This Week In Bookplates 5/23/2013
1 hour ago
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.
Mr. Ward Cleaver
485 Mapleton Drive
My Dear Mr. Cleaver:
This paragraph has absolutely nothing to do with anything.
It is here merely to fill up space. Still, it is words,
rather than repeated letters, since the latter might not
give the proper appearance, namely, that of an actual note.
For that matter, all of this is nonsense, and the only
part of this that is to be read is the last paragraph,
which part is the inspired creation of the producers of
this very fine series.
Another paragraph of stuff. Now is the time for all good
men to come to the aid of their party. The quick brown
fox jumped over the lazy dog. My typing is lousy, but the
typewriter isn’t so hot either. After all, why should I
take the blame for these mechanical imperfections, with
which all of us must contend. Lew Burdette just hit a
home run and Milwaukee leads seven to one in the series.
This is the last line of the filler material of the note.
No, my mistake, that was only the next to last. This is last.
I hope you can find a suitable explanation for Theodore’s