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Look Inside Charlotte Brontë and Sexuality

Charlotte Brontë and Sexuality


  • Date Published: March 1987
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521335874

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About the Authors
  • This book raises fundamental questions about our understanding of Victorian sexuality. Charlotte Brontë was no 'other Victorian' living out a secret life in a sexual underworld, but she did centre her life's work on exploring the complexities of our sexual nature. John Maynard shows how Brontë's early stories and novelettes, written from her teens to young maturity for a private audience of her sisters and brother, deal openly with a 'world below' of consuming passion, adultery, seduction, promiscuity, frigidity and incest. He traces how these themes are incorporated into Brontë's mature published work, where her psychological insight into the complexities of sexual need finds its consummate expression. Brontë's mature novels, especially Jane Eyre and Villette offer an intensely felt but finely realised vision of sexual awakening. They are however, deeply aware of the difficulties that beset sexual experience. Unlike a number of studies, this book stresses the insight, achievement and artistic mastery of Charlotte Brontë, who still challenges us to comprehend the subtleties and complexities of her impressively articulated discourse on sexuality.

    Reviews & endorsements

    'In Charlotte Brontë and Sexuality, John Maynard joins his deep understanding of the social history of the period with a full analysis of the surviving biographical information and Brontë's fiction to show how she was able to 'develop an art that examines fully the complexities of sexual experience' that justified 'the sexual life against prudes and sceptics alike' .' Donald H. Reiman, Studies of English Literature

    'Maynard should be particularly commended for arguing against 'the tendency' of Victorianists, in his words, 'to diminish Brontë's work into a mere personal expression of despair over her early traumatic experiences, whether of sexual conflict, or of loss and of rage at her role as a woman in a patriarchal society'. Against this tendency, Maynard seems to offer an admirable alternative when he makes her fiction objectify Brontë's maturing self-awareness.' Nancy Armstrong, Victorian Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 1987
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521335874
    • length: 276 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.41kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: The worlds of Victorian sexuality
    1. Coming of age in the nineteenth century
    2. Charlotte on the couch: the perils of posthumous analysis
    3. Exploring sexuality: life in the world below
    4. Problematics of a sexual success story: The Professor
    5. Sexual awakening in the romance world: Jane Eyre
    6. Brontë and her society: censorship and sexual literature
    7. Women, society and sexuality: Shirley
    8. Complexities of sexual awakening in the realistic world: Villette
    Appendix: The diagnosis of Charlotte Brontë's final illness

  • Author


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