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Saturday, December 30, 2006

How Did It Know?

Hallo! I've been tucked away from the world for the last two weeks. The residences closed and I moved into an annex behind an Edwardian residence. It was lovely! I got to sleep- like- all night. Wow. I'll be moving out soon, and back to my regular schedule within the next few days. In the meantime, there are these movie quotes which seem strangely appropriate! I wonder if one might not write a short script using this meme...

I know this sounds crazy, but ever since yesterday on the road, I've been seeing this Edward Rochester.

Which movie was this quote from?

Get your own quotes:

What do you want to marry Edward Rochester for, anyhow?

Which movie was this quote from?

Get your own quotes:

Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty St.John Rivers.

Which movie was this quote from?

Get your own quotes:

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The French Dancer's Bastard

Ha! Here we go again:

THE WILDLY DIFFERENT settings of post-revolutionary Paris and 19th-century Yorkshire provide much of drama in Emma Tennant's novel, a historical fiction about the life of one of literature's bit players: little Adèle Varens, from Charlotte's Brontë's Jane Eyre.

Not that the tale is without drama in the first place. Why did Brontë introduce Varens into her novel? She needed a child for Eyre to teach, a reason for her going to Thornfield Hall and meeting Rochester, certainly. But Brontë was also enough of a craftswoman to realise that another intriguing back story for Rochester, besides his stay in the Caribbean, would not only add to the exotic nature of his past, it would add another nail in his coffin of dubious moral values - values that Eyre ultimately restores to him.

Tennant is not happy to rest with Adèle as either plot device or moral counterpoint. As she tells Adèle's story, we see the Paris where she spends her early childhood, a bohemian, artistic Paris that is about as far from industrialising Yorkshire, hemmed in by wild moors, as it is possible to get.

It is here, in this convivial atmosphere, that Adèle lives with her adored mother, Celine, a beautiful actress and performer who flirts with counts and has mime artists and political agitators for friends. The haphazard presence of the dour Englishman, Rochester, who pops up from time to time, disrupts this easygoing life for little Adèle, who doesn't approve of his attentions taking her mother away. But this is nothing compared to the moment when her mother leaves Paris. Adèle is abandoned and only Rochester can look after her now - there's a clear implication that he is the child's true father.

But Adèle never adapts to Yorkshire; the meek little girl obsessed by ribbons and bows that Brontë paints, hides a vengeful, angry child in Tennant's re-visioning. On the surface Adèle plays the stereotypical child of Paris that her new "family" expects, vain and frivolous. Inside she is hardening, though, perhaps claiming that part of her that is the moors, the only part of her that is English. When she comes across the lonely Antoinette in the attic, she is at first overjoyed to meet another foreign soul, then horrified to discover who Antoinette really is. And so it is back to Paris that Adèle runs, after Thornfield Hall is destroyed by fire, returning to a much more politicised city, where her mother's friend, Jenny, introduces her to the feminist cause.

This is an interesting and ingenious twist - Jane Eyre has long been read as a proto-feminist text, full of symbolism about a young girl's adolescence (Jane's imprisonment in the red room by Aunt Reed, for example) and statements about female independence and how women are erroneously judged by their beauty alone. Now Adèle becomes the independent woman, making a living for herself on the high wire ("I was also ecstatic in my new career, neither woman nor child as I swung and pirouetted above the crowd"). This is the time of radical clubs and George Sand, easy to remain ignorant of out in the wilds of the Yorkshire moors.

Tennant uses a number of viewpoints to dramatise her story, giving Adèle, Rochester, creepy Grace Poole and Mrs Fairfax, their own voices. It's a strategy that works well, offering competing versions of the same events; more importantly, it allows us to see the change in Rochester and the emerging maturity of Adèle directly, rather than by report.

Fans of Brontë's classic can be assured that Tennant's story - even when she gives new interpretations of well-known events - is a fascinating complement to the great original.

Fascinating? ...Surely you jest? This was the most hilariously bad novel I've ever read. Although the reviewer deserves a gold star for tactfully avoiding any references to the inane plot (and plot holes unless this is a revised version of 'Adele' which she published some years ago). No mention of the gratuitious nudity (why wouldn't there be a hole in the bathroom large enough for Adele and Bertha (on a rocking horse) to look down at Mr Rochester while he takes a bath? Personally I find it all very fascinating. I also enjoy contemplating why he stands naked in the street earlier as well. And why Mrs Fairfax wants to kill Jane.

I must say that I am growing irritated with authors republishing their own novels under different names, trying to palm them off as new works. Is there a shortage of writers trying to get published? Not a few writers have approached me for assistance in publishing so that can't be the reason.

More to the point, why would a publisher choose to republish Adele? Would the delightful new title really make the book more appealling? Maybe if we republished Jane Eyre as Poor Starveling Possible Tramp we'd get more people to read it?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

BBC Jane Eyre 2006 on Pre-Order in the US

The PBS Shop has the details on the January 8th release of the two disc set:


The dark romantic mystery of Jane Eyre returns to the screen in this lavish new version for Masterpiece Theatre. A lonely young governess falls in love with the handsome, brooding father of her new student at Thornfield Hall, but neither Jane nor Mr. Rochester can escape the mysteries of their past lives. Toby Stephens, Ruth Wilson, and Francesca Annis bring Charlotte Brontë's timeless classic to vigorous new life.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Villette Hell: Postgrad Adventure Game for Commodore 64

It is that time of year again. As I sit at my desk, trying not to think about the manila envelope bursting with in-class-essays for me to mark, I blog. It is all one can do, unless you do this. And since it mentions Villette in passing, it qualifies for inclusion here! I suppose you could call this a TA simmulation too. Some brief excerpts:

>read essay
With trepidation, you lift aside the cover sheet. Suddenly, the world around you seems to melt away...

You are in a maze of twisty little paragraphs, all alike. The path ahead of you is littered with sentence fragments, left broken and twitching at your feet as their pathetic spaniel eyes implore you to put them out of their misery. Dangling modifiers loop happily through the branches overhead. In the distance, that sound of undergraduate feet has turned into a heavy, erratic thwump - swoop - THWUMP you recognise immediately - it's a badly-indented long quotation, and it's coming closer.

You wish.

A flock of commas scampers past, squeaking in a high-pitched, giggly way.

You are carrying:
a purple pen
your grading criteria
a copy of Villette
5 crumbled dog biscuits
your TA contract
18 monographs you promised your supervisor you'd already read
a large amount of what-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-my-life angst
half a potato

>get commas
Tricksy little things, commas. These ones have embedded themselves in the comforting thicket of a nearby sentence.

>search for commas
Where do you want to search for the commas?

>search for commas around subordinate clauses
Surely you jest.

>search for commas prefacing speech
You spy a clutch of young semi-colons here, looking slightly confused.

>get semi-colons
You have the clutch of young semi-colons.

>throw semi-colons in direction of my own writing
I don't think you need any more of those, young lady.

>but I'm a Victorianist!
That's no excuse.

>search for commas at randomly-chosen intervals in middle of sentence in places where NO COMMAS SHOULD BE because despite correcting this THREE TIMES NOW and doing writing workshops in class and handing out links to resources like confetti it was all in vain
Ah, there they are! You gather up the commas, making sure you don't get bitten in the process.

You head north.


>look for thesis statement
Okay, I'll humour you on this one. Where do you want to look for this 'thesis statement' of yours, in a first-year essay, in the dreaded Batch #3, written by a student whose previous two essays just scraped a pass...

>read TA contract
TA Contract, paragraph 5.2(b): "Any grumbling, weeping or tearing out of hair that is not actively homicidal in nature is considered par for the course, sucker."


>look under lampshade
Which lampshade, the fake-satin lampshade of irrelevant biographical detail or the frilly velvet lampshade of waffle?

>look under frilly lampshade
You find a thesis statement clinging to the underside of the lampshade. It is very small and appears to be ashamed of itself.


A flock of rogue its/it's soar past you, their cawing sound echoing across the desolate landscape.

>shoot down wrongly-apostrophised plurals
With what?

>shoot down wrongly-apostrophised plurals with laser-eye beams of TA wrath
Sizzling slightly, they plummet to earth.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Jane Eyre: The Musical Touring Company

From Avid Touring Group Ltd:

You will fall in love with this lush piece of musical theater storytelling and sweeping, unforgettable melodies by Paul Gordon.

A troubled young orphan wishing for liberty and the strength to rise above the hardships of her childhood grows to learn that true love and forgiveness do indeed overcome obstacles. As an ambitions young woman, Jane soon meets the gregarious and wealthy Edward Rochester. Their destiny unfolds when a deep, secret bond grows between them. But will class distinctions keep them apart, or can their hearts beat strongly enough to bring them together? And when a darker family secret and haunting tragedy unfold, will they be brave enough for love?

Star Casting to be announced shortly.

There are, of course, no dates for the tour yet but I'll keep you posted. Thank you, jess_squirrel, for the tip!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Reminder About Air Dates for Jane Eyre 2006

Here's a brief reminder that the most accurate information will be available from your PBS station's schedule, as each station's air dates will differ. Here is one for the KQED station, for example. (This station covers northern California):

Jane Eyre - Part One (#3701) Duration: 1:56:46 CC Stereo DVS TVPG
After a wretched childhood, Jane Eyre arrives at Thornfield Hall to take over her duties as a governess. She soon falls in love with the brooding owner of Thornfield, Mr. Rochester. However, as Jane gradually wins his heart, her integrity and independence are pushed to the limit when Rochester's dark secrets emerge from his past. In part one, Jane embarks upon a career as a governess and takes residency at Thornfield Hall, where she and Rochester become instantly attracted to each other. However, some mysterious screams, untold secrets and upsetting gossip quickly emerge, imposing some unseen barriers between Jane and Rochester -- some that they might never overcome.

Channels and Airdates
KQED Channel 9
Sun, Jan 21, 2007 -- 9:00 pm
Tue, Jan 23, 2007 -- 3:00 am

KQED Encore
Mon, Jan 22, 2007 -- 12:00 am
Mon, Jan 22, 2007 -- 4:00 am
Mon, Jan 22, 2007 -- 8:00 am
Mon, Jan 22, 2007 -- 12:00 pm
Mon, Jan 22, 2007 -- 4:00 pm
Mon, Jan 22, 2007 -- 8:00 pm

Sat, Jan 27, 2007 -- 9:00 pm

Jane Eyre - Part 2 (#3702) Duration: 1:56:46 CC Stereo DVS TVPG
In part two, Rochester admits he has no intention of marrying Blanche and instead proposes marriage to Jane. As their wedding day arrives, events take a turn for the worse as Rochester's previous wife makes a surprising visit.

Channels and Airdates
KQED Channel 9
Sun, Jan 28, 2007 -- 9:00 pm
Tue, Jan 30, 2007 -- 3:00 am

KQED Encore
Sun, Jan 28, 2007 -- 9:00 pm
Mon, Jan 29, 2007 -- 12:00 am
Mon, Jan 29, 2007 -- 4:00 am
Mon, Jan 29, 2007 -- 8:00 am
Mon, Jan 29, 2007 -- 12:00 pm
Mon, Jan 29, 2007 -- 4:00 pm
Mon, Jan 29, 2007 -- 8:00 pm

Mr. Rochester is Still Mr Rochester

Everyone else has had their names translated, it seems, in this very rare find brought to you by the indefatigable biedroneczka. This adaptation was produced in 1972 in Czech.

Jana Eyrová CSSR
A miniseries in four parts Directed by: Věra Jordánová
Cast: Marta Vancurová - Jana Eyrová
Jan Kačer - Edward Rochester

Mrs. Fairfaxova pours tea for Jana.
Mr Rochester meets Jana Eyrova in Hay Lane.

Mr Rochester tells Jana about Adele's mother Celine Varensova....Keeping warm.
Grace Poolova, who has been listening at doors!

Lady, Mary, and Blanche Ingramova.

He doesn't let the tear fall to the flag this time.
She doesn't talk like a gypsy...

Possible Professional Tour for Jane Eyre: The Musical and Japanese premiere in '09

Today is the anniversary of the official opening of Jane Eyre: The Musical. I thought it was fitting to share these few words from Paul Gordon, the composer of Jane Eyre: The Musical. Last week he informed his devotees that Jane Eyre is continuing its long journey... There is still hope that the show will be revived professionally for the tour circuit or concert venues:

Still discussing the possibility of a Jane Eyre tour. No word yet when it will happen but maybe 08'. There is a production slated for Tokyo in 09'.

Jane Eyre 2006 Viewing Schedule

Thanks to LERO member Annamir:

PBS, the foundation- and viewer- supported TV channel in the USA, has optioned the BBC's latest adaptation of "Jane Eyre" for it's "Masterpiece Theatre" series. MT is broadcast on the first two sundays & "Mystery!" on the last two or three. The Jan '07 MT broadcast dates are as follows, Part I (parts 1 & 2) Sunday, January 7th, at 8pm to 10 pm*Part II (parts 3 & 4) Sunday January 14th, at 8 pm to 10pm**Viewers Beware!: some states do not participate in the Daylight Savings program, in which we set our clocks back an hour in the autumn and ahead one hour in the spring. I think they are Arizona, Iowa, and Rhode Island. People living in these states must add an hour to the schedule: 9pm to 11pm. Check your local listings - this is especially important for Part II!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Newly Published Letter from Patrick Bronte

The loving side of 'stern' Bronte father
By Clive White

A previously unpublished letter has thrown new light on the character of the clergyman father of the famous Bronte authors.

It now appears the Reverend Patrick Bronte was not the "cassocked savage" as branded by Elizabeth Gaskell, his daughter Charlotte's biographer.

It shows him to be, in fact, a loving and courageous dad.

The letter is among the archives at Lambeth Palace, London, and was written to Charles Thomas Longley, former Archbishop of Canterbury, who was a friend of Patrick.

In the letter Patrick says: "I have lived long enough to bury a beloved wife and six children - all that I had, I greatly enjoyed their conversation and company.."

"Now they are all gone - their image and memory remain and meet me at every turn - but they themselves have left me."

The significance of the four pages has been revealed by Bronte scholar and author Brian Wilks, of the Bronte Society.

It was written ten days after the death of Charlotte, the author of Jane Eyre and the sixth of Patrick's children to die before him.

The 78-year-old was left to grieve at Haworth Parsonage, and the letter gives a deeply moving account of the tragedies that struck his gifted family, said Mr Wilks.

The vicar lost his son Branwell, aged 31, in September 1848, Emily, who wrote Wuthering Heights, three months later, aged 30, his daughter Anne, aged 29, in May 1849, having already suffered the grief of losing his wife and two elder daughters some years earlier.

Mr Wilks, who intends to publish the letter in the Bronte Society Journal next autumn, said: "I have always supported the idea that Patrick was a compassionate man.

"It was fashionable to think of him as a bad tempered man and there may have been some of that, but overall he was very compassionate.

"The best thing about the letter is what he says about missing the company and companionship of his family.

"The letter is a missing piece of the jigsaw and will startle and delight Bronte enthusiasts."

It was sent to Longley in 1855 while he was Bishop of Ripon, thanking him for his words of comfort, but also reveals how Patrick's faith had been challenged by the devastation.

He says: "The Lord gave and the Lord took early awaybut I have often found and find in this last sad trial that it is often frequently extremely difficult to walk entirely by faith and sincerely to pray They will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'"

The sentiments in the letter contradict comments made by Mrs Gaskell in a magazine article. She said Patrick was a "cassocked savage who ought to be have been taken out into the garden and shot."

Ann Dinsdale, the Bronte Parsonage librarian, said the letter revealed Patrick as a loving father.

"Elizabeth Gaskell had an axe to grind. The Bronte novels at the time were perceived as brutal and shocking and she was trying to protect Charlotte.

"The way she did it was to make the case that what else could they write about when they were living in this backward place with a half-mad father and alcoholic brother?"

In reality Patrick was a compassionate father who suffered and missed his children, she added.

With a new biopic of the Brontes in the works, I can only hope that we will no longer see Patrick Bronte depicted as an abusive father. It is surprisingly difficult to escape from Gaskell's malicious portrait. So many editions of the Bronte novels state in their tiny penny paperback bios how their father was brutal, or severe. This letter does not surprise me in the least. Some of the well-known letters from Patrick are very warm, and sometimes even silly (as when he wrote a letter to Charlotte under the guise of one of the family dogs. Charlotte was so amused that she forwarded it to her friend). Needless to say, I have little love for Gaskell. Who, incidentally, didn't just say that Patrick ought to have been 'taken into the garden and shot' in a magazine article- she villified him in the biography she wrote for Charlotte at Patrick's request. It is well known today that she relied on the testamony of servants who had been dismissed and had their own 'axes to grind' as well as her own prejudices (she seems at a loss to understand how an Irishman could be so calm- he must have irrational 'volcanic' outbursts of rage while in private- such as shredding his wife's dress or throwing his children's boots into the fire). My point is, then that this letter is not so 'startling' as the article suggests...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Upcoming Productions of Jane Eyre: The Musical

Thanks to Mrs. Dionysius O'Gall for the tip!

From 12/15/2006
Until 12/15/2006

From 3/8/2007
Until 3/10/2007

From 4/12/2007
Until 4/21/2007

From 4/26/2007
Until 4/28/2007

From 11/30/2006
Until 12/23/2006

From 1/19/2007
Until 1/21/2007

From 3/9/2007
Until 3/17/2007

From 3/16/2007
Until 3/17/2007

Everyone's a Critic...

I cannot understand the absolute drought of Bronte news lately. All that is coming over the wire are scraps of news items from months ago, and trivia which is in no way interesting. I have come to think that theatre critics are some of the most viciously snarky people there are. This comes from a review of Les Miserables by a critic who has never liked Les Miserables:

This time I did my best to set aside my previous experiences and see the show fresh. And what do you know, Hugo’s great story rings through loud and clear. I have new admiration for Boublil, who has told this complex tale with economy and emotional directness—Schönberg is clearly the person on the creative team who rubs me the wrong way. Well, him and co-director John Caird, whose direction of "Jane Eyre, The Musical" is one of the most heinous crimes against the theater and literature that I have suffered.

And... that's it. Nothing more substantial than this, folks. My final projects should be in next week after which I will start to delve into my archives again for bloggy material until the news picks up again.