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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

Reading Experience Database UK Historical image of readers
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Lady Kay-Shuttleworth


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Charlotte Bronte : Villette

'The difference between Miss Bronte and me is that she puts all her naughtiness into her books, and I put all my goodness. I am sure that she works off a great deal that is morbid [italics] into [end italics] her writing, and [italics] out [end italics] of her life; and my books are so far better than I am that I often feel ashamed of having written them and as if I were a hypocrite. However I was not going to write of myself but of Villette. I don't agree with you that {it is} one cannot forget that it is a 'written book'. My interpretation of it is this. I believe it to be a very correct account of one part of her life; which is very vivid & distinct in her remembrance, with all the feelings that were called out at that period, forcibly present in her mind whenever she recurs to the recollection of it. I imagine she [italics] could [end italics] not describe it {with} in the manner in which she would pass through it [italics] now [end italics], as her present self; but in looking back upon it all the passions & suffering, & deep despondency of that old time come back upon her. Some of this notion of mine is founded entirely on imagination; but some of it rests on the fact that many times over I recognized incidents of which she had told me as connected with that visit to Brussels. Whatever truth there may be in this conjecture of mine there can be no doubt that the book is wonderfully clever; that it reveals depths in her mind, aye and in her [italics] heart [end italics] too which I doubt if ever any one has fathomed.'

Century: 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Lady Kay-Shuttleworth      Print: Book


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