BOOK REVIEW / Desperately Seeking the Mysterious Emily: 'Emily Bronte: Heretic' - Stevie Davies: The Women's Press, 8.99 Pounds

By Miller, Lucasta | The Independent (London, England), October 4, 1994 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

BOOK REVIEW / Desperately Seeking the Mysterious Emily: 'Emily Bronte: Heretic' - Stevie Davies: The Women's Press, 8.99 Pounds


Miller, Lucasta, The Independent (London, England)


EMILY BRONTE is notoriously elusive. In life she does not seem to have made a single friend outside her immediate family, and she has been equally unwilling in death to share herself with her biographers. Unlike the other literary giants of the 19th century, she left almost nothing in the way of letters and diaries. But she did leave a single novel that has tantalised generations of readers. The apparent enigma of Wuthering Heights has left Emily ripe for mystification, and many writers have trawled their own imaginations for the missing links.

Stevie Davies is best known as a novelist, and this is more an extended work of criticism than a straightforward biography. The known facts of Emily's life are so sparse, and her contribution to literature so great, that this seems the most sensible way to approach her. Charlotte Bronte once wrote of her sister that an interpreter should have stood between her and the world. And Davies is far more concerned with re-reading Emily's personality in the light of her works than with rewriting the events of her life.

Emily has justly been called a sphinx, but Davies is at her best when she resists the temptation to solve her riddle, and celebrates the paradoxes in her nature. This was a woman whose poems suggest a self-sufficiency taken to the point of solipsism, yet who was pathetically dependent on her family; who refused point-blank to be ladylike, yet who found a 'delinquent' freedom within the home and its domestic duties; who devoted her life to the written word, yet who could not talk to strangers; and who was, in Davies's reading, profoundly aware of her own femaleness but utterly uninterested in the feminist struggle for social change.

Davies connects these paradoxes with the philosophy of contraries she explores in Emily's work, quoting Blake's idea that 'Without contraries is no progression.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

BOOK REVIEW / Desperately Seeking the Mysterious Emily: 'Emily Bronte: Heretic' - Stevie Davies: The Women's Press, 8.99 Pounds
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?