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Title: Through Belgian Eyes
Sub-title: Charlotte Brontė’s Troubled Brussels Legacy
By (author): Helen MacEwan
ISBN10-13: 1845199103 : 9781845199104
Illustrations: 60 colour & b/w illus
Format: Paperback
Size: 229x152mm
Pages: 272
Weight: .474 Kg.
Published: Sussex Academic Press (UK) - November   2017
List Price: 19.95 Pounds Sterling
Availability: In Stock   Qty Available: 135
Subjects: Biography: literary : Literature: history & criticism : European history : Belgium
Charlotte Brontė’s years in Belgium (1842–43) had a huge influence both on her life and her work. It was in Brussels that she not only honed her writing skills but fell in love and lived through the experiences that inspired two of her four novels: her first, The Professor, and her last and in many ways most interesting, Villette. Her feelings about Belgium are known from her novels and letters – her love for her tutor Heger, her uncomplimentary remarks about Belgians, the powerful effect on her imagination of living abroad. But what about Belgian views of Charlotte Brontė? What has her legacy been in Brussels? How have Belgian commentators responded to her portrayal of their capital city and their society? ‘Through Belgian Eyes’ explores a wide range of responses from across the Channel, from the hostile to the enthusiastic. In the process, it examines what The Professor and Villette tell Belgian readers about their capital in the 1840s and provides a wealth of detail on the Brussels background to the two novels. Unlike Paris and London, Brussels has inspired few outstanding works of literature. That makes Villette, considered by many to be Charlotte Brontė’s masterpiece, of particular interest as a portrait of the Belgian capital a decade after the country gained independence in 1830, and just before modernisation and expansion transformed the city out of all recognition from the ‘villette’ (small town) that Charlotte knew. Her view of Brussels is contrasted with those of other foreign visitors and of the Belgians themselves. The story of Charlotte Brontė’s Brussels legacy provides a unique perspective on her personality and writing.
About The Author:
Helen MacEwan studied modern languages at Oxford University. A translator and former teacher, she is the author of The Brontės in Brussels, a guide to Charlotte and Emily Brontė's time at the Pensionnat Heger, and Down the Belliard Steps: Discovering the Brontės in Brussels. And most recently, Winifred Gérin: Biographer of the Brontės (“Adds significantly to Brontė studies and literary biography”: Claire Harman, biographer and critic, author of Charlotte Brontė: A Life).
While we may know plenty about what Charlotte Brontė made of Brussels and its people, what about the other way round? What did Brussels, and indeed Belgium as a whole, make of the shy young Englishwoman who, having been rejected by one of their countrymen, unleashed a stream of invective against their country? This is the question that long-time resident and Brontė scholar Helen MacEwan attempts to answer in this fascinating and important book [She] skilfully decentres the Brontė myth and re-reads it, this time through Belgian eyes. Kathryn Hughes, Times Literary Supplement, 18 May 2018

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