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The Life of Charlotte Brontë
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message 1: by Anastasia Kinderman, The Only (last edited May 17, 2015 03:11PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Anastasia Kinderman | 654 comments Mod
Hey, everyone! This month we are reading the Life of Charlotte Bronte. I looked up the chapters and I believe there are 30 so I think we can divide them like this:

Week 1 (May 1-7): Chapters 1-7
Week 2 (May 8-14): Chapters 8-14
Week 3 (May 15-21): Chapters 15-21
Week 4 (May 22-28): Chapters 22-28
Week 5 (May 29-31): Impressions

I'm reading the two volume Kindle edition so if someone has a hard copy and can verify I'd appreciate that!


message 2: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 304 comments Mines also kindle. Single edition. But divides chapters into edition 1 & 2. But this works.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 370 comments I have a hard copy from 1970. It has 28 chapters (only 27 listed in the index!) followed by a chronology & various afterwards listed by the editor.

I should be ready to start reading tomorrow.


message 4: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 304 comments Carols right- mine total 28- 14 per part...


Ginny (burmisgal) | 190 comments Lisa wrote: "Carols right- mine total 28- 14 per part..."

My edition (1997) does this as well. Edited by Elizabeth Jay.


Anastasia Kinderman | 654 comments Mod
Do we want to have the last three days be a general discussion of the book then?


message 7: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 304 comments That's cool,
Maybe discuss highlights or overall impressions?


Anastasia Kinderman | 654 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "That's cool,
Maybe discuss highlights or overall impressions?"


Changed last thread to reflect that.


Anastasia Kinderman | 654 comments Mod
Some interesting notes I found on the biography: apparently Gaskell was careful in her description of the school where two Bronte sisters died because was trying to avoid legal action.

She also seems to have passed over Charlotte's crush (love?) on a married man because she didn't want to hurt Charlotte's family. She also passes over Charlotte's relationship with her publisher, who also published the biography. You can read some of the details here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Life...

How do my fellow readers feel about this? Do you think this was wise of Gaskell to do? Or do you think she should have risked the wrath of the people involved and included the details anyway?


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 315 comments Oh dear! I had read that the character M Emmanuel In Villette was based on the married man with whom she was in love during her sojourn in Belgium.

I'm so glad that you told us all that this is not included in the biography as well as CB and her sister's experience at boarding school.

I have read through the section where EG discusses the school and relates certain people there to characters in Jane Eyre which I will probably start to read this month as a part of a buddy read.

It seems that EG has left out things that were most interesting to me aside from CBs efforts to suppress Anne's work.

As I have some heavy reading commitments this month in terms of page count/length, I think that I'll save CBs biography for another time, but I will lurk and follow the discussion.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 370 comments I'd already read that this was not a complete biography.

I've read the first two chapters.

Does everyone else's copy have illustrations?


message 12: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum Andrea (Catsos Person) wrote: "Oh dear! I had read that the character M Emmanuel In Villette was based on the married man with whom she was in love during her sojourn in Belgium.

I'm so glad that you told us all that this is no..."


I'll lurk with you, Andrea.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 315 comments Carol, the Project Gutenberg download that I have been reading includes no images.


message 14: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ (last edited May 11, 2015 01:24PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 370 comments & on the GR sidebar, a piece about famous friendships between authors. https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/5...

I thought EG was working on the biography at Charlotte's father's behest? This article makes it sounds like it was EG's idea.


Ginny (burmisgal) | 190 comments The edition I am reading is taken from the first edition Mrs. Gaskell published, without the changes she made in her third edition in response to angry criticisms. Although I have not read any other biography of Charlotte Bronte, and am not a fan of biography in general, I suspect if what is wanted is the "true story" of Bronte's life, this is not the best source. From the introduction in my copy: "Elizabeth Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Bronte was a formative work in two important senses. Hers was the first full-length biography of a female novelist to be written by a sister novelist, and in it she may be said to have created, almost single-handedly, the myth of the Brontes. Her apparently simple, linear arrangement of the known facts of Charlotte's life, interspersed with letters and anecdotes, presented an interpretation so compelling that, a century and a half later, books about the Brontes still find themselves standing in its shadow, often simultaneously using it as a source and offering resistance to the story it tells."

I have read everything Mrs. Gaskell has written and am a huge fan of her novels. The only novel of Charlotte Bronte's I've read is Jane Eyre, and did not really admire it. The prose struck me as sentimental and sensational, although it is of course a great story. I find some of the prose in Charlotte's letters more compelling and sophisticated than that in Jane Eyre. It strikes me that a theme in The Life is the tragedy of potential genius thwarted by deprivation and missed opportunity.


message 16: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum Ginny wrote: "The edition I am reading is taken from the first edition Mrs. Gaskell published, without the changes she made in her third edition in response to angry criticisms. Although I have not read any oth..."

Good insight, Ginny.


message 17: by Anastasia Kinderman, The Only (new) - rated it 3 stars

Anastasia Kinderman | 654 comments Mod
Interesting question I wanted to put to you all. We all know that human beings are biased. Any time someone writes a biography or an autobiography we know that will influence it. How do you guys feel about that? Do you think biographies should strive to be as accurate as possible? Or do you think that, like with what we're currently reading, it's acceptable for an author to take some creative license?

Is it acceptable to leave out parts of someone's life because they might offend others?


message 18: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum I think one of the reasons that I'm not usually a lover of biographies is because I know that there is bias-and there's no recourse for the dead subject to refute or explain the situation in what's being written. The lack of fair-play bothers me.

On the other hand, sugar-coating the events in a person's life is dishonest. And a "just the facts, ma'am" biography is usually pretty boring.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 370 comments Anastasia wrote: "Interesting question I wanted to put to you all. We all know that human beings are biased. Any time someone writes a biography or an autobiography we know that will influence it. How do you guys..."

Yes & that will be a theme in my review (when I get that far!) I've just finished a modern biography & they have fictionalised names (even though the real ones of at least a couple of people are easy to find) composite characters, made up conversations.& only certain parts of this guy.s life All mentioned at start of book. Plus I had seen the real person on a TV interview & this book didn't capture (It's probably impossible to capture) his real life magnetism & charm.

Of course the trade off is you get insights from people who know them.

I'm going away for the weekend so I'll come back to this when I return!


message 20: by Anastasia Kinderman, The Only (new) - rated it 3 stars

Anastasia Kinderman | 654 comments Mod
Karlyne, do you think it's possible to make thinks interesting while also sticking to the facts?

Carol, is that an actual biography or more of a novel 'based' on someone's life?


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 370 comments Anastasia wrote: "Karlyne, do you think it's possible to make thinks interesting while also sticking to the facts?

Carol, is that an actual biography or more of a novel 'based' on someone's life?"


Interesting questions!

Answering the question for Karlyne first - I'm not sure. Maybe in autobiography? I can remember Marianne Faithfull's first autobiography being quite brutally honest, so I think it was her truth. (as she remembers things)

Biography - there will always be bias, because as humans we will always have opinions. As a reader you just have to allow for it.

My question. Is it OK if I link to the book? I'll delete the link if not as its about a guy as it's outside the scope of this group. Out of the Box: The Highs and Lows of a Champion Smuggler It was catalogued by my library as 364.something rather than 920, so it is to be taken with a grain of salt. & frankly fictionalising names in these times is pointless. I found out 2 of the real names quite easily (one without trying at all - it was on a photo)


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 370 comments Sorry had to go out. When you change names, combine people or events - yes it is close to fiction. But I'm ok with it as the authors did state they had done that.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 315 comments Anastasia wrote: "Interesting question I wanted to put to you all. We all know that human beings are biased. Any time someone writes a biography or an autobiography we know that will influence it. How do you guys..."


In times past, I was an uncritical reader of a couple of autobiographies. This experience with this bio of CB and the info that had been suppressed to minimize distress of CBs still-living father and husband has given me pause to reevaluate whether I want to waste time on biographies or autobiographies at all unless perhaps they are written long after death by someone who has unrestricted access to info about the subject and is free to write what they find without regard to offending family members if they are all dead. The award-winning biography The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo would be an example. The author did not have to concern himself with hurting anyone's feelings because everyone was long dead when it was written.

In short, I think if a biographer is writing about someone during a period too close to the subject's lifetime, there may be restrictions on how honest and or critical a He or she can be.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 315 comments ***Carol*** wrote: "& on the GR sidebar, a piece about famous friendships between authors. https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/5...

I thought EG was working on the biog..."


This info about friendships between famous writers is interesting.

I had no idea that Toni Morrison and James Baldwin were friends.

I thought that he lived in France.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 370 comments I have to go back to that article Andrea - I found it very interesting!

I think it's probably good to read a range. I'll probably see if I can get hold of another CB biography & see what is recorded differently.

& with autobiographies - Mick Fleetwood has written a second one, but apparently a lot of the info was in his first one! All about the money, baby!

& I read another one by an equally famous musician who appeared to be absolutely honest (including stuff not very flattering to himself) But he also said his marriage was deliriously happy when about that time he was bonking a waitress!

Everyone has secrets!


message 26: by Anastasia Kinderman, The Only (new) - rated it 3 stars

Anastasia Kinderman | 654 comments Mod
***Carol*** wrote: "Anastasia wrote: "Karlyne, do you think it's possible to make thinks interesting while also sticking to the facts?

Carol, is that an actual biography or more of a novel 'based' on someone's life?"..."


It's definitely okay. :)


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