Sunday, April 26, 2009

My friend Laura put me on to this scathing critique of Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of Charlotte Bronte. Of course, I fully believe that Charlotte was an ambitious, ego-ridden pain in the ass; and while I have never visited her house in Haworth, I have been to enough laudatory museums to recognize the irritable streak that arises in a reader who is confronted by too many "I Heart Charlotte" totebags, etc. But Charlotte doth always protest too much, and I bet she polished up a certain poor-me persona for Mrs. Gaskell's benefit . . . not to mention that Mrs. G was a shrewd reader of character, even if she was the well-behaved wife of a Unitarian minister. Read her novel Wives and Daughters, and you'll have no doubts.

Coincidentally, I'm fruitlessly trying to interest journal publishers in a recent essay I've written about Charlotte's persona invention. So if you're interested in taking a look as it languishes in limbo, let me know.

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