Tales of Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal: Selected Early Writings

Terry Eagleton writes:

Many authors begin writing in childhood, but that the Brontës did so seems peculiarly apt. There is something childlike about their sensibility, with its merging of fantasy and reality, its mixture of rebelliousness and awe at authority, its blending of submission and self-assertion. Like the Brontës, children can be passionate and impulsive, but they also crave a certain discipline and appreciate the need for order. If they can be anarchic, they can also be brutally authoritarian. They like to know who is in charge, even if it is only to calculate what they can get away with. They can also be violent, and the sisters’ novels are laced with a sometimes murderous aggression. Almost all relationships in their world are power struggles, spiced from time to time with a sadistic delight in making others suffer and a masochistic drive to self-immolation. Charlotte’s Villette is full of such erotic perversities.

(LRB 4 November 2010)