Monday, September 17, 2007

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

Thank you, Lord! My literary nemesis is stomped asunder and I reign supreme!!!! Yes, that's right my literary lads and lasses, I finally won. It took me approximately two weeks to read it, but I DID IT!

So, you're probably wondering, if I endured three failed attempts at reading Wuthering Heights before I completed it this fourth time, what was different this time around? The answer to that is, I haven't the foggiest. Maybe it was just the "right time." Maybe I finally was nosy enough to find out what happens to ole Heathcliff and Cath, or maybe it was the motivation of the Thematic Classic Challenge group.

For those of you who might've heard of Wuthering Heights but haven't had the opportunity, or gumption, to read it, here's a short synopsis.

Everyone is miserable and crazy.

Wait, no. Well, yes, but that wasn't the one I meant to post.

Heathcliff is an orphaned child brought to Wuthering Heights by the owner, Mr. Earnshaw. Heathcliff and the master's daughter, Catherine Earnshaw, become fast friends and later fall in love. The majority of the story is driven by Heathcliff's thirst for revenge after being scorned by Cathy (not a spoiler).

Yes, the "Everyone is miserable and crazy," bit is a fair assessment of this novel, but it really is worth the read in spite of the miserable horribleness. In all honestly, what would a Victorian, gothic, creepy novel be without crazy people?

Aside from the memorable characters and being "in" on the literary allusions I've seen in a zillion other works, this book is wonderfully written. Brontë's writing is often compared to Matryoshka dolls...those Russian goodies that stack and nestle inside each other. The reason being, the narrative is intricately woven by two narrators (Nelly Dean and Mr. Lockwood), in flashbacks and in second and third-hand accounts expressed by those aforementioned narrators. It's all quite intricate, although rarely hard to follow. Emily Brontë had quite the deft hand for storytelling even if her subjects were a bunch of nutters.

I'm glad I read it. I'm glad I endured. I'm glad I gave it one. more. shot. And it marks the first book I've read for Carl's R.I.P. II challenge! I feel so accomplished.

Now reading: A Cook's Tour, by Anthony Bourdain. It's fantastic, and I expect to finish it within the next day or so. Keep an eye out for a review.


  1. "A bunch of nutters." Yep, that's them. But I guess I love nutters because this is a fav of mine. I wonder what that says about me? Hmmm...

  2. LOL, Chris, I don't think it says a thing about you. I love nutters, too (or does that just say something about both of us?). I don't know if this one will make the all-time faves list (it's hard for any book to live up to a lifetime of hype), but I certainly did enjoy it.

  3. WH is an inspired masterpiece. It has a very unsettling, disturbing, even fascinating quality about it because it touches the darkest regions of our soul. Heathcliff is the dark side in all of us; the side we don't enjoy even acknowledging and Catherine's failure to deal with her obsession reminds us that we, too, can fail, we all are vulnerable to Catherine's fate.

    * * *
    I watched A Cook's Journey on TV and loved the show. I need to check out the book as well. :)

  4. I suppose someday I may have to reread Wuthering Heights. I wasn't enamored with Emily's novel quite as much as I loved Jane Eyre by her sister.

  5. Congrats on finishing! I was really surprised that everyone in the book was so crazy. I had romantic visions in my head. Romantic only if you like "a bunch of nutters". LOL.

  6. Yay! Congratulations on finally getting through it! :)

  7. Glad you were able to finish it this time!

  8. I gotta tell you, Wuthering Heights is a DNF for me too!! I tried to read it, but to me, the characters were SO unlikeable, I couldn't finish.

    One of these days, I'll get back to it again!! You will be my inspiration!

  9. Ummm, hmm. I could've sworn I posted a response to Matt and Lit Feline this morning. But now it's not here.


    Matt, agreed! Well put. I agree with every word you said about WH. And, yes, you should DEFINITELY check out the Bourdain book. He's fantastic. A Cook's Tour is a foodie's wet dream.

    Feline, I'm a big Jane Eyre fan. It's definitely my favorite novel of the two. Have you read any of Charlotte's others? Villette (sp?) maybe?

    Kristy, me too! Every teenage girl makes Heathcliff sound like a romantic hero when really, he's just a psychopath. I think says something about our romantic ideals in this day and age. Oy!

    Tanabata and Ex Libris, thanks! I'm still patting myself on the back. :D

    Steph, I'll send the inspirational vibes your way. lol

  10. I had to read Wuthering Heights my senior year of high school, and I have to say it grabbed me-- yes, the characters are frustating and self-defeating, but I think you have to just flow with the passion of the characters.

    I don't know if you've ever seen the old Monty Python show, but there was a very funny bit about doing a movie rendition of Wuthering Heights in semaphore-- the flag communication system they use in the Navy.

  11. Johnny, I definitely agree. The characters' passion and antics really carry the story along. Once I got into it, I was hooked. Especially if I had long, uninterrupted stretches. It wasn't one of those books that I could leave and come back to in short bursts, which is often the way I have to read given my job situation.

    I looove the idea of that Python sketch! Gonna have to see if I can hunt it down on YouTube.

  12. Hello Estella,
    I'm a member of the group too so I'm very glad that it's made you stay with WH! I've tried Camille before with no luck but this time I'm sticking with it.

    I like the gothic craziness of WH, especially the ghosts, and the ending always sends shivers down my spine. I like Jane Eyre better though. NB: SPOILERS HERE. Mr.Rochester is much nicer than Heathcliff even if he does keep a mad wife in the attic. LOL.

    This reminds me of an argument that I had with an American who disliked Catherine because she married for money. I said that I understood that because she'd become educated and civilised and Heathcliff was just impossible to marry really.

    Best Regards,

  13. Hi, Viola! Thanks for stopping by! I agree with you, I enjoyed Jane Eyre much more than WH (although I did enjoy the ghosts and the ending). It still amazes me that I love Rochester and he locked his wife up. Which reminds me, I still need to read Wide Sargasso Sea!

    There's also a great scholarly book called The Mad Woman in the Attic that discusses the reoccurence of the mad attic woman in literature. Sounds like a great book, and it's surprisingly readable from the bits I've tried. Very entertaining and even funny.

    And, yes, it was pretty darn impossible for Cathy to marry Heathcliff. That's one of the great tragedies of the book, I think. Sad, but just the way it was given the class difference that erupted there.

  14. Congrats on finishing Wuthering Heights this forth time around. I think your short synopsis sums the story up perfectly. :)

  15. This book was difficult! But I managed to enjoy it when I read it as poetry, and realized it's not actually a love story. :-)


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