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Reading “Jane Eyre”

For someone I am helping I found these:

On this site this post on Wuthering Heights gives some ideas on genre and background. There is heaps on The Victorian Web. See also this City University of New York site – it includes a chapter by chapter analysis.

Do you have doubts about Mr Rochester? See this insightful and amusing hating Rochester post: A Monster is Born by Moira Briggs.

…When she finally accepted that no-one was going to touch The Professor with the proverbial barge pole, Charlotte tried again. This time she resurrected her favourite character from her Angrian stories – the arrogant, brutally handsome (yawn, yawn) Zamorna – and cross-fertilized him with her idealized mental portrait of Constantin Heger.

In the process, she created a monster.

She created Edward Fairfax Rochester.

I can’t remember when, exactly, it dawned on me that Rochester was odious, but I presume it was probably in my 30s, by which age my ‘slimeball detector’ was fully developed…

Enjoy.

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From my personal site: The Secret River by Kate Grenville

Substantial additions have been made to this post, thanks to Adrian Phoon. Go to the original post for his comment. See also Just something to think about…, a follow-up post.

 The Secret River by Kate Grenville (2005).  Grenville has also written one of the best books on writing that I know. (Australian historical fiction)

As I said last week:

I mentioned in my comment on Jim Belshaw’s post that I am at last reading The Secret River by Kate Grenville, and I am enjoying it thoroughly. I think this reading is partly responsible for my looking into Macquarie connections to Cleveland House here in Surry Hills, a building I see every day! The site linked to the novel there is Kate Grenville’s own site, thoroughly worth exploring, especially the section on fiction and history. The Secret River (that is, the Hawkesbury) attracted some little controversy on that score, much of it misplaced. But I will take that up when I review the novel. You will see I have already given The Secret River a best read of 2007 tag though.

That still stands, now that I have finished.

The “Secret River” is today a major tourist attraction, and more, just north of Sydney, parts of it indeed inside Greater Sydney.

The climax of the novel is a massacre, and that has been the issue, it seems, that has led to its being caught up in controversy. Given, as the author has clearly stated, that this is a work of fiction, I don’t think it matters whether or not the events described actually took place in the real-world Hawkesbury Valley in the time of Lachlan Macquarie. Such events, however, did happen, and the novel makes a clear case for the way in which even close to such events their reporting could have been spun and muffled, to be forgotten before many years passed. I think the novel quite properly should caution us against the naive belief that written records tell the whole story.

a020561.jpgThe novel began, Kate Grenville tells us, as a work of non-fiction; she is fortunate enough to have a very interesting convict ancestor, Solomon Wiseman, about whom rather more is known and told than is the case with my ancestor Jacob. Some stirring tales appear in The Hawkesbury Historical Society’s pages. Grenville does her subject novelistic justice in that flesh-and-blood characters really emerge in her writing. It is true, nonetheless, that, while true to what we know of Aboriginal life and culture in that time and place, she does fail to render her Indigenous characters quite so fully. Perhaps given the perspective of her narrative this is not possible, but her convicts and emancipists are rendered brilliantly and individually.

The portrait of Wiseman on the right is alluded to in the last chapter of the novel.

I can really believe that (as Aluminium said in a comment here) readers will be drawn by the novel into an enthusiasm for Australian history, and that can’t be a bad thing after all.

Don’t think I am damning with faint praise; I’m not. This is one very fine novel.

See also Kate Grenville: Secret river, secret pastSunday Channel 9 August 7, 2005 and The Convict Trail.

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North of the Hawkesbury region is the Hunter River and Newcastle. The University of Newcastle has a very fine Virtual Sourcebook for Aboriginal Studies in the Hunter Region, well worth examining. To the east of most of the territory covered by Kate Grenville’s novel and reaching down to northern Sydney lay the lands of the Guringai, whose history my nephew, himself a descendant of the Guringai, has explored: see A Guringai Family’s Story: guest entry by Warren Whitfield.

Later

I deliberately minimised controversy in this post. Adrian in his comment noted that and I responded with some reasons. In writing that comment I found Warts and all: on writing “The Secret River” in the University of Sydney News. It is a good article. My reservations about the Aboriginal characters compared to the Europeans are explained there, I think. I could see Grenville had a problem. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2007 in Australian, works/authors, writing

 

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Studying the Gothic, or Emily Bronte?

I have had coachees doing this interesting genre, and I know others are. So here are a few good sites, once you have been sensible and checked Answers.com or Wikipedia.

nevermore

Online Edgar Allan Poe Exhibition from Cornell University: Nevermore: The Edgar Allan Poe Collection of Susan Jaffe Tane, source of the picture above.
The Literary Gothic ‘is a Web guide to all things concerned with literary Gothicism, which includes ghost stories, “classic” Gothic novels and Gothic fiction (1764-1820), and related pre- and post-Gothic and supernaturalist literature written prior to the mid-C20. Its target audience is all students and fans of the Gothic, regardless of age, academic level, profession, or just about anything else.’
The Gothic: Materials for Study: “With this question in mind, we have assembled this compilation of Gothic “materials for study.” We imagine the project as a course reader for an undergraduate college course on the Gothic. The primary texts for the course include nine novels that we feel represent the”canonized Gothic”; novels whose popularity in both their time and ours attests to their appeal and longevity.” (University of Virginia).
The Victorian Web ‘is the WWW translation of Brown University’s Context 61, which serves as a resource for courses in Victorian literature.’ It is excellent.
Touched by the Hand of Goth: Classics of Gothic Horror Cinema, a good introductory essay by a Finnish student.
GOTHIC/HORROR FICTION QUIZ by Sara Martin. The answers are here.

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Emily Bronte from CUNY Brooklyn is concise and very relevant to the kind of study required here in NSW. Follow the links there.

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Posted by on February 9, 2007 in English studies, HSC, literature genres, questions asked, student help, works/authors

 

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How can I write better short stories?

Some students shine at analytical or argumentative writing but run a mile from “creative writing”. Since creative writing is now mandatory in Paper 1 of the HSC for Advanced and Standard English, such students need to work on this area. Steven, my 2006 coachee who attained Band 6 this year, was such a student. I am sure practice in this area helped him.

See also the “Writing” tag in the side bar, and check the writing archive on John Baker’s blog. John is an English crime fiction writer. There are also many good books: for example, The Writing Book by Australian writer Kate Grenville.

Short Story Tips from the Short Story Group. You might like to check the rest of their site too.

Literature: What Makes a Good Story — Join our journey through a classic short story, “A Jury of Her Peers,” by Susan Glaspell. Along the way, you’ll solve the mystery of whether Minnie Wright killed her husband and explore the story’s literary elements. You will also encounter rest stops where you can read more about the structure of story and take part in activities related to “A Jury of Her Peers”.

Tips for Writing a Short Story by Jennifer Stewart.

Writing short stories that work. Writing a short story that works involves learning how to construct a foundational framework by use and development of plot, theme, characters, denouement and conclusion.

Writing, Blogging & Creative Travel Photo Prompts. Quality varies, but such exercises may lead somewhere.

The Short Of It a short story blog by Bob Tinsley of Colorado Springs. [Quality and suitability may vary.]

He’s clearly successful, but how good is he?

One of the most popular pages on the old Tripod site was my rant about Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. It has reappeared on my personal blog as Pop history, pseudohistory, and The Da Vinci Code. Thoroughly revised.

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Posted by on December 23, 2006 in HSC, questions asked, student help, writing

 

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Now what do I know about Malouf and Wordsworth…?

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In 2005 I had two students who were reading David Malouf — Answers.com or Wikipedia are both good places to start looking. One student was studying An Imaginary Life in the context of an “In the Wild” module also featuring Wordsworth. (He got Band 6 in the end.) Nature in Answers.com is worth a visit. So of course is Wordsworth The other was studying The Great World as part of a Year 11 unit on “Visions of Australia”. Here is a site that fits Malouf into a postcolonial context. Could be useful.

Here is a 1996 interview with Malouf in which he talks about “The Conversations at Curlow Creek, and other matters such as God and paganism and the sacred.”

In January 2001 Malouf spoke with Ramona Koval on ABC Radio National; from his collection of short stories, Dream Stuff, Malouf read from one of the stories, called ‘Closer.’ He then talked about that story and his work. (This is a full transcript.)

This Introduction to The Great World is concise but a reasonable start.

This is one of the best things I have found so far for both books. Film Australia (PDF) has published these “viewing notes” for a documentary on Malouf also called An Imaginary Life.

This New York Times review of the novel An Imaginary Life is worth visiting, as is this one of The Great World. (If the New York Times demand registration, remember it is free – and useful.)

If you want a rather turgid essay in pomo style on An Imaginary Life, look at An Imaginary Life by David Malouf: The Struggle for the Sign, the Struggle for the Self”. Look too at “The Stranger in Three Novels by David Malouf” by Jorg Heinke, University of Kiel, Germany — even if it is oddly organised — or at least I think so.

On Wordsworth there is “Wordsworth’s poetry” by Anne Collins, from HSC Online. You could also do some very profitable time-wasting by doing a virtual tour of Wordsworth’s Cumbria. Then, and I do warn you in advance, look at William “The Interminable” Wordsworth (1770-1850) written by someone else who has found “The Prelude” to be great for insomnia…

friedrich

Here is a beautiful site to look at: Nature, Beauty, and Power: The Romantics (Pitt State University). Another US university, Washington State, offers a plain no-nonsense introduction to Romanticism.

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Posted by on December 19, 2006 in Australian, English studies, HSC, literature genres, student help, works/authors

 

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