NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!

Lezlie



Thursday, March 12, 2009

WUTHERING HEIGHTS

by Emily Brontë



"In this classic romance, Heathcliff, a young destitute boy, is brought to the home of Mr. Earnshaw, on the Yorkshire moors. As Heathcliff grows, and slowly falls in love with Mr. Earnshaw's daughter, Catherine, he begins a series of events that will have implications for generations to come." (From the CD container)

Here are my honest initial reactions: The writing is absolutely gorgeous and kept me going long after I decided I despised every person in this book. The whole lot of them are a study in the worst kind of dysfunction. Heathcliff is an unhinged ass, and why this character is ever loved and described as a hero is beyond my comprehension, Catherine embodies everything I abhor in spoiled, self-centered women, and their children elicited no more sympathy in me than did their parents. As a good friend said the other day, I need at least one character I can cheer for in order for me to really like a book. There were none here.

Now that I got that out of my system . . . :-) I listened to Wuthering Heights at this time because it was available at the library, and I thought to get a jump on some of the reading for my Teaching Company course. It is probably at least a month or two in the future, but I can't wait to get to the section on this book! I'm curious to see how my opinion is molded by a good lecture on its merits. I can feel in my bones that it will be, because while I couldn't stand any of the characters, I was still enthralled with the story. Why is that? I wonder if I should listen to the lectures out of order. . . . No. I'll mull it over on my own for a while.

In the meantime, have you read Wuthering Heights? What was your gut reaction to it?



22 comments:

Heather J. said...

You hit the nail on this head here, IMO. The writing is gorgeous and the characters are simply horrid ... and yet this is one of my most favorite books of all time. I'm looking forward to seeing what insights may come from the upcoming lecture!

zetor said...

W.H. is one of the few Brontes I haven't read. I watched part of the movie once , but it was so awful. Must give the book a go.

Ladytink_534 said...

I'm ashamed to say I've never read this... Omg, well your second paragraph made my morning so far. Nice rant ;)

Lisa said...

I have tried 3 or 4 times to read it, but I just can't. I don't care about any of them.

Lisa said...

I haven't read this one, yet. It's one of those classics that I've never gotten around to. I do have it as part of one of my Teaching Company classes, as well. So, I'll be getting to it in the near future. Sometimes, I think not liking the characters makes me like the book even more -- strange, huh? One thing I can't abide though are unbelievable characters.

bermudaonion said...

It's been so long since I read this one I can't remember my reaction, except that I thought the book was just okay.

Veronica said...

Thank you! I love reading reviews of this book that agree with mine. I was so appalled by the behavior of every character in this book.

I also find it interesting to note that Emily Bronte made some remark about Jane Austen's work, saying she wouldn't want to live in her reserved, restricted world, prefering the grit and passion she portrayed in "Wuthering Heights" (or something like that), but after reading this book, I would much prefer the restraint in the world of Jane Austen to the horrible people who inhabit the world of Emily Bronte.

Jo-Jo said...

I haven't read this one myself Lezlie, but I have tried! I picked it up probably about 3 or 4 years ago and started it, but I just couldn't read it for some reason. It wasn't 'sticking' for me. Oh well, maybe I will try to listen to this one also....that may work better for me!

Lezlie said...

Heather ~ I'm not sure what it would take for this to make my "all time" list. It would have to be one heck of a lecture. :-) I'm glad you were able to get past the characters to appreciate it that much! It's fun when that happens!

Zetor ~ Which of the other Bronte sisters books would be a good one to tackle? I think I have Jane Eyre and Agnes Gray.

Ladytink ~ Nothing to be ashamed of. Until now, I had never read it either. I'm glad you liked the rant. I couldn't help myself. :-)

Lisa (Books. Lists. Life.) ~ I totally, totally get it. But maybe I'll be able to share some learning in the future to entice you to give it another shot. Maybe? :-)

Lisa ~ It would be interesting to compare what the two professors have to say about it. There is something to be said for a character that can get under your skin like that. At least you care enough to bother not liking them, you know what I mean?

Bermudaonion ~ My friend is going to be so excited to see so many comments from people who didn't love it. She was afraid she the only one. :-)

Veronica ~ It's hard to dislike a classic that so many people love. It makes us wonder if we're just not smart enough to "get it". It's a relief to find out we're not alone! :-) I've never read any Jane Austen, so I'm going to have to keep your comment in mind when I do!

Jo-Jo ~ There are so many books out there that we feel like we should at least be passingly familiar with, and audiobooks are an awesome way to at least get the basic story. I wouldn't use them for any indepth study, but the first time through any book is usually just to familiarize yourself with who, what, where, etc. And then at least we know what people are talking about when they make references to them. That's the long way of saying I highly recommend the audio for this one. :-)

Lezlie

Eva said...

I'm with you on this one! I've never been a big Bronte fan, though...I know, blasphemous. ;)

Terri B. said...

This is one of those classics that I've never read. Ssshhh. Don't tell anyone else ;o)

I do remember a friend in college HURLING this book at a wall. I think the characters made her mad.

Jeane said...

I had to read it in school. I don't remember much about the actual book except that I disliked it.

Nymeth said...

My gut reaction was "I hate these people and I don't care what happens to them" :P That was something like 10 years ago, though. You mentioned the writing being beautiful and I can't remember anything about it. I bet I'd appreciate that aspect of the book a lot more now.

Lezlie said...

Eva ~ Hi! I hope you're feeling better. I'm happy to see you out and about, so to speak. :-) This was my first Bronte book, so we'll have to see what happens with any others I pick up along the way.

Terri B. ~ There is a lot there that would make a person mad. I've never personally hurled a book, I can see why she would do that to this one. :-)

Jeane ~ The dislike seems pretty wide-spread in our little community. Isn't that interesting? I'm dying to get to that lecture!

Nymeth ~ I hear you. Then it gets to be, "I hate these people and I hope something really bad happens to them!" The ability to appreciate the writing despite my feelings about plot or characterization is a shiney, new skill I seem to have acquired. I, too, would have just straight-up hated the book not too long ago!

Lezlie

JoAnn said...

I thought I was the only one that has never read WH...looks like that's not the case after all! The Teaching Company is the best. I just got the same course!

Ruth @ Bookish Ruth said...

My gut reaction was much the same as yours. I couldn't stand the characters. I'm still dumbfounded that Heathcliff is considered a dashing, romantic figure. He's a tortured soul, and while I initially wanted to pity him, I just...couldn't. Cathy could have remained the same age throughout the entire book, because she certainly acted like a spoiled child as an adult. But, there's just something there. A quality I can't quite define but recognize as something extraordinary.

I'm going to check out the Teaching Company course. I miss my literature professors' lectures!

BooksPlease said...

I'll just have to re-read Wuthering Heights after reading all this - my gut reaction was that I liked the book. OK Heathcliffe is awful and Catherine a spoilt self-centred woman but even so they didn't get under my skin so much - maybe because I read it as a teenager and loved the drama. I'll see what a difference the passage of time makes.

Lezlie said...

JoAnn ~ Cool! The instructor is wonderful! I hope you love it as much as I do. I need to get moving on it, but Nat Turner took me so long to read that I want to read a couple shorter books before I tackle Tristam Shandy, which is my next lecture for the course.

Ruth ~ I know what you mean. I found myself feeling sorry for him for about a half a second toward the end, but that was it. Definitely give The Teaching Company a look-see. I've not known anyone to be disappointed in their courses.

BooksPlease ~ I would love to know what your "adult" reactions are! I think it's a little unnerving to reread a book I loved when I were younger. There is a part of me that is afraid it will sully the adoring memory. Please let us know if you do revisit Wuthering Heights!

Lezlie

Serena said...

I'm going to wait to comment until you've heard the lecture about this book. I want to see if they tell you what I remember learning in college courses about this novel.

It is one of my favorites, and Heathcliff is not a hero, and I hated all the characters.

Lezlie said...

Serena ~ The lecture is on my schedule for April. I have three other books/lectures that come first. I love that people hated the characters but still loved the book. Very interesting. . .

Lezlie

Emily Barton said...

"Here are my honest initial reactions: The writing is absolutely gorgeous and kept me going long after I decided I despised every person in this book."

Exactly how I felt when I read it! And your descriptions of the characters sum them up perfectly. I still have no idea why Heathcliff has ever garnered any attention as a romantic hero.

Lezlie said...

Emily ~ Some of the things I've been looking at lately call him an "anti-hero", but I'm not sure I'd give him even that much credit! :-)

Lezlie