About burcica@illinois.edu

Graduate Assistant at the Literature & Languages Library

A New Poem by Charlotte Brontë

As the Literatures and Languages Library prepares to celebrate 200-year anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth, we delight in the news that an unknown poem written around the time she authored Jane Eyre was recently discovered. It will enrich the already remarkable collection of the Brontë Parsonage Museum of Haworth, England, being  the last addition to the Brontë juvenilia involving Charlotte, their brother Branwell, and their mother, the owner of the book in which the letter was found carefully folded.

Known as Currer Bell, Charlotte penned many poems, which she and her sisters published in the volume Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (1846), that at the time it sold only two copies. This newly discovered poem, like her entire work, makes us ponder whether to treat her creation through the lens of the personal or to treat women writers the way they were treated by their nineteenth-century contemporaries in an impersonal manner. As Columbia Professor Edward Mendelsohn once said, the reader and the critic alike need to get in touch with their own feelings to understand literature. Charlotte’s poems show her beautifully describing interwoven relationships and emotions among a group of people that only a self-introspective nature could observe and feel. Charlotte’s letters edited by Margaret Smith (The letters of Charlotte Brontë : with a selection of letters by family and friends,1995-2004, vol. 1-3, and an Oxford edition of 2007, available in our library) are all about family and friends and they alone will tell us how she would want us to understand her life and her work.

Our library acquired a new biography of the Brontë sisters The Brontës in Context, edited by Marianne Thormählen (Cambridge 2012), in which of particular interest might be Janet Gezari’s chapter on their poetry. To place Charlotte in particular in the context of her family, society, and her work’s chronology, check our library holding, A Brontë Family Chronology by Edward Chitham (Palgrave, 2003).

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T.S.Eliot – A New Volume of Poetry

The Literatures and Languages Library boasts several new additions in our collection on the works on T.S. Elliott: Gabrielle McIntire (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to ‘The Waste Land’ (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Robert Crawford, Young Eliot: from St. Louis to The Waste Land (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015), and Allyson Booth, Reading The Waste Land from the Bottom Up (Palgrave: 2015). However, the broad public and scholars alike seem to give special attention to a new edited collection of Eliot’s poetry in two volumes  of remarkable scale and erudition:  T. S. Eliot, The Poems (2015) by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue (Faber & Faber, 1344 pp.)

 We read in The Guardian an overwhelmingly positive review, considering the volume as the most fully scrutinized text of his poems, and calling it a monumental achievement rightly so. Because what struck the reader immediately is the fact that, as expected, the notes, textual history, and commentaries outweigh the pages devoted to the poems themselves. Check the review at http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/nov/13/the-poems-of-ts-eliot-annotated-text-christopher-ricks-jim-mccue-review.

T.S. Elliott’s works were annotated anyway despite his express wish that critics not do so. At least Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue published T.S. Eliot’s poems from youth as they were selected by the poet himself. In contrast to the previous scholarship of Eliot’s work focusing on his unorthodox views, Ricks and McCue argue that his poetic art, despite its parsimony, continues to speak across decades into the reader’s present with eminence and collective feel. Not that Eliot’s reputation could ever be maligned given the complex modernity of his poems. As Helen Vendler  mentioned, the mysterious montage, the fragmentation, the incidental symbolism, all mirrored a Western European society broken by the war and reconstruction from 1915 to 1921 when The Waste Land was published (The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar, Essays on Poets and PoetryHarvard, 2015).

Scholars now concern themselves with a new perspective on Eliot’s work, considering the concept of depersonalization inadequate for understanding his poetry and emphasizing instead passion and feelings that abound in most of his work. Ricks and McCue also describe Eliot’s juvenilia poems as containing buried feelings that will resurface in his later poetry.  Thus, shifting the impersonal in his creative acts to the sentimental side in his poems induced a sense of familiarity, strange, enigmatic and full of feelings.

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New Journal: Révue des Études Proustiennes

The Classiques Garnier Publishing House announced the first issue of Révue des Études Proustiennes, a new bi-annual journal devoted to themes and special issues on all aspects of the work of the French author, Marcel Proust. The inaugural issue includes articles by top scholars including Geneviève Henrot Sostero and Florence Lautel-Ribstein. Opening with a chapter on methods, the volume examines titles, semiotics, semantics, orality, lexical challenges in various languages, and intertextuality, and ends with the most complete and up-to-date bibliography of translations of Proust’s works. Current issues can be found in the Literatures and Languages Library’s serial collection in room 200.

The Literatures and Languages Library subscribes to a number of journals on Proust:

The Bulletin Marcel Proust, published by the Society of Marcel Proust’s Friends and Friends from Cambray, whose own review was the predecessor of the Bulletin, may be consulted both in print and online.

From Cambray, let’s move to the Netherlands where the well-known publisher Brill issues Marcel Proust Aujourd’hui, an international bilingual review whose goal is to interest scholars and ordinary readers through thematic and regular issues of the journal. Our library holds all the annual issues since it first appeared in 2003.

The Cahier Marcel Proust is another periodical of importance available in our library. Issued by the famous Gallimard Publisher of Paris, this journal covers the personality and work of Proust for the reader of his novels, the scholar, and the student. The Revue des Lettres Modernes. Marcel Proust was ordered by our librarians for the past decade, and is a useful resource for readers interested in criticism and interpretation.

These journals can either be found in the Literatures and Languages Library’s serial collection in room 200 or in the Proustiana Collection, now located in the center of room 225.

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New Exhibit: Gay and Lesbian Literature: The Early Years

The Literatures and Languages Library celebrates LBGTQ History Month by showcasing the works of some of the foremost gay and lesbian writers. In this new exhibit, Gay and Lesbian Literature: The Early Years, located in the Literatures and Languages Journals area within the Main Reading Room, we peer into the works of early LBGTQ writers, to highlight groundbreaking writings that, in those times, were downright controversial. We get a glimpse into their private world and the broad society in which they lived and wrote, making us to witness transformations that were underway for decades. The exhibit features Anglophone, English, and notable European writers to show the wide range of themes, genres, and literary techniques employed to express an identity that is authentic and self-determined.

In addition to the works featured in our exhibit, the Literatures and Languages Library features a wealth of reference titles and research resources on LGBTQ literature. They include:
Hugh Steven’s work The Cambridge Companion to Gay and Lesbian Writing (Cambridge: New York, 2011)
The Perils of Pedagogy: the Works of John Greyson, edited by Brenda Longfellow, Scott MacKenzie, and Thomas Waugh (Montreal&Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013) 
The American Isherwood edited by James J. Berg and Chris Freeman (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015).
Valery Rohy’s Lost Causes: Narrative, Etiology, and Queer Theory (2015) was just published by Oxford University Press.
The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature edited by E.L. McCallum and Mikko Tuhkanen (New York: Cambridge University Press: 2014). 

Many subject terms are listed in the VuFind Catalog under the field “Topics”, giving users quick access to a wealth of related works. Some key subject headings to use in our catalog searching are Gays in Literature, Homosexuality in Literature, Gays’ Writings – History and Criticism. The result list can be filtered even further by using the “Narrow Your Search” options.

Please check out these Library resources and consult the Literatures and Languages Library staff members for further research assistance on LGBTQ literature and theory.

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