I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.
Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights

maandag 6 juni 2011

Villette


Juliet Barker has called Villette Charlotte Bronte's "most autobiographical novel," based on Bronte's experiences in Brussels in 1842-43. After two stints as a governess, Charlotte embarked on a journey with her sister Emily to Brussels with the plan of receiving training in running a school and opening up their own establishment in England.

 The journey took Charlotte to London for the first time before arriving in Brussels, where she and Emily would teach at the Pensionnat of Madame and M. Constantin Heger, whom Charlotte described as "choleric and irritable as to temperament," though a very wise and religious teacher of French language and literature.

The school of 80-100 young girls was situated in a large old mansion in the Rue d'Isabelle. Though the Brontes knew little French and kept mostly to themselves, they enjoyed teaching much better than the time spent as governesses. Their stay in Brussels, however, was interrupted after the death of an aunt, upon which they returned to England. Though Charlotte returned to Brussels after nearly three months, Emily refused to leave home again. Charlotte did not enjoy her return to Brussels without Emily, having no one with which to socialize. She left Brussels again within a year.

Charlotte was not a woman that had many suitors during her lifetime. Still, she apparently was attracted to M. Heger and he to her, as their correspondence after her final departure reveals. Barker places Charlotte's attraction as a motive for her return to England. Nevertheless, Heger was instrumental in harnessing Charlotte's writing style. Having an obsessive eye for detail, Heger condemned to a flow of words without a clear objective. He forced Charlotte to disclipline her runaway imagination.

--------------------------
Charlotte Brontë’s father played a major part in the ending of this novel. His influence on her and their inadequate relationship led to the controversial events in Villette. Charlotte intended to make the ending of Villette unhappy because of the events of her own life; although her father disagreed with this. After she finished Villette, “her father, to whom she had read some passages, was partly responsible for its enigmatic finale. He could not bear a sad ending, and in the first version M. Paul had died in the shipwreck.” (Fraser 426). With the influence of Brontë’s father, Paul Emmanuel’s fate left uncertain.
-------------------------
Contemporary Reactions to Villette


  • "That's a plaguy book that Villette. How clever it is--and how I don't like the heroine." William Thackeray
  • There is something almost preternatural in its power." George Eliot
  • "All the female characters, in all their thoughts and lives, are full of one thing, or are regarded by the reader in the light of one thought--love." Harriet Martineau
  • Bronte is "nothing but hunger, rebellion, and rage, and therefore that is all she can, in fact put into her book." Matthew Arnold
Victorian Circle.
rue-disabelle

1 opmerking:

  1. I loved Villette...as sad ad it was, it was the most glorious peak into Charlottes time in Brussels. The last chapter is so delightful, so sweet and gratifying...until M. Paul's untimely death of course. It was very disheartening though to see how much she suffered there though, and I don't believe most of her contemporaries could fully appreciate the tale as they didn't have the benefit as we do, of the knowledge of her history and her real situation...makes all the difference in the world.
    Now I want to read it again!
    xo J~

    BeantwoordenVerwijderen

Parsonage

Parsonage

Charlotte Bronte

Presently the door opened, and in came a superannuated mastiff, followed by an old gentleman very like Miss Bronte, who shook hands with us, and then went to call his daughter. A long interval, during which we coaxed the old dog, and looked at a picture of Miss Bronte, by Richmond, the solitary ornament of the room, looking strangely out of place on the bare walls, and at the books on the little shelves, most of them evidently the gift of the authors since Miss Bronte's celebrity. Presently she came in, and welcomed us very kindly, and took me upstairs to take off my bonnet, and herself brought me water and towels. The uncarpeted stone stairs and floors, the old drawers propped on wood, were all scrupulously clean and neat. When we went into the parlour again, we began talking very comfortably, when the door opened and Mr. Bronte looked in; seeing his daughter there, I suppose he thought it was all right, and he retreated to his study on the opposite side of the passage; presently emerging again to bring W---- a country newspaper. This was his last appearance till we went. Miss Bronte spoke with the greatest warmth of Miss Martineau, and of the good she had gained from her. Well! we talked about various things; the character of the people, - about her solitude, etc., till she left the room to help about dinner, I suppose, for she did not return for an age. The old dog had vanished; a fat curly-haired dog honoured us with his company for some time, but finally manifested a wish to get out, so we were left alone. At last she returned, followed by the maid and dinner, which made us all more comfortable; and we had some very pleasant conversation, in the midst of which time passed quicker than we supposed, for at last W---- found that it was half-past three, and we had fourteen or fifteen miles before us. So we hurried off, having obtained from her a promise to pay us a visit in the spring... ------------------- "She cannot see well, and does little beside knitting. The way she weakened her eyesight was this: When she was sixteen or seventeen, she wanted much to draw; and she copied nimini-pimini copper-plate engravings out of annuals, ('stippling,' don't the artists call it?) every little point put in, till at the end of six months she had produced an exquisitely faithful copy of the engraving. She wanted to learn to express her ideas by drawing. After she had tried to draw stories, and not succeeded, she took the better mode of writing; but in so small a hand, that it is almost impossible to decipher what she wrote at this time.

I asked her whether she had ever taken opium, as the description given of its effects in Villette was so exactly like what I had experienced, - vivid and exaggerated presence of objects, of which the outlines were indistinct, or lost in golden mist, etc. She replied, that she had never, to her knowledge, taken a grain of it in any shape, but that she had followed the process she always adopted when she had to describe anything which had not fallen within her own experience; she had thought intently on it for many and many a night before falling to sleep, - wondering what it was like, or how it would be, - till at length, sometimes after the progress of her story had been arrested at this one point for weeks, she wakened up in the morning with all clear before her, as if she had in reality gone through the experience, and then could describe it, word for word, as it had happened. I cannot account for this psychologically; I only am sure that it was so, because she said it. ----------------------She thought much of her duty, and had loftier and clearer notions of it than most people, and held fast to them with more success. It was done, it seems to me, with much more difficulty than people have of stronger nerves, and better fortunes. All her life was but labour and pain; and she never threw down the burden for the sake of present pleasure. I don't know what use you can make of all I have said. I have written it with the strong desire to obtain appreciation for her. Yet, what does it matter? She herself appealed to the world's judgement for her use of some of the faculties she had, - not the best, - but still the only ones she could turn to strangers' benefit. They heartily, greedily enjoyed the fruits of her labours, and then found out she was much to be blamed for possessing such faculties. Why ask for a judgement on her from such a world?" elizabeth gaskell/charlotte bronte



Poem: No coward soul is mine

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the worlds storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heavens glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.


O God within my breast.
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life -- that in me has rest,
As I -- Undying Life -- have power in Thee!


Vain are the thousand creeds
That move mens hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,


To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast Rock of immortality.


With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.


Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.


There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou -- Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.


--
Emily Bronte

Family tree

The Bronte Family

Grandparents - paternal
Hugh Brunty was born 1755 and died circa 1808. He married Eleanor McClory, known as Alice in 1776.

Grandparents - maternal
Thomas Branwell (born 1746 died 5th April 1808) was married in 1768 to Anne Carne (baptised 27th April 1744 and died 19th December 1809).

Parents
Father was Patrick Bronte, the eldest of 10 children born to Hugh Brunty and Eleanor (Alice) McClory. He was born 17th March 1777 and died on 7th June 1861. Mother was Maria Branwell, who was born on 15th April 1783 and died on 15th September 1821.

Maria had a sister, Elizabeth who was known as Aunt Branwell. She was born in 1776 and died on 29th October 1842.

Patrick Bronte married Maria Branwell on 29th December 1812.

The Bronte Children
Patrick and Maria Bronte had six children.
The first child was Maria, who was born in 1814 and died on 6th June 1825.
The second daughter, Elizabeth was born on 8th February 1815 and died shortly after Maria on 15th June 1825. Charlotte was the third daughter, born on 21st April 1816.

Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls (born 1818) on 29th June 1854. Charlotte died on 31st March 1855. Arthur lived until 2nd December 1906.

The first and only son born to Patrick and Maria was Patrick Branwell, who was born on 26th June 1817 and died on 24th September 1848.

Emily Jane, the fourth daughter was born on 30th July 1818 and died on 19th December 1848.

The sixth and last child was Anne, born on 17th January 1820 who died on 28th May 1849.

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