Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Out on the winding, windy moors

Rocks and scrubby heather

There are plenty of local walks near where I live in Saltaire. Returning North from Dorking it was only a matter of time before I trod the rocks and scrubby heather above Haworth. Back in May, following a university reunion, I came up here with a dear friend, Kerry Madden, and her high-spirited daughter, Nora. Thank you to Kerry and Norah for permission to use a few of their photographs of one of my favourite places on Earth. They say pictures tell a thousand words…..
Visiting Haworth with Kerry and Norah

Blowing away the cobwebs

The ruin of Top Withins has been subjected to parliamentary conversations and, although there are other candidates for the inspiration for the building, (notably one in the village of Haworth itself….) the setting of Top Withins is certainly a great place to blow away the cobwebs of life and contemplate one’s metaphorical navel. Making a round trip from Haworth and/or going via the picturesque Brontë falls – especially with a picnic in a rucksack – makes for an excellent day out.
Norah salutes the sky and dreams by the falls

Extraordinary family

I am of the opinion that the Brontë family were extraordinary and the three published writers were indeed geniuses for producing such works in the place and in the era that they did. I think Mrs Gaskell’s portrait of them in her excellent but romanticised Life of Charlotte Brontë definitely does them a dis-service; they were not recluses. They were women ahead of their time and though styles of writing in literature have changed, there are passages, situations and imaginative landscapes in their works that still hook me and bedazzle my soul – and the souls of millions of other readers around the world.

 

Wuthering Heights and Villette

Wuthering Heights is undoubtedly a masterpiece – an experimental book of audacious structuring and narrative complexity with characters that transcend their original home. Hareton is the one that breaks my heart and fulfils everything I love about novels in making the arc of the story redemptive. In Charlotte’s works I am an advocate of Villette, though recognising the mythical qualities of Jane Eyre and completely understanding anyone who rates it as the archetypal Brontë novel.  Villette, though, like Wuthering Heights, contains moments that are bonkers, brilliant and completely original: the ghost nun, dream-like scenes, set pieces like the theatre fire and, most of all, the self-deceiving Lucy Snowe, arch narrator and as reliable as Haworth’s early-Victorian sanitation.



Out on the winding, windy moors
We’d roll and fall in green
You had a temper like my jealousy
Too hot, too greedy
How could you leave me
When I needed to possess you?
I hated you, I loved you too

Bad dreams in the night
You told me I was going to lose the fight
Leave behind my wuthering, wuthering
Wuthering Heights

Heathcliff, it’s me, Oh Cathy
I’ve come home, I’m so cold!
Let me in-a-your window

Ooh, it gets dark!  It gets lonely
On the other side from you
I pine a lot.  I find the lot
Falls through without you
I’m coming back, love
Cruel Heathcliff, my one dream
My only master

Too long I roam in the night
I’m coming back to his side, to put it right
I’m coming home to wuthering, wuthering
Wuthering Heights

Heathcliff, it’s me, Oh Cathy
I’ve come home, I’m so cold!
Let me in-a-your window

Ooh, let me have it
Let me grab your soul away
Ooh, let me have it
Let me grab your soul away
You know it’s me Cathy!

Heathcliff, it’s me, Oh Cathy
I’ve come home, I’m so cold!
Let me in-a-your window
Songwriter: Kate Bush
Wuthering Heights lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

And from Wuthering Heights itself…. (chapter 1)

Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff's dwelling. 'Wuthering' being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed: one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun. Happily, the architect had foresight to build it strong: the narrow windows are deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large jutting stones.

Chapter 15….

Gimmerton chapel bells were still ringing; and the full, mellow flow of the beck in the valley came soothingly on the ear. It was a sweet substitute for the yet absent murmur of the summer foliage, which drowned that music about the Grange when the trees were in leaf. At Wuthering Heights it always sounded on quiet days following a great thaw or a season of steady rain.

Thank you, Emily....