VilletteBook - 2004
With neither friends nor family, Lucy Snowe sets sail from England to find employment in a girls' boarding school in the small town of Villette. There, she struggles to retain her self-possession in the face of unruly pupils, the hostility of headmistress Madame Beck, and her own complex feelings - first for the school's English doctor and then for the dictatorial professor Paul Emanuel. Drawing on her own deeply unhappy experiences as a governess in Brussels, Charlotte Bronte'sautobiographical novel, the last published during her lifetime, is a powerfully moving study of loneliness and isolation, and the pain of unrequited love, narrated by a heroine determined to preserve an independent spirit in the face of adverse circumstances.
Helen M. Cooper's new introduction places the novel in the context of Bronte's life and career and argues for the importance of the novel as an exploration of imperialism.
Charlotte Bronte (1816-55), eldest of the Bronte sisters, was born in Thornton, West Yorkshire. Jane Eyre was first published in 1847 under the pen-name Currer Bell, and was followed by Shirley (1848) and Vilette (1853). In 1854 Charlotte Bronte married her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls. She died during her pregnancy on 31 March 1855 in Haworth, Yorkshire. The Professor was posthumously published in 1857.
If you liked Villette , you may enjoy Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford , also available in Penguin Classics.
'I am only just returned to a sense of real wonder about me, for I have been reading Villette '
'Her finest novel'
From Library Staff
Referenced in "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield.
From the critics
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2/2 generously lent hope and impulse to paralyzed despair. Divine, compassionate, succourable influence! When I bend the knee to other than God, it shall be at thy white and winged feet, beautiful on mountain or on plain. Temples have been reared to the Sun—altars dedicated to the Moon. Oh, greater glory! To thee neither hands build, nor lips consecrate: but hearts, through ages, are faithful to thy worship. A dwelling thou hast, too wide for walls, too high for dome—a temple whose floors are space—rites whose mysteries transpire in presence, to the kindling, the harmony of worlds!
1/2 Often has Reason turned me out by night, in mid-winter, on cold snow...sternly has she vowed her stores held nothing more for me—harshly denied my right to ask better things…. Then, looking up, have I seen in the sky a head amidst circling stars, of which the midmost and the brightest lent a ray sympathetic and attent. A spirit, softer and better than Human Reason, has descended with quiet flight to the waste—bringing all round her a sphere of air borrowed of eternal summer; bringing perfume of flowers which cannot fade—fragrance of trees whose fruit is life; bringing breezes pure from a world whose day needs no sun to lighten it. My hunger has this good angel appeased with food, sweet and strange, gathered amongst gleaning angels, garnering their dew-white harvest in the first fresh hour of a heavenly day; tenderly has she assuaged the insufferable fears which weep away life itself—kindly given rest to deadly weariness—
"It seemed to me that an original and good picture was just as scarce as an original and good book."
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