A new scholar book with Brontë-related content: Neo-Victorian Biofiction Reimagining Nineteenth-Century Historical Subjects Editors: Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian GutlebenBrill | Rodopi Series: Neo-Victorian Series, Volume: 6ISBN: 978-90-04-43413-4 ...
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"BrontëBlog" - 5 new articles

  1. (Re)Tracing Charlotte Brontë’s Steps
  2. The murkiest corners of women’s hearts
  3. Mrs. Gaskell's Personal Pantheon
  4. 'Jane's slow making of a self out of the most unlikely materials'
  5. Keeping the Flame Alive. Quiz 12
  6. More Recent Articles

(Re)Tracing Charlotte Brontë’s Steps

A new scholar book with Brontë-related content:
Neo-Victorian Biofiction
Reimagining Nineteenth-Century Historical Subjects

Editors: Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben
Brill | Rodopi
Series:  Neo-Victorian Series, Volume: 6
ISBN: 978-90-04-43413-4

This volume explores the many paradoxes of neo-Victorian biofiction, a genre that yokes together the real and the imaginary, biography and fiction, and generates oxymoronic combinations like creative facts, fictional truth, or poetic truthfulness. Contemporary biofictions recreating nineteenth-century lives demonstrate the crucial but always ethically ambiguous revision and supplementation of the historical archive. Due to the tension between ethical empathy and consumerist voyeurism, between traumatic testimony and exploitative exposé, the epistemological response is per force one of hermeneutic suspicion and iconoclasm. In the final account, this volume highlights neo-Victorianism’s deconstruction of master-narratives and the consequent democratic rehabilitation of over-looked microhistories.
Includes the chapter:
(Re)Tracing Charlotte Brontë’s Steps: Biofiction as Memory Text in Michèle Roberts’s The Mistressclass by Sonia Villegas-López.

Since the publication of Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857), the number of biographies and novels on the Brontës has been tantalising. Taking them as necessary context, this chapter will analyse The Mistressclass (2003) by Michèle Roberts, who chooses the characters of Charlotte and Emily Brontë as leading figures in her narrative. Roberts fictionalises central events in their lives, going beyond the limits of biography to produce an imaginative biofiction. In so doing, Roberts presents the parallel lives of a trio of contemporary London writers, the sisters Vinny and Catherine, and Adam, Catherine’s husband, side by side to Charlotte’s epistolary relationship with her Brussels professor, Constantin Heger. I argue that Roberts’s biofictional account of the Brontës can be considered an example of memory text in Annette Kuhn’s critical use of the term, and that in The Mistressclass the Victorian and the contemporary plots interact and complement one another, consciously breaking down the boundaries between the historical and the fictional.

The murkiest corners of women’s hearts

Audible interviews writer Silvia Moreno-Garcia about her novel Mexican Gothic.
Well, the inspiration for this novel are several things. One of them, yes, are the kind of classic Gothic films which include little-known works by people like Carlos Enrique Taboada, who is not really known outside of Mexico. People know Guillermo del Toro, but Guillermo del Toro doesn't exist without somebody like Taboada making those inroads. So, when people sometimes read my book, and they say it's just like Guillermo del Toro, is you're wrong. It's like Taboada, but you didn't get the reference. And the other thing is, it's obviously inspired by this huge body of work of Gothic novels. Both what is considered the true Gothic, which are the 19th century Gothics, and the mid-century Gothic revival that takes place in paperback form beginning around the late 1950s and goes all the way until kind of like the 1970s. So the bulk of that work is kind of like what takes up a kind of inspiration that includes... People think about Wuthering Heights, but I was not thinking of Wuthering Heights, actually. I think that's the one Gothic novel that they know.
But there's two types of Gothic novels, and Gothic scholars still debate about this, but it's pretty common to say that there's a male Gothic novel and a female Gothic novel. The female Gothic novel is defined as one that has an emphasis on the romance, and where there are no supernatural elements. So that is Jane Eyre or Rebecca, where you find that what might seem like a supernatural occurrence, in the case of Jane Eyre, turns out to be a wife in the attic, not a ghost. However, the male Gothics are much more violent, much more graphic, and they do include explicit supernatural elements. And the perfect example for that is The Monk, which kind of initiates this wave of Gothic. So there's two types of Gothic novels. Mine mixes both, and uses things from one and the other. But I think if people come in looking for an experience like with Wuthering Heights, it's not Wuthering Heights. It's a horror novel. (Edwin De La Cruz)
Financial Times discusses Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca briefly praising Charlotte Brontë along the way.
It is almost forgotten, because of du Maurier’s ability (like Charlotte Brontë before her, and Elena Ferrante in more recent years) to explore the murkiest corners of women’s hearts, that Rebecca was written as a murder mystery, and that guilt is as much at the centre of the novel as obsession. “We have no secrets now from one another,” the second Mrs de Winter says of her later life with her husband. “All things are shared.” (Nilanjana Roy)
A Statesman contributor looks at the 'side effects of reading' such as book hangovers.
A book hangover can be treated by reading more books on the same topic or with the same characters. For instance, after reading "Jane Eyre" many times, and each time feeling hungover, I turned to "The Wide Sargasso Sea" by Jean Rhys, and "Mr. Rochester" by Sarah Shoemaker. "Sargasso" is Bertha’s (the crazy wife in the attic) story, "Mr. Rochester" is Edward’s life story. Both offer new perspectives on the classic tale and allow the reader to ease herself back into the real world. (Rebecca Bennett)
The Luxury Editor features the hotel The Harrison Chambers of Distinction in Belfast, which seems to have a Brontë room.
Patrick Prunty later to be known as Brontë was born and raised 30 miles from The Harrison near Loughbrickland. He was a rector and when he travelled to England he met his wife and had 4 children. The three girls Charlotte, Emily and Jane went on to be celebrated writers of well known novels such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.  The Brontë room aims to be true to the style of the period and books and quotes are to be found around the room. (Ross)
Bees and Books wonders whether a modern Jane Eyre is possible.

Mrs. Gaskell's Personal Pantheon

An interesting new book on Elizabeth Gaskell and her circle:
Mrs. Gaskell's Personal Pantheon
Illuminating Mrs. Gaskell's Inner Circle

Robert C G Gamble
Edward Everett Root Publishers
ISBN: 9781913087463 

This new book vividly presents previously undiscovered biographical information about Elizabeth Gaskell, the author of Mary Barton, Cranford, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, and Wives and Daughters.
It also provides much contextual material about Harriet Martineau, the Brontë family and the history of Manchester.
In particular it casts significant fresh light on Mrs Gaskell’s influential inner circle of friends, adding to our appreciation of her writings and of her life.
The book uncovers some of the mysteries of Mrs Gaskell’s key relationships, most notably concerning Miss Mitchell, who has previously been misidentified in Gaskell biography. Given Mrs Gaskell’s statement that Miss Mitchell was one of the two principal influences in her life, a deeper understanding of this shadowy presence and the figures around her is vital to our understanding of the author.
Existing orthodoxy identifies Miss Mitchell as Rosa Mitchell, a visiting governess in the Gaskell household. However, the Miss Mitchell mentioned repeatedly in Mrs Gaskell's letters was in fact Rosa's much older sister, Janetta Bishop Mitchell. Janetta is shown to have been an important mentor, not only to Mrs Gaskell but also to the writer Harriet Martineau. Janetta was an example of the many sophisticated women with few material resources who, despite remaining unmarried and culturally invisible, nevertheless found their own paths in 19th-century English society.

The Martineau Society has an article on the book. The author gave recently a (virtual) talk at the Gaskell Society presenting his book:


'Jane's slow making of a self out of the most unlikely materials'

Daily Mail asks bookish questions to writer Sue Miller, who's a fan of Jane Eyre but not Wuthering Heights,
. . . first gave you the reading bug?
Jane Eyre when I was 12. I took it down from my parents' bookshelf at random. From the first sentence, I was lost in it. 
Charlotte Brontë has much to answer for by proposing the outwardly cruel, inwardly sensitive and passionate model of what a man should be.
But Jane's slow making of a self out of the most unlikely materials is wonderful.
. . . left you cold?
Wuthering Heights. Emily Brontë is considered by some to be a truer poet than Charlotte; but somehow the book seems nearly parodic in its intensity. 
Like a grotesque version of her sister's work. Unfair, no doubt.
Vogue Australia considers Wuthering Heights 2011 a 'sweeping period drams that gives us total Downton Abbey vibes'. Well, that's not how we would describe it.
Wuthering Heights (2011)
Elemental and erotic, Andrea Arnold’s reimagining of Emily Brontë’s 19th-century novel drips with longing. It casts Solomon Glave and James Howson as younger and older incarnations of Heathcliff—the first time the Byronic hero has been played by black actors—and Shannon Beer and Kaya Scodelario as the wild and wayward Cathy. As childhood friends, they run through misty marshes and windswept hilltops together but as adults, their love soon proves to be mutually destructive. (Radhika Seth)
Brisbane Times reviews the socially distanced production of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own at Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney.
Woolf's primary contention was that, in order to write, women required two assets denied them from the dawn of time until her own day: financial independence and a room of their own. She marvels at such 19th-century pioneers as Jane Austen and the Brontës generating high art while obliged to write amid the distractions of their homes' living rooms. (John Shand)
A contributor to The Independent Florida Alligator claims to have
caught myself gazing out my window this past summer like a heroine in a Brontë novel, longing for something more than the humdrum of everyday life. It'd be easy enough to hose myself down in antiseptics and skulk around Turlington Plaza searching for food, water, atmosphere or all of the above — but if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout 2020, it’s how to manage my expectations. (Lonnie Numa)
Finally, an alert for later today: an online event which is part of Culture Night Offaly (via Offaly Express).
The Irish Legacy of the Brontë Family in 15 Objects
Link: drmaebhoregan@gmail.com
Time: 7pm
Charlotte Brontë married Banagher-man, Arthur Bell Nicholls. In 1861 he brought all the remaining Brontë belongings back to Banagher. This online talk will provide an insight into the Brontë family through 15 items in this collection. Branwell’s Pillar Portrait is one of the objects under discussion.

Keeping the Flame Alive. Quiz 12

The twelfth (and last) instalment of the Keeping the Flame Alive Quiz challenge. All of them devised and shared by John Hennessy.


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