Villette

Villette

Book - 2004
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Villette is Charlotte Bronte's powerful autobiographical novel of one woman's search for true love, edited with an introduction by Helen M. Cooper in Penguin Classics.
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 '
George Eliot
'Her finest novel'
Virginia Woolf
Publisher: London ; New York : Penguin Books, 2004.
ISBN: 9780140434798
0140434798
Characteristics: liv, 611 p. ; 20 cm.
Additional Contributors: Cooper, Helen M. (Helen Margaret)

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FPL_Amy Jun 26, 2020

Referenced in "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield.


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p
Penguinreader101
Dec 09, 2019

Long but amazing. it has a deep essence to it, particularly surrounding the subject of solitude. A good deal of french popping in so it's great if you like French

r
rpavlacic
Sep 06, 2017

"Jane Eyre" may be Charlotte Brontë's most famous work, but "Villette," written in 1853, may be her most poignant. It tells the story of a nearly impoverished young spinster Englishwoman, Lucy Snowe, who finds a job as a governess / teacher at a girls' boarding school in France - and finds herself caught in a love triangle. During this time, she struggles to hold on to her Protestantism in a town that is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic and faces constant pressure to convert - but over the course of the book she finds herself less resistant and more attracted to the faith. The Harper Classics edition I read did not have translations of French phrases and I had a not-so-fun time trying to recall my high school French to understand some of the conversations. That quibble aside, this is a beautifully written story about a 19th century feminist finding her place in the world, and deserves more attention.

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LearnDressage
Nov 16, 2016

I finished this book early this morning. Some books when I am finished reading them I put them down and find them easy to forget. Villette is not one of these books. I feel like Lucy Snowe is a friend who shared her most personal thoughts and fears with me and now that I finished the book, I have lost a friend. Charlotte Bronte's writing is wonderful, drawing you into the mid 19th century and the everyday life of Lucy Snowe. Highly recommend this wonderful book.

j
julia_sedai
Oct 23, 2015

It took me a long time to finish this book, not necessarily because it was boring, but because it is so dense. Also, I had to keep flipping to the back to translate the French parts. I really wish this edition would use footnotes instead of endnotes, at least for translation. Anyway, the plot is really good. A young woman with no family, no money, no connections, decides to set out by herself to a town called Villette (which is based on Brussels in Belgium). She ends up becoming a teacher at a girls' school. The novel is based on her feelings; you discover early on that the character suffers from depression. It's not really a romance story. In fact, most of it is about an unrequited love that Lucy has for Dr. John and watching him fall in love with someone else. She does find someone else who she doesn't like at first, but later, she falls in love with him, only to lead to a tragic ending. The author does leave the ending ambiguous, but she originally meant it to be tragic. I would love to study this book in a university setting, because there are so many themes and it is so well-written. Also, I would like to discuss it with other people because I did find some parts very hard to understand. The main character, Lucy Snowe, who is also the narrator, turns out to be unreliable. She "hides" something from the reader that you don't find out until halfway through. I recommend this for anyone who loves Brontë's other books, as well as anyone who enjoys reading Victorian books, but I do think you need to take a lot of time to read it.

l
lukasevansherman
Feb 05, 2015

"Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectations."
Bronte's final novel, published in 1853, before her death at 38 in 1855. It is somewhat of a plodding and slow-moving read, exacerbated by the copious amount of dialogue in French (Villette is the name of a French town) and the length (over 600 pages in this edition. I had trouble getting through it.

b
bjh3038
Apr 24, 2014

While I enjoyed this book, it was a slow read. Unless you are fluent in French, I would recommend getting a version with translations in the footnotes. I think the Houghton Mifflin and Penguin Classics versions have translations. I read the first 150 pages without any and almost quit reading because I felt like I missed too much. Once I found a copy with translations, the book got vastly better.

m
maipenrai
Oct 18, 2013

AUDIOBOOK ON TAPE THRU HENN CTY. AUDIOBOOK ON CD THRU MINN LINK

c
cuer12
Jun 24, 2012

I was completely engaged by the character of Lucy Snowe and awed by how Bronte allows the reader to enter into her thoughts and her character. Like a real person, Lucy's opinions about the world, the people in it, and her ideas about her self, change over time. Every character in this novel is authentically portrayed. Bronte catches the nuance and humour in human personailty studies and presents to me, as a female reader, a thoroughly 'modern' perspective on how women think about the world.
I am now a confirmed fan of Charlotte Bronte, while also somewhat shocked that I never read her in high school. Lucy Snowe beats Holden Caulfield hands down.

b
BethHMW
Oct 14, 2011

Villette is a study in patience both for Lucy and the reader. Lucy's existence and the multitude of plights she deals with are rather dull and Lucy as a character is rather unsympathetic. Although she is the narrative voice, she doesn't truly appear in the narrative at the outset, with the focus given rather to supporting characters. Thus is the trend set in place of supporting characters being far more interesting than Lucy, who while an upstanding individual isn't compelling in her own right and tends towards being irritating with her frequent soliloquies on the nature of her solitary life and its hardships. The descriptive and more literary passages are longer than necessary with descriptive phrases always coming in sets of three when a single one would be far more effective. While exploring the experience of a young woman teaching abroad, the narrative has no overarching major plot and seems like Lucy to drift slowly from one point to another. Intriguing as being the most autobiographical of Charlotte Bronte's novels, it remains a very poor cousin of the far more brilliant work that is Jane Eyre.

t
tinybookworm
Nov 26, 2010

for some reason, could not really get into this novel, at all.

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paula_derby
Dec 21, 2019

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!

p
paula_derby
Dec 21, 2019

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—

l
LearnDressage
Nov 02, 2016

"It seemed to me that an original and good picture was just as scarce as an original and good book."

l
LearnDressage
Nov 02, 2016

"Her dearest pulse throbbed in his heart."

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Penguinreader101
Jan 07, 2020

Penguinreader101 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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