Friday Friyay: Anne's 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall'
Note: Editions of The Tenant that start with: "You must go back with me..." are incomplete. Actual opening line of the novel is: "To J. Halford, Esq. Dear Halford, when we were together last..."
Anne Bronte's second novel is a passionate and courageous challenge to the conventions supposedly upheld by Victorian society and reflected in circulating-library fiction. The heroine, Helen Huntingdon, after a short period of initial happiness, leaves her dissolute husband, and must earn her own living to rescue her son from his influence. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is compelling in its imaginative power, the realism and range of its dialogue, and its psychological insight into the characters involved in a marital battle.
Book Beginnings is at home on Rose City Reader, hosted by Gilion Dumas, and Friday 56 at Freda's Voice, hosted by Freda. I'll also be joining the Book Blog Hop, hosted by Charlie over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.
As the blurb says, my edition actually starts incorrectly, so I'm actually going to share the beginning of the 'Author's Preface to the Second Edition'
'While I acknowledge the success of the present work to have been greater than I anticipated, and the praises it has elicited from a few kind critics to have been greater than it deserved, I must also admit that from some other quarters it has been censured with an asperity which I was as little prepared to expect, and which my judgement, as well as my feelings, assures me is more bitter than just. It is scarcely the province of an author to refute the arguments of his censors and vindicate his own productions, but I may be allowed to make here a few observations with which I would have prefaced the first edition, had I foreseen the necessity of such precautions against the misapprehensions of those who would read it with a prejudiced mind or be content to judge it by a hasty glance.' 2%
I think Anne employs a tone of modesty here which is more of a courtesy than actual modesty, if that makes sense. She needs to beg forgiveness before reading her critics for filth, which is just how polite dialogue functions, especially during Victorian times. Also, note how she uses male pronouns as she is still writing under her pseudonym!
Ok, I'm going to cheat here and give you two more sentences from this preface which struck me.
'Yet, be it understood, I shall not limit my ambition to this - or even to producing "a perfect work of art": time and talents so spent, I should consider wasted and misapplied.' 3%
I don't think Anne is saying she couldn't produce a perfect work of art. Rather she is railing against the idea that authors should create perfect worlds with only ambitious and moral characters. She wants to portray the world and humanity as she sees it, flawed but full of hope.
'All novels are, or should be, written for both men and women to read, and I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be really disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man.' 3%
Never again will I believe Anne was in any way less feisty than her sisters!
'Ah! you do well to remind me of the ladies, you dastardly deserter.' cried he, shaking his formidable fist at his brother-in-law. 'If it were not for them, you well know, I'd demolish you in the twinkling of an eye, and give your body to the fowls of heaven and the lilies of the fields!' 56%
I have not reached this part of the book yet but God am I curious to find out who is saying this to whom and why. No one is married yet at the point of the book where I am, so clearly I'm in for a lot more upheaval and emotion!
Book Blogger Hop:
This week's question comes from Julie at JadeSky:
Do you think you will ever get tired of blogging?
Honestly, I have been at it now for almost eleven years and there have definitely been ups and downs, months where I hardly posted, years in which I was too busy working or studying to really give the blog full attention. But I always come back to it. There is just something so fulfilling and creative about blogging that I do need it as a stress relief and as a way to keep myself motivated. So I guess that was a very long way of saying no! I don't see myself stopping anytime soon, although like always I will fluctuate in how much time I can dedicate to it.
So, that is what I have to offer this Friday! What do you think of the Anne Brontë quotes?