Saturday, February 21, 2009

blog #251 >>Book of the Week:
Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights, an excellent book and a good read, was written by Emily Brontë (the sister of Charlotte Brontë who wrote Jane Eyre.)
I especially like the illustrations in this copy.
Random House Publishers ©1943

Alright, I wasn't going to post this part, because it's long, random and a perfect example of me just writing whatever weird thing pops into my mind. But on second thought, it's already written and it's been sitting in my drafts folder waiting for revision for over a month. And since it's not for a writing class and no one really reads my blog anyways. I figured I might as well post more about what stuck me while reading the book instead of just the usual, it's great, I like it. So without further ado, here's the rough draft:

I think my favorite part of most every book is the introduction. It's interesting to see what the author/or editor chooses to write to set the scene for the following book. Sometimes it's the background on why the book was written. Or it will be a disclaimer about what the book means. Or sometimes it's a little insight into the lives of the authors themselves. The strangest introduction I think I've ever read was the introduction to "The Woman in White." (Pengiun Edition) It was very odd and it went on about how there was so much hype about it when it was first published, there was "Woman in White" purfume and novelties. And then he had this bit about freaks in the circus... I'm not really sure how that fit in... and then he went on about the author's personal life and his lovers and then he continued with how Wilkie Collins was addicted to an over the counter drugstore syrum... I think it was called "Mother Bailey's Calming Syrup" and how it was basically just opium and alcohol and how his friend, who was a doctor, said he was drinking enough each day to kill everyone at the table... yeah... it was strange... interesting, but strange. I don't think anyone actually read it before they printed it. Anyhow the book of the week is Wuthering Heights not The Woman in White.

Wuthering Heights is no exception to the interesting introduction rule. And even after reading the book the introduction haunts me as much as the story. It calls itself "A Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell" and is explained as follows. There were three books written by three sisters all under pen names. Charlotte Brönte the oldest wrote Jane Eyre (possibly the best book I've ever read) under the name Currer Bell. Emily Brönte the middle sister wrote Wuthering Heights (a really great book) under the name Ellis Bell. And Anne Brönte the youngest wrote Agnes Grey (on my reading list) under the name Acton Bell. As women they couldn't write a novel and be taken seriously so they published their works under masculine pen names. I also suppose the mystery in a pen name would have added a spark of appeal. With the new names the books were sent out to various publishers all to be flatly turned down. At last after many ill fated attempts "Wuthering Heights" and "Agnes Grey" were picked up and published but they found no immediate success. Later "Jane Eyre" was written and published to find little more success than the former two. And since they all shared a similar writing style and pen names it was assumed that they were all written by the same author as "Jane Eyre." This was a harmless error at first, but it proved hard to be corrected. A short time later Emily Brönte contracted comsumption and did not live past her 30th birthday. Anne Brönte was diagnosed with the same not two weeks after they buried their sister. She died less than a year later at 29. Neither lived to see their novels become a success. Later Charlotte Brönte wrote this introduction to clear up the confusion on who really wrote the novel. In her own words, "This notice has been written, because I felt it a sacred duty to wipe the dust off their gravestones, and leave their dear names free from soil."

And after reading Wuthering Heights I can see where it was all born. With so many of the characters dying of consumption or fever, and it has such a tragic baring, I wonder if it was perhaps forboding their very own future in some respect. It almost makes me imagine if possibly Charlotte could hear her sisters on the wind of the moor.


1 comment:

Leingang Family said...

Haven't read it yet, but loved the movie!