Tuesday 11 November 2008

My Discovery of the Brontë Sisters' Universe

The Brontë Sisters' works are part of universal literature and everybody has heard about them at some time. A long time ago when I was younger I discovered at school the finest pieces of the Brontës and other English writers such as Dickens or Thackeray and I became interested in them. The first book I read of the Brontë Sisters was Wuthering Heights. I loved it immensely due to the accurate descriptions of the landscape and the passions related. This one was the only Brontë novel I read before arriving in Brussels five years ago. At that time I had found by chance an article about Emily and Charlotte Brontë's Brussels experience and how that influences their novels, even their lives in the case of Charlotte Brontë. The article I refer to ("A Foreign Affair" by Derek Blyth") was published in the Brussels English-speaking magazine “The Bulletin”.

By reading that article I was really impressed by the fact that Emily and Charlotte lived in Brussels for a couple of years so as to learn French in a Belgian boarding school. As a result of her Brussels experience Charlotte wrote a magnificent novel titled “Villette”. I can assert that it stoked up the fires for my initiation to the Brontës' universe and motivated me to read “Villette” and to look for articles and other publications related to them. I was fascinated to learn about their tragic lives and how their personal experiences shaped these wonderful masterpieces of universal literature, despite the fact that they were women writers and at that time writing was only allowed to men. For instance I didn’t know that they were obliged to hide their names for fear that they would be criticised by Victorian society. I was amazed to find out that their pseudonyms Currer, Acton and Ellis Bell corresponded to their names' first letters. As I have said “Villette” was my initiation in finding out about the Brontës on my own until I got in touch with the Brussels Brontë Group. And how did it happen? Once again I have to refer to an article which I was handed. The article in question is about readers clubs in Brussels. I was impressed of the existence of a group which focuses on English 19th century literature, particularly the Brontës, and I made up my mind to write to them to get more information about their activities and the likelihood of partaking in them. I was accepted and I have written this small article for the group as a contribution and a commitment to involving myself in its activities. We aim to keep the Brontë heritage alive and spread it.

Óscar Rodríguez