner.

I really did love this school, honestly! I just don't comprehend why the English program was so ridiculous. I hear that my poet-teacher is now in charge of English there, and that the situation is much improved (and the Book-Nazi's chain has been sundered, and fiction flows freely once more). The school board also bears some responsibility. I uncovered a plot to annihilate the library system. I took out a book on Yeats' essays (I was an odd young woman) and the librarian unthinkingly said: "Oh, this book hasn't been taken out in a few years. This book should have been destroyed..." In their wisdom, the school board believed that the internet would make libraries redundant so they had an official policy of burning books not signed out for a certain period of time. They were not allowed to give them away, or to sell them. She offered to let me 'find' the book. I took out a shelf-full of books to save them. This policy was confirmed by other teachers. I only hope this too has changed!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

BBC Jane Eyre 1973 Review

Thisbeciel found this while... studying for her final. Yes. That's what she was doing. It is always nice to hear about this production, which I remind readers is set for release in June, only 33 years after it was produced by the BBC. Also, note: the production is actually in 5 parts but the first part was not shown in the United States.

The New York Times
July 21, 1982

THE idle question comes to mind with the start tonight at 8 o'clock of a four-part dramatization of ''Jane Eyre'' on WNET-TV, and it asks whether anyone reads the Charlotte Bronte novel in its print original anymore [emphasis mine].

Certainly ''Jane Eyre'' has over the years become almost as familiar on film and television. Its attraction for those who work in eye and ear is obvious, what with the story's linear development and exterior action between people, that is, its lack of dependency on interior thought in one person's mind. Its language is a mannered, ornate English that can only delight a performer and a listener. Also, a general spookiness and a tendency toward catastrophes do not hurt in this respect.The new series, made by the BBC, brings us this 19th-century melodrama about caste and class in old England and about the steadfast honesty of a young woman seeking happiness while out to do the right thing. It is impeccably done, to judge from the first part, and appears to be faithful to the book, but perhaps because of this faithfulness it does not catch fire. It is an enactment from the book, and one must judge for oneself whether to honor or deprecate it for its literary fidelity.

As its heroine, Sorcha Cusack makes an uncommonly strong, yet reserved, Jane. She is not pretty but has a quiet beauty enhanced by a slight smile and an expression that is attractively quizzical. Her soft voice supplies bridging text from the book between scenes. Michael Jayston is craggily handsome and strong and more theatrical in his portrayal of Rochester, the imperious, troubled master whose service she enters and whose heart she captures.

The settings and casting are exactly what one imagines ''Jane Eyre'' should look like if translated from writing. Perhaps this series will encourage viewers to take the book off the shelf or, contrarily, it might have the effect of relieving them of guilt for not having read it. They will already know how it all works out.

Note on picture- yes, that is indeed a moth perched on Mr Rochester's palm! And as for fidelity to the book making it not 'catch fire' (...what doesn't catch fire in this film?!) I will say that I first saw this production after having watched all of the other, commercially available films of JE. I was very critical by that point, and skeptical. And yet I experienced bliss in hearing such poetry, and seeing such fine acting from almost the entire cast. I had just finished presenting a paper on Mr Rochester for a Bronte seminar, and I was literally amazed to see what I had discovered actually visible in Michael Jayston's performance. I was stunned. The first episode also contains a hint, setting up a very subtle correspondence. In the 'missing' first episode, there is a scene at Lowood where vignettes of the classroom are shown. One of these is of Miss Temple giving a geography lesson, just before we leave her to move on to another class, she begins to tell the girls about the Sargasso Sea, near Jamaica.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Butterfly, by Emily Bronte

I've just finished transcribing Sue Lonoff's translation of Emily's Belgian devoir entitled 'Le Papillon' ('The Butterfly'). I've transcribed the translation rather than the original French this time so that the anglophone readers of Bronteana can enjoy some of Emily's work as an essayist as well. I will transcribe the French at a later date. The transcript is available here.

I have also begun to scan the rest of the illustration I have for Villette, and these will soon be appearing on the site. Thereafter, I have some for Shirley, The Professor, and Jane Eyre to add in time.

Le Papillon is my favourite of Emily's devoirs, at least of those I have read so far. Here are a few excerpts from the transcript:

In one of those moods that everyone falls into sometimes, when the world of the imagination suffers a winter that blights its vegetation; when the light of life seems to go out and existence becomes a barren desert where we wander, exposed to all the tempests that blow under heaven, without hope of rest or shelter-- in one of these black humors, I was walking one evening at the edge of a forest. It was summer; the sun was still shining high in the west and the air resounded with the songs of birds. All appeared happy, but for me, it was only an appearance. I sat at the foot of an old oak, among whose branches the nightingale had just begun its vespers. "Poor fool," I said to myself, "is it to guide the bullet to your breast or the child to your brood that you sing so loud and clear? Silence that untimely tune, perch yourself on your nest; tomorrow, perhaps, it will be empty." But why address myself to you alone? All creation is equally mad. Behold those flies playing above the brook; the swallows and fish diminish their number every minute. These will become, in their turn, the prey of some tyrant of the air or water; and man for his amusement or his needs will kill their murderers. Nature is an inexplicable problem; it exists on a principle of destruction. Every being must be the tireless instrument of death to others, or itself must cease to live, yet nonetheless we celebrate the day of our birth, and we praise God for having entered such a world.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

One wedding and a proposal.

Thisbeciel was good enough to upload more clips for us! This time there's probably my favourite scene from the Westinghouse Studio One Summer Theater Jane Eyre from 1952, with Katherine Bard and Kevin McCarthy. This scene is the interrupted wedding. It's pretty silly, as you will see. Especially Rochester's reaction to Mason's arrival. Bertha's revelation, and Jane's departure all follow swiftly from there. I commented on all of this before- Bertha's revelation here is simply unnecessary and absurd.

The other clip is the proposal scene from the BBC's 1973 Jane Eyre with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston. There isn't much to say, except that it follows the novel very closely, and that it is a pity the BBC did not film it in the gardens at Renishaw. The first part of the scene, not shown in the clip, was filmed at Renishaw- complete with 'rustic seat' around the tree and even a moth! As it is, this studio garden is not very convincing. The acting more than makes up for it.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Spreading the Word...

I finally recieved material from the Master's program in English. They are offering me a graduate assistantship. It seems like a good time, therefore, to discuss interior design. Professors at my university are very creative in how they choose to decorate the doors of their offices. I remember that in first year I stumbled upon the door of the writer in residence- now one of Canada's foremost authors. There was a feather taped to the door beside a cartoon of goats standing on a stove with the caption "Home on the Range". Below this was an old teacher evaluation from the 1960s. Scrawlled across it in an uncertain hand were the words: "That lecturer dude was rad." Below the scrawl, in elegant writing was: "____ ____ rocks Romanticism." Another professor- my mentor- has a magazine cover with a photo of an actress of the same name- I don't think she knows anything about Homer, though. And there's also an insultingly witty ancient Greek epigram bashing Challimachus. The Classics department is rife with puns. A poster of the she-wolf of Rome suckling Romulus and Rhemus has the caption: "Got Classics?" Another has a list of useful conversational Latin such as "If catapults are outlawed only outlaws will have catapults."

I have already stored a few items for the day when I too will have an office, and a door of my own. I don't know if I will have a door... I will certainly have a wall, and perhaps a chair and a desk... maybe a few walls. At least three. This poster, courtesy of the Association of the Librarians of the Czech Republic will definately have a place of honour on my wall.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Confirmation on Jane Eyre 2006

From Frankengirl, a brief interview with Toby Stephens:

As the son of two of this country's finest actors, Toby Stephens would understandably prefer to be recognised in his own right. I'd be happy to oblige, but as we queue for the lift at ITV's South Bank studios, I fail to connect the scruffy figure in the wonderfully actorish ensemble of knee-length red corduroy coat, scarf, narrow jeans and trainers with Gustav Graves, the epee-wielding, electronic-armour-wearing master villain in the most recent James Bond film.

'I'm deeply envious of my mother's talent because it's not something I possess'
But then I get a good look at his face. Those finely cut features are framed by long red sideburns - serious, costume-drama sideburns.
Touché! Stephens, son of Dame Maggie Smith and the late Sir Robert Stephens, has indulged his facial hair to play Rochester in a forthcoming BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre.

Well, I hope by 'indulge' they don't mean mouchachioes- villainous or otherwise!

While he admits that his upper-class image works both ways - helping with roles like Mr Rochester - the class thing rankles. Particularly, he says, when he sees actors who went to far smarter schools than Seaford pretend they're working-class.

It is a fact universally acknowledged that this is causing some concern in the circle of Jane Eyre enthusiasts:

Unfortunately for him, he possesses one of the best sneers in the business. Even when he's smiling, it looks like a sneer. "It's something that happens with my face," he says, insisting that he often doesn't realise he's doing it.

"I will like it, I dare like it!"

I bring more video clips from difficult to find Jane Eyre. Firstly, another clip from the BBC's 1973 5-part mini-series starring Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston. This clip is the end of the scene where Mr Rochester tells Jane about his affair with Celine Varens, and then muses as he gazes at the facade of Thornfield Hall. The Thornfield in this clip is the lovely Renishaw Hall, once the home of the poet Edith Sitwell. The clip shows some of the grounds, as Jane and Rochester make their way through the ornamental gardens to the house front. Of Renishaw, Michael Jayston once remarked that he could imagine the fire which destroys Thornfield happening there, but not at Norton Conyers, which he visited. His thoughts on Norton Conyers was that it would be possible to escape from the upper floors. A nice way of saying he was working in a death trap... I kid. The interview this was taken from, as well as a photo of Michael Jayston sitting in a tree at Norton Conyers is floating around in the Brontëana archives somewhere. .

The second clip is from the 1952 Westinghouse Studio One Summer Theatre Jane Eyre starring Katherine Bard and Kevin McCarthy. This scene is the equivalent of the Hay Lane scene, with a few changes. You be the judge. Personally I think Mr Rochester sounds like an American pretending to be an English gentleman pretending to be a cowboy...

Who is that strange man, limping into the garden?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Excerpts from Emily Bronte's Devoirs

For the Anglophone readers, here are a few excerpts from Sue Lanoff's translations of Emily's Belgian devoirs. These quotes are more or less random, except that I particularly like Emily's conclusions, so several are from the end of her essays. The first one is from a devoir which is interesting for several reasons. There are several versions of it in this book, showing M. Heger's corrections, and then a rewrite he did for Elizabeth Gaskell- presenting it as emily's work when it clearly has been rewritten in a very different style. The ending is particularly unbalanced by Heger's recasting. Emily's line is full of quiet, natural nobility, while Monsieur's line is artificial and distant- not to mention clumbsy.

From Le Roi Harold (King Harold):

As visible to men as to his Creator, the soul divine shines in his eyes; a multitude of human passions awake at the same time, but they are exalted, sanctified, almost deified. That courage has no rashness, that pride has no arrogance, that indignation no injustice, that assurance has no presumption. He is inwardly convinced that a mortal power will not fell him. The hand of Death, alone, can bear the victory away from his arms, and Harold is ready to succumb before it, because the touch of that hand is, to the hero, what the stroke that gave him liberty was to the slave.

From L'Amour Filial (Filial Love) (about the commandment 'honour thy parents'):

The hour will come when conscience will awake; then there will be a terrible retribution. What mediator will plead then for the criminal? It is God who accuses him. What power will save the wretch? It is God who condemns him. He has rejected happiness in mortal life to assure himself of torment in eternal life.

Let angels and men weep for his fate -- he was their brother.

From Le Papillon (The Butterfly):

God is the god of justice and mercy; then surely, every grief that he inflicts on his creatures, be they human or animal, rational or irrational, every suffering of our unhappy nature is only a seed of that divine harvest which will be gathered when, Sin having spent its last drop of venom, Death having launched its final shaft, both will perish on the pyre of a universe in flames and leave their ancient victims to an eternal empire of happiness and glory.

Of the devoirs I have read so far, Le Papillon is the most masterful. There isn't any other way to describe it. I believe Charlotte was right in saying that 'Ellis Bell' was at 'his' best as an essayist! I would also add that she seems to be an expert in sprezzatura. She manages to write in a precise Classical manner with language which is direct, unaffected, and natural. I can imagine these essays being composed in her head before setting them down, rather than working out a structure on paper before hand.

Incidentally Heger's version of the first passage reads as follows:

Harold is no more a man; his passions bubble up, they become exhalted, but shedding their egotism, they are purified; they are sanctified: his courage has no more rashness; his pride has no more arrogance -- his assurance is without presumption; his indignation is without injustice.

Let the enemy come! still the victory is Harold's. He feels that all must retreat, fall, before him.....But Death?...--to him who fights in defense of his native soil, the stroke of death is the stroke given to the slave, to liberate him and set him free.

The Brontes of Haworth... dull?

I am not sure how the topic turned to the course on the Brontes the university offered last year. Someone who was a roomate of one of my classmates told me how she felt as though she had taken the course herself. "Every night my roomate would be lying on the floor reading one of them, and laughing, and telling me 'someone just did this, and now this is happening!" She went on, and I listened, trying to discern which novel she was talking about. My best guess is that she was mocking Wuthering Heights, but I only came to this conclusion hours later, when I had returned home! It was the: "And now she's dying for love- because that's what women do in Victorian novels!" that led me to this conclusion. I know, it isn't very convincing, is it?

This roomate also forced her to watch The Brontes of Haworth. She was under the impression that we were forced to watch it. At first, I didn't think we were talking about the same course. Our professor had the miniseries available if we cared to view it. In any case, they both suffered through it and found it "soooooooooooooo boring!" and "soooooooo English!" Boring? ...No. I cannot see it. English? Well, what else?! Although, the example of this 'English'ness is that there are scenes where people are not doing anything.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Le Chat by Emily Bronte

Last night I decided to read some of the Belgian devoirs before I went to sleep. I had read a few of Charlotte's devoirs but none of Emily's. This one, Le Chat (The Cat) is the first. It was composed in 1842. The work is interesting, and I think there is enough of the author's opinion running through it that you wouldn't say she was simply adopting an argument set down by Monsieur Heger. I found it charming, in a sense. The topic might seem trifling at first glance, but she uses the occasion- defending cats- to comment on human hypocrisy, cruelty, and ingratitude. I think she finds her place somewhere towards the end where the narrator argues with the lady who prefers lap dogs to cats. The ending was nicely placed as well: "For, assuredly, the cat was not wicked in Paradise."

The criticism in this edition, however, is somewhat heavy handed. I have looked over a few of Emily's other devoirs. In each, the editor tells us how Emily's French shows her 'resistence' to the very end, in the from of syntax etc, to the domination of M. Heger, or this new language. I think this is absurd. It is very natural for someone learning a language to express themselves for a time in their customary forms. I recieved 13 years of French language training and yet I still prefer using French words which reflect 'English' ideas- I am not 'resisting' French. In fact, despite my preference for maintaining my... 'barbarisms' as M. Heger might say, when I compose in French, I 'think' in French as well. Also, at the moment I am a teaching assistant for a Latin class. In Latin, word order is fluid- quite the opposite from English. Very often students merely use Latin words in English word order on their assignments.

Since it is short, and one did not exist, I have transcribed Le Chat. There is an English translation in this book but I think the French is more vital, and more authentic- obviously since the French is the work of Emily herself and not a translator.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Libertine

It looks like this film has finally been released in North America, after being produced in 2004 I believe.

The Libertine
Running Time: 114 mins
Genre: Drama
Starring: John Malkovich, Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton
Director: Laurence Dunmore
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: 3/10/2006

Synopsis: An antidote to the sunny period pieces adopted from Jane Austen, which feature impeccably coiffed aristocracy engage in the witty banter of drawing room dramas and culminate in a most delightful denouement, THE LIBERTINE highlights the underbelly of the Britocracy of centuries past. Adapted from the play by Stephen Jeffreys, the plot follows the dastardly debauchery of the Earl of Rochester (a mischievous Johnny Depp). A hedonist who makes Oscar Wilde seem moralistic, the Earl spent his days and nights in beds, brothels, and bars, awakening from drunken blackouts only to stumble to the nearest whorehouse. Yet this ravishing rake was also possessed of a predilection for poetry, and turned his escapades into acid-tongued witticisms that pepper this frisky film.

Too bad he wasn't much of a poet. But he is probably the namesake of our Mr Rochester. Mysteriously, the Bronteana post concerning my theories on this is missing- or at least I cannot find it using the nominal index system I rigged up. In short- he is not the Earl of Rochester, but there are some significant points of comparison. From this synopsis it looks like the film will be ignoring his famous death bed conversion to Christianity- which is to date what the few scholars writing on his connection to JE believe is the aspect being examined or... alluded to. As I said in the previous post, now lost in the archives, this film has one other interesting connection to Jane Eyre. Samantha Morton, who plays Rochester's mistress in this film is most famous for playing Jane in the 1997 film. The photo above shows Samantha Morton and Johnny Depp in a scene from The Libertine.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Random Acts of Bronte- a brief guide.

Still recovering from this very hectic week! Not only has there been an unusual amount of work to complete for my classes, but Bronteana readers have given me so many options for new posts that I hardly know where to begin- not that I'm complaining! So, I'm diving in with more Random Acts of Bronte because, really, it would be nice if this took off. And it is something everyone can participate in- and besides, it's fun!

Bronteana reader, 'Carol' offers us this brief guide to helpful allusions for common situations! Here are a few exerpts:

Quotable Bronte:
It's a cold rainy day on campus, so how can I help declaring: "There was no chance of taking a walk that day" ? Ironically, I have to walk to class nonetheless because I don't have a car.

"You eat like a bird!" says my friend while surveying my P&J sandwich and Capri Sun. Of course, I reply, "I am no bird! And no net ensnares me!" You can imagine the stares I get at the lunch table.

St. Patrick's Day is fast approaching as my roommate and I observe in Target while looking at T-shirts that read "Kiss me. I'm Irish" and "Ireland" in big, flashy letters. What better time than this to burst into song?

Ireland! I really must Object!
Jane, this is best
I disagree, sir
Jane, when your gone
I will miss our walks, our little talks, the look of sunlight on your face
soon to be a memory...

Okay, so Charlotte Bronte didn't actually put it that way, but I still brought awareness to fellow Target customers. My roommate is used to my Bronte moments by now.

Creative Applications and Experiments:
I am fascinated by the way Bronte depicts restraint in her characters, especially in Rochester. Several times throughout Jane Eyre, Rochester seems to be struggling intensely from a wish to profess his love for Jane all at once, but he always manages to control himself. I always wondered what would happen if his feelings had overpowered him in the gypsy scene. I imagined the result would be quite comical. So, I talked my sister and cousins into participating in a mock talk show addressing this alternative event: that Rochester, overcome with emotion while reading into the significance of Jane's forehead, finally gives in to his impulses, grabs Jane, and kisses her heartily (all the while, still disquised as a gypsy woman). I was the host of the show, and the guests--played by my sister and cousins--were Jane, Rochester (still dressed like a gypsy), Blanch Ingram, and I think some other characters. Jane is so shocked and confused, she can hardly answer the interview questions. Blanch, appalled by Rochester's strange behavior, decides that insanity and cross-dressing trumps riches and social status; she quickly turns her affections elsewhere. Rochester sits absently, looking very pleased with himself in his wide-brimmed hat and tattered cloak. I don't remember most of the dialogue, but I recall that it was a bit disturbing--but incredibly hilarious.

So far my Random Acts have been limited to spontaneously quoting Anne Bronte's poetry, or such. You have inspired me to be more creative. Perhaps I could use the finger puppets...

An off-topic conclusion to this post is that yesterday I recieved an acceptance from one of the master's programs I applied to. If all goes well, and as it may, I will be an assistant to a Bronte professor next year. I literally just got in from my first conference as well! It was a success, and a lot of fun.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Resource Update: E-texts and Translations

A very special thank you to Professor Maddalena De Leo for providing e-texts for the Brontëana resource site including several texts more complete than those previously posted there. Professor De Leo was also very kind in allowing me post her translation- the first in Italian- of Albion and Marina.

This translation comes from Professor De Leo's groundbreaking work, 'All'Hotel Stancliffe e altri racconti giovanili' (edited and translated by Maddalena De Leo, 2004, Edizioni Ripostes, Salerno-Roma).

Jane Eyre (1952)

I have finally seen this production, thanks to Thisbeciel who sent me the DVD in the mail. In most respects it is mediocre at best, but now and then it is interesting- and sometimes ridiculous. I have only seen the production once through so I may have different impressions on a second viewing. The first thing to catch my attention was that Jane is listed third in the credits. This is not accounted for by order of appearance or anything else I can think of. The perspective of the production is unique, I think. We begin with Jane looking back at her experiences at Thornfield. It is clear that she 'can never go back to Thornfield.'

A Brontëana reader had asked what was 'wrong' with Mr Rochester's mouth in the scene where he walks into the garden after being thrown from his horse (off stage). It is stage blood, but the quality of the recording makes it difficult to tell from the images I posted. The 'Hay Lane' garden scene is rather different from canon. Jane becomes a little rude towards the end, tired of the stranger's questions she tells him to be quiet just before Mrs. Fairfax runs in and identifies him. The acting is affected, but usually not to the point of absurdity or of annoyance. But Jane has an infuriating way of making giddy love-sick faces now and then.

One positive point is how often the theme of Jane's social standing becomes an issue. First Mrs. Fairfax heartily declares she is 'not a servant' and will be treated as such. Blanche, however, makes a point of calling her a servant twice- once in an accusatory tone to Mr Rochester.

A few things are peculiar. It seems, from my knowledge of early stage adaptations of the novel, that it was very common to shift the scene of the fire into the drawingroom or library. This solves the problems of having to show the bed on fire, and having to have a bedroom set which is only used for one scene. It causes another problem: the audience now knows about Bertha. This production, for some reason, felt that this just wasn't enough of a hint- having a cackling maniac set the drapes on fire, then run upstairs. So, we get to see Bertha look out from the third floor door and smile at us, just in case we didn't get it yet! When she reappears she is wearing manacles! Manacles that are completely ineffective as she escapes from two handlers and chews on Mr Rochester's coat for an instant before she is hauled away. Before she appears, Briggs asks: "Is this necessary?" A good question! I don't see why we needed to see this, we had already seen her try to kill him. Chewing on his clothes isn't so bad as that.

Now and then it was absurd. Having Bertha smile at us was absurd, and so is the wedding scene. He is very gallant leading Jane to the garden wedding ceremony but in his haste he makes a few errors. The minister politely hints that he is standing on the wrong side. When Briggs turns up he is only a little put out, and seems capable of ignoring the interruption: "Produce him or get out," he says in an even, uninterested tone. Then Mason appears. This level-headed Rochester now goes berserk- he leaps on Mason and throttles him to the ground, while Mr Mason gasps: "he's married to my sister- ack!" "Enough!" Cries Rochester, throwing Mason to the ground again. "Enough! Enough! Enough! She lives! She lives! She lives! She lives!"

Before the proposal, Jane had already made plans to leave for Ireland and had her bags packed. Mr Rochester tries to convince her to stay, then agrees to let her sleep on it. She must have gone to Ireland after all because the next scene is of Mr Rochester looking out of a window, and then a shot of the sea. Otherwise he must have very good vision to see the sea from Thornfield. We see Jane surrounded by trees. She looks crazy, and is muttering about Mr Rochester, and looking around vaguely. She starts talking to him before we hear his voice, giving the impression that she really has lost her mind.

A Very Random Act of Brontë

I am half-way through my week of trails. There's still the in-class essay and the conference to prepare for. This afternoon I met with several colleagues also presenting at the Classics conference. They were drafting a letter accepting invitations to the conference's luncheon. The three of us are in some way students of English and Classics. We amused ourselves with writing the most grandeloquent prose humanly possible, describing our professors as "most sapient", and beginning with terms such as "Lord Admiral Nelson (Ph.D)," and "*professor's name here*, Duchess of Lambton Tower," and ending with something like "your most obliguing and obedient servants." I think 'conference' was consistently replaced with 'confabulation.' When it came to how I would be mentioned in this letter, the first option proposed was to make me an esquire. But then I explained how ladies can't be esquires...

"Unless you are Shirley, from the novel of the same name by Charlotte Brontë- She is the only one allowed to break this rule!"

And a hush falls, since no one knows what I'm talking about. But it's a start! I just have to keep mentioning it and eventually someone will ask me to explain. I do not remember how they resolved my title. It was troublesome:

"You're not married to a baronet, are you?"

"...Not to my knowledge."

Click here if you do not remember Random Acts of Brontë.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sangdil (1952)

In between essays, I bring you this clip from Sangdil. This clip is of the scene where Kamala (Jane) rescues Shankar (Mr Rochester) from a fire in his room. I had heard of this Hindi adaptation of Jane Eyre but I had not thought much about it because I had heard that it was very loosely based on the story:

A loose adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's classic. Childhood sweethearts are separated and grow up in different worlds. The girl is brought up to be a 'pujaaran' (priestess) while the boy grows up to be a dejected 'thakur', turned vindictive by life's injustices. Fate inevitably brings them together at a later juncture, and all seems happy and perfect for the young couple, until she discovers his deep, dark secret. (from imdb.com)

From the DVD:

Kamala (Jane) is brought up by Shankar's (Mr. Rochester: yes Jane and Rochester are childhood sweethearts in this) father (kinda like Helen Burns as well as Mr. Reed). Shankar's mother despises Shankar's growing attachment for Kamala. She torments Kamala. Shankar's feeling for tormented Kamal deepens as they both fall in love. Shankar's father dies and his mother's greed to devour Kamala's wealth separates the two lovers. Kamala is driven into a sanctuary. Her childish inquest changes into devotion and she dedicates her life to Shankar. Shankar gets involved in a worldy web of wealth and women. The passage of time creates a vast gulf between the two lovers until destiny brings them face to face. Their union brings back the lost love but not the companionship that Shankar's Sangdil heart desires.

However, Thisbeciel obtained a copy of the film and assures us that it is far from a 'loose' adaptation. In fact, it looks like it follows the novel more closely than most films of Jane Eyre. There's nothing like pictoral evidence: below, Kamala meets 'Mr Brocklehurst', a rider in Hay Lane.

The clincher is this: Kamala and the Astrologer, who of course is actually Shankar (This would make this the earliest, if not the first film adaptation of Jane Eyre to include the Gypsy Scene). And probably the most disturbing 'Bertha' yet:

A flashback while Shankar tells Kamala about his marriage. And after she hears him calling to her before devoting herself as a priestess, she returns to Shankar- who is now blind.

Clip and images courtesy of Thisbeciel.

Monday, March 06, 2006

"Where did you see Latmos?..."

Why, here of course. Thanks to Thisbeciel, we have some clips to show you from the BBC's 1973 Jane Eyre, starring Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston, which is due for DVD release this June. It is much loved for its fidelity to the book as well as for the calibre of the cast.

"I was tormented between my idea and my handiwork. Each time I would imagine something- something I was quite powerless to realise..."

The Interrupted Wedding

As you see, there are other Jane Eyre clips on this site, including the 'Sirens' performance from Jane Eyre: The Musical presented at the Tony awards, for which the show was nominated. Also there is a clip from the Hindi film Sangdil, which I will have much to say about at a later date.

Also, I would like to say that the Brontëana resource site also has a bunch of new etexts, mostly juvenilia but there are also some pieces by Branwell, and Patrick Brontë

I may have to be scarce this week. As I told one of my professors today, my workload for the week will probably reduce me to a puddle of goo by Sunday. At least I have that novel edited and annotated... and a commentary written... and... suggested revisions made... I just have to write the backcover copy, then write a paper on writer contracts, another paper on the Romance of the Rose, prepare for an in-class essay on Beckett, and then prepare for my first real conference! I will be presenting a paper on Emperor Claudius- which is fitting because last night I stepped on a thorn and now I have a nice Claudian limp. Here's hoping that those attending the conference think that I'm trying to be amusing.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Brontëana Resources: Albion and Marina, Villette.

Especially for Brontëana, Charlene has taken the time to transcribe one of Charlotte Brontë's Angrian tales- Albion and Marina. The e-text is now available on the Brontëana recource site and in the sidebar to the left. I have also made some substantial changes there. I'm working on the design elements but I have also made some progress with uploading the ridiculous number of images I have. There is now a page for illustrations of Villette from an early edition of the novel (I would guess early 1900s, from the style). I would prefer having a separate directory for each edition, since I have illustrations by more than one artist, but I am still trying to work this out.

These images of Villette were donated by Charlene as well.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Bronte Craft Corner

I think this is the first time I have written about the many things readers do to show their enthusiasm for the Brontes. This is by no means an exhaustive list. In fact, I have done no research at all for this post. I simply noticed that my friends and I are very peculiar and wanted to share this fact. Firstly, my friend Kristina made me a pair of Jane Eyre finger puppet gloves for me to use in lecture when I am a professor (above: Blanche, St.John, Diana, and Mary). She also made a little plush Mr Rochester doll. Mysticgypsy made some as well! Here's little finger puppet Jane and Rochester:

I have mentioned before that last year I created a comic book of Jane Eyre and am currently working on one for Villette (I intend to one day illustrate all of the novels and then to have them bound). Another common project is to make an icon, banner or bar sometimes will captions:
(Right top: By Alisa and Thisbeciel. Right bottom: by myself and Natasha Ranken)

And below is a bar of illustrations from a book I have, rough work for my comic book, two contributed by Arliamay in Australia, two ink sketches of mine, and from Lady Branwen's comic book! I'm sorry for the lack of Wuthering Heights fun but I don't have permission to post what I have come across.

Please respect the artists and do not save, copy, or repost these images without permission.

"Who am I"?: The many faces of women's identity in Victorian Literature.

This a really interesting excerpt from an essay by Bronteana reader, and fellow Bronte-scholarling, mysticgypsy. She compares several answers to the question 'who am I' as a woman in Victorian literature, two of which are from Bronte heroines:

I am my beloved: Catherine Linton (Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights)For Catherine, who she is as an individual depends on how much she is a part of her soulmate, Heathcliff. As long as she was free to be with Heathcliff, she could be herself, but the moment she goes against her nature, i.e. try to "better" her self by marrying Linton, and thereby breaking her relationship with Heathcliff, she loses a part of herself. After her marriage to Linton, Cathy takes on another persona. She is no longer the girl who would roam wild and free in the moors. Instead, she is confined to the suffocating gradure and Victorian sense of propriety in Thruschcross Grange. Cathy even acknowledges to Nelly that she and Heathcliff were one when she says "I am Heathcliff". Hence, in this case, the woman takes the identity of her beloved.

I am his equal: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre)For Jane, her identity as an intelligent, independent woman is resolved through ties with Edward Rochester, her imposing employer and master of Thornfield. Although Jane does seek her own independence (and thereby her identity as a single woman), in the end, she finds she does need Rochester to be complete. Firstly, there is the telepathic relationship that she shared with Rochester, which I believe was a strong indicator (from the author) that as long as that supernatural connection was there between Jane and Rochester, they could not be entirely happy without each other. They needed each other to be whole because they were "equals" and complemented each other. Jane needed Rochester during moments of her insecurity (when Rochester was more controlling of her), and by the end of the story Rochester needed Jane when he was (phsycially) found wanting (thus Jane controls Rochester). This kind of relationship is differnet from that of Cathy and Heathcliff in that this is a relationship of equals, where only each will do for the other, but each keeps their own identies. Jane is NOT Rochester in the manner as Cathy affirms she IS Heathcliff.

The rest of the post (although not the rest of the essay) can be found here.

Thornycroft Hall (1864) by Emma Jane Worboise

Thanks to reader, Shoshana, I stumbled upon this rewrite of Jane Eyre. A very... interesting one.

Published in 1864, Thornycroft Hall has more than a few echoes of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, which appeared some eighteen years earlier. It seems that the evangelical Emma Jane Worboise felt the need to provide a more "Christian" version of the earlier novel, including not only a spirited defence of Rev. William Carus Wilson and "Lowood School", but also repeatedly urging the necessity for immediate acceptance of Christ.

I have not had the time to read much of it, but here are a few more excerpts from literaryheritage.org.uk:

The similarities between the opening chapters of this book and Jane Eyre are striking. An orphaned girl is brought up by uncongenial relations, and a furious (though justified) temper tantrum leads to her being sent away to school. But here the novels diverge: Ellen is very happy at the Clergy Daughters' School, and defends both it and Rev. William Carus Wilson vigorously from Charlotte Bronte's strictures.

And it was no "Do-the-girls Hall," as some people have asserted: I here
solemnly declare that during the whole of my residence--nearly five years--I never saw the table otherwise than plentifully and wholesomely supplied…I confess that sometimes, at the breakfast hour, our olfactory nerves were saluted with a perceptible odour of burnt porridge; but I have known the milk to be burnt now and then at Thornycroft Hall; and certainly our bread and butter was cut in "planks," not slices, and the butter was, perhaps, a little hard to find…but if you had seen the large dishes-full replenished again and again till every girl was satisfied; if you had seen them passing down the long narrow tables in the lofty eating-room, disappearing with astonishing rapidity; if you had counted the number of "planks" each young lady consumed, you would not have imagined any pupil to be badly served.

The pious and slightly priggish Marshall Cleaton is certainly no Mr. Rochester, but he and his mother are surprisingly appealing characters, despite the rather heavy-handed evangelistic fervour they both display.

...Pious and priggish? The full e-text is now listed in the sidebar.

Patrick Brontë's The Rural Minstrel

As soon as I finished posting Emma (which is being revised right now- I did catch a handful of errors, and I still have to add bibliographic information) I recieved offers of more resources for the site, including more e-texts and transcriptions. When I said that the site would not be empty for long, I meant what I said! Two new e-texts in as many days isn't bad. Thisbeciel was good enough to find the e-text she had once sent me before I began blogging. It is of Patrick Brontë's The Rural Minstrel. These poems are now available at the Brontëana Resource site, and the text is now listed in the sidebar.

1 Erewhile, the morning o'er the blushing sky,
2 In milder beauty, held the soverign sway;
3 The streaky east, with many a changing hue,
4 Glowed on the confines of the ether blue,
5 And gently ushered in the king of day.
6 Now hangs the sun, his golden lamp on high,
7 Diffusing, brighter, warmer light;
8 The sleepy charms dissolving, of the drowsy night,
9 The spirits cheering, with a quicker flow,
10 And fostering all the rosy flowers of health that blow.
11 How charming is the scene!
12 The fields in flowery green,
13 Scent the soft breezes, with their fragrant smell:
14 The blackbird and the thrush,
15 Make vocal every bush;
16 Perched on the milk-white thorn, the linnet sweetly sings;
17 The labouring bee, shakes music, from his mellow wings:
18 Loud tolls the Sabbath Bell;
19 From yonder ancient tower, proceeds the solemn sound,---
20 Where dusky yews, and lofty ashes bend,
21 Beneath a load of years, their crazy head,
22 Mourn o'er the living, and protect the dead.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Emma Chapter Two

This morning I finished transcribing Charlotte Brontë's Emma. It is now available as one transcript, in a text file (it had been an html file), at the Brontëana Resource website. I am sorry to use the same image for two posts but when I thought of scanning the last page illustration I remembered that it might ruin the effect of the last words. As I transcribed this I realised that this edition is obviously American. I did not standardise any spelling although I did fix one punctuation error.

The book was published by Porter and Coates Philadelphia, and it is not dated. The illustrations are very similar to an edition of Longfellow that I have which is from the 1890s. Other books I have from the period show similar wear, although the title page of this book is remarkably clean and white which makes me think it wasn't as well read as the other volumes in the set... If I can get a digital cammera I will post an image of it- the pages here are too nicely tight to press on a scanner, I think. And I'm afraid of tearing the tissue covering the illustration on the fronticepiece.

A Broadway Surprise

I thought never to hear more about this production- the 1958 Broadway Jane Eyre. I know of it's existence and nothing else. But now, one of its stars will be performing:

Jane White, who originated the role of Queen Aggravain in Once Upon a Mattress, has added her one-night-only engagement to Feinstein's at the Regency's starry 2006 line-up. She will perform on March 13th at 8:30 PM.


White most recently appeared on Broadway as Solange LaFitte in the revival of Follies. Other Broadway credits include The Cuban Thing, a 1958 production of Jane Eyre, Take a Giant Step, The Climate of Eden, Razzle Dazzle and Strange Fruit.

If anyone knows anything at all about this 1958 production, I would love to hear from you!

Brontës make Happiest and Most Depressing List

In a previous post we discussed Jane Eyre making the list for books adults should read before they die. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have also made another sort of World Book Day list- most happiest and most depressing ending lists!

Pride and Prejudice was voted the happiest ending in literature, followed by To Kill a Mockingbird and Jane Eyre.

Only one in fifty readers, it seems, likes to be left tearful at the last page, so the survey also asked which unhappy endings readers would most like to change: Tess of the D’Urbervilles was a clear winner, with readers demanding clemency more than a century after Thomas Hardy sent his tragic heroine to her death. It was also felt that the endings of Wuthering Heights, 1984 and Gone with the Wind were all too depressing, and should be perked up.

The snarky columnist decides to try their hand at refashioning the ending to Jane Eyre, to see how it might be made a little darker:

And since we are making unhappy endings cheerier, for the gloomy 2 per cent there are ways of rendering happy endings a little darker, starting with Jane Eyre: The original “My Edward and I, then, are happy” needs another clause “. . . or we would be, if that bloody Bertha hadn’t found the fire escape.”

The columnist also goes on to note the boom in fan fiction.

The Fanfic.net website has more than 200,000 Harry Potter stories that J. K. Rowling never wrote.

It also contains half a dozen Brontë 'fics'. They don't deserve a category, which is accorded to Jane Austen, and Mindsweeper... yes, the computer game where you click those little boxes and sometimes kill a smiley face. Several of the best stories on the Brontë novels had been 'boojumed' to use a term from Jasper Fforde, because they violated regulations on the use of colons and other punctuation. These were mostly hilarious works, such as a parody in which we find that Mr Rochester has Brittney Spears living in his attic. Another asks the question, what if Jane had gone to India?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Emma Fragment and Brontëana Website

I have spent most of the day working on this. What began as the simple task of transcribing Emma, the two chapters of Charlotte's last unfinished novel, turned into a website. This website: http://bronteana.bravehost.com I had plans to make a website for some time, but at last I was forced to create one in order to share this transcript. It would be simply too large for a post. So far, the only item there is 'Emma'. The design is a template, and very unattractive but for now, it will have to do! There is also a handy guestbook so everyone can leave me a note. I am able to add a message forum but I am not sure if I want to go that far at this point. If there is interest I may add it.

This transcript is of chapter one of Emma. I transcribed it personally from a book I have. It appears, from the type, wear, illustrations etc to be from the 1890s. It is part of my collection of antique books. The image above is a scan I made of the first page of 'Emma'. The book itself is the unloved last volume of 'Bronté Works'. And is the 'Professor Emma and Poems' volume. There are also a few illustrations. I can tell from its condition that it was seldom read... The transcript is now listed along the sidebar along with the other Brontë e-texts, and the website is also listed in the links list above.

The Emma fragment was made into a novel called Emma Brown recently. Comment on this book will be forthcoming. I am quite exhausted at the moment. Remind me not to edit half a novel, transcribe a chapter from another, and make a website all in one day. It hurts... The second chapter should be up before next week, when I shall go back to school and return to my regularly scheduled essays and seminars. Speaking of which, when I wasn't working on Emma and the website I was editing and annotating the Mr Christi novel (an unpublished novel by one of Canada's first Modernists). Can you imagine Jane Eyre boarding in a house full of Ginevra Fanshawes? Now, that's terrifying!

In the same volume is also Thackeray's wonderful 'Last Sketch' preface to Emma, and tribute to Charlotte Brontë. I'll have that posted later as well.

Shop Brontë Parsonage Museum

After witnessing my distress over not being able to find a copy of Agnes Grey, reader Alan Bentley reminded me that the Brontë Parsonage Mueum Shop now has an online store front. I say reminded because I first heard about their new presence through the Brontë Parsonage E-Magazine Blog, run by the editor of the Brontë Society Gazette.

In our shop you will find a wide range of books, gifts and souvenirs including old favourites, new temptations and curiosities, many of which are exclusive to us. Profits from sales help support and maintain the museum and its collections.
At the museum shop we are passionate about the lives and works of the Brontës. Our aim is to provide the largest collection of Brontë related products for the enthusiast or for those with a growing interest.

It looks like they carry most things, but not 'BrontëBerry Lip Balm'.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Jane Eyre 1952 Images Continued.

Here are the last of the screencaps from Westinghouse One's Summer Theater production of Jane Eyre from 1952, starring Katherine Bard as Jane Eyre and Kevin McCarthy as Mr Rochester:

I really like this last picture- it looks like she tripped and fell into his arms (a bit hard to see at this size). Thanks once again to Thisbeciel for sharing these with me.

ETA: Hm... and, his hand has reappeared in the last frame as well! Thisbeciel tells me that it seems like he was only pretending that he had lost a hand in the fire...

The Brontes as Propaganda?

From The Tyee:

I'm calling it the propaganda novel, for the lack of a catchier term (which will no doubt surface). Of course, it's true that all novels (and I would argue all art) are propaganda in the original sense of the word, in that they direct audiences to see the world through the artist's eyes. Charles Dickens seduced us into that annual shopping festival, Christmas. William Gibson spelled out just why corporations are so darn scary. And the Brontes have a lot to answer for in convincing young women that angry, abusive bad-boys are sexier than nice guys.

Well? Are all novels propaganda? And more seriously, have the Brontes brainwashed women into devoting their lives to abusive losers?

Jane Eyre Makes List of Essential Reads

To mark World Book Day, liberarians were asked to name the book adults should read before they die. Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird came out the winner, with the Bible and Lord of the Rings in second and third place.

Other well-loved classics which feature in the rundown are Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre 1984 by George Orwell, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

From BBC News.

Brontëana Update Phase Two

No more work has been done on the index, but now you may find below it a list of e-texts of the Brontë novels, and poetry as well as other related works such as Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Brontë and several 19th century adaptations of Jane Eyre. The first of these is the 1857 play by John Brougham which I encourage everyone to read- it's very entertaining, as you can discern from the cover art. I don't think they had Mr Rochester suspended from wires but this was the Victorian stage, so one can never tell.

There's also our personal favourite, Miss Mix: a parody of Jane Eyre from the 1860s.

The new e-text links are available at the bottom of the sidebar at left.