My Brontë project

I have gotten a bit ahead of myself by posting some reading journal entries for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall before posting an introduction to my little Brontë project.

For one reason or another, the Brontë sisters have been on my mind lately. First I got into an enjoyable discussion about Jane Eyre and then I had two occasions, within a short interval, to mention my horrid experience of reading Wuthering Heights. Then I reread Stella Gibbons' gem of a novel, Cold Comfort Farm, in which one of the characters, Mr. Mybug, is writing a life of Branwell Brontë, who he claims wrote all the novels attributed to his sisters. This naturally brought up the titles of some books by the Brontës, including Shirley and Villette, and it occurred to me that I really should read them. This led to a decision to read all of them, because Why Not?
JE and WH may be the most popular of the sisters' oeuvre, but the others wouldn't be mentioned so frequently in other books and literary discussions if their only merit was the connection with those two.

A reading of all the books would of course include a second chance for WH and a reread of JE, which I remember liking but somehow feel like I haven't read because all I remember of it is the stuff everyone knows about it because of the film adaptations and frequent mentions in other literature and popular culture, like Mr. Rochester's mad wife, the fire and "Reader, I married him". I look forward to revisiting it. I will, however, have to be in the right mood to read WH if I am to have any chance of enjoying it.

I have always given somewhat superficial reasons for my dislike of Wuthering Heights: set reading, horrible characters, expected a love story and got a tale of madness and obsession instead, etc. - basically all the usual reasons. I have, however, come to realise that there were deeper underlying reasons which made WH extra horrid for me. One is that I simply was emotionally unprepared for it. It packs a considerable emotional wallop, nearly all of it negative, and I was a) not mature enough to handle it, and b) I was depressed without realising it and all the negativity made it worse. I am in a better place emotionally right now, I recognise the signs of depression in myself and know how to handle them, and I am (I think) better prepared to enjoy this book now than I was 20 years ago.

As for the rest, I look forward to reading them and discovering the differences between the sisters' styles and storytelling methods and to hopefully discovering some new favourites among them. I suspect my current read may turn out to be just that. 

I could make this a challenge and commit to writing about it regularly and finish it within a given time, but I don't plan to. The books are on the TBR list and in my Kindle, and it is enough for now that I have decided to read them. If I feel like it, I will write about them and post reading journal entries, notes, favourite passages and possibly reviews and/or comparisons, but it remains to be seen when I finish them.


Comments

Alex in Leeds said…
I've grown to value Wuthering Heights more as I've aged. I'm now 31 and would look askance at anyone under 25 who tells me they loved it - I'd suspect they didn't get all the darkness and nuances of it!
Bibliophile said…
I suspect you're right.

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