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Villette Charlotte Brontë


Charlotte Brontë

Published 1962
543 pages
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 About the Book 

I am only just returned to a sense of the real world about me, for I have been reading Villette, a still more wonderful book than Jane Eyre.George Eliot, a fortnight after Villettes publication in January 1853, was responding to Charlotte Brontës subtle and penetrating character analysis -- unusually frank for its day -- and to the novels almost preternatural imaginative power. Deriving its emotional charge in part from Charlottes experiences in Brussels in 1842-3, the novel is also coloured by her sadness and isolation after the deaths of her brother and sisters. The heroine, Lucy Snowe, in flight from an unhappy past, leaves England and finds work as a teacher in Madame Becks school in Villette. Befriended and at first attracted by an English doctor, but more strongly drawn to the fiery autocratic schoolmaster Monsieur Paul Emanuel, Lucy is compelled by Madame Becks jealous interference to assert her right to love and to be loved. In a wider sense, the novel is a cogent and dramatic exploration of a womans response to the challenge of a constricting social environment. Its deployment of imagery comparable in power to that of Emily Brontës Wuthering Heights, and its use of comedy -- ironic or exuberant -- in the service of an ultimately sombre vision, make Villette especially appealing to the modern reader.(From the back cover of the Oxford Paperbacks Worlds Classics edition.)