Posted by: beansai | September 4, 2007

Thinking about Charlotte

Charlotte Bronte is undoubtedly one of my favorite authors. The first time I ever encountered her work was my freshman year of high school. My good friend Skunkie was a year older than me and in her english class they were reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Somehow we got on the topic of books and she recommended it to me, thinking that I would enjoy it.

Well, needless to say, my fourteen year old self stored the information and then forgot about it, until my sophomore year rolled around, and I had the same teacher for english. We were given a list of books that we would have to report on and we had to pick so many out of the list. Well, lo and behold, there was Ms. Bronte and her recommended book calling out to me. I believe it was the first book I read for the year, and I also believe that I still have the essay I wrote for it. I was hooked instantly to the style of writing and the characters.

I must admit, with a proud shame (I know, what a contradiction), that I have read Jane Eyre well above nine times. Sometimes I won’t read it all the way through, I’ll skip sections that I don’t care for as much ( I like them all, but even I have my preferences) or I will start in the middle and finish out, whatever I am in the mood for. So Charlotte became my staple sample of the type of literature that I really enjoyed.

I believe it was between my junior and senior year of h.s. that I purchased some of her other books, well, ALL of her other books: The Professor, Shirley, and Villette. I have read the last two nearly as many times as her first published novel and have come to appreciate each in it’s individual uniqueness and strengths. What I find maddening though, is that the general population only knows Charlotte Bronte for her first published work or as being the sister-writer of Emily Bronte.

I find that Charlotte is never given enough credit for the genius of her latter novels, especially Villette. People of her time considered it a more volatile version of Jane that was depressing and whiney. When I first read her final book, I couldn’t get over my prejudice love of my first experience with Charlotte and Jane Eyre, but as I’ve gotten older and re-read the books, I have to admit, that Villette reads stronger and truer to life for me, than Jane does.

While I would recommend any of Charlotte Bronte’s works to anyone, I often wish that people would recognize her for more than just her initial sensation. It seems so easy to catergorize an author by one work and then move on to the next, without considering a decent sample of their body of work, before passing judgement. As for me, Charlotte Bronte will always be my cornerstone author of my literary adventures, no matter how far I stray from that time period and style.


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