Read Shirley by Charlotte Brontë Lucasta Miller collaborative Jessica Cox Online


Following the tremendous popular success of Jane Eyre, which earned her lifelong notoriety as a moral revolutionary, Charlotte Brontë vowed to write a sweeping social chronicle that focused on "something real and unromantic as Monday morning." Set in the industrializing England of the Napoleonic wars and Luddite revolts of 1811-12, Shirley (1849) is the story of two contraFollowing the tremendous popular success of Jane Eyre, which earned her lifelong notoriety as a moral revolutionary, Charlotte Brontë vowed to write a sweeping social chronicle that focused on "something real and unromantic as Monday morning." Set in the industrializing England of the Napoleonic wars and Luddite revolts of 1811-12, Shirley (1849) is the story of two contrasting heroines. One is the shy Caroline Helstone, who is trapped in the oppressive atmosphere of a Yorkshire rectory and whose bare life symbolizes the plight of single women in the nineteenth century. The other is the vivacious Shirley Keeldar, who inherits a local estate and whose wealth liberates her from convention.A work that combines social commentary with the more private preoccupations of Jane Eyre, Shirley demonstrates the full range of Brontë's literary talent. "Shirley is a revolutionary novel," wrote Brontë biographer Lyndall Gordon. "Shirley follows Jane Eyre as a new exemplar but so much a forerunner of the feminist of the later twentieth century that it is hard to believe in her actual existence in 1811-12. She is a theoretic possibility: what a woman might be if she combined independence and means of her own with intellect. Charlotte Brontë imagined a new form of power, equal to that of men, in a confident young woman [whose] extraordinary freedom has accustomed her to think for herself....Shirley [is] Brontë's most feminist novel."...

Title : Shirley
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780141439860
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 624 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Shirley Reviews

  • Henry Avila
    2019-04-14 04:48

    In the fast changing industrializing England , of 1811-12, from farming to factories, ( the beauty of the green land, clear waters and blue skies, are being destroyed, rapidly, by dark, ugly pollution ) people will have to also, adapt or starve, machines are taking over, sounds familiar ? A bleak future for some, others to prosper, but a hiccup occurs ...Napoleon, a long ruinous, endless war, of 15 years is devastating Yorkshire's trade, embargoes by both France and her arch enemy Britain, in the north of the nation, like the rest of the realm, cause havoc...Robert Moore, the good looking, half -English, his father , and Belgian mother, born in that country in fact, has fled the bloody conflict, across the windy channel, to apparent safety , scraping up a few coins, left by their deceased , respectable parents, building a wool mill, there, he has an older, plain, good heart sister, Hortense, living with him, and a younger, even more plainer, but quite intelligent, poor brother , Mr.Louis, a tutor, to a faraway wealthy family . Mr.Robert Moore, 30, is very ambitious, some says ruthless man, firing many employees, and replacing them with a machine, trouble follows, as in much of the nation, angry rioters called the Luddites, former mill workers, have been wrecking the new , detested machines, threatening to kill the his small village, the foreigner, Robert, almost bankrupt, is hated, and a constant, uneasy feeling of menacing violence, permeates the area. The handsome Mr. Moore, has female admirers, delicate, lovely, Caroline Helstone, raised by a stern, but not unkind parson, an uncle , Rev. Matthewston Helstone, and rich beauty, an orphan, rather proud Shirley Keeldar, she owns the property that the mill stands on, loans Mr. Moore, money to survive the economic difficulties. His brother, Louis, unexpectedly arrives in the village with the family he works for, relatives of Shirley's , and an arrogant uncle, of her's, tries to marry the highly reluctant niece, to an appropriate, financially secure, gentleman, settle all his troubles, the loose ends, the always responsible man has his duties to perform...but things are complicated, Caroline loves Robert, he loves Shirley, or her money, and the penniless Louis, loves Shirley...a rectangle, you can figure out, yourself, how to resolved the confusing situation. Not Charlotte Bronte's best book, ( obviously Jane Eyre is ) but still an interesting peek into the early Nineteenth Century's, Industrial Revolution, the turmoil and deadly effects that happens , in society , to the ordinary people , who could never really fight back, in the place it all began, not so merry England.

  • Aubrey
    2019-04-19 23:52

    ...but I perceive that certain sets of human beings are very apt to maintain that other sets should give up their lives to them and their service, and then they requite them by praise: they call them devoted and virtuous. Is this enough? Is it to live? Is there not a terrible hollowness, mockery, want, craving, in that existence which is given to others, for want of something of your own to bestow it on? I suspect there is. Does virtue lie in abnegation of the self? I do not believe it.This book is long, complicated, and polemical. It is full of numerous characters that are never proclaimed fully evil or utterly good, references that few modern readers would understand without the copious end notes, and bundles of plots weaving in and out of a myriad number of sociocultural subjects. The authors' views are as obvious in her text as the nose on your face; religion, politics, women's rights, you name it, she has something to say about it. Finally, what this all adds up to is not an adventure, nor a history, not even a treatise of various ideas on multifarious subject matters, but a romance, if that. I loved it.If history is both well written and well integrated into an intriguing yet formative fictional piece, I'll eat it up like cake. If characters and plots are sacrificed on the altar of theme and powerful insight, I'm all the happier. If my own personal views are presented in a form eloquent, intelligent, and explicit, better yet augmenting and honing my mind as my eye reads on, yes, I will cling to it in as biased a manner as I please. And, if it tickles my particular brand of humor, I will especially treasure it.Will this book please everyone? No, far from it. The author is far too wrapped within her own thoughts and intentions within these pages, and not even my love blinds me to the emphatic disagreements I had with the book as a result. As these disagreements are few and far between the wonderfully long passages of masterful insight, I don't mind them much. What matters far more to me are many places of brilliance, the brightest of them being the ingenious way with which the author treats gaslighting, that all too common and insidious mechanism that dominates relations between women and men; as if the truth of defining action and reaction lay solely within the latter's power while the former is left to rot in silence.'It is not,' she resumed, much excited, - 'It is not that I hate you; you are a good sort of man: perhaps you mean well in your way; but we cannot suit: we are ever at variance. You annoy me with small meddling, with petty tyranny; you exasperate my temper, and make and keep me passionate. As to your small maxims, your narrow rules, your little prejudices, aversions, dogmas, bundle them off: Mr Sympson - go, offer them a sacrifice to the deity you worship; I'll none of them: I wash my hands of the lot. I walk by another creed, light, faith, and hope, than you.'I'm not surprised Woolf decried Charlotte Brontë within her A Room of One's Own for letting too much anger and indictment creep into her writing. I myself wonder at Brontë's fervent declamations, often uttered by female characters who later on act in complete opposition to their previously stated thoughts and feelings. Seemingly, perhaps, as this sort of idealism rarely results in a happy ending, at least for most suspenders of disbelief. Seemingly, as what matters is that Brontë did indeed pen her insight on paper that later was successfully published. She did exhaust most of her cutting wit and fine tuned psychological scalpel on the matter of women from infant to old maid, but there are men and children, poor and rich, politic and politic that may not be likable but always are true.‘I must read Shakespeare?' 'You must have his spirit before you; you must hear his voice with your mind's ear; you must take some of his soul into yours.''With a view to making me better; is it to operate like a sermon?' 'It is to stir you; to give you new sensations. It is to make you feel your life strongly, not only your virtues, but your vicious, perverse points.’This book achieves exactly that.

  • Magrat Ajostiernos
    2019-04-09 21:46

    La primera parte es muy lenta pero preciosa, la segunda frenética y maravillosa.Creo que se ha convertido en mi libro preferido de Charlotte Brontë ♥

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-03-29 04:07

    Shirley is Charlotte’s sophomore slump. Her Kill Uncle. Her You Shall Know Our Velocity. Her Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. And so on. I don’t care how cute Mr Rochester is, this novel is a deeply vexing mess. Firstly, there are several plotlines and not one has the urge to intersect. The rebelling miners plot launches the novel in tandem with the idle curates poor-versus-rich plot, then dribbles away with the introduction of the second plot: Caroline’s crush on Mr Moore. This plot is soon replaced by the late appearance of Shirley, the most interesting character in the novel, whose bland friendship with Caroline stems the flow of Shirley’s androgynous awesomeness. This too dribbles away with too many pastoral scenes, misplaced polemics, increasingly tedious extended dialogues and domestic trivialities. The novel feels aimless and incompetent without recourse to the tropes of a form (i.e. gothic romance tropes) like Charlotte used in Jane Eyre, so bumbles along at a grinding pace offering succour in all-too-infrequent scenes of tension or conflict between Shirley and others, which soon peter out into dreary ten-page dialogues or ruminations studded with biblical references. I managed up to 392pp, which is three-quarters—if any devotees of this book want to fill me in on the last quarter please do. Disappointing! Next one up: Vilette.

  • Helene Jeppesen
    2019-04-16 02:05

    As you can see from my rating, I was quite disappointed with this novel. However, it wasn't until about 2/3 into it that I realized that this book wasn't going to blow me away, and so I decided to read on till the end. I admit that I had high expectations to this novel since Jane Eyre, a masterpiece by Charlotte Brontë, is amongst my favourites classics. Yet, it is peculiar how Shirley is so different from anything else I've read by Charlotte Brontë. First of all, this novel comes with a very overt narrator who keeps addressing the reader and makes sure to somewhat include the reader in the process of the storytelling. I'm not very fond of that kind of narrator, simply because it takes me out of the fictional illusion that I'm in and reminds me that this is just a story. Second of all, I regret to say that the story behind this novel is very thin and dull. In the beginning, the narrator tells us that the exciting parts are going to be the middle and the end, but getting to those parts I was very much disappointed. As stated earlier, I kept on reading because Charlotte Brontë is after all My favourite of the Brontë sisters, but this novel was certainly a disappointment.

  • Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
    2019-04-17 04:48

    Charlotte Bronte's Shirley is one of the most beautiful, enriching, and satisfying novels that I've read this year. A novel borne from tragedy, Charlotte published Shirley in 1849; and while writing the novel, her brother Branwell died in 1848; followed shortly thereafter by the death of her sister Emily also in 1848; and then, horrifyingly, by her remaining sister, Anne, in 1849. In fact, it is believed that the characters of her two primary female protagonists in the novel, Caroline Helstone and Shirley Keeldar are modeled after her sisters Anne and Emily, respectively. Shirley was Charlotte Bronte's second published novel, following Jane Eyre which was published in 1847.Shirley is not the 'bildungsroman' of a Jane Eyre; nor is it the description of the unrequited feelings of a Lucy Snowe in Charlotte's novel, Villette. Shirley, in my opinion, is a 'romance' (and more than one) within a detailed and descriptive portrayal of Yorkshire society and culture in 1811 and 1812 near the end of the Napoleonic wars and during the period of the Luddite riots in portions of the newly industrialized United Kingdom. This novel is gritty, earthy, hardy and hearty, and fully representative of the Yorkshire men and women of the moor country of northern England.While Shirley is full of the romance and passion of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte serves up her heroines and heroes in a much more realistic and prosaic fashion. Perhaps not so witty, or lyrical, as Austen's, Charlotte's characters are so well described as to be very full of life and passion that I began to palpably experience their fears, anxieties, joys, desires, and sadness. One quickly becomes taken up with the lives and feelings of young Caroline Helstone, her uncle, the Reverend Helstone; Miss Shirley Keeldar, and her mysterious older friend, Mrs. Pryor; the mill-owner, Robert Moore, his sister Hortense, and his older brother, the tutor, Louis Moore. We also meet a collection of somewhat roguish curates, a pair of matronly 'saints,' and some wonderful examples of the hard-working Yorkshire working class folk. This is an equal-opportunity' novel when it comes to characters.As a reader, one might be inclined to feel that the novel starts slowly, and maybe it does; yet, it is necessary. Charlotte Bronte starts setting the scene by carefully and descriptively introducing her characters: the men and women of her imaginary Yorkshire County of Stillborough (or, 'Still'bro'), the clergy, the mill-owners and businessmen, the workers and their families, and the landed gentry all begin to take their proper place as the novel unfolds. After a chapter or two, the novel's plot begins to build, like a storm at sea, with periodic 'rogue waves' containing great drama and pathos combined with the 'lulls' of Ms. Bronte's beautiful descriptions of her character's interactions and experiences with the Yorkshire pastoral, i.e., Caroline's and Shirley's flower gardens; the dells, oak forests, and runs; and the ruins of the abbey in Nunnwood (a great name for a forest with a ruined abbey!). I loved and was intrigued with the novel's contrasting of the darkness or bleakness of the perceived impacts associated with the mechanization of the mills on the Yorkshire business and working class, and the emotional strength, tranquility and serenity gained by the characters in their frequent forays into the countryside and interludes with Nature.The story is told through the use of different literary devices and voices too. Sometimes Charlotte Bronte uses the omniscient third-person narrator; sometimes the first-person introspective or reflective voice is used; and she even uses the journal entries and written word of her characters to tell the story. Knowledge about events and things said, or seen, are sometimes withheld or not shared with the reader. This tends to give the novel a sense of mystery and imparts a very realistic feel, and reflects how information was actually shared and acted upon by men and women during this period. So, in some sense, while Shirley can be perhaps construed as a novel about the different levels of society in a culture, it is clearly also about differences between the sexes, and the men and women living and loving in that same society and culture.In the main, however, the novel really swings back and forth from the perspective of two of fiction's finest female protagonists -- the shy and sensitive Caroline Helstone; and her close friend, the bold and fearless Shirley Keeldar. We watch, with satisfaction, as Caroline becomes more confident and assertive, and as Shirley becomes more settled and less impetuous. The reader is treated to the experience of the growth of their sophisticated relationship and friendship with one another; and we begin to realize the real effect and meaning of their relationship and its impact upon those within their sphere of influence. Conflicts and misunderstandings are made right, and intentions and true feelings are made clear and acted upon. The novel is really about change -- changes in the individuals, changes in relationships, changes in how men and women perceive themselves, and changes in the way of life in a community. It is also about linkages -- linkages of people via relationship and friendship, linkages of couples in love and marriage, even the re-establishment of a relationship long thought lost, and the linkage of the working class with new ways of manufacturing and production.In conclusion though, this novel -- Shirley -- is about love. It is about the power of love, a steadfast love, and an unrepenting love. This is a powerful proto-feminist statement too; unrelenting in its patronage of the value of women in society and in the basic human relationship between a woman and a man. These are women you can admire and respect -- and love.I loved this novel and rank it very high in the pantheon of all of the great books I have read. All I can say is, "Bravo, Ms. Bronte, Bravo!"

  • Sherwood Smith
    2019-03-26 02:46

    Shirley is a not-quite-comfortable hybrid of a romance and an anti-silver fork novel, the latter as assuredly as Thackeray’s trenchantly sarcastic Vanity Fair, which is set during the same period. It is among the first of the industrial novels that demonstrate the desperation of the poor during the beginning of the industrial revolution’s inexorably swift changes. Bronte probably heard accounts from oldsters about troubles when the looms were being replaced by machines, and there was certainly trouble enough during her own time—there is a mid-Victorian flavor, a particularly middle-class outlook on history as well as economics, that doesn’t always accord with Regency accounts of same. For example, Bronte’s insistence that uprisings were always led by wily, unscrupulous outsiders, and not by angry, desperate people themselves.There is also a distinctly early Victorian veneration of Wellington, who in 1811 had a year to go before he attained the double promotion that made him into the hero who strode mightily through all the Bronte kids’ juvenilia antipodal to their various Byronic hero-villains. Alone out of all the Brontes’ published works, Wellington gets his veneration here, a year before his rise to national consciousness and popularity.As for the hybrid nature of the novel, it is also a harbinger of what Trollope and others would soon do in delving into ecclesiastical matters. There are a lot of clergymen of all kinds in this novel, good, bad, and a mix, as there is a lot of church politicking at the village level. Perhaps this preponderance of clergy was prompted by Bronte’s reaction to the horrified reviews of Jane Eyre that so grieved her, with their condemnations of the book’s immorality.Finally, then there is a sympathetic and protracted look into that most risible of figures, old maids—and at the same time, a pungent look at disastrous marriages, and the many reasons why they fail; though the early chapters feature men condemning women for rendering marriage hellish, the entire book breathes in answer from the female point of view.On the first page, the unnamed narrator insists that the book is not a romance, which is only partly true. Robert Moore is certainly not much of a hero, especially to modern audiences as he tramples all over Caroline’s faithful love through most of the book, in favor of his mill. Louis Moore, the secondary hero, doesn’t even enter the novel until well past half-way, and then mostly we hear about him, with a few scenes on stage. But those few scenes are delicious with the wit demonstrated in Jane Eyre, and in both brothers, though we see the Bronte Mark I Byronic hero (none of them could resist), here they are corseted strictly within acceptable Victorian tropes. There is a great deal of humor gleaming here and there, like Dr. Langweilig of the Moravian preachers (Langweilig = boring in German), and many wisecracking asides by the narrator.Even Bronte's insistence that the novel isn't a romance is tongue in cheek. The tropes of early Victorian romance are definitely there—the near-deathbed scene with the rejected heroine pining away, the sudden and dramatic revelation of a long-lost mother, a gunshot wound that renders the hero helpless to be tenderly taken care of, while he remorsefully counts up his sins and arises determined to be a better man to his long-suffering heroine.I think if one regards the novel as one of female agency built around female friendship, then the book’s disparate bits fall into place. Even those old maids gain agency when times are troubled by organizing social welfare to keep the desperately poor from starving. And there is a great deal about female education being crucial to success in life, whether as wives, mothers, managers of estates, or solitary women expected to live in service to others. (Bronte deals with that platitude with justified sarcasm in a laugh-out-loud bit of a scene.)Nor does Bronte forget the servants, many of whom have speaking roles in this novel. Bronte acknowledges the unseen work of servants, for example in disparaging the fine oak drawing room in Shirley Keeldar’s manor for the grim labor it requires of servants, scrubbing with bees-wax laden cloths.“Women read men more truly than men read women. I’ll prove that in a magazine paper some day when I have time, only it’ll never be inserted; it will be ‘declined with thanks’ and left for me at the publisher’s.”At the time this was written, Shirley was a masculine name. The use of it for a heroine signified another strong-willed female (Jane Eyre having previously been published to resounding success), and in that the reader is not disappointed. But the story is less Shirley Keeldar’s than it is Caroline Helstone’s. Some biographers feel that Shirley and Caroline are fictional depictions of Emily and Anne, who both died during Charlotte’s writing of the book. The eponymous Jane had come out of her in one white-hot session (which goes a way to explain the weird structure of the last quarter of the book), but this one took a protracted time to complete, as Charlotte dealt with, and then grieved over, these family deaths.If Caroline and Shirley do represent Anne and Emily, these are vastly idealized depictions. From anything I’ve read, poor Emily was stump-silent in social situations, uncomprehending of much social interaction and unable to deal, much preferring to escape entirely and tramp isolated through the countryside, the wilder the better. The distortions peopling Wuthering Heights, whose wild passions threw the Victorian reading world into a tizzy, indicate a fierce inner world, and a strong will fueling it. I wonder if we glimpse a bit of the real Emily not so much in Shirley’s masterful handling of servants, clergy, gentlemen, and nobles alike, but in her partisanship for every old and ugly dog she met.And in good, plain-spoken, unshakably honorable and moral, retiring and obedient little Caroline, we can see Anne in her silent struggles for faith—a struggle Charlotte would have recently seen in the poetry left behind in her dead sister’s papers. Each sister was given the devoted Byronic hero lover that neither had in real life, and above all is lovingly depicted the ardent and loyal friendship that I suspect does mirror the real bond those sisters shared until the end.

  • Lobstergirl
    2019-04-08 23:05

    The Jew-basket, wow! This book was my introduction to the Jew-basket, and I eagerly await its appearance in other 19th-century British novels. No, it's not a basket full of tiny Jews. Nor is it a basket in which a Jew is lowered into a medieval well to be drowned. The Jew-basket is a basket into which the gentleladies of the neighborhood contribute their knit or sewn household crafts; the basket rests in their house for a month as pin cushions, napkins, baby socks, card-racks, and penis cozies are added to it, then it moves on to the next house. Once the basket is full of Etsy-style tchotchkes, a gentlelady takes it around to the houses of the neighborhood to sell its overpriced contents to menfolk, with the proceeds going to the conversion of the Jews.(No Jews were harmed in the making of this novel. There are no actual Jews in the novel.) However, we can't say the same thing about governesses. Caroline Helstone, one of the novel's two heroines, imagines a future without love or marriage and therefore aspires to be a governess - anything to keep a bored, unchallenged mind busy. Her close friend old Mrs. Pryor, having formerly been a governess, warns her off it with a terrific and fascinating speech: "I was early given to understand that 'as I was not their equal,' so I could not expect 'to have their sympathy.' It was in no sort concealed from me that I was held a 'burden and a restraint in society.' The gentlemen, I found, regarded me as a 'tabooed woman,' to whom 'they were interdicted from granting the usual privileges of the sex,' and yet who 'annoyed them by frequently crossing their path.' The ladies too made it plain that they thought me 'a bore.' The servants, it was signified, 'detested me'; why, I could never clearly comprehend. My pupils, I was told, 'however much they might love me, and how deep soever the interest I might take in them, could not be my friends.' It was intimated that I must 'live alone, and never transgress the invisible but rigid line which established the difference between me and my employers.' My life in this house was sedentary, solitary, constrained, joyless, toilsome. The dreadful crushing of the animal spirits, the ever-prevailing sense of friendlessness and homelessness consequent on this state of things, began ere long to produce mortal effects on my constitution - I sickened. The lady of the house told me coolly I was the victim of 'wounded vanity.' She hinted, that if I did not make an effort to quell my 'ungodly discontent,' to cease 'murmuring against God's appointment,' and to cultivate the profound humility befitting my station, my mind would very likely 'go to pieces' on the rock that wrecked most of my sisterhood - morbid self-esteem - and that I should die an inmate of a lunatic asylum."It's so great that we no longer have any jobs today so alienating.The novel's flaws: it's too long, it starts out very slowly and tediously, the titular character isn't introduced until p. 154, so we really get to know the other heroine, Caroline, much better. There's a tedious plot twist involving Mrs. Pryor that we can see coming two miles away. The socio-historical aspects of the novel (the violent riots against the mill owner Robert Moore) are not well or convincingly integrated with the other plotlines. A major love interest doesn't show up until quite late. Small, unimportant characters are too dwelt-on. We are told, unnecessarily and melodramatically, that a particular child will be dead soon. It doesn't matter, because the child is not a main character and the death is not brought into the narrative. Much of the romance is saccharine. Mr. Sympson is fantastic, though.

  • Dolors
    2019-04-19 01:48

    Maybe the less romantic novel by Charlotte, but her most mature work, an account of the changing times in the early XIXth century.The story follows the lives of four main characters. Miss Helstone, a young woman with no prospects, niece of a Curate in Yorkshire, her serious cousin Mr. Moore, a businessman who struggles to earn his living, Miss Shirley, a spirited heiress of a great fortune and her tutor Mr. Moore's brother, Louis. Being a Brontë's novel though, there's not one, but two romances going on, presented in the most extravagant way and what makes the novel even more compelling is that its characters have flaws and make mistakes and learn their way along the way with the reader.In the end, we find realistic characters who fight to find their position in the world, each in their own way, the story being a faithful portrait of women searching for independence and men challenging the order of the old regime. I think that Charlotte used Shirley and Miss Caroline Helstone to speak her mind in several subjects such as politics or religion and that these two characters, being both so different from each other, were what Charlotte Brontë would have liked to be in her real life. Miss Helsonte, pious, humble and full of patience and good sense, is able to win over her man's heart. Shirley, with her strong character and of independent means, who is bold enough to speak her mind about business and politics with men, manages to marry who she chooses (and I'm sure Charlotte would have liked to be able to do that!!).I could also glimpse Elisabeth Gaskell's influence in this work, the subject of industrialisation reminded me of "North & South" and the story had many similarities about the peripheral characters and the problems they had to deal with.All in all, a rewarding reading with great final chapters which close the novel with a bitter sweet taste. Don't be mistaken though, this is no Jane Eyre, so don't expect accelerated pulse and breathtaking dialogues because you won't find them in here.Some quotations:"I will never be where you would not wish me to be, nor see nor hear what you wish unseen and unheard"" 'Never! We will remember that with what measure we mete it shall be measured unto us, and so we will give no scorn, only affection' ' Which won't satisfy, I warn you of that. Something besides affection - something far stronger, sweeter, warmer - will be demanded one day. Is it there to give?' ""Am I to die without you, or am I to live for you?"

  • Carol Rodríguez
    2019-04-13 06:00

    A riesgo de parecer osada, diría que tras haber leído los cuatro libros de Charlotte Brontë, "Shirley" es el que más me ha gustado (digo esto habiendo leído "Jane Eyre" hace más de diez años y teniendo pendiente una relectura de "Villette" en condiciones diferentes a cuando lo leí la primera vez), siendo el que menos "El profesor". "Shirley" es el claro ejemplo que de existen dos tipos de libros lentos: 1) los lentos en los que no ocurre nada, no te llevan a ningún sitio y son perfectos para aburrirse; 2) los lentos que poquito a poquito te van contando cosas con delicadeza, te van haciendo partícipe de las vidas de los personajes y los paisajes que frecuentan y te van introduciendo de una forma en la historia en la que al final parece que estás dentro del libro y conoces a los personajes de toda la vida. Sobra decir que "Shirley" se encuentra en el segundo grupo.Me gustó y enganchó de principio a fin. Decidí tomármelo con calma y saborearlo y la experiencia ha sido de lo más envolvente y satisfactoria. Además, los personajes están todos perfectamente construidos y, aunque haya algunos que acaben cayendo un poquito mal, están tan bien hechos que precisamente esa maldad que gastan queda de lo más real. No en vano están inspirados en personas reales, conocidos y vecinos de Charlotte. Y entre eso y lo pausado de la narración queda todo de lo más realista.Nuestras dos protagonistas, Caroline y Shirley, son tan opuestas y a la vez se complementan tan bien y son tan buenas amigas que se convierten en dos personajes memorables e inolvidables. Shirley, inspirada en Emily Brontë, es todo carácter, ímpetu y osadía; Caroline (con la que me he sentido más identificada, y no solo por el nombre) es más melancólica, reflexiva, pasa gran parte del libro estancada con su vida y sus sueños. Y cada una tiene algo que aportar a la otra. Ellas dos, con sus personalidades, su carácter y sus reflexiones feministas, son la esencia y la vida de esta novela. Fascinantes.Ha sido un placer leer al fin este libro y compartirlo con dos grandes amigas (Elena y Magrat) en lectura conjunta. Jamás olvidaré nuestras teorías locas, nuestras exaltadas notas de audio con los giros del argumento, los shipeos... Todo ello sin duda ha enriquecido todavía más la experiencia de leer "Shirley". Mi primera gran lectura de 2017.

  • Ayu Palar
    2019-03-27 02:41

    Compared with other novels by Charlotte Bronte, Shirley is the toughest one for me to read. Narrated through third person POV, it is not easy to get acquainted with the novel. Another reason is because there are too many characters to remember. However, it is still a distinguished novel from the Victorian era. It might not be as enjoyable as Jane Eyre yet it is rich in characterizations and theme. The novel is set in Napoleon era, in a village where machinery just enters the society. As we often witness in history books, the invention of machines often caused new social order, or to be exact, social riot. This social setting enriches the theme of Shirley. in fact, it generates the plot, I must admit. The characters in Shirley are not flawless but that makes them more humane. For instance, we might consider Robert Moore one of the heroes here, however he’s not your prince charming. He’s harsh, a bit cruel sometimes and opportunistic. You may not sympathize with him at the beginning, but as his character grows, you will understand why Caroline Helston adores him so much. Even though Bronte never intended to create Shirley as a romance, we cannot misread the romance betwen Caroline who loves Robert who intends to marry Shirley Keeldar for the sake of money. Things get worse when Shirley’s uncle, her guardian, forces her to get married soon to someone superior than her. While actually Shirley falls in love with someone with no fortune! The romance is narrated well; the ending is quite predictable yet we’re not brought to it easily. For me, Charlotte Bronte’s romance is always engaging.With Shirley, Charlotte Bronte proves that she is a master of storytelling.And now, I want to re-read Jane Eyre!

  • Jan-Maat
    2019-04-06 23:46

    This novel was mentioned in The Making of the English Working Class so I read it out of interest for the sociopolitical background (view spoiler)[ not the best cause admittedly, I've wondered wierdly through the world of books I'll admit (hide spoiler)] but didn't enjoy Bronte's treatment of it - sympathetic as she is with the factory owner, though I believe interestingly he is foreign born. Think this is set late in the Napoleonic wars so possibly a rather early industrial novel?Recently saw a television drama of the Bronte's lives, I misunderstood the artistic concept and so was disappointed when the final hour didn't feature one Bronte dying every fifteen minutes. Which as history relates they more or less did. The actress playing Anne Bronte radiated such an intense sweetness and love-ability that I resolved in my heart to read something that the Anne had written (view spoiler)[worse reason for reading books have I hope existed (hide spoiler)] while the actress playing Emily radiated an intense willingness to shove her fist under the nose (view spoiler)[ and then probably more sensitive places (hide spoiler)] of anyone so foolish as to irk her, which was also in its own way very impressive (view spoiler)[ and presumably ensured that she was paid on time and in full (hide spoiler)].

  • Barry Pierce
    2019-03-30 23:05

    Meh. Meh meh meh meh. Meh. What a boring novel. Everything that made Jane Eyre such a masterpiece is completely missing from this novel. What was Charlotte thinking? I don't even think Brontë purists can find any pleasure in this novel. It's empty. It has no heart. The reason why I'm not giving this one-star is because I only give books that I hate one-star. I don't hate this novel, I'm just severely disappointed. People have told me not to get excited about The Professor either so I don't know what to expect from it. Oh Charlotte.

  • Friend the Girl
    2019-04-07 02:49

    Ahh, Shirley . . . I must read this book once a year, because it affects me so profoundly when I do read it. Though the heroine of Shirley is actually named Caroline, and she isn't a swashbuckling dame or a fiery temptress or really even anything remarkable, she makes for a remarkable read and is surrounded by brilliant people and events. It's a chaotic time in England during the height of the Napoleonic Wars and timid Caroline's world is turned upside-down, but the events that really hook me are purely internal. It's a familiar story (at least to me) of watching someone you love slowly turn away from you, and how you must deal with it. Utterly wrenching, yet impossible to stay away from. The best Charlotte Bronte book, in my opinion.

  • Dagio_maya
    2019-04-21 02:56

    Lei, lui, l’altra e le pance vuote...Immagino che come le "vittoriane" signorine dei suoi romanzi anche CB stessa si sia dedicata alle poche attività considerate decorose per una donna: prima tra tutte, l’arte del ricamo da esibire nei salotti mentre gli uomini si sbizzarrivano nelle conversazioni; l’uso della lingua francese, poi, per dare quel tocco di eleganza e raffinatezza e, infine, l'espressione artistica che a scelta tra il canto ed il disegno. Sia in “Jane Eyre” sia in “Shirley” sono evidenti i frutti di queste competenze: sono storie che come nel ricamo (quando è ben fatto) hanno una trama che regge tutto l’ordito intrecciando luoghi, persone, episodi e particolari fino a far apparire il disegno nel suo insieme. Il tutto è concepito con garbo anche quando la scrittrice prende direttamente per il colletto il lettore e lancia la sua invettiva contro i signori uomini. Ciò in cui, tuttavia, CB dimostra tutta la sua arte è sia la costruzione delle atmosfere in cui sono calati i personaggi sia la psicologia stessa di questi. Un’arte non solo descrittiva ma un vero e proprio affondo che rende di particolare spessore la scenografia della storia raccontata.Pubblicato nel 1849, “Shirley” è un romanzo che ruota attorno a tre personaggi principali: Caroline Helstone, orfana dotata di dolcezza e intelligenza ma priva di quella forza di carattere che, invece, è determinante per l’altra protagonista femminile, ossia, Shirley Keeldar, la giovane e audace ereditiera che come un vittorioso vessillo si guadagna l’onore di titolare l’opera. L’altro protagonista è un uomo: Mr Robert Gérard Moore,giovane imprenditore belga tornato nella patria di origine per ristabilire l’azienda tessile di famiglia.Fin dalle prime righe CB si rivolge direttamente al lettore e lo fa innanzitutto con un’ammonizione che in breve avverte di non aspettarsi una storia romantica e sdolcinata:” Se da questo preludio, lettore, pensi che ti si ammannisca qualcosa di romantico... ebbene, non ti sei sbagliato di più! Pregusti sentimentalismo, poesia, sogni a occhi aperti? Ti vai immaginando passione, emozione e melodramma? Calmati e riporta le tue speranze a un livello inferiore. Ti sta davanti qualcosa di assai concreto, di freddo e solido. E di così poco romantico come può esserlo un lunedì mattina per chi va a lavorare e si sveglia con la coscienza di dover uscir dal letto e per giunta anche di casa.”Annunciato, pertanto, come romanzo storico/sociale prende, in effetti, l’avvio dal contesto della Rivoluzione Industriale. La cornice in cui si muovono i personaggi della cittadina di Briarfield e dintorni (Yorkshire) è determinata, da una parte, dall’introduzione delle macchine di produzione con le note conseguenze, dall’altra, da un’Europa sottosopra a causa delle guerre napoleoniche.Se nei campi di battaglia, tuttavia, sono le vite dei soldati ad essere messe in gioco, nei territori non direttamente convolti dalle armi si ripercuotono decisioni ben altrettanto nocive: sono le prese di posizione che riguardano l’economia, ossia quel motore primo che decide le sorti di popoli e nazioni. Nello specifico furono emanati dei provvedimenti dettiOrders in Council: in risposta al blocco operato dai francesi sul commercio britannico, la Gran Bretagna decretò il controblocco, che di fatto impediva alle potenze continentali il commercio con i francesi e i loro alleati. Tutto ciò portò alla paralisi del commercio, la crescita della disoccupazione, la miseria e lo scontento che si univano alla protesta contro le macchine (luddismo).Insomma non il periodo adatto per il romanticismo!Dunque la cornice c’è ma Cb probabilmente non aveva gli strumenti (e con ciò intendo la maturità politica) per realizzare un vero romanzo sociale. Ne esce un ritratto distorto dove le ribellioni degli operai sono opera di ubriaconi brutti, sporchi e cattivi che hanno portato sulla cattiva strada dei bravi padri di famiglia trascinati solo per disperazione. Il ritratto sociale dipinge bene la -sempre più- marcata divisione di classe che tiene in ostaggio la società, cristallizzando ruoli e costruendo confini che sembrano invalicabili. E poi c’è il buonismo di matrice cristiana che tende la mano al povero non per portarlo al di qua della staccionata perché non ci sono intenti di parificazione ma è quella carità che lava le coscienze e assolve dal peccato di menefreghismo.L’epoca vittoriana comunque era anche questo: l’essere catapultati nell’era delle macchine, affacciarsi a quella potenza propulsiva con tutte le sue potenzialità distruttrici e al tempo stesso creatrici spaventava, annichiliva e faceva sì che si stringessero ancor più le catene al passato e alla sua morale soffocante sì ma confortante come tutto ciò che è già noto.Shirley si sorprende che il popolo sofferente si rivolti. Ohibò!! Da dove arriva tutto quell’odio?Si prova pena per Il povero che soffre?Sì, ma che lo faccia in silenzio (Suvvia!! Un po’ d’orgoglio no?) circondato dai pargoletti con le pance gonfie di aria e il sorriso spento. Ecco, ad un soggetto così si può tendere una mano (salvo poi ritirarla al momento giusto) e gettare un tozzo di pane. Se il povero, però, alza la voce (seppur stia reclamando un diritto e non un privilegio) quello fa inorridire: «Ma come si permette?!». La disperazione, si sa, fa alzare il tiro e tante volte il braccio: si spaccano le macchine per fermare quel progresso incalzante e difendere la dignità di uomini e lavoratori.In realtà, quello in cui riesce meglio Cb è la rivendicazione dei diritti delle donne ad essere riconosciute nella loro dignità:”Uomini d’Inghilterra! Guardate le vostre povere ragazze, molte delle quali vi appassiscono intorno, deperiscono o se ne vanno pian piano per consunzione o, quel che è forse peggio, degenerano in vecchie zitelle inacidite, invidiose, maldicenti e infelici, perché la loro vita è un deserto. Oppure, e questo è peggio di tutto, si riducono a lottare, con immodesta civetteria e avvilenti artifici, per la conquista dell’importanza e della posizione che viene dal matrimonio ed è negata alle nubili. Padri! Non potete cambiare le cose? Forse non tutte in una volta, ma considerate bene l’argomento, almeno quando vi viene messo davanti; accoglietelo come tema degno di meditazione; non liquidatelo con vana beffa o con insulti indegni di un uomo. Dovreste voler essere orgogliosi delle vostre figlie e non essere costretti ad arrossire. Cercate per loro un interesse, dunque, un’occupazione che le sollevi al di sopra delle civetterie, delle manovre, dei pettegolezzi seminatori di zizzania. Tenetele in schiavitù e in ristrettezza di vedute, ed esse saranno per voi una preoccupazione, fors’anche una disgrazia, una pestilenza. Coltivate le loro menti, date uno scopo alla loro vita, un lavoro, ed esse saranno le gaie compagne dei giorni lieti, tenere infermiere nelle vostre malattie, sostegno della vostra vecchiaia!”.Mentre in Jane Eyre trasuda passione, forza, voglia di riscatto per tutte le donne, qui c’è scissione: da una parte Caroline sentimentale all’estremo quasi una creatura proto dickensiana; dall’altra, Shirley impastata di testarda forza ed una saggezza che sfiora un’inverosimile preveggenza. Due differenti femminilità.La domanda per tutti è, però, una sola: chi è veramente felice? E’ felice chi ha più soldi o chi è innamorato e felicemente ricambiato?(view spoiler)[ Il finale ci risponde che è il reciproco amore di due anime affini l’unica vera felicità. E così Cb chiude un cerchio in contradicendo le sue stesse premesse. Con un finale del genere come possiamo non pensare al romanticismo?(hide spoiler)]Un romanzo che, tutto sommato, si legge piacevolmente ma non da collocare tra "gli indimenticabili"

  • Sanaa
    2019-03-23 23:41

    [3.5 Stars]

  • El
    2019-04-22 22:05

    Favorite tidbit while reading this book: Shirley was largely a male name until this book's publication, at which time more baby girls were given the name. Good job, Charlotte, you changed like... everything.Shirley's father wanted a boy, didn't get one, so the next best thing was for him to name his new baby chick a boy's name. Which leads me then to wonder if Shirley (as a female character's name) is sort of meant to denote she was a tomboy, kind of like Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. In any case, Shirley wasn't so much a tomboy (I don't remember her climbing any trees) but she was most certainly far advanced in her thinking for the time period. We're talking 1811/1812, Napoleonic War and the War of 1812 times. Not only does the book deal heavily with the industrial revolution that came as a result of said wars, Shirley herself was what many would consider rather feminist. She wasn't so much a fan of the way women were treated, and it's likely that this was how Charlotte felt as well. (Remember she and her sisters had to publish under male pseudonyms in order for their books to receive any sort of attention.)This book was more of a vehicle for Bronte to share her own thoughts on society, women, work, money, and whatever else. Shirley would go on these rants that after awhile made me wonder what she was ranting about to begin with because they tended to go on for a while. Though I do appreciate a good rant, sometimes in my literature I feel it can be a little preachy at times.But Bronte covered a lot of important ground here, and I respect it for that. I wanted to like this more, but that's exactly how I felt when I read Jane Eyre as well. I'm beginning to think the Brontes aren't quite for me - I had issues with sis Emily's Wuthering Heights - right now I'd say that Anne's Tenant of Wildfell Hall was my favorite, and that certainly was not without fault. I just felt it was more of a solid read - even when it branched out into preachiness.I hear Villette is another good one of Charlotte's, so I will read that before throwing in the towel.Whatever. I should have written this review when I finished the book.

  • Melissa Lenhardt
    2019-03-25 01:04

    I did not like Shirley.That could be my entire review. After reading a novel that was at least 200 pages too long, it probably should be. Because it is late and I am not feeling too charitable towards Charlotte Bronte I will make this brief.There were many things I disliked about Shirley (★★) but the one thing that I did like was the character of Shirley. Where Shirley was lively and engaging, the other characters were dull, overwrought and over described. I may be in the minority but I think it is a huge problem if the eponymous character does not show up in your story until page 187. Once she did show up she gave everything a much needed jolt of life, including this reader. Honestly, I can’t believe I made it to page 187. I was very close many times to abandoning the book. I didn’t but I can’t say that I’m glad I didn’t.After reading the brilliance of Anne Bronte’ masterpiece, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Shirley read like an author trying too hard. I should give Charlotte some slack since she lost her three siblings while writing Shirley (including Anne, *sniff*) but I cannot. Especially after learning that Charlotte repressed Anne’s work after she died. It infuriates me that Charlotte and Emily are well-know two hundred years later while Anne, who had much more to say and said it much better, was silenced. I admit I am biased against Charlotte because of it. I cannot help it.Even if I did not have that prejudice I would not like Shirley. The language was pedantic, the characters annoying and the storyline meandered around searching for a social cause to champion. Unlike Bronte’s contemporary, Elizabeth Gaskell, who wrote brilliant novels about industrialization and the subsequent social struggles, it seems obvious that Bronte had no real experience or knowledge of the lower classes, only what she read in the newspaper. Even without first hand knowledge a writer of Charlotte Bronte’s caliber (at least the caliber she thought she was) should have been able to make her point eloquently. If she had a social point to make, I missed it. Or maybe after slogging through 600 pages I didn’t care.

  • Derek Davis
    2019-03-26 01:51

    It's not exactly a novel in the usual 19th century sense. It pretty much lacks plot, changes direction several times, loses track of characters, runs on way too long and is used as a platform for a platter-load of mini-essays. And the title character first appears on page 274. So why 5 stars? Because it may be the most beautifully written work I've read. Every word is exactly chosen, exactly placed and adds to the cumulative effect of its sentence and paragraph. This may sound too precious or contrived, but for me at least–not so. What little I've read of Jane Austen has tended to annoy me. She's arch, distanced from her characters and on some level doesn't like most of them. Bronte, by contrast, can lambast a character with withering sarcasm and skewering satire, then go on to show that she has an abiding fondness for their inner being.Something I didn't know previously: "Shirley" was originally a man's name, which Bronte deliberately gave to an extremely strong female character. She was making a point here, and made it so successfully that the novel actually changed the gender of the name from that time. Caroline is the heroine of the first 273 pages, and was probably intended to be the major character throughout, but Shirley, once introduced, took over. Robert, Caroline's idolized cousin and overburdened mill-owner, starts off rather unlikable but ends up ... well, until the last section he's pretty much ignored, shoved into the background. When he returns, the last 100 pages or so drag with a succession of gorgeously written but over-the-top romantic dialogues among Caroline, Robert, Shirley and Robert's brother. You could put it down at this point – you know how it's going to end. Early social commentary - brilliant stuff, by the way; Bronte's little essays on society, class structure and war rank with anything out there - peters out, and what looks like exploding class struggle over the mill fizzles out like a damp fire cracker. Yes, structurally it's a mess. But what a magnificent mess.

  • Daniella
    2019-03-26 22:40

    This book was extremely hard to rate because I appreciated it more than I enjoyed reading it.The novel itself was extremely drawn out and dry, and despite it's important themes, it didn't have a heart. Or even...a genre. I mean it has more commentary on romance than actual romance and it strays too much from the initial Luddite issues for me to really consider it a true historical. It was more like a character study of the main two women, one of which we didnt even meet until 150 or so pages in. And that may have worked back then (even though it didn't really...this book was met by a very muted response in its time), but I don't think many people would have the patience to read this if they weren't forced to. To be honest, if i hadnt started picturing myself as Caroline and Oscar Isaac as Robert, I wouldn't have gotten even 50 percent through. Even so, once robert started showing up less and less...I turned to the chapter summaries from my professor for the last half (that half, thankfully, was more "fast paced") instead of reading it fully through myself.HOWEVER, this novel shouldn't be ignored. It is EXTREMELY feminist and it's unfortunate that it lacked plot because I think the main heroines could've been iconic if the story had been engaging. Because guys, we have WOMEN BEST FRIENDS in a novel written in 1849. Not only that, but women don't attack other women, they lift each other up. CRAZINESS. I mean these girls attack how they are viewed by men, the role of a typical lady, the concept of marriage, THE TROPES OF WOMEN. This was also feminist from a different angle. In the 17th centuries, women were very much patronized as simpletons who couldn't possibly understand male issues. So Charlotte Bronte was like "fuck you men" and anchored this book in a very real male problem that was happening in that time. The whole matter of Luddites and new technology. UNFORTUNATELY those sections were boring as hell and I skimmed them. But it's really important to recognize why they were in the story rather than just writing them off as boring, which is what I did initially and later corrected.All and all, I don't think a story can be successful from JUST being a feminist novel. At least for a reader now, a book has to have a plot to be engaging, and I wouldn't say this book has much of that. And as extremely important as this book is, it's an absolute headache to read and I wouldn't recommend anyone pick it up unless they were a hardcore Bronte fan. That being said, I will definitely be picking up Jane Eyre sometime because I think that one might actually get five stars from me. But this one I would have to give a 2.5/5.

  • SarahC
    2019-04-16 22:41

    The novel Shirley was a pleasant addition to my reading this winter. I love the British novel, but I especially love the one that is little-known to me and takes me by surprise. I must admit that after reading last year and being once again blown away (in spite of past readings) by Emily's Wuthering Heights, I had not felt emotionally ready to tackle another Bronte novel. So glad I did this time though, because it was exactly what I needed this winter. Shirley is so different from Jane Eyre, an eternal favorite of mine. (Jane Eyre was a novel I went to as a young girl to reassure myself that some people out there somewhere, sometime, WERE in love and it mattered, and the sacrifices mattered. Didn't we all need that in our 20's?) With Shirley, once again Charlotte Bronte's clear, amazing voice sounds out social conflict during the earlier time period of the Napoleonic wars in England. She describes the socio-economic conflict of skilled factory workers, factory owners, and the trade environment caused by the wars. Within this setting, she describes the people of a set of rural estates and focuses on two young women and their struggles to find their place in life.In light of criticism out there that Bronte did not complete the job of portraying the social conflicts as they truly were or of making her women characters heroic enough, I must say that I disagree. I read the novel for what it did provide and found it very rich. The words of the main characters ring out very clearly in my mind what the inner workings of women's thoughts may have been at this early time. Bronte best speaks for women cloistered in some way- by strict upbringing, social rules, denial of occupation or skills, and by expectations -- and relates them in ways I very much still understand in the 21st century. I feel it would be hard to deny that the female characters felt themselves quite equal to the men they were matched with in this story. They suffered from their conflicts and emotions, but maintained their self-value. I think this is a message in the story that should not be overlooked.I highly recommend this novel to be added to your Bronte collection.

  • Hugo
    2019-04-10 22:59

    Shirley foi o segundo livro escrito por Charlotte, publicado em 1849 e mais uma vez sob o pseudónimo Currer Bell. A narrativa passa-se entre 1811 e 1812, um período negro da história do Reino Unido, marcado pelos confrontos com Napoleão e com os Estados Unidos. Robert Moore é um industrial do ramo têxtil que espera o transporte de novas máquinas para a sua fábrica que vão não só diminuir a mão-de-obra necessária, mas também aumentar os níveis de produção. Esta notícia não é de todo bem recebida pelo povo que vivia então em condições de pobreza extrema. No entanto, Moore não cede aos pedidos de benevolência que lhe são dirigidos, a fábrica é a razão da sua existência, pernoitando lá várias vezes para a defender dos motins. A próxima personagem principal apresentada, Caroline, prima de Robert Moore, é uma jovem bonita de espírito sensível que, não possuindo ela muitos bens, faz o que pode pelos mais necessitados. Está também profundamente apaixonada por Robert. Shirley aparece finalmente com o primeiro terço do livro lido. O contraste com Caroline é notório, Shirley é arrebatadora, tanto pela sua beleza, como pelas convicções firmes, franqueza e insubmissão. Muitos poderão achar o final demasiado conveniente e pouco surpreendente, especialmente quando comparado a Jane Eyre e os seus dois personagens inesquecíveis mas, à semelhança desse outro, quando cheguei ao fim deste livro, percebi que iria sentir a falta destes personagens e, na ânsia de poder prolongar um pouco essa convivência, fui procurar uma adaptação para cinema ou televisão e descobri que infelizmente não existe nenhuma... Como é possível?

  • (P)Ila
    2019-04-11 21:39

    Shirley, terzo romanzo dell'autrice inglese Charlotte Bronte se consideriamo che Il professore venne scritto prima ancora di Jane Eyre, è stato per me quanto di più lontano potessi immaginare: questa frase non so ancora adesso, a distanza di qualche giorno da fine lettura, se abbia più una connotazione positiva oppure negativa.Il fatto che il libro rientri nel genere "romanzo sociale" mi fa propendere verso la seconda: mi spiego meglio, per quanto ami quest'autrice non posso non essere giusta e ammettere che è proprio quella parte sociale a non aver funzionato. Ad inizio lettura lessi, non ricordo dove, un articolo in cui uno storico italiano spiegò come Charlotte Bronte in questo romanzo fosse riuscita a raccontare la rivoluzione industriale meglio di Charles Dickens; ora non è assolutamente mia intenzione comparare i due autori inglese ma solo spiegare il mio punto di vista in merito alla questione: credo che ogni autore abbia un suo punto di forza, chi più chi meno, e credo senza dubbio che quello della Bronte non sia stato certo il contesto sociale.Purtroppo la prima parte, una lunghissima prima parte dedicata quasi interamente a questo aspetto, risente molto del problema: le pagine non scorrono, a volte sono confuse, spesso lo svolgimento della trama annoia e ogni singolo personaggio presentato non colpisce per qualità positive, ci sono talmente tante cose che non vanno che spesso non sono riuscita neanche a rimanere incantata dallo stile che amo di quest'autrice. Forse il problema è che la Bronte avrebbe voluto sviluppare equamente così tanti temi che alla fine ne è uscito un mezzo minestrone, la sensazione è quella che ci sia troppo (luddismo, guerre napoleoniche, lotta fra classi sociali, condizione femminile, riforma religiosa) e che venga a mancare una certa armonia complessiva.Questo almeno fino a quando fa la sua comparsa Shirley.Perchè bisogna ammettere che se nella prima parte, oltre ai vari curati, ci vengono presentati solo Caroline e Mr. Moore e lo svolgimento della storia va a rilento, appena la personalità di spicco del romanzo ci viene presentata le cose migliorano e l'intreccio finalmente si sviluppa.Ma prima di parlare di Shirley devo spendere qualche parolina sulla co-protagonista del libro, Caroline: è la figura femminile che viene presentata per prima e devo dire anche quella che ha catturato maggiormente i miei sentimenti; nonostante abbia tutti quei pregi che possono farla risultare talmente perfetta da essere irreale, in realtà anche lei non è priva di qualche difettuccio, è carina, sempre gentile, educata, e mossa sempre da buoni propositi ma è talmente timida da risultare spesso schiva, e spesso poco coraggiosa nel mostrarsi o nel dire la propria, vero anche che l'amore per Mr. Moore la rende ai miei occhi un po' troppo zerbino ma il suo sentimento è talmente forte che si perdona facilmente.Shirley ne è praticamente l'opposto: forte e ribelle, sempre con la battuta pronta, testarda e molto orgogliosa, è la figura femminile che credo affascini la maggior parte dei lettori anche perchè i suoi difetti si mostrano in varie occasioni e la rendono più reale, devo ammettere però che io non ho particolarmente a cuore questo personaggio: quello che mi ha infastidito di più è l'atteggiamento che assume nei confronti di Caroline e del suo sentimento per Mr. Moore, non mi è piaciuto il tono di certe frasi, sembra quasi che voglia sminuire un sentimento e a tratti sembra quasi che lo faccia per averne indietro qualcosa, certo voi mi direte lei è quella che rappresenta una sperata indipendenza femminile ma io risponderei che è facile esserlo quando si è una ricca ereditiera...Per concludere, qualche parolina per Mr. Moore la devo proprio dire perchè purtroppo non siamo di fronte ad un protagonista maschile di tutto rispetto, è un personaggio che non affascina una lettrice e ancor meno una lettrice che ha fatto la conoscenza di Mr. Rochester. A parte le battute, Robert purtroppo non ha nulla che attiri simpatia, è orgoglioso e, se vogliamo essere del tutto sinceri, un pochino vigliacco, è caparbio sì ma per quello che mi riguarda troppo razionale e interessato al guadagno, il suo riscatto arriverà solo nel momento in cui sarà preda dello sconforto.Tra questi tre personaggi, che sono il fulcro del racconto, ce ne sono poi altri mille, alcuni sono davvero piccole macchiette che compaiono e vengono presto dimenticati, altri sono un po' più presenti e altri ancora meritano sicuramente una menzione: tra questi ci sono Mr. Helstone, lo zio freddo e cinico di Caroline, Mrs. Pryor, la dama di compagnia di Shirley che si rivelerà una vera sorpresa, Mrs. Moore, la sorella spesso indispettita di Robert ma soprattutto Louis Moore, il personaggio maschile che in poco più di cento pagine ha sciolto il mio cuore, un emblema di virilità e intelligenza.Forse può sembrare che il mio voto finale non coincida pienamente con le mie iniziali parole ma tralasciando quella parte ho trovato Shirley un ottimo romanzo e la seconda parte mi ha conquistata. Sicuramente colpita dagli eventi che hanno traumatizzato quel periodo della sua esistenza, Charlotte Bronte ritorna così a fare quello che sapeva fare meglio, ad analizzare i sentimenti ed ecco che tralascia un po' la parte storica e dedica meno pagine alla rivoluzione, secondo me le giuste pagine, e si focalizza sulla storia dei personaggi; ed è così che le sensazioni di morte e di solitudine prendono il sopravvento sulla scrittrice, è come se lei si abbandonasse a noi e attraverso le parole di un narratore onnisciente si rivelasse con le sue angosce e il suo dolore.Ma non solo per questo perchè una parte fondamentale è dedicata alla lotta tra le classi sociali, senza dimenticare che l'intreccio verrà rinfrescato anche da alcuni colpi di scena originali e impensabili, ma soprattutto alla figura della donna: ho particolarmente apprezzato questo dettaglio, sia attraverso la figura di Caroline che, forse per il motivo sbagliato, vorrebbe fuggire e crearsi un'indipendenza economica sia attraverso le parole e i gesti di una Shirley molto più risoluta e determinata che fa della sua posizione sociale un'arma per combattere per i propri diritti e scegliersi da sola il proprio futuro. In proposito c'è un passo magnifico uscito proprio dalle labbra di quest'ultima (o forse dell'autrice?):"Gli uomini si illudono che il cervello delle donne sia un po' come quello dei bambini. E qui sta l'errore......Se gli uomini potessero vederci come realmente siamo, sarebbero alquanto sorpresi. Ma anche il più intelligente, il più perspicace tra loro, spesso si illude, riguardo alle donne...Non le vedono nella loro vera luce, le fraintendono, sia nel bene sua nel male. Pr gli uomini la donna buona è una strana cosa: Metà bambola e metà angelo; la donna malvagia è quasi sempre una specie di demonio. E li senti estasiati, in adorazione dell'eroina creata dalla loro stessa fantasia in un romanzo, in un dramma o in un immaginano bella, perfetta, divina! Può darsi, ma è artificiale...."Questo è quello che Shirley ha scaturito in me: non è un romanzo perfetto, è un libro che vorrebbe essere tante e forse troppe cose, la cui poca chiarezza iniziale ha influito sul giudizio complessivo e la cui bellezza forse si poteva cogliere molto prima ma resta comunque un'opera più che degna di un'autrice che con lo stile e i sentimenti ha creato pura poesia.

  • TheSkepticalReader
    2019-04-04 05:49


  • Garythe Bookworm
    2019-04-04 00:08

    Charlotte Bronte famously described Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in these words: "a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers." She later wrote this about Austen after reading Emma: "She does her business of delineating the surface of the lives of genteel English people curiously well; there is a Chinese fidelity, a miniature delicacy in the painting: she ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him by nothing profound." Clearly, Miss Bronte had more than a few misgivings about Miss Austen's lauded literary output. No one could accuse any of the Brontes of failing to embrace the dark and wild side of human nature: the tempestuous world of their beloved Yorkshire moors shaped their sensibilities about life and literature. After the extraordinary success of Jane Eyre, Charlotte embarked on a vastly different journey in her second novel, choosing Austen's favorite topic, a social comedy about manners and matrimony. It's as if she took Austen's dictum to write about "three or four families in a country village" and shot it full of steroids. Whereas Austen avoided war, politics, poverty or the travails of the working poor, Bronte actively explored how they impacted the lives of her characters. She described in exquisite detail the clothes they wore, the food they ate, the views they encountered on their walks, the rooms they sat in and all of life's mundane minutiae. Her comic sketches are priceless: she wasn't afraid to skewer pomposity wherever it lurked and her timing and attention to detail rival anything written subsequently by Charles Dickens.As I came to know Shirley, I couldn't help comparing her to Austen's Emma: both were headstrong heiresses who weren't timid about defying conventional norms, primarily because marriage for them was a choice, not a necessity. Like Austen's novels, this one is set in Regency England, but unlike Austen, Bronte demonstrated a keen awareness of the political and social upheavals of that Era. The Luddite Movement, the Napoleonic Wars, the schisms of religious sectarianism are fodder for her as she developed her plot around volatile Shirley, her less temperamental companion, Caroline, and their romantic pursuits. The differences in their personalities made me think of the elder Dashwood sisters, Marianne and Eleanor from Austen's Sense and SensibilityShirley is remarkable. Prior to its publication, Shirley was a not very popular name for boys. After the novel's success, it became a name exclusively for females. The Brontes' early works were all published under male aliases. Charlotte playfully demolished this false reality, by having her character display various masculine impersonations, as she explored marital possibilities. Like Emma, Shirley was attracted to a man who was older, more worldly and better educated than she, and like Emma's Mr Knightly, her husband demonstrated sufficient wisdom to tolerate her independence as he lovingly embraced her non-conformity. It is also apparent that Shirley and her husband shared a strong physical attraction for each other. In Austen's "carefully fenced and highly cultivated garden," her stories end with matrimony. For Charlotte Bronte, marriage is just the beginning.

  • Katie Lumsden
    2019-04-02 06:06

    Beautiful, wonderful and atmospheric as Charlotte Brontë always is.

  • Laurel Hicks
    2019-03-30 02:43

    Wellington, Luddites, Milton, Romance, snobbery, strong women—Charlotte Brontë throws them all into this seething pot. It's a book that can't be read slowly.

  • Sherien
    2019-04-24 02:50

    Charlotte Bronte reminds us—readers that Shirley is “…something unromantic as Monday morning” (chapter 1). Well I found it true because I see Shirley more as a social novel than a romance. The social background depicts the Napoleonic War and the industrial depression caused by it. This is where I found hard to get to the core of the book because I do not have a wide knowledge about that historical-social background. Another thing that is hard for me to get through is that this book seems to have two lines of plot, one about the industrial depression, the world of the unemployed workers of the lower classes and their fight and protest towards the invention of machine. Another plot tells the friendship between two women—Shirley and Caroline and their conflicted-romance relationship with two men—Robert and Louis. There are too many characters in this book and I found it hard to get engaged emotionally. Some characters don’t appear until the second half or almost reaching the end of the book. The romance part in this story I consider quite ordinary. A simple twisted relationship with a classic-predictable happy ending.However, it’s still an enjoyable read. I found myself flipping the pages fast because like always, Charlotte Bronte narrates her story with beautiful and powerful language that makes you want to go on and on. Another thing that’s interesting is to see the comparison she portrays between her two strong female characters—Caroline and Shirley. Two women with different temperament, personality, and social status form an emotional bound of friendship. Money and social status is always an issue in the Victorian novels. In this story, we can see how those two factors play an important role in love, marriage, happiness and independence. This is a deep story that needs much concentration.I’ve read The Professor and Jane Eyre and so far I’d have to say that Shirley is much more well-crafted than The Professor but still not as much amazing as Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre touched me deeply and still lingers warmly in my heart and mind until now. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same with Shirley. One question that I have in mind is why Bronte decided to give the title ‘Shirley’, when Shirley does not seem to be the only main character in this story. It is interesting to find that the name ‘Shirley’ used to be a common male name in those days that the author here uses as a female name. (Chapter 11). As we now know, ‘Shirley’ is a more common female name nowadays. Probably she implicitly tries to deliver a strong point on gender equality through her character--Shirley. I know I have to read this book again someday just to get more absorbed deeply. I recommend this to anyone who loves Charlotte Bronte.

  • Marie
    2019-04-03 00:38

    Coming from an obssessive Brontë devotee who has read all of their works, this was the one that I read last. I tried, several times, to read it, but my interest always wained. Having said that, I am thrilled to have finally finished it and was really impressed with Charlottte's attempt at writing in the third person omniscient...her only attept with regard to her novels, though the technique was prevelant in her juvenilia. "Shirley" is set during the Napoleonic war as England is struggling with the class implications of the war and the Industrial Revolution. The opening chapters are slow-going, but despite her claims of the story being "as unromantic as Monday morning", Charlotte does have love, marriage, and class as a central theme - enough of it to satisfy, though not overwhelm, those looking for a romantic Austen-like outcome. The story speeds up around chapter four, but the title character does not make an appearance until 1/3 of the way through the book. This story is especially interesting to Emily Brontë enthusiasts, for the character of Shirley is based upon Emily if she had been "of means and in health". A good tid-bit to know since we are priviledged with so little information regarding Emily. The novel was written during the span of 9 months in which Charlotte lost her brother, Emily, and Anne -- all to tuberculosis. An amazing feat that she was even able to write at all. Not as dramatic or forceful as "Jane Eyre" or "Villette" but much better than the "Professor", "Shirley" is still a good portrayal of the sufferings resulting from the Industrial Revolution and life in the early 19th century in northern England.

  • Em Chainey (Bookowski)
    2019-04-17 04:08

    İngiliz Edebiyatı kadın yazarlarına hayranım. Nitekim C.Bronte benim en sevdiklerimden. Romantik bir roman beklemeyin demiş kendisi ama hele sonlara doğru içim sıcacık oldu. Ama kayalar kadar sert ve puruzlu bir kitap bu kitap. Bir yanda servet sahibi uzlaşılmaz Shirley Keeldar, diğer yanda narin ve guzel Caroline Helstone. Bir yanda fabrika sahibi karizmatik Robert Moore, diğer yanda onun hassas öğretmen kardeşi Louis Moore. Başkaldıran işçiler, eski anılar, İngiltere'nin Sanayileşme zamanları, Fransa ile savaşın yeni bittiği yıllar, gercekci tasvirler ve daha bir dolu güçlü kalem ibareleri... Jane Eyre daha çok ruhuma hitap ediyordu o yüzden 4 yıldız verdim. Bulan kaçırmasın bu kitabı. Sirada Vilette;)