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on 11 May 2016
This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Bronte. Best known for 'Jane Eyre', the novel 'The Professor' deserves our attention as we follow the trials and joys of the characters brought to life by the pen of Charlotte.
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on 4 April 2017
A great story
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on 27 March 2017
Typical Bronte novel. I enjoyed reading it.
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on 1 February 2011


This is the story of William Crimsworth, a nobleman, who decides after his studies to Eton to refuse his uncles' proposal to enter the Church and consequently, to receive as a gift a remarkable patrimony. He decides to become a tradesman like his father and his brother Edward. Once he gets a job in his brother's factory, where he must translate some business letters, he soon understands that this kind of work is tedious and monotonous; sick and tired to be treated unfairly by his tyrannical brother, William resigns from his post as a clerk to take up a career as a professor in Brussels. Here he works as a professor in two schools, one for boys and another one for girls. First fallen in love with his headmistress Madame Reuter, he soon discovers her duplicity. When he meets a young woman who teaches lace-mending in Reuter's pensionnat he understands that she is his kindred spirit. Like him, Frances is ambitious... She dreams to come back to England and open a school there... but in order to realize her dreams she must take up lessons in English from William, because Frances is half Swiss from her father and half English from her mother... their professor-pupil relationship soons changes... they fall in love with each other.... But one day all of a sudden, Frances leaves Madamoiselle Reuter's establishment.... William must look for her... but where is she?
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on 24 May 2016
Clearly an early work, and maybe the publisher should have respected her intention to revise or withdraw the m/s. Her extensive use of archaic French without footnotes does not add to its clarity and some agility of mind is needed to unravel it.

But, one must realise that she was not writing for this century, and her English is exquisite, as always!
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on 25 May 2016
Not a bad story but I wouldn't bother with it if you don't understand French. The author's description of the physiognomy and character of Belgians is distinctly unflattering.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 July 2014
I really enjoyed this early novel by Charlotte Bronte and, perhaps strangely, it gave me a fuller appreciation of her greatness as a novelist than ever before. Bronte deals with some important issues which must have been preoccupations of hers, such as denomination and religion, class, nationality, and feminism. I'd say its underlying theme is the nature of human freedom.
The Professor, Brontës first novel, was not published until after her sadly early death. I find it intriguing that,in an era when there were many restrictions placed upon women, she imagines what greater freedom would be like by choosing to write in the first person as William Crimsworth, an aristocratic but friendless young man. He is vulnerable - like Jane Eyre,he's an orphan and, as Lucy Snowe was to do in Villette, he leaves an England which seems to offer him little and builds a new life in Brussels. Perhaps Charlotte Bronte felt better able to explore the issues of male and female power through writing as a man; in any case, boring but worthy Crimsworth seems her ideal man, treating his wife - if not quite as an equal - then at least as someone worthy of freedom and respect.
William has received little love, respect or help from his biological family and, though he works hard and outwardly challenges no-one, he is unwilling to submit to the kind of control and exploitation his relatives offer him. Helped by the enigmatic Hunsden, he manages to get a job as a teacher in a Belgian school. There, he is attracted to the strong-minded headmistress of the next-door girls' school and later to a junior teacher and pupil of his, Frances Henri. In these two relationships, Bronte is able to explore issues of domination and submission and of the nature of female power as Crimsworth struggles through difficulties to eventual independence and happiness.
Charlotte Bronte herself taught in Belgium at one time and we see her uncomplimentary impressions of Belgian Catholicism (authoritarian and removing people's power to think for themselves) and of that country's young people (also uncomplimentary). The book is an argument for the freedom of women to have careers and earn their own living, even after marriage, which was pretty forward-thinking at the time. She shows that success can come through hard work and determination, even when one has no secure place in a family or a community.
William Crimsworth, the professor, is an emotionally deprived, unloved person who still does his best to do what is right, following his conscience just as Jane Eyre was to do in a later book. He seems an odd mixture of pride and humility, of domination and kindness - but then, that really is what human nature is like. He does as he is told by those who have power over him, because it is in his interests to protect himself, but he dislikes authoritarianism, whether from the Catholic church or from employers. He is striving towards self-respect and personal freedom. His love-interest, Frances, has similar contradictions - outwardly, towards society, she is conventionally submissive but inwardly, she is ardently feminist, longing for the same personal autonomy. I spent most of my life among women who were told by a religious system that they should be quiet and submissive - and who conformed outwardly, but had those same inner resentments and longings; so I feel quite a lot of sympathy for Frances. The same pressures have turned Mlle Reuter, the headmistress, into a manipulative hypocrite. It is her route to power when she is denied the direct power men can have.
This early novel shows many of the strengths that were to make Bronte a great novelist. Its themes are not as fully developed as in her later novels, but they are present and they provoke thought. The book is less wordy than Jane Eyre and is well-structured, although one wishes some characters were more developed and that we knew more of their story. The final chapter is really about Crimsworth's happy and ideal existence; it seems packed full of events and ideas which I would have enjoyed having more fully explained, but its aim seems to be to expound Charlotte Bronte's own ideals and aspiration.
The style of writing demands a certain level of education, since quite a bit of the dialogue is in French, with no translation offered. My O-level French (now extremely rusty) coped most of the time, but I'm not sure why Bronte thought it was a good idea. She does say at one point that the French loses something in translation, but of course it loses quite a lot more if you don't understand it! Nevertheless, the book is quite surprisingly absorbing and the characters interestingly complex. Her talent was being developed and I was glad to have the chance to view the process.
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on 26 September 2016
A good read
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on 28 December 2015
Not her best work.
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on 19 May 2017
Purchased as a gift. I'm not a great reader. No comment from the person I gave it to.
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