Pages

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Reader's Diary #638- Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights

I've finally read my first Brontë book. I'm not sure what it is about the classics that makes me feel more of a sense of accomplishment after finishing such a novel. It may be that many of the classics are old British books and I feel like I have to put in more work to understand them. It's not that the language itself is difficult but sometimes it seemed to take them forever to make a point. Was conciseness considered too uncouth?

"I shall deny you hereafter admission into this house, and give notice now that I require your instant departure."

How about, "Get out and never come back!"

So it took me longer to adapt to Brontë's style, at times I found the book very soap opera-ish and there wasn't a single character I liked, but I still enjoyed the book. I may not have liked the characters but they were interesting and at times even sympathetic. The frame story was different and I thought having the bulk of the story told through the ultimately untrustworthy servant Nelly Dean was genius. Plus, the themes of history repeating itself, snobbery, and unfulfilled love, were all enough to hold my attention.

16 comments:

Kate said...

This is my least favourite Bronte book that I have read. I first read it when I was about 16 or 17 (having read and loved Jane Eyre several years earlier), didn't like it, and didn't re-read it until a few years ago when I still didn't like it.

I agree with your summary of finding the plot reminiscent of a soap opera, and not actually liking any of the characters.

John Mutford said...

Kate: You're not the first person I've heard say that WH was their least favourite Bronte book. What is your favourite?

Kate said...

Jane Eyre, hands down! I have read it so many times that my original copy has fallen apart into individual pages held together by an elastic band. I bought a new copy, but don't like reading it, so I always go back to the original and do my best to keep the pages in order.

Ordinary Reader said...

But isn't "I shall deny you hereafter admission into this house, and give notice now that I require your instant departure" so much more beautiful than "Get out and never come back!"? I'd much rather tell someone to "make haste" than "hurry up". I love the language in those old books. It also allows you to be much more polite when you're insulting someone!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm pretty I've never read Wuthering Heights, although all those Bronte/Austen books tend to get lumped together and mixed up in my memory.

John Mutford said...

Kate: I'm not a rereader, so your level of enthusiasm astounds me.

Ordinary Readers: Unfortunately I don't see it as beautiful-- just long winded. Plus, in this case it lacks the necessary punch.

Barbara: I tend to get Tess of the D'Ubervilles confused with those as well.

Loni said...

I've read a bunch of those classic books. I don't really remember Tess, but all the Bronte and Austen remain separate stories. I agree with Kate that Jane Eyre is my favourite, though I feel bad comparing Charlotte and Emily. They are two different writers after all.

JoAnn said...

I read WH for the first time this spring and it was not at all the great love story I was expecting! The characters were all detestable, yet I did enjoy the book quite a bit.

John Mutford said...

Loni: You don't need to feel bad.

JoAnn: The cover of my version (not the one shown above) implied a love story as well.

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

As an angst-filled teen, I loved Wuthering Heights. At the age of 38, I reread the book.....and I hated it. I was simply astounded by how selfish and nasty the characters are. Funny how a little maturity changes your views about books....in the same manner, I don't think Catcher in the Rye can be properly appreciated by an adult.

emeire said...

I agree with Loni and believe that the three sisters shouldn't get almagated.

I really like WH. I think there is a lot in it. And the fact that it is difficult to completely empathise with a character makes the book even more interesting and complex.

Em

Kate said...

To me, re-reading an old favourite is comparable to comfort food. If I have had a bad day/ week/ month/ year, I know that if I pick up a favourite book, all will be well with the world, at least for a little while. When I was moving to Africa for 3 years and had a very restrictive luggage limit, I packed those books with me that I had read countless times before, and so knew that they could stand up to countless re-readings - Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables, and Little Women.

everybookandcranny said...

I agree with a previous commenter who recommended Jane Eyre. I also loved Tess. I'm currently reading Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd. I'm about 3/4 of the way through and so far I'm enjoying it even more than Tess.

John Mutford said...

Michele: I actually enjoyed both of those books as an adult, but hadn't read either as a teenager. This must mean one of two things:
1. I'm immature
2. I wouldn't have liked them as a teenager

Emeire: I actually think comparing the works of the Bronte sisters keeps the authors and their personalities more separate. It forces you to see differences you might have otherwise overlooked.

Kate: I totally respect and understand the idea of rereading a book. However, when the time comes to do so, I always find myself reaching for a book I haven't read.

Everybookandcranny: Tess is the one book I didn't finish. I really need to remedy that someday.

Teddy Rose said...

I didn't care for WH at all. Like you said, the characters were so unlikable and it was soap-operaish. Jane Eyre is my favorite Bronte.

I really don't how it can be considered "The best love story of all time." Where was the love? All I saw was controlling and manipulation.

B.Kienapple said...

Kate/John-Jane Eyre is also my fave Bronte book. God it is good. I'm not a re-reader either but I've read this one twice. Wuthering Heights I haven't read since high school and I remember being perplexed that the story continued AFTER Cathy dies. What, there's more...? But the atmosphere, that I remember loving. And Heathcliff. Too bad Stephenie Meyer has sunk her claws into this one. I will re-read it, once I'm feeling the need for dark and stormy.