[DWJ] Swithering Depths (was Titles (was London Meet))

Elizabeth Parks henx19 at gmail.com
Thu Jun 15 12:45:20 EDT 2006

2006/6/15, Rowland, Jennifer A B <jennifer.rowland at imperial.ac.uk>:
> Juliette wrote:
> > I liked "Jane Eyre", although it too has overly melodramatic
> > bits and some outbursts of appallingly amateur prose. I liked
> > "The Eyre Affaire" by Jasper Fforde even more.
> I like Jane Eyre as well. The childhood bits and the Rivers family
> always engaged me more than Big Bad Byron, I mean Rochester. (I like the
> Fforde better too. It always makes me want to reread JE, which is a good
> thing for an homage, I reckon.)
> Jennifer

which is lots about the Brontes:

I always think that Jane Eyre stands up to more rereading than The Eyre
Affair, though; but of course I'm biased since I did my undergraduate thesis
on Charlotte Bronte and religion, though I must admit to having found
Shirley and Villette more interesting than Jane Eyre in the end.

There are a whole lot of things I found out about the Brontes while doing
that project that surprised me, too; I had such a lot of preconceptions
about the sisters living as recluses in Haworth that I was quite surprised
to find out that: Charlotte worked abroad in Belgium twice (and got quite
obsessed with her boss there), Emily going with her the first time (though
Emily hated it, and indeed is the closest thing to a recluse that the
Brontes had to offer--the title character in Shirley is supposed to be
Charlotte's fictional version of Emily, and I have really found Shirley as a
novel to be the most telling about Charlotte as a person in many ways that I
can't quite put my finger on right now), Charlotte traveled to London
several times after becoming quite famous and important as an author (in
part because she developed quite a fondness for her publisher, who married
someone else soon after), that Charlotte married (soon after her
disappointment with the publisher, marrying instead her father's curate who
she hadn't seemed particularly interested in before, but by that point she
was the only living child) and died (possibly from typhus or TB but most
likely from pregnancy complications) soon after.  Keep in mind that
Charlotte Bronte was short--not quite five feet--and nearly blind, too.

A lot of the mythos surrounding the Brontes comes from Elizabeth Gaskell's
biography of Charlotte, which was written shortly after Charlotte died, with
the help of two main sources: Charlotte's father, Patrick, who had an
interest in his daughters appearing somewhat more pristine than they
actually were, and one of Charlotte's two closest childhood friends, neither
of whose names I can remember, but when I was doing my project I always
thought of them as the good one and the bad one.  The good one encouraged
Charlotte, but married and moved to Australia, so Gaskell interviewed the
bad one, who gave her censored correspondence that removed a lot of
Charlotte's writings about her religious doubts and other, less respectable
feelings.  This friend had, through writings, long encouraged Charlotte to
be pious and less passionate, and felt it was her responsibility to present
a cleaned up image of Charlotte.

which is not so much about the Brontes:

I have cousins who aren't allowed to read about fantasy, except for Tolkien
and Lewis because that's acceptable.  One Halloween my aunt and cousin
caught me walking about in a witch costume, and she freaked out and clapped
her hand over his eyes lest he see me, and whisked him away in the car.
There are three children, ten and under, all home schooled who watch lots of
censored tv: one strapped on a sword for some months and went around
pretending to be Bible Man (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibleman).  This is
the same uncle who, when I was little, wouldn't let me join in football or
use a hammer because I was a girl ^_^  So yes: consider Diana Wynne Jones
censored in that household, at least until she starts doing Christian radio
broadcasts on the side.

lizzie, in the US, never even been to Bristol (though after dating british
men for four years (Belfast, London, Manchester) while living in scotland
and then japan, I had quite an interesting accent)

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