things that decay, things that rust (erlking) wrote in annebronte,
things that decay, things that rust

Charlotte VS Anne

A PDF of a Bronte newsletter; the last article talks about Helen Huntingdon as a "British Amazon," and rightly identifies The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as one of the first feminist texts.

Actually, this is not the first time I have seen Wildfell Hall honoured with the title of "first truly feminist novel." Now, if people would recognize that Agnes Grey predates Jane Eyre in composition (despite AG being published later than JE), maybe people would see that Anne was a least as innovative as her sisters, and that the development of the novel since the 1840s owes a great debt to her.

Anyway, in the last paragraph, the author talks about how Wildfell Hall is more radical, more subversive, and more strongly feminist, than Jane Eyre. I happen to agree, and have always wondered why Jane Eyre became the championed text of the feminists in second half of the 20th century, when Wildfell Hall makes a stronger case.

This brings up the old Anne VS Charlotte idea. So many Anne-fans (going right back to George Moore, who championed Anne in the early 20th century) can't seem to help but feel Charlotte did Anne wrong --- not intentionally (most likely), but still. Between decling to republish Wildfell Hall and patronizing/infantalizing Anne in the years following her death, there's some basis to the idea.

I think Charlotte totally missed Anne's genius. She was blind to it. Anne is the Bronte sister whose style was the most in sympathy with Jane Austen, and Charlotte strongly disliked Austen. It's unfortunate that her own person taste set the critical response for more than a hundred years to follow.
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