Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Jan Eyre

I have just finished reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
It is considered a Classic and was the one I chose when our book club decided to read a classic last month. It took me a lot longer to read that I had thought as I have been busy but also because of the style of writing.

The copy I had (Readers Digest Classics) was still in the same literary style as was originally written by Charlotte in 1847. When it was first pubished it was under the title of Jane Eyre: An Autobiography and was very similar to the life of Charlotte. She used a pen name Currer Bell, in fear of not being considered if she allowed publishers to know she was a woman.

The book was first published in three volumes which was common practice in the 19th Century.

An excellent description of the story can be found here.
I was actually quite drawn to the book as it was very descriptive and draws you in to the character of Jane and indeed her plights in life. It certainly puts the modern quickly produced books to shame.

When Jane Eyre was published in 1847, it became a bestseller. The reviews were on the whole favorable. There was much speculation about whether the writer was a man or a woman and whether the Bells were really three persons, two persons, or just one person. When it became known that a woman had written such a passionate novel and seemed so knowing sexually, the reviews became negative.

The reviewer for the Atlas praised the novel:
 This is not merely a work of great promise; it is one of absolute performance. It is one of the most powerful domestic romances which have been published for many years. It has little or nothing of the old conventional stamp upon it ... but it is full of youthful vigour, of freshness and originality, of nervous diction and concentrated interest. The incidents are sometimes mellow-dramatic, and, it might be added, improbable; but these incidents, though striking, are subordinate to the main purpose of the piece, which is a tale of passion, not of intensity which is most sublime. It is a book to make the pulses gallop and the heart beat, and to fill the eyes with tears (1847).

I have also seen a couple of films of the same story but on re-reading the book again I realise how much is missed from a movie, probably because of a time frame.

This edition also had some illustrations that are copies of some paintings created by the New York based artist and print-maker, Richard Lenenson. The twelve plates depict scenes from the book in an authentic theme for the times.

Having enjoyed this novel and taken back in time of have challenged myself to read a classic like this a year.


  1. I tried to read this a few months back. I read it a school and enjoyed it, but I couldn't get it finished this time around. Must try again!

  2. I think you have to accept its a classic with the 19th Century language and just enjoy that aspect of it.