Tuesday, 28 April 2015

"Charlotte Brontë and her sleeping sisters" Eryk Ostrowski

Eryk Ostrowski is an expert in literature and a great authority as far as Brontë's sisters' work is concerned. His vast knowledge in this subject has resulted in the first Polish monography titled Charlotte Brontë and her sleeping sisters. This book is a very meticulous research, which is pleasurable not only in a literary way, but also visually, with numerous photographs, manuscripts and paintings included in the story. And the story itself is very intriguing.

Everyone with a basic literary education knows that there were three Brontë sisters : Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Charlotte is known for such works as Jane EyreThe Professor and Shirley, Emily for Wuthering Heights and the youngest Anne for Agnes GreyBy looking at the artistic heritage the oldest, Charlotte, seems to have been the most fertile in her literary endavours. This can be supported by the vast collection of her juvenilla, poems and, of course, novels. Ostrowski moves a step further to claim that maybe it was Charlotte, who was the only writer in the family? What if Emily and Anne were gracefully endowed with talents by their older sister? Given the financial and marital status of those poor vicar's daughters, this idea seems to be justified.

The author looks deeply into the parish's half-closed door to present a picture of impoverished siblings, who escape into their imaginary worlds: Branwell and Charlotte into Angria and Emily and Anne into Gondal. Some may think that the life in Haworth was idyllic and calm, whereas in reality it was filled with sorrow and grief. And death. First Mrs. Bronte passed away from cancer, than two of her oldest daughters. Charlotte embraced that sadness, which later echoed in her works. Ostrowski pictures Charlotte as a very intelligent and insightful woman, reaching far beyond her time. She was stronger than she might have appeared at the first glance and it was proved that she was more comfortable in the company of men: her brother, father, professor, publisher. Despite her "manly" features in one sphere she was just as delicate as every  woman of her own time: love and affection.

Ostrowski attempts to solve the mystery of one of the greatest female writers of the XIX century, but I believe it is no longer possible. He can speculate, imagine, retell, but he does it in such an enthralling way that I am willing to accompany him in this journey. However the answers remain unseen, it is a great pleasure to immerse oneself in this thorough and exquisite research which is Charlotte Brontë and her sleeping sisters.