Monday, 12 October 2020

Charlotte’s Quarrel With the English Gentleman in 'Villette'

Karen Hewitt is the type of speaker that we really appreciate here at the Brussels Brontë Group. Not only is she very charming and personable in her delivery (even on Zoom), she also considers the Brussels-based Villette as Charlotte Brontë’s best novel.

On October 7, she gave a delightful virtual talk on “the English gentleman” in Villette. And even on Zoom, the Q&A after her talk was just as engaging as the talk itself.

Karen delineated what it took to be an English gentleman in the nineteenth century (too complicated to include here). Her bottom line: “There are no English gentlemen now.” (To which many attendants begged to disagree, I’m sure.)

One example of a gentleman was Patrick Brontë, Charlotte’s father, who worked hard to earn this status, gaining a scholarship to Cambridge University and then being ordained into the Church of England, one of the few avenues to gentleman-hood available if your family wasn’t already there. So Patrick Brontë was a gentleman, and his daughters were therefore the female equivalent – ladies.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Brontë talk: Zoom versus room – the organiser’s viewpoint

 On 7 October we came together to listen to a talk. Before COVID, this always happened in a room. But this time we met on Zoom.

My memories of rooms we have gathered in over the years go back to 2007, when the Brussels Brontë Group started up. There was the library in the Cercle des Voyageurs, that atmospheric downtown Brussels restaurant cum cultural centre in Rue des Grand Carmes. Fifty of us crammed into it for our first-ever talk, by Brussels journalist Derek Blyth. There was the room in Université Saint-Louis on the Boulevard du Jardin Botanique that became our permanent venue for a decade. And there is our current venue near the Woluwe Shopping Centre, where we hope to return post-COVID restrictions.

Nicholas Marsh speaking to the BBG at Universite Saint-Louis in 2010.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Brontë talk: The view from Dublin

One of the things I’ve missed most about Brussels, since leaving the city more than five years ago, has been the wonderful company of fellow Brontë enthusiasts in the Brussels Brontë Group.  

How terrific it was, then, to join you again on Oct. 7 for the talk by Karen Hewitt on Charlotte Brontë’s Quarrel With The English Gentleman in Villette, via Zoom technology, from my own living room in Dublin, Ireland!  

Friday, 9 October 2020

Brontë talk: Zoom versus in-real-life – a perspective

There is an old joke about someone answering the phone only to hear a grumpy voice saying, “Oh, it’s you! I just wanted to leave a message on the answering machine.” Well, without going so far as to say that I prefer Zoom to a physical meeting, it does have its upside, as was amply demonstrated in the talk given this week to the Brussels Brontë Group by Karen Hewitt on "Charlotte Bronte’s Quarrel with the English Gentleman in Villette".