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Surprisingly in view of all the suppositious, sentimental mythology in which Emily Bronte has been shrouded for years (more than her name suggests many parallels here with Emily Dickinson) there is nothing of a biographical nature in print. This excellent dual study not only remedies the lacuna but serves as a corrective since as Derek Stanford points out, the earlier hagiographers (particularly Mrs. Gaskell and May Sinclair) were not only ""false baptists"" but indulged in the ""superlative sublime."" Muriel Spark's study of the woman who lived only thirty years, unexceptional ones until the end when she was reincarnated as a ""passionate lonely genius,"" is a very close reading of the contemporary documents ""concurrent with the events""--an audit of what was really a very sparse life until her particularly ""resolute"" death which in itself stimulated all kinds of nonsense. Critic Derek Stanford (Christopher Fry, Dylan Thomas, etc.) has provided the only full length critique of her poems and Wuthering Heights, asseverating that she was not an isolated phenomenon of her time and relating her to both the past and the future. He is, by the way, a stunning stylist and Miss Spark has credentials perhaps unknown to her American audience--she has edited Emily Bronte's poems and the Bronte letters. A fine and necessary contribution.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1966
Publisher: Coward-McCann