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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Wuthering Heights & The Japanese

So…  a couple of nights ago, I was watching the British history program Walking Through History with Sir Tony Robinson who once upon a time ago played the incomparable Baldric on Black Adder… this time the topic was on a walk about the area where the Brontë sisters compiled their literary gems: Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre… and if there are others, I haven’t heard of them.

But apparently, the Japanese have.

On the Walking Through History episode, Robinson pointed out a directional sign on the English moors written in Japanese.

Every year, thousands of Japanese tourists visit the northern English moors near Haworth where the Brontë family lived, wrote their novels under assumed male names and died horribly and relatively young from tuberculosis.

Now… when I write that thousands of Japanese visit the home… what I really meant was that thousands of Japanese get lost on the moors, as they attempt to cross it to find all of the notable Brontë sites, such as so-and-so may have set upon this stone and watched a small cascading waterfall… or maybe…just maybe… this place was the inspiration for a manor in Wuthering Heights. I’m only slightly kidding. Those are on the tour.

Anyhow… back in 1991, town council erected some 30 signs written in Japanese to help the Brontë fans get around to the sites, and even published a 20-page guide written in Japanese that provides other aid.

I have no idea if this is still current, but… if interested:

The Brontë Society of Japan
President: Nakaoka Hiroshi  (surname first) of Komazawa University
Address: c/o Nakaoka Hiroshi, School of Letters, Komazawa University, 1-23-1, Komazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo 154, Japan
Phone: 03-3418-9250

In Japan, only Brits such as David Beckham and Shakespeare are better known than the Brontë sisters. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are taught in Japanese schools… but I’ll assume it wasn’t in junior high, as my kids only ever asked me about Anne of Green Gables by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Image above shows Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Brontë, painted by their brother Branwell (c. 1834), who later painted himself out of the painting because he didn't want to clutter the image... but really... the dear boy kind of messed up the pretty decent painting. D'oh!

Just call me Heathcliff,
Andrew “I prefer Heath” Joseph
PS: I have never read Jane Eyre, but I did read the novel The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, a keen sci-fi, detective tale. It was very entertaining, but I wonder if it would have been better or worse if I had read the Charlotte Brontë version?

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