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The Professor (Penguin Classics) Paperback – June 6, 1989
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'excellent Clarendon edition' Patricia Thomson, University of Sussex. Review of English Studies `It is very good to have this poor relation among Charlotte's novels ... properly edited at last' Michael Slater, The English Association --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The Professor was the first novel that Charlotte Brontë completed. Rejected by the publisher who took on the work of her sisters in 1846--Anne's Agnes Grey and Emily's Wuthering Heights--it remained unpublished until 1857, two years after Charlotte Brontë's death. Like Villette (1853), The Professor is based on her experiences as a language student in Brussels in 1842. Told from the point of view of William Crimsworth, the only male narrator that she used, the work formulated a new aesthetic that questioned many of the presuppositions of Victorian society. Brontë's hero escapes from a humiliating clerkship in a Yorkshire mill to find work as a teacher in Belgium, where he falls in love with an impoverished student-teacher, who is perhaps the author's most realistic feminist heroine. The Professor endures today as both a harbinger of Brontë's later novels and a compelling read in its own right.
"The middle and latter portion of The Professor is as good as I can write," proclaimed Brontë. "It contains more pith, more substance, more reality, in my judgment, than much of Jane Eyre."
The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foun-dation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hard-bound editions of important works of liter-ature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torchbearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inau-gurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Nor does it have the perversity of Bronte's later works, which she insists were artificial excitement insisted upon by male editors. This was her vision, published posthumously by her husband. I didn't say it doesn't touch on perversity. Indeed, it is a variation on the Lolita or schoolgirl theme, with Bronte giving her hero a moderated sublimation, and he resists the little harlots to wind up with a very sincere and intelligent but very young teacher. (Bronte's alter ego in the novel?)
Bronte should have stopped at that point. I don't buy the synoptic "rest of their lives" ending. But it is the kind of thing a first time writer does who is not thinking of sequels and further problems.
Also, Reader, I make endless stretches of dialog in French. Why don't publishers ever translate it for those of us whose high school lessons are many years in the past? Or is that too Annotated School Edition for words?
The novel is clearly drawn from Bronte's life experience during her time in Brussels, where she developed feelings for a married man named Constantin Heger. There are many similarities between the characters in this book and Charlotte's experience in Brussels, but there are also vast differences.
The novel is told from the point of view of William Crimsworth, an aristocrat who turns his back on his family legacy and sets off to begin a new life in Brussels. Here he makes the aquaintance of Zoraide Reuter, who initially illicits deep feelings in William until her deceptive behavior reveals her true nature.
Instead, William feels himself drawn to a plain, but intelligent young lady named Francis Henri. Francis is unlike other girls in the school. She is terribly shy and in no way fashionable, but her intelligence and her passion for education ignite William's interest.
The Profesor does not in any way compare to Jane Eyre. It's not surprising to know that the novel was not well received. It read painfully slow at times. There was no real climax in the story. However, hardcore Bronte readers will find themselves lost in Bronte's magical description of the human emotion. The Professor is simply a pleasant novel that probably only Bronte fans can appreciate.