terça-feira, julho 21, 2009

‘Emily’s Ghost’ is a Gothic novel starring the Brontes themselves

‘Emily’s Ghost’ is a Gothic novel starring the Brontes themselves
By Jean Westmoore
Updated: July 21, 2009, 8:32 AM

“Dark, lithe, mercurial…and obstinately shy,” Emily Bronte famously preferred the company of dogs to people. While the roiling passion of “Wuthering Heights” would seem to have sprung from her singular imagination, this new biographical novel conjures the heartbreak of love lost as the creative backdrop for the most gifted of the Bronte sisters.
Denise Giardina, herself a gifted novelist from the hills of Appalachia, takes us striding the Yorkshire moors with Emily and her dog, Keeper, in this fascinating reimagining of the lives of the Brontes.
Using letters written by the Brontes, information from Juliet Barker’s “The Brontes” biography and references to the Brontes’ novels and poetry, Giardina weaves a stunning tapestry of fact and fiction around the lives of this famous literary family. She paints Emily as the radical recluse, dismissive of social and religious conventions and content to keep house for her father, while Charlotte is “politically conservative and conventionally Victorian,” desiring to marry and escape the Haworth parsonage. “Emily’s Ghost” is a vivid portrait of a fascinating family; it also is a Bronte-style romance worthy of its heroine.
Giardina casts Emily as a rebel at the tender age of 6, sent by her widowed father to the Clergy Daughters School to starve and freeze with older sisters Maria, Elizabeth and Charlotte. (Baby Anne was left at home.) Little Emily, a lover of her father’s Irish stories, cushions herself from the harsh environment by communing with ghosts and spirits who tell her stories and are as real to her as her own sisters; all her life she will have one foot firmly placed in this spirit world. (Charlotte would later immortalize the dreadful school in “Jane Eyre.”)
“Emily’s Ghost” then skips ahead 15 years to the three surviving sisters and brother Branwell as young adults devising various schemes to earn a living. They are thrilled with the arrival of William Weightman, a new curate who is to assist their father in his poor parish. Giardina writes lively, often humorous prose:
“Emily did not know a man who was not small. Infinitely small. Flirting was as incomprehensible as Mandarin. What was it for, she wondered. To win the companionship of a creature who was not half so interesting as the dog Keeper.”
The book paints a vivid backdrop of England in the tumultuous 1840s, when boys died in coal mine explosions and the poor lost limbs working in mills, froze for lack of peat, starved for lack of bread and died of disease for lack of clean water.
Weightman was young, handsome and gregarious, preferring to preach God’s love rather than damnation, and Giardina paints him as a passionate advocate for the poor and a secret collaborator with the Chartist movement. (William Weightman was Patrick Bronte’s assistant curate, and he did walk 10 miles to post anonymous valentines to Anne, Charlotte and Emily after learning they had never gotten a valentine.)
Charlotte fancies herself in love, asks to paint his portrait and expresses annoyance at what she perceives as Weightman’s flirtation with her sister Anne. But in Giardina’s novel, Emily is the sister who intrigues Weightman.
The author contrives many ways to throw Emily and Weightman together: at the burial for an indigent old man, in the parsonage kitchen, striding the moors, at Sunday school where Weightman prevails upon Emily to play the piano.
Only her father knows of Emily’s relationship with his young assistant. Charlotte, dreaming of one day opening a school, hatches a scheme to study in Brussels and bullies Emily into going along. They would not see Weightman again.
Using Emily Bronte’s own themes of a heaven like Earth and of love beyond the grave, and other mystical touches, Giardina supplies an ending to her tragic love story that will satisfy even the most hopeless romantic.
And there is an interesting literary postscript: The author, on her Web site, says that she wanted to “free Emily” from Charlotte’s grip. Charlotte outlived her sisters; Charlotte’s juvenile writings were saved while Emily’s were not. Charlotte even managed her sisters’ literary legacy, revising their poems.
But did she go further than that?
There is evidence, in a letter from her publisher, that Emily was working on a second novel when she died of tuberculosis at age 30. (Branwell, Emily and Anne all died within a period of nine months.) Could it be that a disapproving Charlotte decided to destroy Emily’s second novel?
A review in 1848 called “Wuthering Heights” “a strange sort of book — baffling all regular criticism; yet it is impossible to begin and not finish it; and quite as impossible to lay it aside afterword and say nothing about it.”
Fans of the Brontes may find Giardina’s novel more conventional but similar at least in this way: it is impossible to begin and not finish it, and just as impossible to lay it aside afterward and say nothing about it.
Emily’s Ghost: A Novel of the Bronte Sisters
By Denise Giardina
W. W. Norton and Company
$24.95, 335 pages
FONTE (foto incluída): Buffalo News - Buffalo,NY,USA
FOTO: Charlotte Riley and Tom Hardy starred in PBS' "Masterpiece Classic" version of "Wuthering Heights," adapted from Emily Bronte's only novel.
Associated Press

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