Sunday, March 4, 2012

Charlotte Bront‪ë‬'s homework

In the spring of 1842, Charlotte and Emily Brontë were residing at a pensionnat in Brussels, where they were learning French so that they could open a school and make a living back in England. While doing research for a biography of their teacher, Constantin Heger (and the school's co-owner, along with his wife), Brian Bracken found a creative writing exercise in Charlotte's own hand, reminiscent of the fables of La Fontaine. The text and translation of "L'ingratitude" appears on the London Review of Books' website, along with a reading of the story by Gillian Andersen and background on Charlotte's unrequited passion for Heger, a happily married man with a passel of children. (Her torments were transmogrified into The Professor, which she reworked as the great novel Villette.) Right, Charlotte Brontë, from the portrait of the three Bront‪ë‬ sisters by their brother Branwell (digitally restored).
More background on this important interlude in Charlotte's all-too-brief career can be found in Charlotte Bront‪ë‬: The British Library: Writers' Lives. As all Brontë devotees know, her passionate nature was never to find the kind of soul mate depicted in Jane Eyre.

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