Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Birth of Bertha

Painting of the Brontë sisters by their brother
Branwell Brontë (circa 1834)
from: Wikimedia Commons

"A newly-discovered manuscript reveals the author [Chalotte Brontë] imagined the creepy character [Bertha] 17 years earlier, when she was just a teenager. The hand-written story, penned by the author at the age of 14, has laid hidden in a private collection and has never been seen before by scholars. [...] Experts have drawn attention to passages with echo the chapter in Jane Eyre where Mr Rochester’s insane wife, Bertha, sets fire to his house. [...] In another passage, she gives a vivid description of the attic similar to the one which becomes the home of the mentally-ill Mrs Rochester. [...]
     With hand-cut pages, she replicated the format of printed periodicals of the day, complete with table of contents, articles, poetry and classified advertisements, one of which reads: ‘Six young men wish to let themselves all a hire for the purpose of cleaning out pockets they are in reduced CIRCUMSTANCES [sic].’
     Inspired by Blackwood’s Magazine, to which her father subscribed, she called hers The Young Men’s Magazine, Number 2, and dated it August 1830. It is the missing second volume of a series of six.
     Most of her manuscripts are now in public institutions in Britain and America, and the anonymous owners of this one had no idea of its significance when they approached Sotheby’s in London about selling it. [...] It is expected to sell for £300,000 when it goes on sale at Sotheby’s in London next month." — Dalya Alberge, Daily Mail

"This autumn sees two new film adaptations of novels by the Brontë sisters: one, directed by Andrea Arnold, of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and the other of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, directed by Cary Fukunaga. Making a film adaptation of a classic novel is an ambitious and risky business—both of these books have been read, studied, loved and debated for over 150 years. The destructive passion of Catherine and Heathcliff and the stoic, enduring love of Jane and Rochester have seeped into the common consciousness.
     There are already several film adaptations of both novels, such as Robert Stevenson’s gothic 1943 interpretation of Jane Eyre and Robert Fuest’s unconventional 1970 take on Wuthering Heights. So why make any more? The preoccupations of Victorian ladies, such as status, marriage and inheritance, aren’t as potent as they once were. Yet the darker forces of these books, including their undertones of feminism and concerns with inequities and feelings of alienation, are as relevant as ever."— More Intelligent Life

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