March 16, 2011

Jane Austen v. the Bronte Sisters, II

As some commenters have pointed out, in the endless struggle between witty, sensible Jane Austen and the romantic, hysterical Bronte sisters, the high end of the market for fiction and movies has been, for a couple of decades, in Jane Austen's camp. But the mass market in the 21st Century has been going back to the Brontes. For example, Edward Cullen, the vampire love interest of Twilight, is heavily based on Jane Eyre's Mr. Rochester.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Isn't TWIIGHT more Shelley?

Anonymous said...

Isn't Wuthering Heights about some white bourgeoie woman going gaga over some swarthy gypsy man? I think PIANO--awful movie--was inspired by it. Maybe, JUNGLE FEVER and interracist Hip-Hop belongs in the same league.

The amusing thing about Obama is he's a creation of a Bronte-saurus affair between a white woman and a black man but he carries on nimbly like a cool-and-collected character in an Austen novel.

The child of Jane Ayers?

SGOTI said...

Cage match, or just straight ahead wrasslin'? And can they use weapons?

Steve Sailer said...

It's speculated in "Wuthering Heights" that the darkish Heathcliff, who was adopted off the streets of Liverpool, is a Laskar (South Asian) or an "American stowaway" (presumably part black).

anony-mouse said...

Of course in the movie, the 'white' Catherine was played by someone with actual non-white ancestry, unlike the solidly English actor (nephew of a British governor of Jamaica) who played the dark Heatcliff.

Dispatches From PR Land said...

Sigh, they all suck. Next?

Anonymous said...

some of these archetypes are out there in the public domain, u can hardly say thta it was based directly on Mr. Darcy

or mr. Rochester.


it's just not right

Anonymous said...

kudos to you for not writing about Race this time, but still writing about white folks.

Thripshaw said...

Anthony Burgess theorized that the reason women were so successful at producing novels as opposed to any other work of art (painting, music, poetry) was because of their natural capacity for gossip.

I tend to agree.

Udolpho.com said...

Personally I think Jane Eyre is unreadable. Wuthering Heights is funny if you take it in the right spirit. Villette is the sort of novel authors find irresistable--it's Charlotte's college years, mostly spent pining over a married professor.

On the other hand the only really serious novel Jane Austen wrote was Mansfield Park. Like all of her writing, it has yet to be adapted properly--it's about the modern struggle between virtue and sophistication, and tends to divide her fans.

Anonymous said...

It's speculated in "Wuthering Heights" that the darkish Heathcliff, who was adopted off the streets of Liverpool, is a Laskar (South Asian) or an "American stowaway" (presumably part black)


No, Heathcliff is a "dark-skinned" gypsy. "Dark-skinned" in this context means darker-then-average on the spectrum of white people. Have you met any gypsies? I have, and they are darker in the same sense that Mediterraneans are.

Anonymous said...

@ Thripshaw -- Huh. Interesting.
Some critic once theorized that there were really only two stories:

1. A man goes on a journey, and
2. A stranger comes to town.

(The perceptive reader will recognize that those two are really just one story, told from different viewpoints.)

But in light of havng lots more women writers in the latter-day era, we might theorize a few more models, for example

1. A woman has a lot of different emotions and tells you all about them, and

2. A woman gets involved with a man (presumably either the voyager or the stranger who comes to town.)

Anonymous said...

>some of those archetypes are out in the public domain

Catharynne valente thinks Twilight is about Persephone and Hades. I haven't seen Twilight- I thought it was about the Ultimate Practice Boyfriend.

Is Tiger Beat about Hades and Persephone?

Is Mr Rochester Hades?

agnostic said...

Heh, more emo-faggy wannabes, although that does parallel the post-Romantic Heathcliff, Dorian Gray, etc.

The last Byronic heroes we had were Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Peter Venkman, even his character from Stripes.

For females, the last Gothic heroines were... Nancy from Nightmare on Elm Street, Veronica from Heathers, and maybe Jennifer Connelly in Labyrinth. Ah, and Audrey and Donna from Twin Peaks.

None of those gals were hysterical.

Kylie said...

I can ramble through one of H. James's novels effortlessly but have never been able to get through one of Austen's. As far as I can tell from a few pages here and there, they're always about what people think about other people--and the thinking strikes me as pretty shallow and downright snarky. (Yes, I know that in that era, a woman's future and fortune were determined by her marriage. But do they have to take so much pleasure in all the backbiting and machinations?)

I read Jane Eyre when I was a teen, which I think is a good age at which to read it. Wuthering Heights was just too fervid for me. Frankly, I found it embarrassing.

I don't suppose at this late date anyone will be able to explain the appeal of either author to me.

Emotion seems increasingly to be holding sway over reason so I'm not surprised the swooning Brontes are shining brighter in the literary firmament and the sensible Austen is in eclipse. So to speak.

Anonymous said...

My first time at your blog in 5 months. I'm disappointed to learn that you have turned gay, as evidenced by blog post subject.

Looking forward to your next posts "Who's more faaaaaaaabulous, Garland or Garbo?" and "Codpiece? Chaps? Both!"

Anonymous said...

"Anthony Burgess theorized that the reason women were so successful at producing novels as opposed to any other work of art (painting, music, poetry) was because of their natural capacity for gossip."

But Emily Dickinson is America's greatest poet. And Anna Akhmatova was one of the Russia's greatest in the 20th century.

Anonymous said...

But Emily Dickinson is America's greatest poet.

Haha, good one.

Anonymous said...

Meyers has said Edward is a subconscious mixture of Darcy, Rochester, and Anne of Green Gable's Gilbert Blythe.

Though as the author she outranks me, the comparison to Darcy doesn't really hold up, perhaps aside from some introversion, and I don't really buy the Rochester bit, either; Edward is much too pretty among other things, and he's roughly as monstrous as a golden retriever.

But Meyers does have the whole fervid Bronte thing going on.

If Jane were still around she'd probably read the Twilight series avidly and then write a comic and ironic masterpiece that riffed off of it. Say, that's an idea for a writing contest: what would happen if Jane Austen had ghosted Twilight.

Colin Laney said...

But Emily Dickinson is America's greatest poet. And Anna Akhmatova was one of the Russia's greatest in the 20th century.

Don't forget Sappho, whom Plato described as "the tenth muse".

It's speculated in "Wuthering Heights" that the darkish Heathcliff, who was adopted off the streets of Liverpool, is a Laskar (South Asian) or an "American stowaway" (presumably part black).

He's so obviously Welsh that I think the publisher will have to come out with an expurgated version.



Anthony Burgess theorized that the reason women were so successful at producing novels as opposed to any other work of art (painting, music, poetry) was because of their natural capacity for gossip.

One candidate for 'world's first novel literally translates as 'Gossip About Gengi'. Authrix: Lady Murasaki

The last Byronic heroes we had were Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Peter Venkman, even his character from Stripes.

False! Back to the Yale English department with you for Remedial Romanticism !

Isn't TWIIGHT more Shelley?

Pattinson would be an excellent screen Shelley. It would be very instructive to his fans to see him play a man who drives his first wife to suicide over desertion during her second pregnancy.

Looking forward to your next posts "Who's more faaaaaaaabulous, Garland or Garbo?"

Garland

and "Codpiece? Chaps? Both!"

Chaps.

That is all.

Anonymous said...

"But Emily Dickinson is America's greatest poet."

Indeed; American poetry sucks.

Steve Sailer said...

Mr. Rochester's Jamaican-born first wife might (or might not) be mulatto.

In real life during the Romantic era, the biggest selling French writer was 1/4th black and the top Russian poet was 1/8th black.

Glaivester said...

I can't comment negatively on the preoccupation with angsty vampires, as one of my eraly blogposts touted Kristin Lehman's near-suicidal character Urs on Forever Knight as being the sexiest vampiress I knew of...

Anonymous said...

"My first time at your blog in 5 months. I'm disappointed to learn that you have turned gay, as evidenced by blog post subject.

Looking forward to your next posts "Who's more faaaaaaaabulous, Garland or Garbo?" and "Codpiece? Chaps? Both!"


I know this blog is opposed to pc qualities, but a writer must be male to be worth the attention of a hetero male? Really? What a dreary,narrow mind. Must the writer be also white? Which leaves out Pushkin and the author of the 3 Musketeers. Pathetic.
They may not be to your taste, but an avidly heterosexual male audience devoured them, just as an avidly hetero-male audience swarmed to musicals and certain 30-50s films where the snappy dialogue between men and women was a big part of the fascination.
Then gays took them over.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Wuthering Heights was just too fervid for me.

Nothing else to do out there on the moors but be fervid.

Anonymous said...

It's speculated in "Wuthering Heights" that the darkish Heathcliff, who was adopted off the streets of Liverpool, is a Laskar (South Asian) or an "American stowaway" (presumably part black)


"No, Heathcliff is a "dark-skinned" gypsy."

What do you mean, No? It says so in the frickin' book!

"I declare he is that strange acquisition my late neighbour made, in his journey to Liverpool—a little Lascar, or an American or Spanish castaway.”

True, at another point Heathcliff is described as "a dark-skinned gipsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman."

"In aspect", meaning, he looks like a dark-skinned gypsy, not that he necessarily is one.

So, he's swarthy, that's about all we can say.

Cennbeorc

Lucille said...

One candidate for 'world's first novel literally translates as 'Gossip About Gengi'

Um, no, it doesn't. "Gossip" is not the best translation for "monogatari." The normal English title (The Tale of Genji) - is a much better translation.

Anonymous said...

In real life during the Romantic era, the biggest selling French writer was 1/4th black


I assume you mean Dumas. But his paternal grandmother was Creole - a French/African mix. That would make Alexandre 1/8th black.

Anonymous said...

Jane Austen is for gays?

Ugh.

Straight men need to stop reverse ghettoizing themselves.

Kylie said...

"In real life during the Romantic era, the biggest selling French writer was 1/4th black and the top Russian poet was 1/8th black."

Don't forget Beethoven. He was a bridge between the Classic and Romantic eras but his African ancestry is undeniable (in certain quarters, no pun intended).

David said...

>In real life during the Romantic era, the biggest selling French writer was 1/4th black<

An amateur parody of "Camille" was filmed in the mid-1920s. It starred some of the leading literary lights in America, including Sinclair Lewis and H.L. Mencken. The film's take on Dumas himself (who is portrayed at the beginning of the film here), while politically incorrect, is humorous.

The film also stars Charlie Chaplin, Somerset Maugham, and Serge Koussevitsky.

(Mencken appears in the second part, “Camille2.mov”, at 56.9 seconds into the video and again, with Joseph Hergesheimer, at 4 minutes 31 seconds. Link. Hat tip: The Mencken Society.)

Kylie said...

"Joseph Hergesheimer"

Now there's a name you don't run across every day.

Unless you're a Richard Barthelmess fan like I am.

Anonymous said...

Sailerites, if the majority of you simply dislike women and all things feminine (except their 15 - 25 year old bodies) you aren't going to have anything interesting to say on this subject. Go back to World of Warcraft please and return when Sailer produces another one of his "Woe is the White Man" self-pitying rants.

James Kabala said...

From what I understand, the idea of Austen as an exclusively-for-women author is a fairly recent development. Marriage was once a common ending to works by male authors as well.

Dumas was the first person I ever heard referred to as (inaccurately) "half white and half black." I assumed this meant white on one side and black on the other, as in a notorious episode of Star Trek. (This was in the preface to an abridged-for-kids edition of The Three Musketeers, and my age must have in single digits.)

James Kabala said...

From what I understand, the idea of Austen as an exclusively-for-women author is a fairly recent development. Marriage was once a common ending to works by male authors as well.

Dumas was the first person I ever heard referred to as (inaccurately) "half white and half black." I assumed this meant white on one side and black on the other, as in a notorious episode of Star Trek. (This was in the preface to an abridged-for-kids edition of The Three Musketeers, and my age must have in single digits.)

JSM said...

"Sailerites, if the majority of you simply dislike women and all things feminine (except their 15 - 25 year old bodies) you aren't going to have anything interesting to say on this subject. Go back to World of Warcraft please and return when Sailer produces another one of his "Woe is the White Man" self-pitying rants."

My Dearest Anonymous,

I, as a woman, would like to invite you, in the most refined and genteel manner possible, to kindly shut yer own yap.

My most sincere and heartfelt thanks,
JSM

Anonymous said...

My two cents is that the Bronte's are for younger readers, Austen is for grown ups, (by which I mean crusty old conservatives like me).
Gilbert Pinfold.

Anonymous said...

JSM, are you white? If so do you consider yourself oppressed and disadvantaged because of it? I am white and my race has never held me back from anything.

JSM said...

"JSM, are you white? If so do you consider yourself oppressed and disadvantaged because of it?"

Yes. I consider myself oppressed and disadvantaged because I was forced to leave what was once America's Finest City because, being only of middle income, I could not afford private school and nowayinhell was I going to put my White children in NAM-majority public school where they could revel in the strengths of (in the form of regular beatings administered by) diversity.

"I am white and my race has never held me back from anything."

That's nice.

Do you have kids?

Do you understand the concept of trends?

Kylie said...

"Sailerites, if the majority of you simply dislike women and all things feminine (except their 15 - 25 year old bodies) you aren't going to have anything interesting to say on this subject. Go back to World of Warcraft please and return when Sailer produces another one of his "Woe is the White Man" self-pitying rants."

I have a better idea. Why don't you go back to HuffPo and/or The Nation ando/or Mothers Who Think and leave us alone?

The level of literary criticism here isn't stratospherically high but it's a helluva lot better than anything you have to offer.

Now I think I'll gather up my skirts and trip daintily over to ebay and see if there are any can't-pass-'em-up bargains on mahogany dollhouse furniture. (Yes, I am a woman and yes, to my husband's eternal chagrin, I'm passionate about all sorts of girly things--except female bodies.)

Heliogabalus said...

"Don't forget Beethoven...his African ancestry is undeniable"

More like unprovable. Of B's great-grandparents, 12 were German, 3 were Flemish, and one was Walloon (ie. Belgian French).

Speaking of Pushkin, he only gets to be "black" if he lived in America under the 1-drop rule. Since he lived in Russia, the rule doesn't apply. Different countries have different definitions of blackness.

Severn said...

Don't forget Beethoven. He was a bridge between the Classic and Romantic eras but his African ancestry is undeniable

I can't find any support at all for the notion of Beethoven's "undeniable" African ancestry.

The Straight Dope debunks this myth here.

It's remarkable how even fairly conservative people can end up accepting pervasive leftist myths.

Kylie said...

"'Don't forget Beethoven. He was a bridge between the Classic and Romantic eras but his African ancestry is undeniable'

I can't find any support at all for the notion of Beethoven's 'undeniable' African ancestry.

The Straight Dope debunks this myth here.

It's remarkable how even fairly conservative people can end up accepting pervasive leftist myths."


Yes, almost as remarkable as how fairly conservative people can utterly fail to detect sarcasm when their fellow conservatives are skewering the left's foolishness.

My comment in full, of which you quoted only part, was:

"Don't forget Beethoven. He was a bridge between the Classic and Romantic eras but his African ancestry is undeniable (in certain quarters, no pun intended)."

The phrase "in certain quarters" along with the somewhat unsavoury but accidental pun, should have clued you in to the fact that I was not agreeing with the opinion I cited but poking fun at it.

concerned netizen said...

"nthony Burgess theorized that the reason women were so successful at producing novels as opposed to any other work of art (painting, music, poetry) was because of their natural capacity for gossip."

That was Mary McCarthy.

Anonymous said...

"Don't forget Beethoven. He was a bridge between the Classic and Romantic eras but his African ancestry is undeniable"

"I can't find any support at all for the notion of Beethoven's 'undeniable' African ancestry."

On the other hand:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLUiNAdP-v4