Beauvoir remained haunted by the story of her childhood friend Élisabeth Lacoin, a.k.a. “Zaza,” returning in both her memoirs and her fiction to Zaza’s passionate nonconformism, her many gifts, her struggle against the familial and societal obligations that hemmed her in on all sides and her tragic destiny. (She died suddenly, at the age of 21.) There is an ethical, and even political, dimension to Beauvoir’s will to remember this friend, through whose mirror she sought to loosen the silken chains binding them both to outdated ideals of femininity. [...]The real-life Zaza’s love affair with the angel-faced, future phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty — an eminently suitable match, even by the constricting standards of their milieu — was thwarted by her family. She was on the verge of being sent off to Berlin to study for a year, when in a matter of days she developed a raging fever and died. Viral encephalitis, the doctors said. But in Simone’s view, Zaza fell victim to a society bent on killing off whatever was uniquely alive and precious in her.One is reminded of the death of Beth March in “Little Women” (a book Beauvoir read and loved), or of the saintly orphan Helen Burns in “Jane Eyre,” who accepts her fate with quiet dignity, eyes on the prize of the world to come. (Leslie Camhi)
Douglas Stuart: As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCannThe Scottish-American writer — whose heartbreaking semi-autobiographical debut novel Shuggie Bain won the 2020 Booker Prize — has read Maria McCann's 2001 historical novel As Meat Loves Salt at least seven times. [...]Set in the 17th century, the book follows Jacob Cullen, a disgraced servant who seeks redemption as a soldier in the English Civil War. While in service he falls in love with a fellow soldier, with disastrous consequences."This is actually my pure pleasure read. It's a little bit like my Wuthering Heights in that it's a big, sort of romantic, historical book, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it's also an incredibly immersive historical read." (Hannah Reich)
After a long spell of reading nothing but the novels of Murakami, Smith gave some consideration to the way literary masterpieces can be placed in two categories. In her own words, “There are two kinds of masterpieces. There are the classic works, monstrous and divine, like Moby-Dick or Wuthering Heights or Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus. And then there is the type wherein the writer seems to infuse living energy into words as the reader is spun, wrung, and hung out to dry.” (Sam Kemp)
"Wuthering Heights" by Emily BrontëLockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, situated 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. What unfolds is the tale of the intense love between the foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw.Catherine, forced to choose between passionate, tortured Heathcliff and gentle, well-bred Edgar Linton, surrendered to the expectations of her class. As Heathcliff's bitterness and vengeance at his betrayal are visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past.
For some reason, I was expecting the historical drama to be set in the 18th or 19th centuries, around the time of Jane Austen novels like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.It wasn't until the April 1912 title appeared on the screen that I realised the series wasn't set when I thought it was. I have to say this wasn't the first time the opening few minutes took me by surprise. (Daniel Blank)
Brontë Bobbins, West Yorkshire
Only two minutes from Haworth station and the Keighley and Worth Valley Steam Railway, the Brontë Bobbins is a new luxury one-bedroom top-floor apartment in a converted mill. It’s also 15 minutes from the Brontë Parsonage and a four-mile walk from Top Withens, said to be the inspiration for the Earnshaw family home in Wuthering Heights. You should take a book to read. (Chris Haslam)
Also in The Times, a list of coastal walks includes one from Scarborough to Robin Hood’s Bay, which includes a visit to Anne Brontë's grave.