Author: Charlotte Bronte
First Published October 1847 by Smith, Elder and Co.
This Edition: Oxford University Press 1980
Includes: Introduction, Note on the Text, Select Bibliography, A Chronology of Charlotte Bronte, Preface, Volumes I-III (the entire story is told in three volumes), Explanatory Notes
Source: I purchased this edition of Jane Eyre
This book is our book club book of the month for June 2011.
From the cover: Widely regarded as one of the finest novels in the English language, Jane Eyre has also remained on of the most popular.
'Such a strange book! Imagine a novel with a little swarthy governess for heroine, and a middle-aged ruffian for hero', wrote a contemporary reviewer. Charlotte Bronte had concluded that publishers preferred the "wild, wonderful, and thrilling" to the 'plain and homely' when her first novel, The Professor, was rejected. Certainly Jane Eyre contains much that is 'thrilling', and equally certainly it was welcomed by publishers and public alike. The first edition in 1847 was followed by a second and third in quick succession, and had already reached a fifth edition before Mrs Gaskell's Life of the author in 1857 stimulated such an interest that 35, 000 copies of Jane Eyre were printed in two years."
A powerful and gripping 19th century novel, Jane Eyre is still as compelling a read now as it was a century ago. Jane Eyre An Autobiography reads the title page making the reader wonder just who the book is really about. There are striking similarities between the lives of Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte who wrote this novel under the pen name Currer Bell. Both Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre lost their mothers at a young age, both had an aunt help raise them, both went away to school where the conditions were less than adequate, both became teachers, both were governesses, both dreamed of having their own school. There are the similarities. The differences lie in the rest of the story, of which the reader will have to ascertain on their own to avoid spoilers herein.
Bronte has the ability to capture the expanse of the moors, the cold and forbidding atmosphere of Lowood School, and the warmth of Moor House with such vividity that the reader can readily envision the locales, seeing it as Jane surely does. The reader tags along, caught up in the emotions that Bronte so easily provokes. Jane Eyre is certain to be one of those books that one will recall with fondness, time and again, and desire to revisit time and again.
One aspect of Charlotte Bronte's writing that caught my attention, is her frequent reference to the writings of other authors throughout the book of Jane Eyre, which is a lovely way of introducing the reader to the works of other writers. She particularly had a fondness for Shakespeare (Midsummer Night's Dream) and Scott, while quoting often from the bible too. Doing so, Bronte further develops the stage set within the novel and the era thereof. All in all, Bronte's enchantment lingers, the characters of Jane and Rochester remembered fondly, though time passes in the reading. One still looks back in recollection of one of the greatest classics ever written, Jane Eyre's story is timeless.