These two classic novels, together with BrontË's well-known Jane Eyre and Villette , comprise a magnificent oeuvre, each one a singular achievement of characterization, human understanding, and narrative elegance and drama.
Shirley is the story of a complicated friendship between two very different women: shy and socially constrained Caroline, the poor niece of a tyrannical clergyman; and the independent heiress Shirley, who has both the resources and the spirit to defy convention. The romantic entanglements of the two women with a local mill owner and his penniless brother pit the claims of passion against the boundaries of class and society.
The Professor —the first novel BrontË completed, the last to be published—is both a disturbing love story and the coming-of-age tale of a self-made man. At its center is William Crimsworth, who has come to Brussels to work as an instructor in a school for girls. When he becomes entangled with ZorÄide Reuter, a charismatic and brilliantly intellectual woman, the fervor of her feelings threatens both her own engagement and William's chance of finding true love.
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Shirley and The Professor|
|Release Date: 11-24-2010|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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Shirley and The Professor
The Professor and Shirley have always suffered from being the stable-mates of Jane Eyre and Villette. In its time Jane Eyre’s realism and honesty meant it was widely regarded as a ‘dangerous book’, while Villette, as George Eliot wrote, was ‘almost preternatural in its power’. Today Jane Eyre is still one of the most popular novels in the English language, while Villette maintains its position as an extraordinary portrait of the feminine psyche. Beside such race-horses, The Professor, a gentle love story set in a school in Brussels, and Shirley, a novel of industrial strife in Yorkshire during the Napoleonic Wars, might look a little humdrum. Yet to those fascinated by the obscure clergyman’s daughter who astounded the Victorian establishment, they make essential reading. Their heroines anticipate the revolutionary nature of their more celebrated sisters and the books boldly explore the themes of Jane Eyre and Villette, particularly the question of how women can find happiness in a society inimical to their needs. Not only are they highly enjoyable – Shirley is richly comic, while Mrs Gaskell described Frances Henri as ‘the most charming woman [she] ever drew’ – they also demonstrate that work-in-progress, the ongoing development of Charlotte Bronte¨ as a writer.
Written in 1846, after the novelist returned from that single visit abroad which was to have such an effect upon her creative powers, The Professor was not to be published in her lifetime. Charlotte had spent two years in Brussels, from 1842 to 1844, being taught by a gifted literature professor, M. Constantin Heger. His wife ran the school in the...