Jane Eyreby Charlotte Bronte, Josephine Bailey
Introduction by Diane Johnson
Commentary by G. K. Chesterton, Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Rigby, George Saintsbury, and Anthony Trollope
Initially published under the pseudonym Currer Bell in 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre erupted onto the English literary scene, immediately winning the devotion of many of/i>/b>/b>/b>
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Introduction by Diane Johnson
Commentary by G. K. Chesterton, Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Rigby, George Saintsbury, and Anthony Trollope
Initially published under the pseudonym Currer Bell in 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre erupted onto the English literary scene, immediately winning the devotion of many of the world’s most renowned writers, including William Makepeace Thackeray, who declared it a work “of great genius.” Widely regarded as a revolutionary novel, Brontë’s masterpiece introduced the world to a radical new type of heroine, one whose defiant virtue and moral courage departed sharply from the more acquiescent and malleable female characters of the day. Passionate, dramatic, and surprisingly modern, Jane Eyre endures as one of the world’s most beloved novels.
Includes a Modern Library Reading Group Guide
Michael Neubert, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Michael Neubert, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whether one treasures this classic piece of literature as an old companion or has no acquaintance with it at all, the listener is in for a treat. Reader Bentinck draws us at once into the trials assailing the orphaned and ill-treated 10-year-old Jane. Bentinck’s soft voice, flawless rhythms, and cultured British accent are exactly what’s needed to guide listeners through this heroine’s wild history of tribulations and jubilations. She portrays men, women, and children of different classes quite convincingly, and illuminates a wide range of nuanced emotions as Jane encounters hunger and cruelty as well as tender friendships at school, then a world of anger, fear, defeat, humor, sarcasm, affection, and exaltation as teacher and governess. The remarkable plot, the carefully delineated characters, and Bentinck’s acting facility make the journey an intriguing and memorable experience. (Nov.)
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Read an Excerpt
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of the question.
I was glad of it; I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.
The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round their mamma in the drawing-room: she lay reclined on a sofa by the fireside, and with her darlings about her (for the time neither quarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly happy. Me, she had dispensed from joining the group, saying, "She regretted to be under the necessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she heard from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation that I was endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly mannersomething lighter, franker, more natural, as it wereshe really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy little children."
"What does Bessie say I have done?" I asked.
"Jane, I don't like cavillers or questioners; besides, there is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent."
A small breakfast-room adjoined the drawing-room, I slipped in there. It contained a bookcase; I soon possessed myself of a volume, taking care that it should be one stored with pictures. I mounted into the window-seat: gathering up my feet, I sat crosslegged, like a Turk; and, having drawn the red moreen curtain nearly close, I was shrined in double retirement.
Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves in my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near, a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.
I returned to my bookBewick's History of British Birds: the letterpress thereof I cared little for, generally speaking; and yet there were certain introductory pages that, child as I was, I could not pass quite as a blank. They were those which treat of the haunts of sea-fowl; of "the solitary rocks and promontories" by them only inhabited; of the coast of Norway, studded with isles from its southern extremity, the Lindeness, or Naze, to the North Cape
Where the Northern Ocean, in vast whirls,
Boils round the naked, melancholy isles
Of farthest Thule; and the Atlantic surge
Pours in among the stormy Hebrides.
Nor could I pass unnoticed the suggestion of the bleak shores of Lapland, Siberia, Spitzbergen, Nova Zembla, Iceland, Greenland, with "the vast sweep of the Arctic Zone, and those forlorn regions of dreary spacethat reservoir of frost and snow, where firm fields of ice, the accumulation of centuries of winters, glazed in Alpine heights above heights, surround the pole, and concentre the multiplied rigours of extreme cold." Of these death-white realms I formed an idea of my own: shadowy, like all the half-comprehended notions that float dim through children's brains, but strangely impressive. The words in these introductory pages connected themselves with the succeeding vignettes, and gave significance to the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray; to the broken boat stranded on a desolate coast; to the cold and ghastly moon glancing through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking.
I cannot tell what sentiment haunted the quite solitary churchyard, with its inscribed headstone; its gate, its two trees, its low horizon, girdled by a broken wall, and its newly risen crescent, attesting the hour of eventide.
The two ships becalmed on a torpid sea, I believed to be marine phantoms.
The fiend pinning down the thief's pack behind him, I passed over quickly: it was an object of terror.
So was the black, horned thing seated aloof on a rock, surveying a distant crowd surrounding a gallows.
Each picture told a story; mysterious often to my undeveloped understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever profoundly interesting: as interesting as the tales Bessie sometimes narrated on winter evenings, when she chanced to be in good humour; and when, having brought her ironing-table to the nursery-hearth, she allowed us to sit about it, and while she got up Mrs. Reed's lace frills, and crimped her nightcap borders, fed our eager attention with passages of love and adventure taken from old fairy tales and older ballads; or (as at a later period I discovered) from the pages of Pamela, and Henry, Earl of Moreland.
With Bewick on my knee, I was then happy: happy at least in my way. I feared nothing but interruption, and that came too soon. The breakfast-room door was opened.
"Boh! Madam Mope!" cried the voice of John Reed; then he paused: he found the room apparently empty.
"Where the dickens is she?" he continued. "Lizzy! Georgy! (calling to his sisters) Jane is not here: tell mamma she is run out into the rainbad animal!"
"It is well I drew the curtain," thought I, and I wished fervently he might not discover my hiding-place: nor would John Reed have found it out himself; he was not quick either of vision or conception; but Eliza just put her head in at the door, and said at once: "She is in the window-seat, to be sure, Jack."
And I came out immediately, for I trembled at the idea of being dragged forth by the said Jack.
"What do you want?" I asked with awkward diffidence.
"Say, 'what do you want, Master Reed,' " was the answer. "I want you to come here"; and seating himself in an arm-chair, he intimated by a gesture that I was to approach and stand before him.
John Reed was a schoolboy of fourteen years old; four years older than I, for I was but ten; large and stout for his age, with a dingy and unwholesome skin; thick lineaments in a spacious visage, heavy limbs and large extremities. He gorged himself habitually at table, which made him bilious, and gave him a dim and bleared eye with flabby cheeks. He ought now to have been at school; but his mamma had taken him home for a month or two, "on account of his delicate health." Mr. Miles, the master, affirmed that he would do very well if he had fewer cakes and sweetmeats sent him from home; but the mother's heart turned from an opinion so harsh, and inclined rather to the more refined idea that John's sallowness was owing to over-application, and, perhaps, to pining after home.
John had not much affection for his mother and sisters, and an antipathy to me. He bullied and punished me; not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in a day, but continually: every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh on my bones shrank when he came near. There were moments when I was bewildered by the terror he inspired, because I had no appeal whatever against either his menaces or his inflictions; the servants did not like to offend their young master by taking my part against him, and Mrs. Reed was blind and deaf on the subject: she never saw him strike or heard him abuse me, though he did both now and then in her very presence; more frequently, however, behind her back.
Habitually obedient to John, I came up to his chair: he spent some three minutes in thrusting out his tongue at me as far as he could without damaging the roots: I knew he would soon strike, and while dreading the blow, I mused on the disgusting and ugly appearance of him who would presently deal it. I wonder if he read that notion in my face; for, all at once, without speaking, he struck suddenly and strongly. I tottered, and on regaining my equilibrium retired back a step or two from his chair.
"That is for your impudence in answering mamma a while since," said he, "and for your sneaking way of getting behind curtains, and for the look you had in your eyes two minutes since, you rat!"
Accustomed to John Reed's abuse, I never had an idea of replying to it: my care was how to endure the blow which would certainly follow the insult.
"What were you doing behind the curtain?" he asked.
"I was reading."
"Show the book."
I returned to the window and fetched it thence.
"You have no business to take our books; you are a dependant, mamma says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen's children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mamma's expense. Now, I'll teach you to rummage my bookshelves: for they are mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and the windows."
I did so, not at first aware what was his intention; but when I saw him lift and poise the book and stand in act to hurl it, I instinctively started aside with a cry of alarm: not soon enough, however; the volume was flung, it hit me, and I fell, striking my head against the door and cutting it. The cut bled, the pain was sharp: my terror had passed its climax; other feelings succeeded.
"Wicked and cruel boy!" I said. "You are like a murdereryou are like a slave-driveryou are like the Roman emperors!"
I had read Goldsmith's History of Rome, and had formed my opinion of Nero, Caligula, &c. Also I had drawn parallels in silence, which I never thought thus to have declared aloud.
"What! what!" he cried. "Did she say that to me? Did you hear her, Eliza and Georgiana? Won't I tell mamma? but first"
He ran headlong at me: I felt him grasp my hair and my shoulder: he had closed with a desperate thing. I really saw in him a tyrant: a murderer. I felt a drop or two of blood from my head trickle down my neck, and was sensible of somewhat pungent suffering: these sensations for the time predominated over fear, and I received him in frantic sort. I don't very well know what I did with my hands, but he called me "Rat! rat!" and bellowed out aloud. Aid was near him: Eliza and Georgiana had run for Mrs. Reed, who was gone upstairs; she now came upon the scene, followed by Bessie and her maid Abbot. We were parted: I heard the words
"Dear! dear! What a fury to fly at Master John!"
"Did ever anybody see such a picture of passion!"
Then Mrs. Reed subjoined: "Take her away to the red-room, and lock her in there." Four hands were immediately laid upon me, and I was borne upstairs.
I resisted all the way: a new thing for me, and a circumstance which greatly strengthened the bad opinion Bessie and Miss Abbot were disposed to entertain of me. The fact is, I was a trifle beside myself; or rather out of myself, as the French would say. I was conscious that a moment's mutiny had already rendered me liable to strange penalties, and, like any other rebel slave, I felt resolved, in my desperation, to go all lengths.
"Hold her arms, Miss Abbot: she's like a mad cat."
"For shame, for shame!" cried the lady's-maid. "What shocking conduct, Miss Eyre, to strike a young gentleman, your benefactress's son! Your young master."
"Master! How is he my master? Am I a servant?"
"No; you are less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep. There, sit down, and think over your wickedness."
They had got me by this time into the apartment indicated by Mrs. Reed, and had thrust me upon a stool: my impulse was to rise from it like a spring; their two pair of hands arrested me instantly.
"If you don't sit still, you must be tied down," said Bessie. "Miss Abbot, lend me your garters; she would break mine directly."
Miss Abbot turned to divest a stout leg of the necessary ligature. This preparation for bonds, and the additional ignominy it inferred, took a little of the excitement out of me.
"Don't take them off," I cried; "I will not stir."
In guarantee whereof, I attached myself to my seat by my hands.
"Mind you don't," said Bessie; and when she had ascertained that I was really subsiding, she loosened her hold of me; then she and Miss Abbot stood with folded arms, looking darkly and doubtfully on my face, as incredulous of my sanity.
"She never did so before," at last said Bessie, turning to the Abigail.
"But it was always in her," was the reply. "I've told missis often my opinion about the child, and missis agreed with me. She's an underhand little thing: I never saw a girl of her age with so much cover."
Bessie answered not; but ere long, addressing me, she said:
"You ought to be aware, miss, that you are under obligations to Mrs. Reed: she keeps you: if she were to turn you off you would have to go to the poorhouse."
I had nothing to say to these words: they were not new to me: my very first recollections of existence included hints of the same kind. This reproach of my dependence had become a vague singsong in my ear; very painful and crushing, but only half intelligible. Miss Abbot joined in:
"And you ought not to think yourself on an equality with the Misses Reed and Master Reed, because missis kindly allows you to be brought up with them. They will have a great deal of money and you will have none: it is your place to be humble, and to try to make yourself agreeable to them."
"What we tell you is for your good," added Bessie, in no harsh voice: "you should try to be useful and pleasant, then, perhaps, you would have a home here; but if you become passionate and rude, missis will send you away, I am sure."
"Besides," said Miss Abbot, "God will punish her: He might strike her dead in the midst of her tantrums, and then where would she go? Come, Bessie, we will leave her: I wouldn't have her heart for anything. Say your prayers, Miss Eyre, when you are by yourself; for if you don't repent, something bad might be permitted to come down the chimney and fetch you away."
What People are Saying About This
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Meet the Author
Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855) was from an English family that produced three novelists: herself, Emily, and Anne. Besides Jane Eyre, her best known work is Wuthering Heights, also available from Brilliance Audio.
- Date of Birth:
- April 21, 1816
- Date of Death:
- March 31, 1855
- Place of Birth:
- Thornton, Yorkshire, England
- Place of Death:
- Haworth, West Yorkshire, England
- Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire; Miss Wooler's School at Roe Head
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This book was amazing, truly fantastic! All my classmates gave me weird looks because it looked strange 'im in 8th grade' but I ignored them and read it anyway and it was just, just, I can't say, you know! the ending made me so happy that i cryed, crazy huh? I handed it to my teacher and gushed, 'it was beautiful, so beautiful!' 'it was her copy' so if your some random person looking to see if this book is good, IT IS. If a kid as younge as me can appreciate it fully, you have to understand how utterly perfect it is! Read read! ^ ^
I read this book for my AP English class; we all kind of dreaded it whe we first heard. I was once told by a friend that it was horrible and that I should never, ever read it. I did, anyway, and I was thoroughly surprised and I enjoyed every bit of it! Knowing very little about the plot (I'd only been told there's a crazy person in an attic --- which I forgot about), or even Bronte's writing style, I read the first ten chapters with shock and awe that the story was about a ten-year-old. Although the entire book is not about a ten-year-old, I was quickly taken with the plot and characters and just descriptions of England at that time. This book read quickly with alternately likeable and despicable characters, unusual language, and beautiful plot. My only complaint is that one character, Adele, speaks chiefly in French. I was lucky enough to be taking French classes while reading this, so I could piece together what she was essentially saying. What she says is not of a whole lot of importance, but it does bring the book to a halt at times. All in all, Jane Eyre exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds and I enjoyed reading it immensely.
It is very disconcerting for me to see such negative reviews about a book which has elevated literature throughout the world. This book is a challenging read, however it has the potential to expand one's mind by making a person think in an entirely new way. It is a book full of suspense, mystery, and romance. Charlotte Bronte uses words in the most discriptive manner and gives us a heroine who is complex on the inside, yet plain on the outside. It is singlehandedly one of the best classical books of all time and it should be required reading for everyone.
Jane Eyre is quite possibly one of my favorite books, one that I have read many times. I bought this edition because I thought the cover was pretty and the fantastic price. Bronte's original text is flawless (although Hindustani is spelled differently in my other copy)I give Bronte 5 stars, however, the introduction by Joyce Carol Oates is terrible. I found it choppy and not that relevant to the story. I don't believe for two seconds that Bertha Mason's insanity was caused by syphilis. I just don't. I also don't buy that Jane thinks human love is more important than God. If she did why did she spend so much time on her knees in prayer? Not one summary, review or movie version I have seen of this story acknowledges any sort of higher power in a non nutcase way. What a shame, I think Bronte should get more credit and less speculation. Let's just take it in the context she wished. I feel better after venting my opinions, bottom line if you want a good copy of Jane Eyre this will work, just ignore the introduction.
I just read a WONDERFUL book entitled "The Thirteeth Tale" and the author referenced Jane Eyre numerous times in the book, so I needed to know why this book was referenced so much and I picked up the book as soon as I finished "The Thirteenth Tale." I had no expectation when I began the book. In my opinion Jane Eyre truly lives up to it's "classic" classification. It is has romance, drama, thrills and in the end I could not read it fast enough to see what happened to Jane. It is very, very well written and was way ahead of it's time when originally published in 1847. I highly recommend this book.
Jane Eyre is one of those books you can start anywhere anytime and get so incredibly caught up in the story that you never want to stop reading. I've read this book more than fifteen times and have written multiple research papers on it. The characters are well developed, even smaller ones. Jane is a very strong female character, as is Mr. Rochester. The love story between the two does not dominate Jane's character; she remains true to herself regardless of the situation. This truly is a novel written for all women and should be read by all.
If you're a fan of historical romances such as Pride & Prejudice, Becoming Jane, or Sense & Sensibility you would be depriving yourself of experiencing the beauty of this story by not reading it. I can't wait to see the newest version in theaters!! Please read this and be patient with it's lengthy beginning.. I promise it gets better :) -ash
This book was a bit slow through the first half, but once it gets past Jane's childhood it becomes fascinating and was actually hard to put down. I was amazed by Brontë's vocabulary, writing style, and ability to create such an intriguing and original plot. This is the kind of book that makes you really feel for the characters and get lost in the adventures of their lives. Right when you think you know what's going to happen, Jane Eyre surprises you and another twist to the plot comes in. By the end of the book, I really respected Jane's character and was glad that everything turned out in a way that she liked and had not expected. This is a great classic -- read it!
Jane Eyre is one of the best classic romance novels I have ever read. As we follow Jane through her harshly brought up childhood to the challenges of her adulthood, we see not only the development of her identity but also the merging of minds between herself and her strange but intelligent employer. Ah, but there is a secret that destroys everything expected! Read this book if you enjoy romance with literary value.
I LOVED this book. Jane Eyre is the respectable, yet fiery lady that I wish I could be. It begins with a stormy and well written childhood, and within a few chapters I couldn't put the book down. I've read classics that I was disappointed in, but this is truly worthy of the title "classic". The love story is so pure, and well worth waiting for. Mr. Rochester seems so unlikable at first, but you just can't help falling inlove with him as the book goes on. I wasn't crazy about St. John. but his purpose was necessary to give you a scare. This book gives great insight to the condition of living for women during this time period. Thank God things have changed. I would've been strung up by my toenails if Reverend Brocklehurst had spoke to me the way he spoke to little Jane. After I read it, I wanted more even though the ending was perfect and filling. Beautifully written characters, and C. Bronte's style of writing is fantastic. I did have to keep a dictionary by my side through most of the book, but I'm not a brilliant kind of gal. The improvement of my vocabulary could only be a plus though. Thank you Miss Charlotte Bronte for this timeless piece of work.
I read this book for the first time at age 30. I was a little reluctant, expecting to be disappointed since it's supposed to be a great "coming of age" story, leading me to think I should've read it when I was much younger. No regrets here...this book is appropriate for any age, and by the end of the book, had leaped right to the top of my all-time favorites list. Highly recommended.
I love Jane Eyre. If I were rating Jane Eyre I would give it six stars out of five. (No that's not a typo.) However, do not buy this book. Buy Jane Eyre, by all means, just don't buy this version of it. There are about five typos a page and by the time I finished the novel, I was so frustrated with the mis-prints I could have screamed. And the cover does the book no justice. The clothing of the woman on the cover is of a different time period than Eyre. The back summary is also hugely misleading and makes this fantastic classic sound more like a trashy romance novel than the brilliantly beautiful work that it truly is. But, do buy Jane Eyre. I have never been so moved by a work of literature than by this book. I cannot praise this book enough, mere words do it no justice.
This Charlotte Bronte novel is a wonderful read. I enjoyed everything about this book. It kept me captivated until the very last page. I would recommend Jane Eyre to all readers!
Whenever the Jane Eyre series was on PBS I would always catch the last part, so I went to a local used book store and found a copy. I did not put the book down until I was done.
A Very good book, I would recommend reading Jane Eyre.
This is a great classical book for high school and college students. It is one of the few classics that has a satisfying ending. The notes found in the Barnes and Noble edition are very helpful.
Jane Eyre is a fabulous tale of the orphaned girl Jane who all along had struggled to find her place, and when she finds her place theres more!!! Fabulous Book! Great classical tale!
JANE EYRE is such an amazing story that it is extremely difficult to put down. This girl, Jane Eyre, reminds me of the orphan named Annie (from the classic movie, 'ANNIE').
I was assigned to read this book for my Honors English IV class, and at first I just wanted to stuff the book into my backpack and leave it there! However as I forced myself to read the book, I became more and more interested after Jane moves to Thornfield Hall and meets Mr. Rochester. Jane is such an interesting character, she says and thinks the opposite from what you would expect. Jane Eyre’s story starts out with the abuse from the Reeds, then moving to a private school, leading her as an adult to a governess position at Thornfield Hall. Unknown supernatural happenings that occur throughout the book remind me of the TV show “Unsolved Mysteries,” which only made me want to read till the end to figure out what happens. When I found out what came about, the shocking truth had me asking myself “What?!” and saying “No way…wow. From a hard upbringing with the Reeds to the events that happen at Thornfield Hall, Jane’s resilience to the situations that occur will have you flipping the pages to solve the mysteries that unfold.
Jane Erye is a romantic piece of literary work that describes the life of a woman. I taught this novel to 12th graders and even the males enjoyed the mystery and intrigue of one of the main characters. A must read!!
Jane Eyre is one of those books you can read a hundered times and never get bored of it. It is meant to last for as long as people can read. This book is perfect for everyone because it covers all kinds of entertainment; there is the love story, chick flick of Jane's inner power, the family drama, youth mistakes and the funny innocence of Adele's mind. This book is approproate for every woman out there, and a perfect gift to any young lady.
I absolutely loved this book. I am a fan of the Bronte sisters but this is by far my favorite book of theirs if not my favorite book ever. I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys classic literature. This story takes you all over then brings you to where you want to be. I highly recommend it.
this book was amazing. i read it in about four days and i just didn't want to put it down. At first i wasn't too into it but then around 50 pages in i was hooked. This is still my all time favorite book hands down.
Jane Eyre is an amazing book and definitely one of my favorites. The beginning, to be quite honest, did start out a little slow for me, however, once I got past all the "background information," I found myself almost obsessed with wanting to know what happened next. A wonderful book, I highly recommend it.
Jane Eyre is amazing! I love this book! I read it in seventh grade at the suggestion of a librarian and have been in love with it ever since. My younger sister then read it and fell in love too. Charlotte Bronte's masterpeice is amazing and remains a favorite of mine, as it will for all time. It is because of this masterpiece I love classic literature.
I just finished this book today. I read it in two days. Last month I saw the movie directed by Franco Zeffirelli, and after I saw that I decided I had to get the book. I was not dissapointed. Bronte dove deep into Janes heart, without becoming over complicated or boring. I was completely engrossed every second. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for?