Monday, September 10, 2012
The Brontes and their world
[Taken from p88, author Phyllis Bentley. This book was on my mother's book-shelf since I was a little girl. Now it's on my book-shelf but I probably should give it back.]
Emily Brontë was a 'space-sweeping soul' to use her own phrase about a philosopher; her thoughts on life, death, immortality, imagination, liberty, deity had a depth and breadth of vision compatible to Wordsworth or Shakespeare.
It has been the fashion to speak of her as a metaphysical poet, but I prefer to call her a pantheist; she saw the universe as a whole, and her vision comprehended the lark, the woolly sheep, the snowy glen, the nature of being and God Himself as all part of the one great harmony. Nor can her thought be called speculative. She writes with a majestic, almost casual certainty. These tremendous themes, these minute observations, are both conveyed with an absolute simplicity of language; no purple patches of metaphor or simile, no elaboration of construction, no experiment with metre - one feels Emily would have thought any artifices contemptibly vulgar. She merely says what she means in the clearest, hardest hitting terms she can find. But if her metres are conventional and her words austere, her rhythms have a poetry so intense as to be deeply thrilling, in the most literal sense of that expression.
I can't believe that Emily wrote Wuthering Heights between October 1845 and June 1846 and had it published in July of the following year. How much editing? How many drafts? How many copies were sold? Who read this type of novel? Would it get published today?
WH remains one of my favourite books, evah.