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Jane Eyre Paperback – November 29, 2014
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Cambridge Literature is a series of literary texts edited for study by students aged 14-18 in English-speaking classrooms. It will include novels, poetry, short stories, essays, travel-writing and other non-fiction. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The editor mentions that she has put the preface written by the author's sister Charlotte at the back of the book deliberately. At the risk of being controversial, I'll say that I think that's a very wise decision. The book is extremely unusual for a Victorian novel; there are multiple scenes of violence, and the two central characters, Cathy and Heathcliff are anything but a civilized and conventional, admirable pair. It was a controversial book from the beginning. Charlotte writes apologetically about the book and her sister Emily. Charlotte, however, had a tendency to patronize her younger sisters, and I'm not at all sure she understood Emily's book. Unusually for her time, Emily lets us draw our own conclusions about all of the characters and their actions. Cathy and Heathcliff crash into a nice, gentle, civilized family in their neighborhood with disastrous consequences all around, and readers can make their own minds up: are Cathy and Heathcliff a great romantic pair, or is Cathy a woman who whips Scarlet O'Hara in the selfishness sweepstakes? Is Heathcliff a great lover, or a sociopath? Is the main narrator a gentle, good servant to her employers or a meddling busybody? The reader is left to choose.
'Jane' is sometimes spelled 'Janet' which is a little annoying, but not that bad.
One thing I'm unsure of is whether or not this version is incomplete on place names... I kept seeing -shire and things like that, but sometimes the name of the town was complete. Since this is the only version of Jane Eyre I've ever read, I don't know if that's an error or if Bronte intended it that way. ???
The book itself I'm glad to have read. It is a good story. I think some of the negative reviews by readers who didn't like it are influenced by the fact this book was written over 150 years ago. Writing styles have changed drastically, as have social norms. I got used to Bronte's way of speaking and it flowed better after that. Glad Kindle has the built in dictionary too. There are just a few passages of dialogue in French that you might want to translate, there are plenty of free translators online that would probably do well enough. I personally think it's possible to pass over them without knowing their meaning; they aren't crucial to the story. As far as the social themes, some of Jane's dilemmas wouldn't have been dilemmas in today's society but I suppose they were huge issues in the time period of the story so you have to think of them that way and think about how someone dealing with her set of circumstances then would handle it, not how you or someone in today's society would.
Bronte was quite the author. Very descriptive, great use of analogy, etc. And in this day and age it's nothing for a female as a child or a woman to stand up for herself, speak her mind, and wish to be an equal, but I kept reminding myself this book was written in England in the mid 1800s... it must have been revolutionary at the time. Jane would be considered somewhat feisty by today's standards.
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