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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Please, tell me more.

This reviewer has a most interesting opinion of Jane Eyre: part genius, part 'drivel.' Indeed?

Rereading Jane Eyre confirms memory's hunch that the first half is wonderful and the second half is drivel.

That said, it deserves a prize for both its opening sentence and its last. "There was no possibility of taking a walk that day" should be studied by anyone who wants to write a novel. It is a sentence that is quiet, modest, matter-of-fact, but that draws you in immediately. By the end of the second sentence, we have met Jane's odious aunt Mrs Reed, and the wretchedness of Jane's orphan childhood and her lovelessness among the Reed cousins begins to unfold.

advertisementProbably as many people believe that the novel ends "Reader, I married him" as there are who think Sherlock Holmes was always saying: "Elementary, my dear Watson." In fact, the closing words of the book are, "Amen; even so, come, Lord Jesus!" You can't get further over the top than that, and I love to think of a modern novelist trying to make a hit by imitating the Jane Eyre formula and copying this device.

That sounds like a challenge- don't tempt me!

As with so many Victorian novels, the best bits of the book are not in fact concerned with the man-woman relationship but rather with childhood. I was surprised, on this reading, to discover that Jane's horrible experience of tantrums with the Reeds, her being locked in the Red Room, and her being sent to Lowood, the hateful evangelical school, are so short. They are the bits that had stayed most vividly in my mind.

When interviewed by Mr Brocklehurst for her place at the school, Jane is asked, " 'And what is hell? Can you tell me that?' 'A pit full of fire.' 'And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?' 'No, sir.' 'What must you do to avoid it?' I deliberated a moment; my answer, when it came, was objectionable: 'I must keep in good health, and not die.' "

Nothing in the book - not the midnight prowlings of Mrs Rochester nor the drama of Jane's interrupted wedding - quite exceeds the brilliance of this exchange. But, though the second half of the story is so unsatisfactory and in parts so boring, it is not unrelated to Jane's talk with Mr Brocklehurst. Jane Eyre is not merely a justly popular novel. It is also one of the great documents of 19th-century Protestantism.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dear Readers,

Never fear, more Bronte posts will be coming along shortly. I have only just finished the coursework section of my master's and am plunging into the thesis. My advisor is doing a great job keeping up the pace with the writing, however I don't find time for much else nowadays. For instance, I am required to present a conference paper based on the thesis (what there is so far...) at a colloquium next week. So, as I toil away on that, I will have to post here only intermittently, and depending on how difficult I find revision.

I do have some news- quite a lot, but this will have to wait. I will mention that the highlight is that I have corresponded with Dr. Jo Baker who is currently working on the first film adaptation of Charlote Bronte's Shirley since the 1920s- and, when it is released- the only available adaptation of the novel. There isn't much to tell, except that she is still working on getting the script right. Encouraging news, nevertheless, for those of us waiting in breathless anticipation. It is still on track!

Friday, April 20, 2007

April 20th, 2007

Please take a few moments to remember thirty two lives today.

While you live, shine; for life is short and time will have its tribute.

-inscription from an ancient Greek stele.

L'heure passe, l'amite reste. (Time passes, friendship remains).

-Class of 1921 momento, Dalhousie University.

(all pictures were taken by me on April 20th- offical day of mourning for Virginia Tech).

Monday, April 16, 2007

Clips from the Dutch Version of Jane Eyre the Musical

Thank you to Robas for sending along the links to these rehearsal clips from this Dutch language production of Paul Gordon and John Caird's Jane Eyre: The Musical. This production is currently running in the Netherlands until April 30th. For more information, visit the show's homepage here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ruth Wilson Nominated for BAFTA

Nearly eight million viewers tuned in on Tuesday night for the final episode of Life On Mars to find out whether DI Sam Tyler was mad, in a coma or back in time. And now John Simm has reaped the rewards of his journey back to 1973 after being nominated in the best actor category at the Bafta awards.

The hit series also received a nod for best drama and audience award, although John's talented co-star Philip Glenister, whose character Gene Hunt is famed for his macho policing techniques and one-liners, lost out on a mention. He'll have another chance at Bafta glory though, as he's the star of next year's sequel Ashes To Ashes.

Victoria Wood, meanwhile, will be celebrating after earning a record 12th Bafta nomination for best actress in Housewife 49, a drama she wrote and starred in about a real-life Lancashire housewife's wartime diaries. The 53-year-old comedian has only won once, in 1986, for best light entertainment performance with An Audience With Victoria Wood.

She is up against The Virgin Queen's Anne-Marie Duff, Samantha Morton for Longford - a drama about the moors murders which leads the nominations with four nods - and Ruth Wilson for Jane Eyre. Businessman Alan Sugar and fiery chef Gordon Ramsey are up against each other in the features award category for their programmes The Apprentice and The F Word, while others battling it out include Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant in the comedy performance category for Extras.

Ever popular Dawn French is also nominated for her comedy role in The Vicar Of Dibley while the hit series' Christmas special is up for the audience award - the only one to be voted for by the public. Best entertainment performance is being fought out between Ant and Dec for their Saturday Night Takeaway, Stephen Fry, Paul Merton and Jonathan Ross.

The Baftas award ceremony takes place at the London Palladium on May 20.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hungarian Jane Eyre Illustrations and Adaptation

Bronteana reader Ancsa writes to tell us about her blog containing some wonderful illustrations she produced of Jane Eyre, such as the one at right.

The illustration is based on a Hungarian stage adaptation of Jane Eyre. I would love to know more about it, because it seems like one of the most unusual adaptations I have come across, from what I can gather from the production photos. It looks like the entire show takes place in bed:

Sir, please be serious now, I must make the bed!

Jane wins in the end, after knocking Mr Rochester off the bed.

The gypsy scene, or 'this little piggy.'

Jane Eyre on Alibris

Alibris.com is a wonderful website for buying used and well-loved books, but going through the catalogue today, while trying to find an elusive item for someone interested in Jane Eyre musicals, I can across this bizarre catalogue copy:

Jane Eyre. By Jim Collins

About this title: A discussion of several UFO sightings including a description of the objects and speculations about their origins.

...No, I'm not seeing the connection here. Everyone is free to snark at will (it has been some time since there was real snark on Bronteana). I know I found those Star Wars parallels with the 2006 adaptation of Jane Eyre, but this might be getting silly.