Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Brontes and Science Fiction

Imagine my surprise when I discovered this was not a joke? All the modern retellings and additions and updatings of the classics had left me skeptical. But here it is.
The Daily Telegraph reported on an exhibit of two previously unexhibited volumes of stories written by the Bronte sisters. You remember them? Charlotte? The co-author of the best-selling Jane Slayre? Her sister Emily and her vampire Heathcliff? Their sister Anne?

Evidently, the books are miniscule and written in even more miniscule writing, bound with thread. As a book-o-phile myself I truly appreciate the drive to create not only the text but the object as well. While the article publishes an all too brief excerpt from the book, I found an online source of poems, posted by the University of Pennsylvania. The poems, edited and polished for public consumption, were self-published under their pseudonyms of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.
For those not familiar with the Brontë sisters' poetry, it should be noted that many of their poems were written in the context of the shared worlds of Gondal and Angria. Other poems were personal and biographical. In selecting and editing their poems for publication, the Bronte sisters deleted and revised references to their imaginary countries. The versions of the poems that were printed, and their titles, differ considerably in some cases from the original manuscript forms.
Doing another search on the Brontes and science fiction, I found this link through iHeartClassics to the British Library's press release for the exhibit. This doesn't look "miniscule" to me. But then, I probably read it wrong.

The Telegraph article calls the stories "fan fiction" which I heartily approve of. Nice that we have a name to give to a practice that creates noteworthy authors. What they left out was that the women were also worldbuilders! They made maps! Who knew?

If I had known this about the Brontes I wouldn't have balked about reading all that Gothic nonsense in school (no offense!).

Who would you love to discover wrote in a different genre from the stuff we were forced to swallow? Ivanhoe, werewolf? Johnny Tremain, shapeshifter? George Washington, time traveler? I will leave Ben Franklin as he is, but Thomas Jefferson, vampire. That might be interesting.

1 comment:

Ella Gray said...

Such a cool post, Melanie! It's so neat to think of authors that were worldbuilding and creating fantasy before there was any real definition of speculative fiction.

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