Lara Messersmith-Glavin's Reviews > The Illustrated Jane Eyre

The Illustrated Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
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Feb 01, 09

bookshelves: women-gender, heart-breaking
Read in January, 2009

Well, shut my mouth.

I've been making fun of Victorian literature for so long, I'd completely forgotten that I'd never actually read any. Being in China was the worst, where young women currently derive 98% of their impressions of female Western culture from Jane Austen novels, and are subsequently using slang and household vocabulary from the 18th and 19th centuries, with romantic notions to match. "Teacher, I cannot come to class because I have chilblains and ague; oh, I suffer so." And then they swoon over a charged look from a member of the opposite sex, an experience that makes them "flush and reel with unknown passions." Luckily, the other 2% seems to come from the Internet, so they dress like Japanese hookers with a fetish for fantasy novels. It's all very confusing.

In any event, I realized that, if I am to continue to mock my friends' taste in BBC period specials (12-hour versions of Pride and Prejudice and the like), then I should probably familiarize myself with the material. Lo and behold, I can - without pride, OR prejudice - say that Jane Eyre tore me a new one.

Seriously. I was hooked. 545-some-odd pages of wistfulness, swishing skirts, orphanages, and severe Christian morality, and I devoured it in a couple of days. What I hadn't counted on was the deep undercurrent of rebellion that runs through Bronte's work: the unlikely struggle of a woman holding her own against both class and gender inequities, and having her fire and faith in self ultimately rewarded. It doesn't get much better than that! Brava, Miss Charlotte. I'll read more - one of these days.

This edition is a great starter-kit for doubters such as myself, as it's illustrated by the self-proclaimed neo-Victorian hipster extraordinaire, "Dame Darcy," a cartoonist with a delightful body of work best typified by Meatcake, and with a jagged, big-eyed style that dances neatly between Tim Burton and an attack of a 12-year-old with a box of markers.

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Comments (showing 1-8)




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trivialchemy Chilblains and ague! Brilliant!


message 7: by Rico (new)

Rico Oh, how you write so. It inflames my humours. Instead or reading Edwardian and Victorian novels, I will content myself with your charming reviews.


message 6: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Oh my, you had me laughing out loud there.


Molly If you liked this, try "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen, it's not just a sappy love story, I promise.


Matthew Love this review, really made me laugh.


Jaime I love the Bronte's, Dickens, Dresier, etc. I can't stand any Jane Austen work, though. Read about the poor, they're far more interesting and feel more real somehow.


Emilia These authors can definitely not be judged by the TV versions, which rarely seem to catch the essence of the books.


message 1: by Justin (new)

Justin Dloski Great last paragraph :)


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