This year I am taking part in a Classics Challenge hosted by Katherine of November’s Autumn. The goal is to read seven classics in 2012 and on the 4th day of every month, Katherine will be posting a prompt to help us discuss the book we are reading.
The first book I’ve chosen to read for the challenge is The Professor by Charlotte Brontë. I’m almost halfway through the book and have been enjoying it so far. I’ll be posting my thoughts about the book itself after I’ve finished reading it, but for this month’s prompt, Katherine is asking us to focus on the author – in this case, Charlotte Brontë.
There are three different levels of participation this month depending on how far into the book we are, and I feel I’ve read enough of The Professor to answer the questions for all three levels.
Who is the author? What do they look like? When were they born? Where did they live? What does their handwriting look like? What are some of the other novels they’ve written? What is an interesting and random fact about their life?
Charlotte was born in Thornton, Yorkshire on April 21, 1816, the third of the six children of Reverend Patrick Brontë and his wife Maria Branwell Brontë.
The Brontë family lived at Haworth Parsonage, now the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
Charlotte Brontë is the author of four novels: Jane Eyre, one of my favourite classics, Villette, which I read last year, The Professor, and Shirley. I am reading The Professor now and will hopefully have time for Shirley too before the end of the year.
Here’s an interesting piece of trivia about Charlotte: A tiny manuscript of an unpublished Charlotte Brontë story was sold at auction in 2011 to a French museum. The story was written in 1830 when she was fourteen years old and each page measures only 1.4 x 2.4 inches.
What do you think of their writing style? What do you like about it? or what would have made you more inclined to like it? Is there a particular quote that has stood out to you?
I find it hard to explain exactly what I like about Charlotte Brontë’s writing style, but I obviously like it enough to want to read all four of her books! I love the way she expresses the feelings and emotions of her characters; she chooses exactly the right words and phrases to convey their sadness, loneliness and suffering as well as their moments of happiness and love.
However, there are a few aspects of her writing that I don’t like so much. Two problems I’m having with The Professor are the overwhelming number of references to physiognomy (judging a person’s character from their appearance) and also a tendency to include a lot of French dialogue which is not translated, making it difficult for a non-French speaker to follow what’s being said. Overall, though, I do like the way she writes and am looking forward to reading the rest of this book.
Why do you think they wrote this novel? How did their contemporaries view both the author and their novel?
The Professor was Charlotte Brontë’s first novel, although it remained unpublished until after her death. The main character, William Crimsworth, is a teacher at a school in Belgium. As Charlotte herself (like her sister Emily) had spent some time studying and teaching in Brussels, she was able to draw on her own experiences when writing this novel. It seems that The Professor wasn’t very highly regarded during Charlotte’s lifetime and she was unable to find a publisher for it, even after she began to have success with her other novels.
Have you read any of Charlotte Brontë’s novels? What do you think of her work?
Don’t forget to visit Katherine’s blog post where you can find links to other participants’ responses. We are all reading different books so a variety of different authors are being highlighted this month.