After hearing in too many movies that people usually read Wuthering Heights at Christmas, I decided I would give it a try myself too during that period. So, I bought the wonderful hardback, Penguin Classics edition that includes an introduction, explanatory notes and a traditional, cloth made bookmark.
- Title: Wuthering Heights
- Author: Emily Brontë
- Year of Publication: 1847
- Edition: Penguin Classics, edition without Charlotte Brontë’s corrections.
- Victorian fiction
Summary from BookDepository: Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before: of the intense passion between the foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and her betrayal of him. As Heathcliff’s bitterness and vengeance is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past.
The beginning of the book is quite cold and intriguing and it is not until Nelly enters and starts the narration of the past at Wuthering Heights, that the reader becomes really addicted. The psychological exploration of the young Earnshaws is fascinating because it marks the characters for the rest of their lives and the novel. However, their relationships can seem arbitrary and whimsical, creating a non-sense that will eventually end up having terrible consequences.
On the one hand, I liked the novel, although I expected to love it, like I did with Jane Eyre. In my opinion, the problem was the character’s illogical and too passionate behaviour that made no sense most of the time and was in the edge of mental insanity. But that might be the charm of this typically Romantic work, that fits perfectly the movement’s motto sturm und drang (storm and urge). After all, the reader cannot forget the 19th century morals and manners, social restrictions and the terrible isolation that surrounds the setting in the English moors, one of my all time favourites.
On the other hand, the character of Catherine is one of the most interesting ones I’ve ever seen. She is passionate, bad-tempered, spoiled, cruel, loving, shy and terribly proud. She is everything and the reader will love her and hate it with every turn of page. She is complex and, taking into account Victorian codes, a very realistic creation, a victim and also a survivor of her times. Completely opposite, we have Heathcliff: who I still do not know what to think of. His cruelty is too irrational and the reader becomes interestingly accustomed to his bad-doings and revengeful attitude.
So, will I recommend Wuthering Heights? Yes, without a doubt! But I recommend it to anyone who likes Victorian/Romantic literature, because otherwise the too temperamental and passionate tone will tire you to death. If you are already a fan of this period, go ahead and buy a copy, because it is a classic and its intertextuality and re-interpretations have no limits. It’s a cultural and literary landmark.
One last note about the editions: Charlotte Brontë felt her sister’s work was too unorganized and not properly written, so she decided to correct it. However, Penguin has left these corrections besides and have kept the form as close to the original as they could, since the first edition has been lost. I think this is the best choice, because Wuthering Heights was Emily’s novel and not Charlotte’s, so she had no right to correct her late sister’s work.
Have you read it? Is Wuthering Heights your favourite Brontë novel?