Saturday, February 1, 2020

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Last year, after reading Middlemarch and having the top of my head taken off, realizing that Moby Dick had passed Pale Fire to become my favorite novel, reading Melville’s short stories and being convinced by The Jane Austen Book Club I needed to finish reading all of Austen’s novels, I thought it was high time to read more nineteenth century literature. If my book buying hiatus this year is lent, during the Fat Tuesday of late November and early December I traded in some books at Mr. K’s and got copies of the Austen I didn’t have, several more George Eliot and Mellville books, Jane Eyre and this one. I’m not sure what gave me the impression over the years that Wuthering Heights would be a slightly edgier Pride and Prejudice type book, but that’s the impression I had gotten. How wrong can a person be?

This is a cruel view of the world. It’s in stark contrast to the Austen I’ve read, wherein the lower classes seem happy in their state and the upper classes are where the real drama is. Heathcliff is resentful (rightfully so) of the way he was treated, and that eventually turned him into a monster. Everyone is weak, sanctimonious, cruel or some combination thereof. I found its view of human nature compelling. I was a little hesitant about how mean the book is until I realized it was essentially a psychological horror novel wrapped in a gothic melodrama. Once that clicked, I was able to enjoy the book for his oppressive atmosphere and its takedown of the society of the day. Where Pride and Prejudice gently mocks (which I enjoy), this swings a sledgehammer.

After Moby Dick and Middlemarch, this is probably my favorite among the (admittedly few) 19th Century novels I’ve read. I wish there were more Emily Bronte novels to read.

Canon Worthy.

No comments:

Post a Comment