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Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Critical Muse

Now that I have a free moment I've started working on my ph. d thesis proposal, and what fun it is! I have found a whole new batch of bad criticism on the Brontes! One of my professors used to say what a pity it was that so many trees had to die for so much bad writing to be published.

I have not read most of what has been written about the Brontes but before long I came across the absurd and the sloppy (such as imaginary scenes and characters popping up in the novel, articles which mispell the names of the Bronte novels...). Only a few days ago I was talking to Glaukopis- my Cambridge Classics chum- about more bad criticism I had just come across on Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She suggested that when we publish fiction we will include a note expressly denouncing certain readings of our narrative (ie. 'there are no phallic symbols in this novel.'). But then I thought, if I did include such a note I would then have to load my novel with blatant phallic symbols just to torment the critics (not that they wouldn't look for them anyway).

What does this have to do with the Brontes, you ask? As some of you know, I began writing a Bronte-inspired work some months ago. I used it as an example, and mixed in some actual Jane Eyre criticism I've come across. The result is pretty dire:

"Jane could be considering her place in the world and wishing she could return to the primordial womb-matrix of the uber mother goddess. Then Mr Rochester could walk by and say he'd lost his penis. And Jane could suggest looking in the dictionary since she has heard that this sort of thing happens when the gendering of pronoun subjects implodes."

Ah, I loved that Freudian-Structural linguistics article. I just came across a line summing up the reunion with Rochester as Jane finally finding something to do that "doesn't bore her to death or threaten her life." What about knitting? Afraid of poking herself in the eye? Too boring? What about painting?


ChrisV said...

Well its not like Jane is into running with scissors or anything...

Anyhow, have you formulated your proposal? If so what is it? Do you have a preliminary exam of some sort?

Good times...

Brontëana said...

I'm about to start setting down my proposal on paper. It will be something along the lines of examinging the Classical tradition in the works of three Victorian writers including Charlotte. Right now I am looking through journals to find anything relevant and not finding much that I would want to use!