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Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

Book rating: 05 Paperback Penguin Classics

By (author) Charlotte Bronte, Edited by Stevie Davies

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  • Publisher: PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • Format: Paperback | 624 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 194mm x 30mm | 422g
  • Publication date: 1 November 2006
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0141441143
  • ISBN 13: 9780141441146
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 3,638

Product description

A gothic masterpiece of tempestuous passions and dark secrets, Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre" is edited with an introduction and notes by Stevie Davis in "Penguin Classics". Charlotte Bronte tells the story of orphaned Jane Eyre, who grows up in the home of her heartless aunt, enduring loneliness and cruelty. This troubled childhood strengthens Jane's natural independence and spirit - which prove necessary when she finds employment as a governess to the young ward of Byronic, brooding Mr Rochester. As her feelings for Rochester develop, Jane gradually uncovers Thornfield Hall's terrible secret, forcing her to make a choice. Should she stay with Rochester and live with the consequences, or follow her convictions - even if it means leaving the man she loves? A novel of intense power and intrigue, "Jane Eyre" dazzled readers with its passionate depiction of a woman's search for equality and freedom. In her introduction, Stevie Davis discusses the novel's language and politics, its treatment of women's lives and its literary influences. This edition also includes a chronology, further reading, an appendix and notes. Charlotte Bronte (1816-55), eldest of the Bronte sisters, was born in Thornton, West Yorkshire. "Jane Eyre" was first published in 1847 under the pen-name Currer Bell, and was followed by "Shirley" (1848) and "Vilette" (1853). In 1854 Charlotte Bronte married her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls. She died during her pregnancy on March 31, 1855. The Professor was posthumously published in 1857. If you liked "Jane Eyre", you might enjoy Jean Rhys' "Wide Sargasso Sea", also available in "Penguin Classics". "At the end we are steeped through and through with the genius, the vehemence, the indignation of Charlotte Bronte". (Virginia Woolf). "Charlotte Bronte's heroine towers over those around her, morally, intellectually and aesthetically...she takes a scalpel to the skin of the everyday". (China Mieville). "The masterwork of a great genius". (William Makepeace Thackeray).

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Author information

Charlotte Bronte (1816-55), sister of Anne Bronte and Emily Bronte. Jane Eyre appeared in 1847 and was followed by Shirley (1848) and Vilette (1853). In 1854 Charlotte Bronte married her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls. She died during her pregnancy on March 31, 1855 in Haworth, Yorkshire. The Professor was posthumously published in 1857. Dr Stevie Davis is a novelist, critic and historian. She is Director of Creative writing at the University of Wales Swansea. She is the author of four books on Emily Bronte, three novels, and three books in the Penguin Critical Studies series.

Customer reviews

By bobbygw 04 Jul 2011 5

It's incredible to think or imagine that, of the two most intense, passionate heroines of 19th century literature, both would be written by sisters of the same family. But this is, indeed, the case. With Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

You are drawn into a first person narrative that, from the start, is compelling and becomes more disturbing and troubling.

Given the 19th century was a deeply moralistic society, at least on the surface, but one within and beneath which women as such had no identity or power beyond certain limited roles (governess, wife, spinster, etc.). But then you have Jane: Many things have been written about the character and the novel. As character, Jane Eyre compels you to understand very specific and certain imperatives (nowadays described as feminist - then, Bronte was alone in imagining it).

She has an integrity embodied by her own ethics and morals; modes of behaviour and thinking that are radically established and challenging of the male-dominated status quo. Jane is effectively a radical heroine not only in 19th century literature, but all literature preceding it.

To me, she is a proto-feminist, to be as much admired in the 21st century and all the more so when considering the society within which this book was published (under a male pseudonym, of course). She is truly herself, coping impressively with difficult, painful circumstances, not giving in to compromise that will threaten her own character or principles; speaking up for herself in situations involving the most appalling challenges, when they most matter; assert her independence of heart and mind; maintaining her integrity and self-respect against the odds.

Jane Eyre as a novel signposted a revolution in terms of fiction writing and, in particular, challenged and questioned traditional attitudes and thinking about women and gave women an independence of voice and thought, and passionate determinism, not previously displayed. The only other novel that is as passionate, and as determined in thinking of the singular female self as Jane Eyre, is Emily Bronte's novel, Wuthering Heights, and her character, Catherine Earnshaw; yet Jane Eyre remains, through her novel, uncompromised of her own integrity and character, despite her circumstances et al. Catherine, according to Emily's narrative, is never given such a choice, or options of such freedom, i.e. independent female thinking.

Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre is an astonishing novel: besides Wuthering Heights, by her sister Emily, it is one of the most passionate, intense, uncompromising, painful, and beautifully and intensely emotionally sustained novels of all literature. An astonishing achievement, irrespective of genre, author or century.

Review quote

I go back to ["Jane Eyre"] so often and it was one of the first books that made me think, 'This is me, in some deep way.' (Suzanne Vega)