Swagger, Brontë-style

I’m watching the 1983 BBC adaptation which is super good, because the actress (Zelah Clarke) totally gets across how Jane is kind of prissy and creepy and sneaky. More on that later, Eyresses, this is just a quick Hair Appreciation Post because CHECK THIS OUT:

a white woman's head from behind. She has brown hair that is pinned up

OK it’s a screen shot so not the best but basically she has the back of her hair up in a bun. And then the front: is STAR TREK. It’s parted in the middle and there is a sweep back like a swag curtain,  but then above that there is a braid swag all on its own. If you just saw it from the side and didn’t know it was hair, it would be some kind of abstract landscape. It is kind of like Jane Eyre saw Yeoman Rand and thought, “How could I incorporate that Star Fleet look into my 19th century nerd life?” and then actually did it. Here is a bigger shot.

Also I am in love with the introduction to the second edition. Charlotte Brontë goes hard at those who mistake the objects of satire:

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last.

It’s so Wikileaks-appropriate, right? All this damn conflation. Bronte lauds William Thackeray and dedicates this edition to him:

There is a man in our own days whose words are not framed to tickle delicate ears ; who, to my thinking, comes before the great ones of society much as the son of Imlah came before the throned kings of Judah and Israel; and who speaks truth as deep, with a power as prophetlike and as vital—a mien as dauntless aud as daring. Is the satirist of ” Vanity Fair” admired in high places? I cannot tell : but I think if some of those amongst whom he hurls the Greek fire of his sarcasm, and over whom he flashes the levin-brand of his denunciation, were to take his warnings in time, they or their seed might yet escape a fatal Kamoth-Gilead.

Why have I alluded to this man? I have alluded to him, reader, because I think I see in him an intellect profounder and more unique than his contemporaries have yet recognized; because I regard him as the first social regenerator of the day—as the very master of that working corps who woald restore to rectitude the warped system of things; because I think no commentator on his writings has yet found the comparison that suits him, the terms which rightly characterize his talent. They say he is like Fielding ; they talk of his wit, humor, comic powers. He resembles Fielding as an eagle does a vulture. Fielding could stoop on carrion, but Thackeray never does. His wit is bright, his humor attractive; but both bear the same relationship to his serious genius that the mere lambent sheet-lightning playing under the edge of the summer cloud does to the electric death-spark hid in its womb. Finally, I have alluded to Mr. Thackeray because to him—if he will accept the tribute of a total stranger—I have dedicated this second edition of  “Jane Eyre.”

First, who knew that Charlotte Brontë knew so much about lightning? Lambent sheet-lightning and levin-brands. She was writing in 1847, while Vanity Fair was still being published in serial form. After the last installment was published, in 1848, she wrote in a letter to W.S. Williams:

Thackeray is never borne away by his own ardour—he has it under control. His genius obeys him—it is his servant, it works no fantastic changes of its own wild will, it must still achieve the task which reason and sense assign it, and none other.

This also feels very relevant. I had no idea there was this connection between Brontë and Thackeray (I don’t say this as if it is a surprising that there is a gap in my knowledge, because I know very little, just I was surprised to learn it.) It seems that later on they became friends of a sort–-she attended his lectures and visited his home. It’s nice to think about.

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