Jane Eyre (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) [NOOK Book]

Overview



Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of...
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Jane Eyre (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview



Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
 
Immediately recognized as a masterpiece when it was first published in 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is an extraordinary coming-of-age story featuring one of the most independent and strong-willed female protagonists in all of literature. Poor and plain, Jane Eyre begins life as a lonely orphan in the household of her hateful aunt. Despite the oppression she endures at home, and the later torture of boarding school, Jane manages to emerge with her spirit and integrity unbroken. She becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she finds herself falling in love with her employer—the dark, impassioned Mr. Rochester. But an explosive secret tears apart their relationship, forcing Jane to face poverty and isolation once again.

One of the world’s most beloved novels, Jane Eyre is a startlingly modern blend of passion, romance, mystery, and suspense.

Susan Ostrov Weisser is a Professor of English at Adelphi University, where she specializes in nineteenth-century literature and women’s studies. Her research centers on women and romantic love in nineteenth-century literature, as well as on contemporary popular culture. Weisser also wrote the introduction to the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Persuasion.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781411433861
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 592
  • Sales rank: 61,818
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Susan Ostrov Weisser is a Professor of English at Adelphi University, where she specializes in nineteenth-century literature and women’s studies. Her research centers on women and romantic love in nineteenth-century literature, as well as on contemporary popular culture. Weisser also wrote the introduction to the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Persuasion.

Biography

Charlotte Brontë was born on April 21, 1816, in Thornton, Yorkshire, in the north of England, the third child of the Reverend Patrick Brontë and Maria Branwell Brontë. In 1820 the family moved to neighboring Haworth, where Reverend Brontë was offered a lifetime curacy. The following year Mrs. Brontë died of cancer, and her sister, Elizabeth Branwell, moved in to help raise the six children. The four eldest sisters -- Charlotte, Emily, Maria, and Elizabeth -- attended Cowan Bridge School, until Maria and Elizabeth contracted what was probably tuberculosis and died within months of each other, at which point Charlotte and Emily returned home. The four remaining siblings -- Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne -- played on the Yorkshire moors and dreamed up fanciful, fabled worlds, creating a constant stream of tales, such as the Young Men plays (1826) and Our Fellows (1827).

Reverend Brontë kept his children abreast of current events; among these were the 1829 parliamentary debates centering on the Catholic Question, in which the Duke of Wellington was a leading voice. Charlotte's awareness of politics filtered into her fictional creations, as in the siblings' saga The Islanders (1827), about an imaginary world peopled with the Brontë children's real-life heroes, in which Wellington plays a central role as Charlotte's chosen character.

Throughout her childhood, Charlotte had access to the circulating library at the nearby town of Keighley. She knew the Bible and read the works of Shakespeare, George Gordon, Lord Byron, and Sir Walter Scott, and she particularly admired William Wordsworth and Robert Southey. In 1831 and 1832, Charlotte attended Miss Wooler's school at Roe Head, and she returned there as a teacher from 1835 to 1838. After working for a couple of years as a governess, Charlotte, with her sister Emily, traveled to Brussels to study, with the goal of opening their own school, but this dream did not materialize once she returned to Haworth in 1844.

In 1846 the sisters published their collected poems under the pen names Currer (Charlotte), Ellis (Emily), and Acton (Anne) Bell. That same year Charlotte finished her first novel, The Professor, but it was not accepted for publication.

However, she began work on Jane Eyre, which was published in 1847 and met with instant success. Though some critics saw impropriety in the core of the story -- the relationship between a middle-aged man and the young, naive governess who works for him -- most reviewers praised the novel, helping to ensure its popularity. One of Charlotte's literary heroes, William Makepeace Thackeray, wrote her a letter to express his enjoyment of the novel and to praise her writing style, as did the influential literary critic G. H. Lewes.

Following the deaths of Branwell and Emily Brontë in 1848 and Anne in 1849, Charlotte made trips to London, where she began to move in literary circles that included such luminaries as Thackeray, whom she met for the first time in 1849; his daughter described Brontë as "a tiny, delicate, serious, little lady." In 1850 she met the noted British writer Elizabeth Gaskell, with whom she formed a lasting friendship and who, at the request of Reverend Brontë, later became her biographer. Charlotte's novel Villette was published in 1853.

In 1854 Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls, a curate at Haworth who worked with her father. Less than a year later, however, she fell seriously ill, perhaps with tuberculosis, and she died on March 31, 1855. At the time of her death, Charlotte Brontë was a celebrated author. The 1857 publication of her first novel, The Professor, and of Gaskell's biography of her life only heightened her renown.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Jane Eyre.

Good To Know

Sadly, Brontë died during her first pregnancy. While her death certificate lists the cause of death as "phthisis" (tuberculosis), there is a school of thought that believes she may have died from excessive vomiting caused by morning sickness.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      April 21, 1816
    2. Place of Birth:
      Thornton, Yorkshire, England
    1. Date of Death:
      March 31, 1855
    2. Place of Death:
      Haworth, West Yorkshire, England
    1. Education:
      Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire; Miss Wooler's School at Roe Head

Read an Excerpt

From Susan Ostrov Weisser’s Introduction to Jane Eyre

 

Matthew Arnold famously characterized Charlotte Brontë’s writing as full of “rebellion and rage,” yet that description does not easily square with the most famous line of her best-known novel, Jane Eyre: “Reader, I married him.” Coming as it does at the conclusion of a tempestuous series of ordeals in the romance of the governess Jane Eyre and her wealthy employer, Rochester, it implies a conventional happy ending for a heroine, her domestic reward for virtue. Between these two differing accounts of Jane Eyre as subversive and conservative lies a complex and challenging novel full of paradoxes, not least of which is that it appears regularly on lists of classics, yet has had enduring mass appeal as a romance as well.

In Jane Eyre we have that unusual monument in the history of literature, a novel considered from the first a work of high literary merit that is also an immediate and enormous popular success. Indeed, it continues to be widely read both in and out of the academic setting. While it is often “required” reading in secondary schools and universities, it has also been adapted into numerous films, television productions, theatrical plays, and at least one Broadway musical. The first of these productions took place in London less than four months after the novel’s publication, much to the dismay of its author, who feared, like most authors, that the play would misrepresent her work. In fact, it is not surprising that most adaptations of Jane Eyre have selectively emphasized the melodramatic Gothic and romantic elements of the novel at the expense of less easily dramatized aspects, such as its passages about religion or the condition of women. Yet these are just as integral to its meaning as the melodrama for which it is remembered, if not more so.

In some ways it is difficult to account for the continued stature and popular appeal of a work that has been read as both feminist and antifeminist, radical and conservative, highly original and highly derivative, Romantic and Victorian. Certainly many readers, beginning with George Eliot in the nineteenth century, have been disturbed by the way the plot hinges on a moral dilemma involving antiquated divorce laws and nineteenth-century notions of women’s sexual purity. Some critics, such as Virginia Woolf, have seen the novel as too angry for its own literary good; others, notably some modern feminist critics, as not explicitly angry enough. Why does this novel about the moral trials of an impoverished and orphaned governess continue to hold such fascination for a modern audience? Is it the passionate romance, the Cinderella ending, the incipient feminism of its views about the suppression of women?

Most readers who respond to the novel agree that the appeal of Jane Eyre lies in its intensity of feeling, richness of language, and forceful representation of passion in a decidedly dramatic plot. Even at its publication in 1847, critics and the public recognized that, for better or worse, Jane Eyre was something different: a novel about a woman written with a man’s freedom, the freedom to portray the indecorum of a heroine who has outbursts of anger as a child and uncontrollable passion as an adult, who confesses her desire openly when she thinks it is hopeless and refuses the passive and dependent role in romance. All these violated deeply entrenched social codes of femininity and respectability, and shocked some of Brontë’s early critics. Miss Eyre is “rather a brazen Miss,” cried one contemporary reader letter from John Gibson Lockhart, 1847; another called the novel “dangerous,” filled with “outrages on decorum.” “[The author] cannot appreciate the hold which a daily round of simple duties and pure pleasures has on those who are content to practice and enjoy them,” sniffed another reviewer Anne Mozley, The Christian Remembrancer, April 1853.

Fearing with justification that female authors would not be taken seriously, the three Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, published their first novels in 1847 under the male pseudonyms of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. A great deal of speculation followed in the press about the identities of the pseudonymous authors, including controversy as to their gender. The exciting revelation that eventually followed—that the writers were not only females, but the humble, reserved, unfashionable, and religious daughters of a clergyman living in a remote village on the moors of Yorkshire—only stimulated more curiosity, this time about the nature of the women who could produce such disturbing works about passion while leading reclusive and virginal lives.

Many modern readers are aware that Charlotte Brontë was one of four remarkable children, three of whom, including Emily Brontë and Anne Brontë, became famous authors themselves, and the other of whom, Branwell, the only brother, died at age thirty-one in miserable and ignoble circumstances. One important aspect of Jane Eyre’s remarkable success has surely been the literary mystery that has grown to the proportions of myth about the entire Brontë family: How could the modest, unworldly authors of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall have understood and depicted fervent, obsessive, sometimes violent love?

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