More Wuthering

It seems like weeks ago that Wuthering Heights was still accompanying me on my travels, but the last page was read and the book was completed just before Easter, and I’m now onto Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which, it must be said, isn’t nearly so enjoyable to read thus far, but comparisons are as odious as they are tempting so there won’t be any more going down that road.
Wuthering Heights is really very good indeed. It’s hard to comment without sounding flippant, for there are very profound ideas in it about God and love and nature and passion in all its forms. There were some amusing moments, but perhaps they appealed more to me than they might to another reader because of my slightly childish, slightly twisted, slightly should be ashamed of myself sense of humour – if that’s the right word. It’s certainly true that there are some very fine insults in it, and threats too, as well as violence – emotional and physical. In some ways it’s almost a cartoon representation of behaviour, but with so much verisimilitude and laced with such suspense and emotion that it holds you and you feel that anything could happen and hope what happens isn’t as bad as it could be.
The ghostly elements of the story never make the story a ghost story, and while it is a book of its time, told in certain language which would look odd to write today, and melodrama plays a part frequently, it is a story which resists genre on the whole. And that’s something I liked. It doesn’t seem to significantly borrow from previous stories or types of stories and those books which have come after and which bear some of its hallmarks still don’t seem to constitute a genre or subgenre of their own either. That’s just an opinion, and it could indeed be an ill-informed one.
I kept thinking that the story could be set in a mental health facility as I read, or at least the characters could be presented as requiring medical care “off stage”, while the reality they share with each other is what happens when they say their lines and follow the action in the book.
That’s about all that’s worth saying about Wuthering Heights, for fear of appearing trite. The question which suggests itself is where does such a story come from? Laetitia informs me that Emily Brontë didn’t really know many people and had very little experience of the world outside where she and her sisters and the rest of her family lived so it is a wonder that she could craft a story about such extreme people, so convincingly and sympathetically (as we seldom feel that monstrous behaviour in this book is enacted by monstrous people: they all have their reasons for being as they are). It is also a wonder that a story which resists conventions and defies classification as this one does could be written by an inexperienced and isolated young woman in remote Yorkshire like that, but she did, and she did because of talent.
And I feel as if there may, finally, be something to write about. It has been on my mind of late, this idea, adding to it and editing it, in my head, and it sometimes seems a better idea than at other times, and sometimes seems a bit silly, and there are times of confidence and then other times when a question will appear which has not good answer – like, for example, what will actually happen in the story and what will it be about? (which is two questions, I know) – and the lack of an answer seems crushing and you feel bereft and silly and congratulate yourself for not telling anyone what you’ve been thinking about, as they would almost certainly have asked a question like that and that would be super-embarrassing. I also have a real problem with sharing ideas, because I hate the thought – the very real possibility – that the idea will never lead to anything, and if no-one knows about it it doesn’t matter so much, but if you tell someone they inevitably encourage you in some way, maybe they believe in you, and then you effectively injure their faith in you and that damages your own sense of yourself as it is shameful to be reduced in the eyes of someone you care about and you also lessen your view of yourself in a situation like that too.
To start writing is to alleviate and allay many of these fears. Some questions will be answered as you write and some questions won’t get answered. What you write will be different from what you thought you would be writing. And it may not work out, but that’s all part of the process of learning and becoming more experienced.
It’s a bit exciting, and a lot of other things too.
We also have many Easter-related confections at our place, and that makes me feel good too.

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