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Wuthering Heights (Wisehouse Classics Edition) Paperback – 17 Aug 2016
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About the Author
Emily Jane Brontë (1818 - 1848) was an English novelist and poet who is best known for her only novel, Wuthering Heights, now considered a classic of English literature. Emily was the third eldest of the four surviving Brontë siblings, between the youngest Anne and her brother Branwell. She wrote under the pen name Ellis Bell.
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A jolly visitor seeks a room and hopes to befriend the master of the house but finds the atmosphere positively frigid. He spends an unnerving night at the place and finds his curiosity piqued by all he experiences until he determines to get to the bottom of the mystery. This is a challenging book that will defy the reader to enjoy it but not because it's difficult to read or follow but because it's unremittingly dour. I recently re-read it in a book club and the discussion about it revealed to us that while it isn't traditionally satisfying it is undoubtedly a book of enormous depth that rewards analysis. The characters and their motivations are profound and compelling even where they are thoroughly unpleasant. The principles are Cathy and Heathcliff, two beings that clash like the immoveable object and the irresistable force; there seems to be an almost supernatural aspect to their relationship, something beyond their mortal selves that compels them to actions outside of their control, actions which seem doomed to destroy them and everyone around them.
RATED 4.5/5 STARS!
Well didn’t THIS take me by surprise!
I did not expect to enjoy this quite as much as I did. Wow.
Right. So the main thing that puts me off reading classics is the amount of effort it takes me to read them compared to my usual books because of the difference in language. Yes , I know it is more educational for me to read more complex books occasionally. But when I read for enjoyment, sometimes I just don’t want that extra struggle. And by sometimes I mean most of the time. But this book was nowhere near as difficult to understand as I thought it would be! Of course, it did take me longer to read because it was still different, but I’ve read classics that are much denser and feel like mud to get through. This didn’t. At all. Especially with the note pages at the back of the book to help you through some of the language meanings.
Honestly, I think the only time I’d struggle was when one character in particular would talk – Joseph. Dear lord, did that man have a thick accent! Half the time I had no idea what he’d be rambling on about, but like I said, the note pages are there (in this edition, at least) to help you through. I swear, most of the notes are just devoted to translating his accent and phrases!
Enough about accents though.
This book grabbed my attention from the start. It’s told in a very interesting way – and this is where I try my best to describe it to you guys while probably confusing everyone. I apologise in advance. So, you read the book from Mr Lockwood’s point of view, as he’s hearing the story of Catherine and Heathcliff through the housekeeper, Mrs Dean. If that makes sense. So you start at “present day” (though obviously not OUR present day), then go back a few years to the beginning of the story, and gradually make your way back to “present day”. If that confused you, I’m sorry for my awful explaining skills – but I promise it all makes perfect sense when you read it! What I’m basically trying to say though is that it doesn’t just feel like a random story, but you’re discovering it for a reason.
Also, the perspective you’re reading from isn’t the main character – or even a side character – but more of a…bystander? I don’t think I’ve read a book from that point of view before!
As for the actual story, although it’s by no means as action based and thrilling as most of the books I read, it was highly entertaining for me. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the Victorian drama! And yes, I say Victorian drama specifically, because everything was so much more dramatic during those times. If you look at someone without smiling, you’re basically the devil’s spawn and have no soul. I mean, look at this. One character was looking after another while they were ill, and here’s how it was described…
“His health and strength were being sacrificed to preserve a mere ruin of humanity.”
I know it’s probably wrong, but I can’t help but be amused by phrases like that! The book is so dramatic, and yet if the events happened nowadays, it’d hardly be anything. And yet everything seems like a shocking downright disgrace to humanity, purely because that’s how the book is written. And it was sort of nice to see how everything – every word, every action, every meal or object or journey – meant so much more back then. It made me feel like I was living in the Victorian times, and with how much I adore history, that’s a massive bonus to me.
At first I was VERY confused about how all the characters were related. So, so confused. But about halfway through it all became clear in an instant. That moment, oh how it felt like a ray of light burst through the clouds fogging my mind . I couldn’t make sense of it before, but just went with it and continued enjoying the story regardless, and then suddenly another person comes into play and CLICK everything suddenly makes sense.
I actually said aloud “OHHHH NOW I GET IT”
So other than the original confusion with the relations of the characters and the struggles of understanding Joseph’s accent, I had no other problems with this book. I loved the drama, I loved the gothic feeling surrounding the (very highly detailed) settings, and I loved seeing the difference between the society then and now.
I feel like this book is a great place to start if you want to get into classics. I mean, that’s what I’m trying to do, and it’s certainly worked for me! I honestly think this is my favourite classic so far (along with Pride and Prejudice).
The backdrop of the Yorkshire moors is perfect for the wild and sometimes dark tale that unfolds. Emily Bronte’s characters are all very believable. Even the minor characters have their own personality and their own voice.
It was published in 1848 yet the the dialogue still has a fresh feel about it. Bronte’s extensive use of contractions in dialogue, (won’t, can’t, didn’t, I’ll, I’m etc…) certainly help the flow; totally different to Jane Austen’s work, written forty years or so earlier, where the dialogue and narrative often sounded exactly the same. Though to be fair to Miss Austen, the publishers at the time may have insisted on that sanitised dialogue. It’s a pity though that some modern historical-scriptwriters seem to think that contractions are a twentieth-century invention and so they use extremely archaic language in an effort to make their work appear authentic. I was so looking forward to a BBC TV series called Ripper Street. The setting was a hundred years later than that of Wuthering Heights (and almost half a century after Bronte penned her famous work.) But when I heard the dialogue I was gutted. The characters spoke in such a long-winded almost-Shakespearian way that it completely spoilt it for me.
But I digress, I love this beautiful book, and every few years I cannot resist reading it all over again. Such a shame Emily Bronte died so young. Two or three more novels like this, and she would surely have been acclaimed as the greatest of all time.
Most of the other reviews on here have described perfectly the characters, atmosphere and moorland settings. I can only add, that as much as the central storyline is about obsessive and revengeful love, there is also pervasive feeling of death lurking in the shadows.
I must also recommend, if possible, a visit to Howarth and walk from there to Top Withens - thought to be the inspiration for the Heights - to really soak in the windswept ambience.
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Would not recommend.
Basest form of humanity possible, the language is a stumbling block and the characters are just...Read more