Villette: 1853

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Overview

Charlotte Bronte was thirty-six when she wrote Villette, and the peaks of her life's experience were already passed. The profound impressions of her childhood, the day-dream world in which for so many years she had taken a feverish and creative pleasure, the dazzling success of Jane Eyre the all but unendurable grief of the loss of her two sisters - all these were now in the past. She was an established and successful author, and she was alone. Her earlier novels, The Professor, rejected by many publishers and ...
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Villette (Modern Library Series)

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Overview

Charlotte Bronte was thirty-six when she wrote Villette, and the peaks of her life's experience were already passed. The profound impressions of her childhood, the day-dream world in which for so many years she had taken a feverish and creative pleasure, the dazzling success of Jane Eyre the all but unendurable grief of the loss of her two sisters - all these were now in the past. She was an established and successful author, and she was alone. Her earlier novels, The Professor, rejected by many publishers and now laid aside, Jane Eyre, and the greater part of Shirley, had all been written in an atmosphere of intimate sympathy, the three sisters working together on their different tales, three heads bent attentively over the same table. Now Charlotte was alone, lost youth, with the whole experience of her lost youth, with the world of her imagination still splendidly vital, but with a heart sobered by what it had learned of life. Another writer might have turned to some untried field for a next novel, but Charlotte Bronte's mind still carried a theme of which she had tried to rid herself in The Professor, but with such a sober hand and under such disguises that the heart of the matter had never been wholly expressed. It was six years, now, since she had come back from Brussels four years, perhaps, since she could count herself cured of the misery she had brought with her. The last thing was in perspective now, at last it could be dealt with. The Professor had been laid like a salve on a fresh wound, but now the scar would bear the artist's scrutiny she was ready for Villette
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781406792195
  • Publisher: Pomona Press
  • Publication date: 1/25/2007
  • Pages: 476
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Charlotte Brontë
Charlotte Brontë once wrote, "It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it." Though she led a quiet life (and died young), Brontë indeed created action in her sweeping, passionate novels, such as the gothic drama Jane Eyre.

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

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 143 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(50)

4 Star

(36)

3 Star

(31)

2 Star

(15)

1 Star

(11)

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2002

    Falling in love with fictional characters...

    As a long time fan of Jane Eyre I hardly thought I'd be able to find an even better work. 'Villette' is an incredibly human story supported by wonderful characters. I will continue to read this book over and over.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2002

    ok book

    the first 1/3 of the book and the last 1/3 of the book is very very good. the middle however is labouriously long/unecessary and difficult to read simply because it is too boring. this book took too long to read. it would get really good and exciting then delve into a long section of boring narrative.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2012

    Excellent

    For those reading reviews in order to decide weather or not to read this book, notice that almost every poor rating comes with the comments that the reader did not even finish the book lol. If you don't actually finish the book, you should not be reviewing it!
    This is a fabulous book, but not a light read. The character development takes time, and you have to be willing to actually read through it! It will stay with you forever.
    I love Lucy Snowe, and it is possible my favorite book. I've read it enough times to have worn out 2 copies, and that's what brought me here...looking for a third.
    I do suggest the Penguin version though. The french translations are infinitly superior to others I have read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2003

    Great Book For Hopeless Romantics

    I would highly recommend Villette to adults and young adults who are hopeless romantics. This book gives you an insight into what the main character, Lucy Snowe, thinks and feels. Charlotte Bronte wrote this book in such a way that allows you to feel everything as Lucy feels it. Bronte shows Lucy¿s change in character as she begins to feel and show more emotion than Lucy thought possible. The changes that occur in Lucy will make you smile and her pains and tribulations will make you cry. The smiles and tears are what make this book worth reading.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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