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Thursday, September 28, 2006

More Reviews and Some Intellectual Fangirling

Well, a lot of fangirling, actually. But first for the review, which follows our rule about articles about Jane Eyre having to contain a pun: An Eyre of intelligence. It is favourable, if not a little ambiguous about which 'Jane Eyre' he's talking about at times- the novel or the television series.

The challenge to which the director Susanna White and her adaptor, Sandy Welch, have chosen to rise is to make an intelligent, thinking Jane Eyre (Sundays, 9pm). To be avoided, on the one side, is the Scylla of the OTT Gothic novel: everyone knows there is a madwoman in Rochester's attic, but this adaptation reminds us that there are monsters on Jane's sketch pad, too. On the other side lies the Charybdis of a sloppy romance: Rochester, the Byronic owner of Thornfield, is the prototype for every tall, dark and smirking nob Barbara Cartland ever wrote about. But navigate between the two, and you discover the first great English Bildungsroman in which hero and heroine are given a sentimental education.


His Rochester is in love with his own suffering, in awe of his own decadence. He calls Jane a witch, but it is his own dark past that has bewitched him. Yet, as Mrs Fairfax says, the master is not without humour. Without giving him a heart of gold, Stephens lets you know that, while Rochester's instinct is to laugh at everyone, his ambition is to find someone to laugh with. In a reversal of the romantic stereotype, Rochester loves Jane because she is that someone. Asked if she finds him attractive, Jane wins a chuckle from him and us by saying "No" and then adding that he is not repellent either.


The conceit of the book is that while Rochester believes Eyre, in her sinless youth, to be in need of a sentimental education into life's horrors, it is he who ends up taught a lesson in humanity by her. His blinding - the symbolic castration that brings Jane back to him - is the creepiest moment in the book, not to mention the most absurd. I hope this magical adaptation has the sorcery to make us accept it.

And now for the fangirling from the article 'Is Jane Eyre the Sexiest Book of All Time?'

In Jane Eyre, Charlotte poured her loneliness and thwarted lust on to the page. The great and touching paradox of Jane Eyre is that if Charlotte Bronte had been loved, there would be no Mr Rochester.
But she wasn't and there is. (I must turn away from my computer now to have a Rochester-themed reverie.)


Rochester is an angel. He is a darling. He is a chocolate. And — did I mention it? — he is very, very rich.
He pouts, broods and beats his way into our hearts, riding around the moors in leather boots and furry coats, looking ripe for rescue by our Jane.


St John is a prim, sexy blond. (She probably cut a third hero, a red-head this time, from an early draft.) And, sometimes — particularly on winter Sunday afternoons — I find him more beguiling even than Rochester.
St John is a priest — a "cold hard man" he tells Jane — but he falls for Jane like an orange rolling off a fridge. She fancies him, too, watching him admire a picture of a beautiful girl and drooling: "He breathed low and fast; I stood silent."
That's two-love to lonely Miss Bronte. How spoilt she was in her head. But it's back to Rochester and his marvellous flaws, and the beautiful cry: "Reader," — say it with me — "I married him." Aaah.
That is when I collapse prostrate on the floor, like a piece of toast waiting for some Rochester-flavoured jam.

The author goes on... oh dear:

When you are lonely, sad or just plain disappointed with the man in the street, roll over and pick up Jane Eyre. With Jane Eyre and a Hobnob biscuit you need nothing else.
Romantic love is a fiction anyway, designed to numb you to the pain of childbirth. (Ask any woman married for over seven years.) So why not take the best, the ultimate, the only? Go to bed with Rochester. He's only £5.99.

Sound a lot like another article I ran across: Rochester porn:

The new BBC-series of Jane Eyre isn’t just ”fan fiction adaptation”, I think - clearly this goes under the category of “Rochester Porn”. I just invented that term, but that’s what it is.


So, what do I mean to say with all this? Do I like it? Why of course I do! It’s Rochester Porn! Rochester-porn, people. What’s not to like about that?


trougher said...

I read the article "Is this the sexiest book ever written" in the Daily Mail today. Whilst obviously agreeing with the sentiment in the title, I'm afraid the article was written in such a flippant way that it makes the book sound like a superior Barbara Cartland novel, even though Barbara Cartland herself is condemned in the article. Still, if it encourages more people to read the book, I suppose that is a good thing.


starboarder said...

Dear God! I almost lost it... and I am at work!

I have you to thank for inappropriate behavior now. That said, Rochester PORN??

I am rolling!

Will have a good, hard, fangirlish lol when I get home!

ChrisV said...

I read the Rochester Porn blog entry and I have to ask....Jane Eyre, the Bible of Quirkiness??? Am I missing something?

Brontëana said...

to trougher:

It was a very silly article all around. I think she just wanted an excuse to use that image of herself as a piece of toast waiting for the Rochester jam.

Brontëana said...

to starboarder:

I have this thing about cravats. I don't know where it came from, but I really like to paint them (I'm an artist). And I just think they're neat. Well, one day I remarked to my friend that I couldn't believe that I had just googled cravats. She replied that this is the thinking woman's porn.

This is also the book lust. But that happens when people get weak in the knees over an old book and want to rub their hands all over it. ;)

Yes, I think the Rochester jam sentence is going into the book of best of the wierdest of Bronte (next to the action figures).

Brontëana said...

to chrisv:

...Quirky is not a word I would associate with JE, no. Maybe she is referring to he eccentricity of Mr Rochester? He is gloriously eccentric.

Anna Schram Vejlby said...

I actually find the term 'quirky' quite adequate, but maybe it's all a question of me and my colleague (who wrote the article) being non-native speakers of English (we are Danish). Still I will cling a little bit to this and ask: are not all gothic novels (as I would definitely characterise JE) quirky? Is it not in their nature to be eccentric and take turns you would never have anticipated?
And in this particular case: is not Jane quirky both as a heroine (her plainness for example) and as a person (i.e. her need to escape her quiet life with Mrs Fairfax and Adele was at the time, I understand, a provocation for many readers).
Of course Rochester is quirky, but I find him a little less quirky than Jane since he so well fits the mould for 'eccentric men of the 19th Century' - it is almost a classic quirkiness that tends to void the quirkiness of quirkiness! I just mean to say that there is no such mould for Jane - she is a very unique heroine.
Well, at least he fits the mould until it is discovered he keeps his wife locked up and tries to marry Jane - that is in my world eccentricity and quirkiness bordering on lunacy.
But please - enlighten those who have only studied English.

Liz said...

Well I would say that 'quirky' is a very good word but a little too...light, perhaps, to describe Jane Eyre and the characters within it. It does indeed mean unusual and peculiar, but you would describe someone's humour as 'quirky' if it was a little offbeat.

I love how a new adaptation has brought all the squeeing fangirls out of the attic. And the comparison of Austen and Bronte to be like John Lewis versus Selfridges! A good comparison I think, but I would compare properly Jane Eyre to Fortnum and Mason's I think, because it is so lush and cleverly packaged.

ChrisV said...

bronteana, now I've gotten a chill...the other day I, seriously, was wondering how to draw a cravat and then was thinking about cravats and how its a funny word and how it was such a popular accessory....it just popped into my head...

Also, when will we get see some of your paintings and/or drawings??

Brontëana said...

to anna:

Yes, quirky can mean eccentric in the way you have said but it is used in a more comical way, I suppose. Almost like 'whimsical.'

Brontëana said...

to liz:

I like your choice of words! ;) Well, there's always the League of the Extraordinarily Rochester Obsessed.

Brontëana said...

to chrisv:

You must be kidding, now!

It looks like all of the scans from my work is not on my laptop or uploaded but I can look around to see if I have something online.

kayxyz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ChrisV said...

I would never kid about cravats :-)

I look forward to viewing your work if you locate some online.

Marie said...

Wow, that was quite an honour to find that my own little blog entry has been quoted in here! I’ve been reading this blog for a while and like it very much.

I’d like stress that my entry “Rochester Porn” was by no means meant as anything more than a light-hearted expression of my personal reaction to the new Jane Eyre miniseries. I’ve always liked the idea of fanfiction being a kind of equivalent to pornography – a place for fulfilling your paradox wish for beloved fictional characters to go to exactly those lengths that you loved them for *not* going to in the original work. That was the thought I was pursuing in my blog entry, because I found that I like the new Jane Eyre miniseries (or what little I've seen of it so far) partly for that reason: Because, for instance, the flirting between ED and JE is much heavier than in the Brontë novel.
(Plus, you know, I just liked the sound of that term “Rochester Porn”. Heh.)

When I wrote about the characters being quirky, yes, I did indeed mean eccentric, or complex. Thank you, Brontëana, and thank you, Liz, for explaining about the word! I can see what you mean, that it’s probably too light a word. I think Anna is right in pointing out the possible difficulties connected with English not being our native language: We are liable to choose the wrong terms or getting idioms wrong every now and then.

When I chose that word, “quirky”, it was because I think it is such a nice word, and a word that one frequently encounters when reading about relationships and dating in modern society – or those are the connotations the word holds to me anyway. I’ve even come across the term “quirky-alone” which defined a person who was open to the idea of being in a relationship, but unwilling to compromise and go for anything less than true love. Much like our dear Miss Eyre!

(originally posted by Liz): "I love how a new adaptation has brought all the squeeing fangirls out of the attic.

Me too! I loved reading the other articles cited in this post. And I love the idea of people with a secret love for Jane Eyre being "in the attic" rather than "in the closet". Brilliant.