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Jane Eyre (Bantam Classics)
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on September 25, 2017
This is not a love story. This is a tragedy to the very marrow of its bones.

Emily's creation of the little microcosm between Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange had me enraptured for two months reading this. Two generations of Lintons and Earnshaws grow up, squabble, make love, and die -- and the brooding orphan Heathcliff is often at the heart of every single conflict.

As the reader, you need to fight the temptation to commiserate or empathize with Heathcliff, because he's going to disappoint you every single time. He is a monster. He is not the bad boy who can be changed -- he is just a bitter boy and then a bitter man hellbent on wrecking two generations of Lintons and Earnshaws, all for the memory and love of Catherine. In Heathcliff's defense, however, almost everyone in this story is a monster. It is a love story in the same vein that heated soap operas are love stories -- you eat popcorn waiting for what's gonna go wrong next.

I don't quite buy the neat tidy ending -- after watching Heathcliff literally destroy lives, the quick turnarounds and revelations just seem foreign to the narrative. I'm glad that some of the characters finally got to be happy, and tied the loop from the beginning of the novel, but it just didn't sit right with me.

And also, the fact 90% of the story is from the nurse Nelly Dean's recollection of the events is a little ridiculous, and it bothered me how much she was privy to and how sharply she could remember it (and report it!). The funny thing is, though, that Mr. Lockwood is such a dull fop that as soon as he gets control of narration, I wanted Nelly back.

But nevertheless, this is an enthralling story. It is a shame that Emily did not live to write more -- she had a keen mind for what blackness and evil heartache can inspire.
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on January 24, 2015
Wow. I have read Wuthering Heights several times before, but this volume added immensely to my understanding and appreciation for the text and the tragic love story of Heathcliff and Catherine. The Introduction is outstanding and reveals much about the author, Emily Bronte, especially in contrast with her illustrious siblings and other authors, male and female, of her time. The annotations throughout the text, in addition to serving such technical functions as translating the servant Joseph's broad Yorkshire dialect or clarifying the meaning of an archaic word, offer much more. For example, some expressions used in the book were inspired by other writings, especially poetry or religious texts, and these are fully explained, as are historical events and natural history which illuminate the text and the time and place in which the story unfolds. Most helpfully, the editor helps us keep straight the various Linton- Earnshaw- Heathcliff relations, which can be hard to keep track of yet which is essential to understanding the story.

There is a little essay at the end by "Currer Bell" (Charlotte Bronte) dispelling the myth that Currer, Acton, and Ellis Bell were all the same person (as you know, Ellis was Emily, Acton was Anne)and offering insights into their very different personalities. How their books originally came to be published, and the manner in which they were received, is also described. Ellis Bell-- our Emily Bronte-- was clearly the stronger and more enigmatic personality among the three, and Wuthering Heights-- her first and only novel (she was dead from tuberculosis within a year of its publication) was largely misunderstood and unappreciated during her short lifetime.

The ivory pages offer generous space apart from the text which is easy on the eye. The color illustrations and photos in the book are beautiful and educative. This edition has taken my appreciation of Wuthering Heights, always a favorite of mine, up several notches. Well done!
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VINE VOICEon September 12, 2013
I am a reader that tries out pretty much every genre, but I typically do not venture into romance. I may get a little bit of this when I am reading mysteries, such as in the In Death series, or when I am reading fantasy, such as with the Anita Blake series. I do like classics, and I have had Jane Eyre in my to-be-read pile for quite a while but never really got around to read it. Until now. The reason I decided to go for it is somewhat embarrassing. I wanted to start reading the Thursday Next series, and the first book has to do with this classic novel.

I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable this novel was. Bronte delivers the story through the first person narrative by Jane Eyre and this works extremely well. Jane experiences a myriad of emotions and her life story is full of up and downs. We truly get to see the best and worst of humankind, and we are presented with contrasts that are as clear as day. Love and hate, hope and despair, kindness and vindictiveness, self-confidence and doubt are only some of the examples.

You can think of this story as similar to a soap-opera but without any of the cheesiness that characterizes these. There are vivid descriptions of Jane living in horrendous conditions and enduring abuse, about her fighting back and standing on her own, about discovering love and friendship, and there are also some mystery elements and machinations throughout the book. There is even a tiny bit of supernatural elements in the story.

Overall a very enjoyable read. I was truly entertained and I am very happy I decided to finally sit down and read this work.
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on October 11, 2015
Jane is an orphan that grows up in her aunts house even though her aunt wishes nothing more than to be rid of her and the feeling is mutual.
After finally standing up to her aunt Jane soon gets the opportunity to break free from her aunt's house and grabs it with new hope towards life.
We get to follow her through her life until she ends up as a governess in a rich man‘s house. Jane soon starts to care about the few inhabitants of the house, especially the master even though she is hesitant to admit it to her self.
But in Janes life love, pain and death are never far away. She had hoped that the worst was behind her but she starts to realise that she might have been wrong as she learns her master's secrets and has to face one hard decision after another.

I liked this book, I have not read many classic novels but I will be reading more of them now.
I liked how Jane always kept going no matter what she had to face and that she always stayed true to her self.
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on February 26, 2016
i sort of boycotted the Brontë sisters after reading Charlotte's Jane Eyre: i started out loving it, but i bitterly hated the last third of that novel, which i thought embodied the Romantic period at its worst. really, i am distrustful of most any literature throughout the 1800s and through the early 1900s for its pattern of starting out well and getting me addicted and then falling into a mire of hundreds of pages of woeful pathetic unrequited love through which i must slog like Pilgrim in the Slough of Despond. even Proust! even Proust! has performed this wicked deed upon me, though him i must forgive.

so it was with reluctance that i picked up Wuthering Heights, and then only because i was shut out of parts of Anne Carson's spectacular book of poetry 'Glass, Irony & God' for my ignorance. and! what an epic difference between dear Emily and her sister Charlotte. this savage mythopoetic gothic naturalistic-ghoststory novel is vicious and beautiful and unrelenting and i love it. who knew anyone could make so many exclamation marks work? i had no idea anyone wrote like this in the mid-1800s...and i can't think of anything like it at any other time. to complete the picture of the Brontë's, i started my reading her sister Anne's novel Anne Grey while still in the midst of Wuthering, and the contrast between Wuthering and that retiring (though also admirable) book is a shock to the system.

all that aside, i've found the edition chosen of classics has become a matter of supreme importance, perhaps especially in the last twenty years: a certain amount of love and scholarship and integrity has been devoted to the publishing of new editions (the most spectacular difference perhaps being the original scroll to Jack Kerouac's On the Road, the magic text which shows by its existence how Kerouac and his publishers thoroughly botched the originally published edition that everyone's been reading since the start of the beat generation). Jane Eyre benefitted from an Illustrated version, charmingly if glibly (as has become the style) ornamented by Dame Darcy: while the text was entirely short of scholarship, the typeface was clear and pleasant, it had deckled edges, and the design was atmospheric in its ironic way. Wuthering Heights, however, had no such love, until about a year ago, when Belknap Press added it to its monumental annotated series.

this edition is likely to go unanswered for decades. copiously annotated, with a lengthy opening essay with history and explanation of scholarship (including punctuation and spelling), as well as the related essays by Charlotte Brontë in the back, this edition is full of pictures and places all its annotations on the same pages as the text. the cover is...perfect, the typeface is clear, and the quality of the pages and backing is high grade and very sturdy - which is necessary, because this is the heaviest book i've read outside of textbooks for my worst college classes.

do i have quibbles with this edition? yes. i wish it had more pictures of the plants mentioned, because i am obsessive enough to have to look them up on my own. i wish it had even more essays. i would like a note on every emendation of spelling and punctuation, like the great obsessive James Grauerholz has done for his William S Burroughs editions. but this is ungrateful. and the book is already quite heavy enough. so really, i should declare it perfect.
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on February 18, 2018
Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights"is everything and then some. It is brilliant, mesmerizing, brutal, bestial, tinged with the supernatural and mystical, and above all else it is a masterpiece. It has so many layers to it, that it requires many readings. The writing is sublime and at times I had to put the book down and marvel at its greatness.

Heathcliff is a character like very few I have ever encountered, and Catherine (his childhood playmate and the love of his life) is in many ways his equal. They are devious, insulated lovers, and one cannot exist without the other, even after death has separated them.

This book has been analyzed in classrooms across the world. PHD students have written their thesis' on it, Hollywood turned it into a romantic myth, and the love between Heathcliff and Catherine has become part of cultural lore.

Yet, I doubt there will ever be any true consensus or interpretation of this magnificent piece of work because, like the works of Shakespeare, Byron, Joyce, and Conrad the characters live on far after one has finished reading about them. They live on in our minds and souls and we continue to struggle with their actions and behavior and beneath their gravestones we imagine their own personal struggles and demons have yet to be put to rest.

Any true fan of literature, would be remiss not to read this book.
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on April 11, 2017
Of course, most readers know the story of Catherine and Heathcliff. I had read the novel many years ago and remembered the story dragging on and on. After watching a biography of the Bronte Sisters, I decided to buy this book and give it another try. Actually I read it in two days. I could not put it down. The dialog between some of the characters is completely translated and the notes in the margins really add to the narrative. This edition is a beautiful addition to my library and I will read it again (on a dark and stormy night).
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on October 29, 2017
Let me start by saying that this is the first classic I have read, and at first it was very hard to understand and follow. Once I got familiar with the writing style and old language, it was much easier to understand. Once I got to the point of understanding it, I went back and started from the beginning again, and was hooked. I truly did not know if I would like this book or not when I purchased it, since I have never read anything like it before, but I am so glad that I decided to read this, definitely in my top 5 books list, and I have read hundreds, so that is saying alot! While at work I would catch myself thinking about it, wanting to hurry and clock out so that I could continue my reading. I like how the story of decades is told by a point of view outside of the few main characters. The way it is told makes it very easy to imagine how each character looks and how thier personalities come across. It is truly a gripping tale. Everyone should read this book at some point in thier lives. I highly recommend.
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on July 16, 2016
I have just started this book. It is very slow going at first but starts to get much more interesting fairly soon---about the 3rd. chapter. So far the mood is rather dark but part of that is the location and characters and weather in the beginning. It is not dark like being evil, but just the mood---dark and suspenseful. The dialogue of Joseph is, for me and others I've talked to, impossible to decipher the way it is written. I have heard that there is a version where his dialogue is made more readable. Joseph is a pretty disagreeable character who does not have a lot to say so I just imagine what he probably would have said in each instance. Enjoy!
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on August 8, 2015
I am catching up with classic literature in my more mature years, having not been exposed to many of the classics in my early life. This novel, published 170 years ago, transfixed me with its prose, emotions and structure that revolutionised the art of fiction as we know it today.

As with most people nowadays I had been exposed to the story through movies and mini-series but didn't realise how much I was missing by not reading the author's actual words. Jane Eyre is written in the first person as a young Victorian woman who suffered in her childhood but eventually gained a fine education, found good employment and surprisingly someone to love her (the famous Mr Rochester), only to have her happiness taken away at the altar. She runs away, finds herself and her family again but cannot totally break her feelings for Rochester.

Charlotte Bronte weaves a novel of strength and length that lays bare the soul of Victorian England through the eyes of Jane Eyre. There is vivid description of the ways of life of the poor and the rich, the morality of the time, including their approach to the role of women, religion, wealth and class. Bronte gradually unfolds the story of Jane's life, struggles and emotions in an intense and spellbinding way and brilliantly uses coincidence and spiritual connections to tell her story.

To me Jane Eyre is one of the most honest and good characters in fiction. I read/listened to the book as an audiobook and the skills of the narrator, Emma Messenger, brought the book to life in an emotional and compelling way. 5 plus stars.
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