[DWJ] Book recommendations

Ven vendersleighc at yahoo.com
Mon Nov 20 21:08:40 EST 2006


Elizabeth Evans wrote  
  >Cerebrally (as it were), I understand what you
mean, but I think there
is more to WH than the storyline, which, as you
say, might not stand up
to sustained analysis. My take on why its
popularity has lasted so long
is that there is something about the emotional
intensity depicted in the
story which makes it extraordinarily moving. As
you say, the
protagonists themselves are totally selfish and
worse, but their
obsession with themselves has a kind of grandeur
to it. I think it's an
extraordinary book for the very excess of emotion
depicted. 

>This all looks very meagre on the page and
doesn't express well what I
was trying to say, but I'll let it stand.
  
Charlie replied
 
<That pretty much sums up my feelings too. I was
blown away by WH when I read it as a teen, about
the same time (and in the same way) I was blown
away by Beethoven's 5th. I've been kind of afraid
to go back to WH ever since in case I liked it
less. But I loved the obsessions and violence,
and the feeling of entrapment - in whose hands
but E Bronte's could a moor induce
claustrophobia? Mr Rochester seemed so pallid
afterwards, with his cowardly secret and his
silly gypsy costume. As for D H Lawrence, whose
characters are just as self-obsessed and lacking
any sense of proportion, I never could stand him
- perhaps because DHL seemed inclined to take
them at their own estimate, and I don't think EB
did.
   
  I'm not absolutely sure about that last point.
There's a lack of self-consciousness, in one
sense, which means the book is pretty humour free
(though this can be cured in serious cases by an
immediate injection of Stella Gibbons). Having
said that, I don't think EB was any stranger to
irony - something her multiple narrators give her
a lot of scope for - and I'd *like* to think that
the novel's final lines (for instance) are deeply
ironic, coming from dim Mr Lockwood. And in
another sense the book anticipates its own
misreading very cleverly, in having Isabella fall
for Heathcliff as if he were just the kind of
romantic figure that he has since popularly been
taken to be, only to regret her mistake at
leisure. (What's the opposite of a Mary Sue?) So,
while this narrative isn't sophisticated in the
way that, say, Austen or Henry James are
sophisticated, it's not just an adolescent
splurge either.>

Thanks to both of you for putting this into
words! I thoroughly enjoyed my first reading of
WH (as an antidote to revising for second year
archaeology exams) but was pretty dismayed when I
dipped into it a couple of years ago. I'd already
worked out by then just how repellent Heathcliff
was of course.....

Ven


 
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