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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Old Footage Comes to Light

In the history of a musical, one can never be sure what will come to the surface and when. Yesterday a 14 minute fragment of footage from the Gordon/Caird Jane Eyre: The Musical came to light, out of the depths of fandom where it had been cherished for several years. Only 14 minutes of the production at La Jolla. this production lies at the centre of the massive reconception of the work, when it transformed from 'musicalised BBC drama' to 'Cliff Notes Jane Eyre.' It is peculiar, and any new material is something special. I do have a full audio recording of the work, but it leaves me with more questions than answers.

This clip includes the Gypsy scene and the proposal. The quality is rather poor but good enough to show some of the staging- the elusive chestnut tree for example. Unfortunately the clip cuts off abruptly before the moment the tree is struck- which is something of a mystery to me; how it was done. I asked the composer, Paul Gordon, about this once. He recalled that there were in fact two trees. That they were rapidly switched and that it was 'very noisey'. The tree was so noisey that it 'not infrequently set off the fire alarms' and the theatre would have to be evacuated! Somewhat too realistic, perhaps!

I think the technical demands of using this effect in turn had an effect on the music. There is a strange bit of music during the La Jolla proposal scene which fans of it have mockingly dubbed 'Rochester Triumphant.' Now, the recording is made from the sound board so the effects are always louder and more obnoxious than they would be in the theatre, but 'Rochester Triumphant' features trumpet fanfares and other effects culminating in a shout of exhaultation from Mr Rochester followed by bells and a choir. It is awful, doesn't appear before or after this stage in the show's development. And I think it is all to cover up the noise of the tree.

For those who are curious, the cry goes something like this:

Let fire burn wild and deep,
Raging skies bleed bitter rain
but there is peace, I have my Jane!

This last image is from the gypsy scene and apparently shows Mr Rochester doing his impression of a matador (just to show off his acting ability, of course! His hair is also notorious in this production. It is quite a hideous Zamorna wig) and there's Jane encouraging this sort of behaviour.

Marketting The Professor

I came across this cover for The Professor by Charlotte Brontë and had to pause over it. To me it seems like an odd choice for the book, and yet I can well understand what motives might have gone into the choice. I am not sure, firstly, who this is supposed to depict. Is this supposed to be William Crimsworth? Is this Mr. Hunsden? Why is Mr. Hunsden on the cover of 'The Professor'? It doesn't seem to be of any particular character, I think. But it does seem to say: "tall, dark, mysterious man + Charlotte Brontë novel." And this will draw attention to an otherwise quite passionless book.

I have the penguin edition of The Professor. The cover depicts a rather studious looking man with round glasses, and an uncertain expression. It is a portrait of the artist's brother. He looks like he might be a school-teacher, or a clerk. In other words, he might be William Crimsworth, the professor. When I look at this cover, I think this is the story of an ordinary man which is what Charlotte had tried to do with The Professor.

This Wildside Press paperback cover reminds me of current advertisements for the 1934 Jane Eyre, which is heralded everywhere as a gothic horror classic. Anyone who has seen this film will find it difficult not to laugh at such a statement. It is like a comedy of manners, with a confused quaker living in one of the rooms ("Oh Edward! My husband! You've decided to get married again? [to Jane] Are you one of the guests?"). Here are some of the other covers for the sake of comparison:

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Ciaran Hinds on playing Mr Rochester

This is a supplement to a very old post on Ciaran's take on the role of Mr Rochester in the 1997 film Jane Eyre opposite Samantha Morton. As part of a series of posts called 'Actors on Playing Mr Rochester' I had posted some of his rather off-base conceptions of Edward Rochester. Now, it gets so much worse, but we know now why he has such delusions... the poor, poor man:

Firstly, Mr Rochester's mysterious moustache is revealled to be the result of lazy facial hair adaptation from his stint as Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert: "At least half the facial make-up was there. They just chopped bits off the beard willy-nilly."

Hmnnn... *taps foot*

He was chosen for Rochester after the director, Robert Young, heard him play the part on radio. "He told me there was passion in my voice. I couldn't evaluate whether I was right or wrong. I haven't seen any film versions, or read the book. I don't want to because I'd worry about the impossibility of translating it to the screen. I'd wonder why particular scenes are left out, and that would cause frustration as well as getting in the way of the screen writer, who has worked very hard for a long time and knows more about it than me. Sam (his co-star Samantha Morton) has read the book several times, so I developed the character through her. She's only 19 and has an amazing talent. She treated me like her grandfather," he jokes. "The danger is that Rochester has been played so many times I risk being shot down by the critics. But a good story is a good story, whatever, and this is still about two hearts. I hope I can communicate real emotions. I hope against hope sometimes, but there's an extraordinary feeling when you get it right."

Hnnn!!!!! *taps foot faster*

Rochester is, he believes, selfish, arrogant, chauvinistic, bullying, sexist. "You could say he's a man of his time, a rich landowner, with power which he abuses. I wouldn't fancy him, and I wonder why women find him attractive. It's the power, I think. My job is to try and make viewers have sympathy. I hope we show how his heart was hit badly by his first wife. She'd been a bit of a sex siren when younger. How was he to know she was barking mad? Jane is employed as a governess and responds to him like a genuine person. It's not 'Yes, sir, no, sir.' She looks him in the eye and speaks her mind, which is a new experience for him. He finds her fascinating. In the end he says 'We are one soul,' but he can't trust himself to open up completely and admit, 'I love you'. He is callous, too, in the way he flirts with Blanche in order to make Jane jealous".

...*twitch* Perhaps if he had read the book he might have half a clue why women find him attractive? And that Mr Rochester is decidedly ...none of those things listed? ...*deep clensing breath*

Then he muses on life and love: "Monogamy is a bizarre concept, don't you think?"

...uuuuuurgh! Read it, if you must but... ugh! But... thank you, siansaksa for this. Really. *twitch* I really should talk to Mags at Austenblog about where she got her 'Cluebat of Janeite Righteousness.'

ETA: ...one more remark just in case anyone still had any suspicions that this actor had the least sympathy with his character:

His first professional job was as the back end of the horse in Cinderella. "From the back end of a horse to Mr Rochester. You could say there's not much difference. The horse was probably a lot more interesting."

Helen Sewell Jane Eyre Illustrations

These are lovely, and often very interesting illustrations by Helen Sewell. Several of them depict scenes that I have never seen illustrated before. There are a lot of them, in blue and white. I have just uploaded them, but Thisbeciel must be thanked for sharing them with me in the first place! They can all be found on the Brontëana Resource Page, here.

Some of the curiosities include illustrations of the moth in Mr Rochester's garden, and Mr Rochester and Bertha in Jamaica.

Heathcliff Unplugged

I came across this interesting thought this morning:

I can’t wait for Claire’s next installment at the eatery. It’s none of my business, but I am going to try to find out a few things. When, if ever, did they take their iPods out of their ears? Who did it first? Did their eyes meet? Did they ever talk? Was it all they could handle to experience four out of five senses on the first date? Will they go iPod-less next time?

In the meantime I’m going to spend some time wondering about the iconic characters in Wuthering Heights. If iPods were part of their furtive meetings, would the world-famous passion of that story have been worth writing about?

I'm not sure about Heathcliff and Cathy with their ipods out on the moors. It would make things difficult for Jane to hear Mr Rochester, though- unless this explains for once and for all just what 'the voice' was!

And then, reader, I remembered that I had neglected to remove my ipod and this explained the mysterious voice in my head.

Agnes Grey on BBC Radio 7

Thanks to Christina for this find! A dramatisation of Anne Brontë's Agnes Grey can be listed to from the BBC's webplayer, here.

Does anyone else find their synopsis rather odd?

Agnes Grey dismays her family when she decides to earn her own living as a governess. Will her trials lead to true love?

Because we all know that one of the likely outcomes of becoming a governess is to find true love...

Friday, April 28, 2006

More on Jane Eyre 2006

Thanks to Christina for this interesting find. From the BBC Press Office, where our diligent reader, Alison, first brought us the first image from the production, BBC ONE controller Peter Fincham has a few words about the new production:

This autumn, in the same spirit, we're bringing back another of those iconic brands, Robin Hood. Our Robin Hood won't much resemble the old black-and-white series of the sixties, and nor will you mistake it for the eighties version Robin of Sherwood.

Those Spandau Ballet hairstyles will have gone, for a start. But in Robin Hood you have a story, and a world, that's worth revisiting for each generation.

At the other end of the spectrum we're broadcasting an ambitious dramatisation of Jane Eyre. It's shooting now in Derbyshire. I was recently shown some early scenes – they looked ravishing.

As with Bleak House, this is BBC ONE doing something that's in our DNA, something that the viewers almost demand of us – producing timeless, but modern, versions of the classics.

Both these series, by the way, introduce completely new faces to BBC ONE: newcomer Ruth Wilson, who plays Jane Eyre, and Jonas Armstrong as Robin Hood. Refreshing the family of talent on the channel, and avoiding the obvious route of playing safe with familiar faces.

There's our third confirmation that the production will be airing in autumn, not winter. It is possible that the production will appear on Masterpiece Theater in 2007.

A brief digest of Bronteana posts regarding the production:

Interview with Toby Stephens (Mr Rochester)
Haddon Hall (location for Thornfield Hall)
Speculation on Mr Eshton

Digest of Brontë News

The forcast for today is wierdness with 10% chance of irrelevancy.

The Guardian has a review of Shanghai Nights by Juan Marsé:

Susana is a capricious girl who spends her time painting her fingernails and indulging in wild cinematic fantasies in which Scheherazade and Quasimodo appear in Wuthering Heights.


Here's a book most of us should be able to sympathise with: A Dead Language by Peter Rushforth.

Its heroine, Alice Pinkerton, is the spinster daughter of wealthy suburban New Yorkers. She reads, as Dickens once said, for life; and her obsession with books (with the Brontës and Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe and Tennyson, and so on) comes across, publicly, as a kind of madness, for which her small-minded neighbours hold her up as a curious exhibit.

More news on Emily Brontë the race horse.

Retiring judge Terry Hallenbeck is working through his alphabetised reading list, but somehow missed A... for Anne Brontë.

Lastly, we are told to keep teens occupied this summer by getting them writing:

So, get creative and dream up different ways of engaging that bright spark-propose e-mail, pen-pals, composing a thoughtful letter to Aunt Dorothy for the gift of Jane Eyre last Christmas; maybe even a letter to the editor of the local newspaper about some burning issue dear to your teenager's heart, such as why teens should be allowed to return home at all hours of the night and early morning.

Oh, yes, this will work. M. Heger put Emily to the same task, and the result is not very stimulating (she had to write several fictional letters). I can't imagine she found it enjoyable either. Some of the other advice is sound, though!

Jane Eyre 1973 In Stock!

Surprise! I wasn't expecting it either, but Acorn Media- the company who first confirmed that the production would be released- has changed the DVD's status to 'in-stock' (and one very happy fan says she was notified today that her copy has been shipped). Astonishing, since it was supposed to be released in the US only in July, and June for the UK! But no complaining, now. The DVD can be ordered here.

Jane Eyre's 'Southwest Premiere'

It has actually played Texas several times by now, however, people are determined that each show is a premiere nowadays! The Irving Lyric Stage, Irving Texas is presenting the Gordon/Caird musical starting today. Here is what the founding producer of the company has to say about his early impressions of the work:

The book of this musical was written by John Caird, co-director/adapter of the Broadway smash LES MISERABLES. Lyric Stage's Founding Producer Steven Jones first saw JANE EYRE during its Toronto run in 1996. “I loved it. I was in Toronto to see the pre-Broadway engagements of RAGTIME and JANE EYRE. I saw JANE EYRE the first night and RAGTIME the following afternoon. I was so moved by JANE EYRE that I returned to the Royal Alexandra Theatre to see it a second time.” After sold out runs in Toronto and at the La Jolla Playhouse, JANE EYRE opened at Broadway’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre on December 10, 2000 and was nominated for 5 Tony Awards. Lyric Stage’s production will be only the third professional production since its Broadway engagement.

It is nice to know that others besides myself still admire that early version of the show!

Performances dates for JANE EYRE are April 28, 29, May 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 & 13 @ 8:00 PM and April 30, May 7 & 13 @ 2:30 PM. Tickets are $24-$30, with discounts available for students and groups, and are available by calling the box office at 972-252-2787 or CLICK HERE TO ORDER ONLINE. All performances are in the Irving Arts Center’s Dupree Theater, 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd. Irving, Texas, 75062.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Another Review of Branwell

We're heard from the publisher, professional critics, and myself. Now, here is a review from another blogger, and 'Jane Eyre girl.'

There are two types of girls in the Western world: Jane Eyre girls and Elizabeth Bennett girls. Although most love both of the 19th-century's most famous fictional heroines, the majority will confess, if pressed, that deep down their loyalties lie with either one or the other.Although I, too, fell in love with Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy and will accept no substitutes, when it comes right down to it, I'm a Jane Eyre girl all the way.


When I was given the opportunity to read Douglas A. Martin's Branwell, the fictionalized biography of Charlotte Brontë's underachieving brother, I tore into it, hoping desperately for glimpses of his genius older sister and revelling in each mention of her work on Jane Eyre.My tendency to crane my neck past Branwell in order to long after Charlotte was, according to the novel, exactly what was wrong with Branwell to begin with.


Those looking for the keen determination and righteous anger of Charlotte won't find it in Branwell. The bare bones of Branwell's life, gleaned from scraps of writing and newspaper articles aren't brought into focus. Instead, the entire novel adopts the regressive tone of Brontë himself, a man so personally regressive he painted himself out of the family portrait. The permeating voice is listless and dispassionate, as if Branwell himself is telling the story from the bottom of a fingerful of laudanaum. There is no dialogue between characters, and even the questions are all phrased as statements, as if the narrator did not care if he was heard or not.

She's back.

Charlotte Brontë-saurus. First seen here*, but now we have another sighting of this elusive creature. Apparently she now lives in Minnesota and has children in South Dakota. This is clearly not the same Charlotte Brontë-saurus, but you never know. I mean, she's out there somewhere (unless she has been microwaved into action-figure oblivion). A Brontëana reader reports a cartoon dinosaur named Emily, but in our professional opinion we believe we can discount the report as not being a valid sighting of the even more elusive Emily Brontë-saurus, since she is not a cartoon as far as we know.

*Well, not 'seen' per se...

Digest of Today's Brontë News

Culled from Google News:

In Love with Love:
In a brief historicisation of the Romance novel the Brontës and Jane Austen are lumped together as 'The Gothics.' Characteristics thereof are delinated, while some interesting mental images for those who read this article too carefully provide some amusement.

From Page to Stage:
Humboldt Light Opera Company and College of the Redwoods present the musical drama Jane Eyre, April 28-May 13, at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees on May 7 and 14 at 2 p.m. at the CR Forum Theater. (445-4310.)

More on the above production: A 'Gothic' Love Story. Tickets are $12 for general seating and $9 for students and seniors. (Image above is from this article).

A very odd nostalgic moment indeed, for a news article on violent crime: TODAY'S NOSTALGIA: On April 27, 1961, CBS' Family Classics aired a live production of Jane Eyre, starring Sally Ann Howes, Zachary Scott and Fritz Weaver. (*makes note to track this one down*)

Lucy Ellman's got a vulgar way of retelling Jane Eyre for her book 'Doctors and Nurses.' Read at your own risk.

Chris Rankin talks about his role as Edgar Linton in Wuthering Heights (near the end of the article): Wuthering Heights runs at The Capitol in Horsham from Thursday May 4 to Saturday May 6 at 7.30pm (plus Saturday matin?e, 2.30pm). Tickets start from £15 (concessions available). For more information, call the box office on 01403 750220 or visit the website at www.thecapitolhorsham.com

From an article on a play based on Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451:
Here’s Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights,” and there’s Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” – and is that Aristotle? The Book People have memorized books by heart with the hope of restoring them once out of these dangerous times.

Now how many out there think they could manage memorising one of the Brontë novels? Let me rephrase that... How many of you have memorised them?

And, a remarkably short yet informative life of Emily Brontë from the Navhind Times, India.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

BBC Jane Eyre in 5 parts

Back by popular demand, here are all three parts of the BBC's radio production of Jane Eyre. I do not know when it was produced but I have a feeling it is from the 1950s. This is only a guess. The production features Meg Wynn Owen (aka Megwynn Owen) as Jane Eyre, and Patrick Allen as Mr Rochester. I will say that if this production had been a film rather than an audio recording it would doubtless be one of the contenders for 'best adaptation.' In fact, this production has as astonishing St. John Rivers. Finally, an actor who takes St. John seriously enough to make him a real threat. You truly believe that he could murder Jane and not receive one stain of guilt on his 'crystal conscience'!

The strange omission is that this version actually omits Helen Burns entirely! Otherwise, it is a faithful, moving, and thoughtful adaptation. And, yes, Jane and Rochester are extremely well portrayed as well!

1: http://download.yousendit.com/4405B29B3D313B47
2: http://download.yousendit.com/EC2BBDF307A2FB52
3: http://download.yousendit.com/333276AE45E2C053
4: http://download.yousendit.com/FBC7B38B76B5BCE2
5: http://s61.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3SHKETUYVNE2I2O64WQ8QFFTRI

Edmund Dulac Jane Eyre illustrations

All of Edmund Dulac's illustrations of Jane Eyre are now available on the Bronteana Resource page; the link to the Jane Eyre illustrations is here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

UK Cover Art for the BBC's 1973 Jane Eyre

As time draws nearer for its first release since its production in 1973, this version of Jane Eyre now has cover art for its US and UK editions. The DVD can now be preordered from the following websites:

For the UK edition:
">BBC Store

For the US edition:
Collectables Direct (for American customers, and for Canadian customers here)

And from the Brontëana archives, here is a contemporary American review of this production, as well as some heated material from the Radio Times 1973 article in which two Yorkshire writers battle it out over Jane Eyre (but have nothing really to say about the show itself!). The post also shows pictures from the Times of Michael Jayston in front of Norton Conyers and Sorcha Cusack in front of the Brontë Cottages (the Clergy Daughter's School a.k.a. Lowood).

Jane Eyre: The Musical clips

Finally, thanks to Thisbeciel, there is a permanent home for these clips (and I will no longer have to repost over again!). These are both from the Broadway version of the musical. The CD is available for purchase here. The Toronto cast recording is currently unavailable. The website hosting it is in the process of moving to another server, and the CD itself is out of print.

The Proposal Scene

Sirens Reprise and Farewell, Good Angel

Monday, April 24, 2006

Limited Time Offer

I haven't made one of these limited time offers for some time (I know many, many of you want more Jane Eyre: The Musical. I apologise, but I am quite behind in answering emails. I have not forgotten!). This time, we have Jane Eyre from 1950, starring... Donna Reed as Jane Eyre and Vincent Price as Mr Rochester, courtesy of Thisbeciel.

Yes, I said Vincent Price as Mr Rochester. Family Theater- Jane Eyre. Here is Thisbeciel's mini-review:

This version has all the earmarks of a bad and cheesy adaptation- it is 30 minutes long, and how can you compress Jane Eyre well in such a short time frame- made shorter actually because there is some time spent preaching ("The Family that prays together, stays together")- it's not called 'Family Theater' for nothing. And c'mon, Vincent Price as Rochester? He's not high on my potential Rochester list. And up until a certain point I really did think this version was pretty cheesy (reference one bit in the Hay Lane scene- you'll know when you hear it :) but somewhere in the middle of the 'after the fire' scene, I changed my mind. This version became really good- and I don't mean in a "Well, it's good for it's time and with the time constraints"- no, it is just really good. In case you don't believe me, I'll say two words- Gypsy Scene.

But, wait, there's more! Screen Guild Theater- Jane Eyre from 1941 with Bette Davis as Jane Eyre and Brian Aherne as Mr Rochester!

Unfortunately the same can't be said about this version. Still it was funny. Bette Davis as Jane has quite the backtalking tongue, and Brian Aherne as Rochester emphasized "abruptness" in the first scene. I was expecting him to say to Jane- "Stand up. Sit down. Go moo." (Sorry, been watching Monty Python) But don't feel bad for Jane as she gives as good as she gets (although she doesn't take being called plain very well).

Brontë and Parsonage People

Just a reminder to all Brontëana readers that you should check out the Brontë Parsonage E-Magazine Blog, written by Richard Wilcocks, editor of the Brontë Society Gazette. Among other things, you can come to hear from people at the Parsonage, and others with great stories to tell. The link is also available on the right hand sidebar.

Charlotte, BBC bring a little hope

From Bust and Bloom. The BBC's new production of Jane Eyre for 2006 is bringing some hope, some stability to those whose lives have been torn apart by the tsunami waves of Boxing Day 2004:

A century and a half after her death, the Victorian novelist Charlotte Brontë is still hard at work, helping tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka.

The way she is achieving this minor miracle is through her novel Jane Eyre, which as well as being the BBC's big costume drama this autumn, also has a drama connected to the costumes.

Step forward actress Christina Cole, who plays Blanche Ingram, Jane's rival for the hand and heart of Mr Rochester. Blessed with beauty and breeding, Blanche has another asset (literally) up her sleeve, in the form of the sumptuous lace frills that adorn her outfits.

Delicate yet showy, this riot of frothy handiwork symbolised, during the 19th century, the wealth and status of those who could afford to wear it. But the real-life, 21st-century person who made the lace is a 65-year-old widow called Leela Wathi, who lives not in Derbyshire (where Jane Eyre is being filmed) but in the tsunami-flattened town of Galle, south-western Sri Lanka. And until recently she described her economic situation as "desperate".

She's just one of a growing network of women whom the celebrated UK costume designer Andrea Galer (Bleak House, Mansfield Park, Withnail and I) has taken under her wing as part of a project to repair the region's lace-making industry, destroyed by the giant waves of Boxing Day 2004.


She was accompanied on her journey by the actress Geraldine James, with whom she had worked on the BBC's dramatisation of Trollope's He Knew He Was Right. The pair made a mini-documentary on the lace-makers' plight, and were both shocked and inspired by what they found.

"As far as we could see, absolutely none of the relief money had got through to them," says James. "That said, there was still this enormous sense of pride and self-reliance; they were insistent that they weren't looking for continual hand-outs; the men just wanted boats, so that they could go out fishing again, and the women only wanted help finding new markets for their work."

And in Galer they found the right woman to provide that help. She has been back to Sri Lanka twice since her original trip (which she undertook during a one-week break in the filming of Bleak House). Each time she has returned to Britain more determined than ever to promote the virtues of Sri Lankan lace and to make use of the material in her productions. She has certainly got her way in Jane Eyre.

'We've been encouraging lacemakers to produce things for which there is a real demand'
"All the well-to-do characters wear lovely jabots (ruffs) made out of Sri Lankan lace, and most have lace frills on the ends of their sleeves," she says. "And I've put lace all round the collar of Jane's wedding dress."

Already, the orders generated by Jane Eyre have provided 20 Sri Lankan lace-makers with two full months' work and, in conjunction with the charity Adopt Sri Lanka, Galer has now set up a lace-making workshop inside the fort at Galle, which was one of the few buildings not destroyed in the tsunami.


You can support the Power Of Hands by buying one of the hand-made lace wristbands shown above, which are available to Telegraph readers for £5 (including p&p).
Send a cheque, payable to the Power Of Hands Foundation, to: POH, The London Film Fashion Centre, 6 Angler's Lane, London NW5 3DG (020 7485 6976).
To see other designs and lace products, and to find out more about the Foundation's work, see the website on www.powerofhandsfoundation.co.uk.

Image is of Christina Cole.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Brontë Sisters Paper Dolls

Yesterday I brought you paper dolls of some characters from the Brontë novels, and now, thanks to Cristina, I bring you the sisters themselves (or reasonable facsimiles).

The sisters only have one dress each, but they are very fine dresses. I'm not sure what they would think of these likenesses, however! I'm sure Charlotte would have something to say about it all...

In case it isn't easily apparent, they are from left: Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, and Anne Brontë.

Lookin' Up

Few remember either Grace Poole or Bertha Mason, but they were exceptional in that they gave attics a particularly bad name. The clangings on the third floor of the mansion Thornfield in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre foreshadowed the discovery of caregiver Poole and her ward, the insane Mason.

These days, homeowners have much higher hopes for their attics. They have swept out the cobwebs and chased down the mice, stapled in insulation and strengthened the floor joists, added Sheetrock and big windows.

What a way to start an article about the latest in attic-y improvements! Few remember Grace and Bertha indeed! But am I the only one amused that their significance is that they gave a bad name to attics everywhere?

Image is of the attic 'madwoman's room' of Norton Conyers, one of the halls which served as the inspiration for Thornfield Hall. There is a full-size image in the Brontëana archives.

Resource update: Munro S. Orr Jane Eyre illustrations

Thanks to Thisbeciel, who posted these colour illustrations from the Great Illustrated Classics edition of Jane Eyre. I had quite a few of these in black and white waiting to post but these are so beautifully coloured. I may post one or two of the black and white ones where the details are more apparent in my copies. The link to the resource page is on the left-hand sidebar. The link to the Jane Eyre illustration page is here.

Novels for April

From Courier and Press:

The Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library system has declared 2006 the Year of the Reader. Each month the library is focusing on a variety of well-known authors - adult, young adult and juvenile - with bookmarks and displays of their books at all library locations.
Authors for April include Charlotte Bronte, the revered author of "Jane Eyre," the penultimate gothic romance. A new novel titled "The Bronte Project" caught my eye and turned out to be so good that I ended up on a fiction kick.


"The Bronte Project: A Novel of Passion, Desire, and Good PR" by Jennifer Vandever (Shaye Areheart Books, 2005).
Abandoned by her fiance and overshadowed in academia by a woman with a talent for self-promotion, a mild-mannered Bronte scholar finds herself beginning to question everything from her love life to her life's work. My take: Funny sendup of academia by a first-time novelist and screenwriter with talent.

One of her other recent favourites is a book by an author I will probably meet eventually before I move on to grad school. I have heard her name dropped a dozen times, but she has so far eluded me. As an aside, one of Canada's finest writers has an opposite relationship to myself: I admire him as the writer of the best Canadian fiction I have ever come across, and I have seen him very often. I have even spoken to him, but won't say a word about his writing. He somehow manages to always be heading for the door the exact moment I am, and I am always the one to get there first, and hold it open for him. He thanks me, etc. This is all. It amuses me, but then small things do.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Brontë Paper Dolls

This post on Austenblog reminded me that there are Brontë paper dolls out there as well. From this link you can purchase a limited assortment of your favourite characters including Heathcliff, Cathy, and Jane Eyre.

Also there is Jane Hare.

The Cat by Emily Bronte

Now that exams are over, I can devote more time to blogging and transcribing and all of that good stuff! So, here is the English translation of Le Chat, Emily's Belgian devoir posted back in March. In this piece, Emily defends cats against those who despise them.

Aside from her arguments, there is another reason to like cats. Cats like the Brontës. Well, at least my cat does. She is a maine coon, known for their strange traits and above-average intelligence as well as size. Among other things she will read my books given the chance (unlike a human being, she prefers reading with her nose in my book rather than over my shoulder). Like some other maine coons she eats with her paws as though she had hands. She also sits upright on her tail with her hind legs out like a child, which gives the impression that she at least considers herself to be a little person as she sits thus on the couch.

She watches Brontë adaptations with me. The first time I noticed that she wasn't just spending time with me was when I was watching the musical of Jane Eyre. There's a line where Mr Rochester in Hay Lane describes 'Mr Rochester' as "a thoroughly unpleasant, violent fellow not to be trusted with man nor beast." At this, my cat turned to me and began to paw at my arm until I said: "Yes, I know it isn't true." Her favourite one is the 1973 version of Jane Eyre. It is the only one where she will come from wherever she is to watch it- sitting directly in front of the TV and following it closely (she seems most interested in Mr Rochester, Jane, and Mrs. Fairfax). The very first time she did this I remember her cocking her head to one side just as Jane was saying: "The eccentricity of the proceedings was piquant."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Inquiring minds...

So many people have been asking me about when the new BBC Jane Eyre 2006 with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens will be shown in the US that I thought I would take the opportunity to repost some very old information. This post comes from way back, when so far we had only heard of "the new Jane Eyre", "a new BBC Jane Eyre." This post was the third confirmation of its existence, and happens to affirm that it will air on Masterpiece Theater. At the end of a press release about the recent production of Bleak House was this:

Upcoming "Masterpiece" productions include the final "Prime Suspect," starring Helen Mirren, and adaptations of "Casanova," "Jane Eyre" and "Sense & Sensibility."

At the time I was unsure of whether this was a separate production, although I was sure there was a production at least. As soon as I hear anything about when it will air, I will be sure to post it!

As for the Angelina Jolie as Cathy, and Johnny Depp as Heathcliff rumor, I would like to officially pronounce it dead. It has been sleeping the eternal sleep for a good long while but I just haven't said so.

ETA: I really need to improve my archive system... There is indeed some hint as to when it will air in the US. Apparently it will air sometime in 2007. It is likely to air in the UK in autumn of 2006, although first reports claimed it was coming out 'at Christmas'. Possibly it will appear shortly afterwards on this side of the Atlantic!

ETA: For those requiring the source for the 2007 date, Masterpiece Theater announced months ago (at the same time as the original posting) that Jane Eyre would be shown in 2007.

Jane Eyre 1970 Remastered

Thanks to my Cornish correspondent for the tip, this version of Jane Eyre, starring Susannah York and George C. Scott has been digitally remastered and is set for a May 8th release in the UK. This is good news because I have a copy of the film before said remastering and there's nothing more awful. I have a wobbly copy of the 1952 version which is far better, for not only are there scratches- large scratches- on the film, and the colour has darkened severely, a scene or part of a scene at least are missing entirely. I don't know if this can have been corrected. It is my understanding that the surviving reels were damaged. Scratches can be fixed but not lost footage. We shall see...

Or rather, some of you shall see. For my part, I won't be buying this. It is the worst version of them all, in my opinion. I don't mean to offend those who cherish it, but I find it difficult to sit through. Jane really seems a pathetic creature in this film, and I often wonder if Rochester is an animate being; he spends so much of his time staring blankly at the ceiling. But then he nods his head, or blinks, to show he is indeed alive. And then there's that time he threw a glass across the room in a sudden burst of rage at Jane during one of their chats. She didn't mind because, she doesn't have a shred of self respect. But the primary memories I have of this film are: St.John Rivers grasping Jane on the moors, staring at her with his smoldering black eyes and gasping "I need you, Jane! I need you!" He is more moved by Jane's piano playing than Rochester is for the duration of the film, which leads me to memory number two: Ferndean. Jane sits next to him in the garden, he realises she is there and acts like she had just come back from the store with some sugar for his tea or something. Naturally, she is disappointed, I think, that he isn't more pleased to see her: "Maybe I should have gone with St.John".

The horror... But, see it by all means, do. But do excuse me, please.

Wait, it does contain one of my favourite unintentionally hilarious scenes of Brontedom. Mr Rochester, after he tells Jane how he loved Bertha 'every bit as much as I love you now' goes into detail about how nasty asylums can be:

Mr Rochester: Have you ever been to an asylum? ...

(cut to: ...everyone having left during his long speech)

Mr Rochester: Jane? Jane?!

(runs through the whole house which seems completely empty- giving the impression that everyone had finally had enough of his bad acting).

Jane Eyre Illustrations

I have just finished uploading the first of many sets of illustrations at the Bronteana Resource page. This time we have the Walter L. Colls illustrations of Jane Eyre, to match his illustrations of Villette, which were added last month or so. The link to the Resource page is on the links list to the left, for future reference.

This Friday I write my most final of final exams, and then there will most likely be more etexts and illustrations to add in the coming days and weeks.

Extras for Jane Eyre 1973

There's nothing to cheer about, but there will be some extras on the DVD of BBC's 1973 mini-series of Jane Eyre with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston:

Picture Gallery
Cast Filmographies
Biography of Charlotte Bronte

But, perhaps the picture gallery will have some interesting publicity photos or behind the scenes things we've missed out on. In a technical sense it will still have 'deleted scenes' for most of us who have seen it in one form or another.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Down, superstition! I mean... paranoia!

Well, I've thought a little about what this 'visionary John Eshton' we heard about in the BBC press release for their new Jane Eyre could possibly mean, and in the process I have alarmed myself. This will hopefully be an amusing rant to look back on later, when we have seen the production and can laugh at my unfounded fears and paranoia. Nevertheless, here's my case:

Now, there is indeed a Mr.Eshton in Jane Eyre. I wasn't sure what his first name was, when Bronteana reader Mysticgypsy asked me if there was indeed a John Eshton, so I looked in the concordance. Jane never tells us Mr. Eshton's name. So, they gave him one; no problem there. But, there is a problem. This is how Jane describes Mr. Eshton:

Mr. Eshton, the magistrate of the district, is gentleman-like: his hair is quite white, his eyebrows and whiskers still dark, which gives him something of the appearance of a "pere noble de theatre."

Mr. Eshton will be played by Aidan McArdle, who is only one year younger than Toby Stephens, who is playing Mr Rochester. Adding characters is nothing new, but it is very strange that this John Eshton would get such high billing- over Bertha, Adele and St.John. I know that Sam Hoare has been listed as being in the production vaguely, we have no idea who he is playing; it seems likely he could be St.John Rivers but there's no confirmation on this. This is the scary bit for me... St.John could be described as visionary in a sense. Have they done away with him? Have they replaced him? I shudder to think. It has been done before, but generally it ends up impoverishing the whole production. The 1857 Jane Eyre had one of the guests flirt with Jane, but... no, no. I hope this is all just an 'idle terror.'

Unless they mean 'visionary' in the sense Mr Rochester once used it ('visionary woe'), then that would be about right- since 'John Eshton' doesn't exist!

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - a new drama adaptation for BBC ONE

From the BBC Press Office (Thanks to Alison for the tip!):

Newcomer Ruth Wilson (Jane Eyre) and Toby Stephens (Edward Rochester) head up an all-star cast in a passionate new version of the much-adored classic Jane Eyre for BBC ONE.

The four-part serial also stars Francesca Annis as Lady Ingram, Christina Cole as Blanche Ingram, Lorraine Ashbourne as Mrs Fairfax, Pam Ferris as Grace Poole and Tara Fitzgerald as Mrs Reed.

Georgie Henley, who recently starred in the Christmas blockbuster The Chronicles of Narnia plays young Jane while Aidan McArdle plays the visionary John Eshton. The drama is currently filming entirely on location in Derbyshire.

Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning says: "Sandy Welch's wonderful version of Jane Eyre for BBC ONE will add that special ingredient to the mix of dramas due for transmission this autumn, which includes the new series of Robin Hood; Lizzie Mickery and Dan Percival's conspiracy thriller, State Within; Sally Wainwright's heart-warming series The Amazing Mrs Pritchard plus Russell T Davies's Torchwood for BBC THREE."

The sustainability and appeal of Jane Eyre lies in her universality and the audience's appetite for a well-told romantic tale.

Orphaned at a young age, Jane (Ruth Wilson) is placed with her wealthy aunt Mrs Reed (Tara Fitzgerald) who neglects Jane in favour of her own three spoiled children.

Mrs Reed's spitefulness leads her to withhold news that could change Jane's life for the better.

Instead she brands her a liar and sends Jane to Lowood School where she remains until the age of 19.

When she finally leaves the dark memories of Lowood behind, she embarks on a career as a governess and her first position is at Thornfield Hall, the home of the alluring and unpredictable Edward Rochester.

Jane's journey into the world and as a woman begins.

Producer Diederick Santer adds: "In her brand new adaptation of Jane Eyre, Sandy Welch has mined Bronte's novel for every ounce of passion, drama, colour, madness and horror available, bringing to life Jane's inner world with beauty, humour and at times great sadness.

"The locations we have chosen are stormy and majestic and I hope that Sandy's original take on the story will be enjoyed as much by long-term fans of the book as by those who have never read it."

Filming is underway until June at the historical medieval castle Haddon Hall, owned by Lord Edward Manners, and other locations across Derbyshire.

Jane Eyre is adapted by Sandy Welch (North and South, Magnificent Seven), directed by Susanna White (Bleak House) and the Executive Producer is Phillippa Giles.

The 'visionary John Eshton'?? What on earth can that mean? Humour, humour is good! Yes, I certainly cannot wait to see this. Also, as previously reported, it is confirmed for autumn not December, which is more good news!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Case of the Scream in the Night

After waiting the 4 hours it took for my computer to download this, the first episode of BBC Northern Ireland's Literary Misfits, I have a few thoughts. There will be spoilers so I will get to the links first, and if anyone would like to continue reading they may.

You can listen online here or download the episode as a wmp (made by Thisbeciel) here: The Case of the Scream in the Night

So, this was very amusing. It was amusing for a lot of reasons. I suppose the first thing is hearing Jane Eyre played by an Irishman. It was strange, and it was also a nice change (because of the northern accent). The premise is that Jane decides to go to Sherlock Holmes for some help before she marries Mr Rochester. Hilarity (at least in my view) ensues as Mr.Watson begins to fall in love with this small creature 'who looked like a small animal.' The show gets progressively silly to the point where I burst into laughter when Mr Rochester finally shows up. But I'm getting ahead of myself... We do learn some very interesting things about the Rochesters. Sherlock has deduced that Old Rochester made his fortune from sugar plantations and that Thornfield is not aged by any means but a new building placed upon the barn... he can tell all of this because Jane had two lumps of sugar in her tea- quite incongruous with 'the masocistic governess class' etc. No, indeed, this is indicative of the sugar addiction which the residents of Thornfield suffer from, sugar being the source of their wealth.

There was also a lengthy digression about Northern Ireland which was amusing for its own sake, considering that this is a BBC Northern Ireland production. However, if I may pick up my sleuth hat for a moment, I see a problem with Mr.Holmes' conclusions. Firstly, Mr.Bronte was not from county Antrim, but from county Down. But more significantly, while he is so tied up with detailing how Rochester has disappeared to drug and smuggle his wife out of the country, he doesn't notice something very odd about Rochester when he meets him. Yes, something very odd indeed (I mean, apart from the hysterical ravings from Watson that Rochester has massive legs like oak trees and is able to hide a large dog in his coat). My dear Holmes, your Mr Rochester is not Mr Rochester at all! It is all elementary:

Before Jane's visit to Baker Street to investigate the strange scream from the attic, Mr Rochester- who admitted to Jane that he had heard it as well- mysteriously vanishes. Jane's fears drive her to seek help. In the meantime, Heathcliff has taken his chance to become a respected member of the landed class and ambrushes Mr Rochester while he is out raking swaths, and steals his identity (listen carefully to his description. It doesn't match Mr Rochester in the least but it does sound an awful lot like Heathcliff). Oh, his dog steals Pilot's identity too. And, uhm, Mr Rochester looses his memory and becomes a Literature professor in Belgium; he has never liked being an idle gentleman, loves allusions and wordplay, and as a result of his injuries has forgotten his first language and now speaks only his second- French. Pilot is adopted by Lanseer who paints a lot of Newfoundland Dog pictures, making the breed famous.

That is what really happened! But Holmes obviously hasn't read WH...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Saturday Night Live Jane Eyre

This is probably the most well-known parody of Jane Eyre today. I cannot remember when it first aired on Saturday Night Live; I think it may have been in 2004. I haven't watched television for five years so this is actually the first time I have seen what I had heard so much about. It's very easy to describe: Jude Law as Mr Rochester, and Bertha is sexed up. That's all there is to it, really. Why he would have to sneak around to have sex with his own wife doesn't really make sense but it's Jude Law as Mr Rochester and Bertha is sexed up.

Here you go.

Friday, April 14, 2006

"A Reasonably Faithful Adaptation of Jane Eyre"

I think I have a new favourite parody. I'm watching this clip from SCTV, a classic Canadian sketch comedy show. This sketch is called 'Jane Eyrehead.' I can tell you exactly when I decided this is my new favourite parody. It was when Mr Rochester came riding down Hay Lane on an adorable little grey donkey. Somehow he manages to remain completely serious, and quite stately even while trying to keep his legs from hitting the ground and while accompanied by brisk donkey-trotting and cow bell sound effects. This Mr Rochester truly deserves the cuff she gives him. He 's... certainly peculiar. Quite... peculiar. Quite... Jack Benny like. After Jane recognises him she cuffs him and calls him a pig-headed moron. He takes no offence: "You got spunk! I like dat! Si-mone! Come'n out meet your neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew guvness!" he cries, while having a seizure, or flapping his jowls... 'Simone' is rather more advanced than Adele... "Bonjour mademoiselle. I look forward to stimulating pedagogical sessions which will expand both my horizons and your professorial boundaries."

'Reasonably faithful'- nice to have some honesty for a change! Maybe someday we'll have 'nothing like the real thing.' I haven't seen it all, but here you have parts one and two of 'Jane Eyrehead', with Andrea Martin as Jane Eyre, Joe Flaherty as Mr Rochester, John Candy as 'Mr Rochester's gentleman', Martin Short as Mr Mason, and Eugene Levy will be in there somewhere as well.

The Case of the Scream in the Night

Just a reminder that BBC Northern Ireland's radio program 'The Literary Misfits' begins next Monday (the 17th). The program presents a week of literary chaos as characters from classic literature find themselves in the wrong books. It looks like the Jane Eyre-themed tale has been moved up from its Thursday slot to Monday (I think):

The Case of the Scream in the Night by Eilis Ni Dhuibhne
Read by Michael Maloney, produced by Heather Brennon
When a mysterious Miss Jane Eyre calls at Sherlock Holmes’s Baker Street residence little does he suspect just how mysterious her case will turn out to be.

Eilis Ni Dhuibne was born in Dublin. She has written collections of short stories and novels, including The Bray House, The Inland Ice, Dúnmharú sa Daingean, and The Dancers Dancing. She has also written plays and novels for children. She has been the recipient of many awards for her work, including the Stewart Parker Award, The Bisto Book of the Year Award, the Butler Award for Prose, and the Oireachtas Award for a novel in Irish. The Dancers Dancing was short-listed for The Orange Prize for Fiction 2000.

Incidentally, it looks like Pride and Prejudice has been turned into a murder mystery as well:

Pride and Homicide by Barry Devlin
Read by Killian Donnelly, produced by Heather Larmour
When the notorious ‘Butcher Boy’, Francie Brady, arrives in Longbourn and takes up a position with a certain Bennett family, it can only be a matter of time before pride leads to something a little more sinister than a fall for one of the local residents.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

'Haddon Hall is on fire!'

I was right! Voila! Thanks to Mrs. Dionysius O'Gall: a lovely article on the new BBC Jane Eyre, being filmed at Haddon Hall- just as my gossipy sources said! (the flames apparently alarmed motorists on the A6 and a fire engine was called). Read it all here. A few excerpts:

Charlotte Bronté's much-loved novel has of course been brought to the screen many times below.

And when Franco Zefirelli shot the story ten years ago, he too chose Haddon Hall as the perfect Thornfield – an imposing house where Jane meets her true love Rochester.The result was, according to this Jane Eyre's producer Diederick Santer, "quite a bad film", but Santer agrees with Zeferelli on one thing – Haddon Hall is Thornfield."It's this wonderful, atmospheric, medieval castle. It feels like it's been here since the beginning of time – and in a way it has been. It offers everything we need and it wasn't a difficult decision to make."


And starlet Ruth Wilson, who was cast as Jane fresh from drama school ("she's going to be huge!", promises Diederick), has also fallen in love with Haddon: "It makes it so easy to act with all this history around you."


So when Jane Eyre finally reaches the screen in the autumn, you won't have to look too closely to find a local flavour to what's likely to be a global hit.

..Autumn, eh? ...Hmn. And those would be our first words from Ms.Wilson!

Picture of producer Diederick Santer outside Haddon Hall.

Good News and Bad

The good: We have cover art for Jane Eyre 1973 (the American release, at least):

And there was much rejoicing in Bronteland because Jane isn't relegated to a tiny cameo in the background somewhere! The colours are a little off, unless, of course, it is my tape which is off... And, look! The caption reads: "The best-loved adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's masterpiece." Larger image can be seen here, from Acorn Media's catalogue page for the production.

Their synopsis:

Considered the best adaptation ever of Charlotte Brontë's classic novel, this BBC miniseries from the mid-1970s stars Sorcha Cusack (daughter of Cyril, sister of Sinéad) as the unwanted orphan girl who finds love and happiness against all odds. Michael Jayston (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) is Mr. Rochester, a passionate man with a terrible secret. Seen on PBS and new to DVD. Approx. 248 min. on 2 DVDs.

The bad: The American release date has been pushed back to July 25th. There has been no explanation on this.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


From Brother Unkept, a review of Douglas Martin's Branwell: Novel of a Bronte Brother:

In Branwell, his luminous, cameo-like new novel, Douglas Martin (Outline of My Lover) pays homage to this unlikely subject, creating a moving and evocative portrait of a boy doomed to enter history as a sad footnote to his sisters’ lives.


This kaleidoscopic structure does not, however, lend itself very easily to straightforward storytelling, and the one area in which Martin seems to falter is in conveying the less-than-poetic stuff of everyday history. Little actual information manages to break through the novel’s vague, poetic fugue. Events and personages come and go without explanation, and a reader who does not understand the unelaborated references to the Brontë sisters’ various literary attempts, to their journeys and infatuations and failures, might find the novel overly cryptic. Likewise, no clear map (temporal or otherwise) is provided upon which to chart Branwell’s hazy, impressionistically described wanderings. What seems to be the novel’s most central episode, in which Branwell is dismissed from his post as tutor to a boy with whom he has possibly fallen in love, is also its murkiest: allusions, euphemisms, and fantasies combine in a way that is lovely and sinister, yet also totally baffling. It could be argued that this mysteriousness has its merits, contributing as it does to an overall atmosphere of darkness and uncertainty, but at times one wishes for a little less lyricism and a little more clarity.

I would agree with this. Readers may recall that the publisher sent me a chapter before the book was published, and I reviewed it here. In short, I found it hard to believe that it wasn't a rough draft. On the post the publisher comments that it is the finished work. Unlike the reviewer above, I am not convinced that 'such criticisms are futile.' Now and then it did seem genuinely poetic but the bulk of what I read just seemed like filler. It comes across as poorly written, purposefully confusing and pointless. I have not read the rest of the work but judging by the above reviewers statements, I believe the rest of the work would give me the same impression. I had hoped I was mistaken.

I have also been the only person to comment on the treatment of Anne, which is surprising. She appeared in the chapter I was sent, but only to be put down. She's not as good as Branwell, and she lisps. That's Anne.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A First Look at Agnes Grey

My copy of Agnes Grey arrived in the mail a few days ago. In two days I had finished it, despite having much to do (hope none of my professors are reading this...But, then, it was for a good cause). I ended up with the Everyman paperback edition which includes a selection of Anne's poetry. I read the introduction, which was, to me, informative although I question it as I did catch one error which skewed things a bit. The writer claims that proof of how Aunt Branwell's Methodism had produced a kind of hysteria in the children is seen in Charlotte 'seeing' an 'angel' beside Anne's crib. Charlotte never claimed to have seen an angel, but a fairy which is not at all the same thing. I don't believe Aunt Branwell putting much faith in fairies as messengers of the divine (and anyone at the time who did believe in them would be more alarmed at seeing one by a baby's crib, yes?).

I have been working and studying with a publisher for nearly a year now, so I must speak out at the disgraceful state of the backcover copy even though it is of little consequence. Agnes Grey is not a long book by any means... It does not take long to write backcover copy. Why on earth, then, is Rosalie consistently referred to as Matilda about 5 times in the tiny paragraph of text? Could they not flip through the book for 3 seconds and check her name? There, I've said my peace. I really think publishers need to abandon these glued bindings as well. It's only a 10 year old copy and it already creaks because the glue has gone hard. Unfortunately almost all books published today are bound in this fashion.

On reading AG itself: I had a repeat of the feelings I experienced while reading Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Once again I was probably unduly critical as I read and once again I was baffled. Now, I had 'played' Anne Bronte before and prepared for the experience by reading what I could which might help me do her justice. I have a first edition of Charlotte Bronte and Her Circle by Shorter. So, I opened the section on Anne and what did I find? The first line declares that there's no doubt that Anne would be forgotten entirely, her works discarded, if she had not been Charlotte Bronte's sister! Harsh words! I was puzzled then, and I am puzzled now. It isn't because I would like to appreciate Anne's work- there is simply much to appreciate! If you doubt me, consider that I have been trying- actually trying- to appreciate Jane Austen and I find I still cannot. My feelings are that Anne is a better writer- but before I am torn limb from limb I will admit that I have peculiar tastes and that there are flaws in Anne's work which may lower her work's value after my initial enthusiasm wanes. However, I can never see justification in pronouncing her work so utterly forgettable!

I have a peculiar way of feeling when writing is genuine and when it is contrived. Much of what I've helped publish this year is contrived (again, hoping the publisher doesn't see this... No, actually I have told him so). Anne's work is genuine, and makes me believe in it. Her beginnings are stronger than any of Charlotte's novels, and continue with an unerring movement towards the end, maintaining a steady flow- until the end. And here is where the fault lies. Her endings are disappointing, not as strong as the rest of her work by far. And being the last impression of the entire work, I think they tend to colour how the book is remembered. I recall when I read Tenant that I was convinced it was superior to all but Jane Eyre and Villette until I reached the end. There is a curious hestitancy in the endings of Tenant and Agnes Grey.

This post is already extremely long, so I will have to keep the rest of my thoughts on the book for another time.

Another Jane Eyre Error?

I really hope this is only a typo on the website currently taking US orders for Jane Eyre 1973. I've noticed that there is a 28 minute discrepency between the running time of the DVDs listed on their site and on the BBC's page. The BBC, Region 2 DVD clocks in at 4 hours, 35 minutes. The American one comes in at 4 hours, 12 minutes (247 mins) according to their website. Now, it would not be unlikely that instead of typing 275 minutes they typed 247 but this is going to be worrisome until the release, I think, since the first episode was missing from American broadcasts. We are all going to wonder if somehow it has been cut once more (unlikely- I do not see why this should be...). If anyone else can think of an explaination, do. I'm quite confused. I suppose this also amounts to 5 minutes off of each episode...

I will try to get some confirmation, if I can.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

More Cast for Jane Eyre 2006

Courtesy of imbd.com (who still have not rectified the Ruth Wilson error on their page... )

Cast (in credits order)

Ruth Wilson... Jane Eyre
Toby Stephens.... Edward Fairfax Rochester

rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Francesca Annis.... Lady Ingram
Lorraine Ashbourne.... Mrs. Fairfax
Christina Cole.... Blanche Ingram
Pam Ferris.... Grace Poole
Tara Fitzgerald.... Mrs. Reed
Georgie Henley.... Young Jane Eyre
Aidan McArdle .... Mr. Eshton

Bronteblog also informs us that Miss Temple will be played by Charity Wakefield.

ETA: Hm. It looks like we have established a tradition of blond Blanche Ingrams. This would be the third such Blanche in a row.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Jane Eyre 1973 and 'The Pleasure of Intertextuality'- a Note

I have been reading Donna Marie Nudd's 'Pleasure of Intertextuality' on the various film adaptations of Jane Eyre, once again. This time I recall the BBC's production from 1973. The very first post in this, the very first Bronte studies blog, was in response to this very issue. In it I pointed out that the production did indeed feature the gyspy scene, which Nudd claims is only present in one film version- the BBC's 1983 version with Zelah Clark and Timothy Dalton. I have realised there are more of Nudd's claims challenged by the 1973 version.

She concludes her article with a barrage of questions- each very telling, and stimulating. Why is the Christian dialogue and extensive reading habits of Helen Burns and St.John Rivers omitted or downplayed? In the 1973 production Helen quotes Latin as well as Samuel Johnson for Miss Temple, I have noticed no downplaying of the Christian dialogue of either characters. Why is the typhus epidemic omitted? Likewise, it is not omitted. Why has there only been one 'plain' actress cast as Jane? Sorcha Cusack seems plain enough to me, although her eyes are beautiful. I thinks she looks rather like Charlotte Bronte, in fact... Why is Rochester seldom physically disfigured at the end? This production does shy away from actually showing the disfigurement but it is acknowledged. Why has there 'never been a female director?' Jane Eyre 1973 was directed by Joan Craft. And of course, there is the gypsy scene. Nudd's speculation that the gypsy scene is usually cut to avoid making Rochester seem effeminate is odd considering the 1973 version, wherein Rochester speaks in a falsetto for that scene rather than take on the more masculine tones of a hoarse older woman. In other words, she sounds feminine.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"I don't remember that"

To quote Charlotte in a letter wherein she remarks that she doesn't remember Mr Rochester being repulsive. I thought of this immediately after reading this recent review of Polly Teale's Jane Eyre:

"A memory unsoiled is an exquisite treasure," muses the intolerable Mr Rochester of his "poor and obscure" Jane Eyre.

I am puzzled by other things in this review:

Unable to escape from the horrors of her own miserable childhood, Bronte's heroine finds herself reliving her nightmares as an adult when she finds herself back living in a house with a secret attic room sullied by tormented cries of madness and drawing rooms dominated by stern men. Clinging to her faith and somewhat limited education, she works tirelessly to bury her innermost desires and elude her she-devil alter ego.

I obviously have not seen this production but I think I am becoming very weary of this treatment of the story. I really do not find the concept innovative. I might say I find it hackneyed, in fact. Scarcely three adaptations of the novel do not turn the story into something far darker and tormented than it reads- with all of its humour and wit. After viewing nearly a century of such adaptations, I'm truly weary of it. And I'm tired of hearing that Jane is emotionally repressed when she is one of the most expressive heroines of literature. She struggles with convention, she does not surrender to it- the poor dear.

Need I add that Jane Eyre has been used as a template for cheap, awful Romance novels for... who knows how many years? And that they tend to follow the same trend of oppressing the young woman, and turning the man into something formidable and stern- even sadistic? In fact, minus mad-woman alter-ego, the template sounds... exactly like this description of the play. (A professor I studied with affirms that there actually is a template which authors of these 'novels' use. A sort of 'quick-e-plot' which is a horridly bastardised version of Jane Eyre).

There is nothing that appears out-dated or immaterial. Who would have thought stiff corsets, ringlets, breeches and proper Queen's English (albeit spoken with a Yorkshire drawl) could sit so comfortably in today's society of iPods and PSPs? Shared Experience proves that they do.

'Stiff corsets, ringlets, breeches and proper Queen's English' are things that I have never thought typified the work. But it's a snappy ending to the article... I also don't know what a PSP is, so who am I to say?

Jane Eyre 2006 Imdb Page Correction (and WonderJane)

After being notified that there is a wee error on the page, I have sent them a request for an update and a correction. The wee error is that the Ruth Wilson currently linked from the page, and listed as playing Jane Eyre is in fact the wrong Ruth Wilson. This would be the 48 year old Ruth Wilson, rather than the 24 year old who doesn't have a page of her own- yet. Hopefully, when they get to my request next month, she will have (yes, she will! She will!).

This next bit doesn't deserve a post of its own... I came across this this morning. It is one of the more amusing and random Bronte references in a long while:

April Fool Contender: Lindsay Lohan


Foolish Justification for Foolish Behavior: She told Web site thesun.co.uk: "Wonder Woman would be cool. I'm trying to find roles right now that are different to anything I've done to show my abilities, to show that I have some sort of stretch in me." We are talking Wonder Woman, with the starry Underoos and golden eagle breastplates, aren't we? It's not exactly Jane Eyre, although I can speculate that you can improve any story with impressive cleavage, red boots, bullet-deflecting bracelets and a lasso of truth.

You would think so, would you not? And yet...

Although the lasso of truth might come in handy.

(Illustration is from the Classics Illustrated Jane Eyre)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Jane Eyre 1973 Available for Pre-Order in the U.S.

Well, last week I emailed BBC America. They informed me that they have no plans to release Tenant of Wildfell Hall, although it has recently been released on DVD in the UK. As for my questions about the release of Jane Eyre with Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston they said nothing at all. Ah well, Thisbeciel has come through for us once again!

Jane Eyre 1973 can now be pre-ordered from this American website.

The American release date is: June 27, 2006 .

They also have a link for Canadian customers.

The price is $39.98 for the 2 DVD set, ($49.98 Canadian). And here's what they have to say about the production:

Jane Eyre is the moving story of an unwanted orphan girl in mid-19th century England , her spirited fight against adversity and her search for love and happiness in a harsh, class-ridden society. Stars Sorcha Cusack (The Real Charlotte) as Jane and Michael Jayston (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) as Mr. Rochester in the best-loved BBC adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece.

And if you don't believe it is best-loved... why, just look here, here, here, and here... and well... this very blog! And you must remember that it hasn't been seen for more than 30 years in most places. I personally cannot wait to see the production in full!

The price might drop- I see that the BBC lowered their price for the DVD 3 pounds in one week.

Jane Eyre: The Musical at Blackpool

Thanks to Agnes and Mrs. Dionysius O'Gall, for the news and the link.

Showing 27-06-2006 to 01-07-2006
Performance Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm
Wednesday & Saturday matinees at 2.30pm
Book by John Caird (2000)
Based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë (1847)
Music & Lyrics by Paul Gordon


‘My name is Jane Eyre. My story begins, gentle audience, a long age ago, in the dark and lonely attic of Gateshead Hall…’The famous story of Jane Eyre makes for a dramatic storyline in this gripping new musical. This haunting adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s novel opened in 2000 on Broadway, to rave reviews. Composer Paul Gordon (who wrote for artists such as Bette Midler, Smokey Robinson and Quincy Jones) creates a sumptuous listening experience, especially for its memorable melodies and lyrics. The show’s creators come closer than anyone could have imagined to capturing the spirit – and spirituality - of this dark, Cinderella-like story.

The novel tells of a plain, feisty orphan in the Yorkshire Moors, surviving an horrific childhood to become governess and, ultimately mistress of Thornfield Hall, owned by the mysterious Rochester. They are all threatened by destruction, by a dark secret hidden in the attic.

Premier Theatre Company, famous for Chess, Mack & Mabel and Ragtime The Musical, return to the Grand, to offer patrons another opportunity to witness a ‘premiere’.

Presented By: An Amateur Production Presented By The Premier Theatre Company By Arrangement With Josef WeinBerger Limited

Booking information
Tickets: £6.50 to £15
Concessions available
Friends of the Grand: £3 off any performance
Students and Teachers: £5 Wednesday Matinee only
No concessions on Tuesday evening or any Saturday performances.
For tickets call our Box Office on 01253 290190

*This is not, in fact, the British premiere of Jane Eyre: The Musical. The show premiered in the UK last August, according to Bronteana archives.