Saturday, 14 April 2007

Brontë in Brussels: a newcomer to the city considers Villette in the light of her own experience

We are indebted to the invaluable Bronteblog for drawing our attention to a recent article on Charlotte Brontë, Villette and Brussels by Trilby Kent, a Canadian journalist living in Brussels. Entitled "Brontë in Brussels", it is published in the California Literary Review.

The author discusses Villette and compares her own experiences as a newcomer to Brussels, a city that is "alternately reviled and celebrated by its native and expatriate population" just as it is by Lucy Snowe, with those of Charlotte Brontë / Lucy.

"In the shadow of the de Cleves-Ravenstein mansion, a flight of stone steps leads down to an inconspicuous cobbled alley where the Rue Terarken now ends. There, opposite an underground car park, the corners of three buildings form an abrupt wall. Beyond this, somewhere along the hill that slopes down from the Place Royale to the town centre, was the Pensionnat Héger where, for two years, Charlotte Brontë lived, taught and wrote. The school was demolished in 1910 and today a concrete office block stands in its place, beside a fifteenth-century sandstone edifice. Yet, from the environs of the old Rue Isabelle – formerly the site of kennels for ducal hounds – one can perhaps still conjure the shadowy scene that greeted the young Brontë when she arrived in Brussels in 1842".

Read the whole text of the article at http://www.calitreview.com/Essays/bronteinbrussels_5047.htm.

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