Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Celebrating Charlotte Bronte
Or...The Dragon recognizes the best writer to grace our literary world on her birthday

Something miraculous happened April 21, 1816. The author of Jane Eyre was born. I believe that is the greatest book, other than the King James version of the Holy Bible, that has ever been penned. It cannot be beat. Charlotte wrote a number of other pieces over her tragically short, and tragic, lifetime, but Jane Eyre is, in my humble opinion, her crowning achievement. There are passages that stun me even today, after I've read the novel more times than I can count.

It always surprises me when someone says they've not heard of Charlotte or they've not read any of her works. I wonder why our school systems bother teaching the kids to read if they're not going to hand them fine literature to cut their teeth on. But this post isn't meant to be a diatribe on society's failings or lack of school funding. This is going to be a "Charlotte Bronte is Great" post. Let us proceed.

How many of you have read Jane Eyre? Show of hands... Hmm. That's not many. I could give you a synopsis but the plot twist about half-way through the book is so very clever and so very infuriating that I hate to give it away in a synopsis. And the fact that Charlotte proceeds to take the reader off to another plot development, stranding the one you've grown to love...well...I just can't sit here and offer you the story. You have to read it for yourself (unless you've seen the movie -- and several have been made with another due out from England any day now) and see if you don't throw the book across the room in a rage. Lucky for Charlotte she's not here to get the angry e-mails and phone calls from fans demanding quick answers, eh?

But Charlotte wrote some other works that are just as fine. She has this spate of juvenilia that foreshadows Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette, and The Professor (oh, and am I allowed to state in a public forum that I empathize with her on The Professor?). She has a stash of essays she wrote while studying in Brussels that boggle the mind and a collection of poetry from both her "everyday" life and her juvenilia that I recommend for rainy days. Now, she's not the poet that her sisters Emily and Anne were, but some of her verse is soothing and offers insight to this amazing young woman.

Then there are her letters. Charlotte Bronte is my kinda gal. I wish I could have met her because she and I could have been pen pals. I'm almost jealous of Mary Taylor and Elizabeth Gaskell and, above all, Ellen Nussey, who got to correspond with Charlotte on such a regular basis. There's one letter in particular that I want to post today so all you visitors to The Dragon can see how fun and vivacious Charlotte was "in person." I'm copying this from Juliet Barker's The Brontes A Life in Letters, 1997. This is Charlotte writing to her friend Ellen on May 15, 1840. (I wish I'd read it 14 years ago.)

"Do not be over-persuaded to marry a man you can never respect - I do not say love, because, I think, if you can respect a person before marriage, moderate love at least will come after; and as to intense passion, I am convinced that that is no desirable feeling. In the first place, it seldom or never meets with a requital; and, in the second place, if it did, the feeling would be only temporary: it would last the honeymoon, and then, perhaps, give place to disgust, or imdifference, worse perhaps than disgust. Certainly this would be the case on the man's part; and on the woman's - God help her, if she is left to love passionately and alone."

Now those of you who have already read Choices Meant for Gods can see where Amanda Chariss gets some of her notions from, eh? Don't think my main character developed out of thin air... No, I have a great admiration for Charlotte, and I'm very much looking forward to sitting down to tea with her when I get to Heaven someday.

In the meantime, happy birthday to Charlotte Bronte, the greatest writer we ever had on loan from Heaven.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Blogger Jeni said...

You know, as much of a heavy-duty reader I was as a kid, in high school, still try to read a lot now, in all honesty, I don't think I have ever read Jane Eyre and I have no idea why not either. I remember studying about the Bronte sisters in high school English lit but don't recall reading her work. I will have to rectify that. And, if I get a copy of Jane Eyre and find upon beginning to read it, that I DID, in fact already read that piece, it will be a good way to refresh my memory and mind - agreed?

And, I am not even going to touch "ecosystem" with a ten foot pole, at least not today.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Sandy Lender said...

It's one of those re-readable books. Like the Little House on the Prairie books. I used to read through those every summer. Laura rocked, man. ;)

I think I've read the Helen Keller story about 50 times as well... She's got this quote I like a lot: "No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars or sailed to an uncharted island or opened up a new heaven to the human spirit." Isn't that interesting?

Ecosystem messed with ya? Just wait for the entire month of May. Bwuahahahahaha...

Sandy L.
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

12:10 PM  

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