Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by Sheri Boggs


Although they were a good 40 or so years younger, the three Bront & euml; sisters - Anne, Emily and Charlotte - have not aged nearly as well as Jane Austen.


For decades, the popularity of the wildly imagined Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights ran neck and neck with the more genteel charms of Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma. In recent years, however, the Bront & euml;s have slipped unnoticed back to the moors. It's hard to say why exactly, but one wonders if the Bront & euml;s' works have been so co-opted by countless gothic romances, Kate Bush songs and bad movie remakes that their original astonishing power has been all but lost. Where once readers thrilled to encounter badly behaving heroes and willful, impassioned heroines throwing their emotions all over the place and making everyone around them suffer, we now - with the benefit of more than a hundred years of psychotherapy - find such behavior tiresome and unpleasant. To modern readers, even the famous line from Jane Eyre, in which the poor, shy governess rebukes her employer-and-would-be-paramour ("Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! I have as much soul as you, and full as much heart!") seems hilarious. It's as if we, reading this while enjoying all the benefits of third wave feminism, finally have the luxury of saying "girl, you gotta relax!"


Lucasta Miller, Oxford-educated literary scholar and critic, approaches the Bront & euml;s from this mildly-amused-yet-fascinated perspective. The Bront & euml; Myth delves into the lives of these three gifted women, who grew up next to a lonely graveyard with only the servants and their mercurial brother and half-blind father for company. Miller points out that not only did these shy, geographically isolated young women create some of the most remarkable works in English literature, they have themselves come to be seen like characters in a novel, or figments of some obscure fairy tale with no happy ending. She examines not only the climate in which the Bront & euml;s lived (Victorian, repressive) but also how each generation has seemingly discovered and reinvented the Bront & euml;s for themselves (often with unintentionally comedic results). But perhaps most important, she rescues the Bront & euml;s from 150 years' worth of psychological and literary baggage, showing them to be still vital, still relevant and still worth appreciating. They may have lacked Austen's self-restraint and wickedly funny musings, but they were, in their own way, just as powerfully observant, imaginative and influential.





Publication date: 04/15/04

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • When a Horse Isn't a Horse
  • When a Horse Isn't a Horse

    Gambling machines help Idaho's racing industries limp along — but maybe not for long
    • Jan 28, 2015
  • 'The Time Has Come'
  • 'The Time Has Come'

    Idaho considers protections for sexual orientation; plus, a new Spokane City Council candidate emerges
    • Jan 28, 2015
  • Freeze Frame
  • Freeze Frame

    Some want to limit the release of footage from police body cameras. What would that mean for Spokane?
    • Jan 28, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
10th Annual Souper Bowl

10th Annual Souper Bowl @ Selkirk Lodge

Sun., Feb. 1, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Sheri Boggs

  • Beer and Branding in PDX

    • Sep 15, 2005
  • Rural Revolution

    All the farms I remember from growing up in North Idaho and Eastern Washington were not what you'd call stylish. In fact, what I do remember are blocky sofas covered in that ubiquitous mauve upholstery, copper Jell-O molds lining the kitche
    • Jun 23, 2005
  • Pictures of an Expedition

    First things first. Author Claire Rudolf Murphy has it on good authority that "Sacajawea" is pronounced the way we've always done it here in the Inland Northwest. Soft "j" sound, accents on the first and fourth syllables. Of course now, his
    • Jun 23, 2005
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Say 'No' to Fear

    Why Spokane ought to embrace its roots as an immigrant-friendly place
    • Jan 21, 2015
  • Crossroads

    A high-profile retailer is eyeing a particular block of downtown Spokane; what that might mean for the Central City Line
    • Jan 7, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation