Friday, July 03, 2009

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë

I’ve read five chapters now, and all I can think of is how amazing it is that these Brontë sisters, who grew up in the relative wilds of the English moors, somehow all learned to write with beauty and power. I’m not sure whether this novel will prove to be one of my favorites, but so far it is an orderly and elegantly written story, with interesting characters and a budding plot. Ms. Brontë writes as though she truly loved to write. Her sentences flow with admirable style and grace (even though at times the writing seems to be a bit overdone, as though she was trying to show off, perhaps for her sisters). I particularly enjoyed the use of parallelism, which was certainly one of the most popular stylistic effects in the Victorian age. In sentence after sentence, she sets up parallel structures of adjectives, adverbs, and phrases of all kinds. I wonder: were the sisters taught to write that way? Did their teacher emphasize the importance of balance and symmetry in writing? Whatever the case, it’s certainly present in this, so far, very agreeable novel.

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