Villette: (starbooks Classics Editions) (Paperback)

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Villette is an 1853 novel by Charlotte Bront . After an unspecified family disaster, the protagonist Lucy Snowe travels from England to the fictional French-speaking city of Villette to teach at a girls' school, where she is drawn into adventure and romance. Villette was Charlotte Bront 's fourth novel. It was preceded by the posthumously published The Professor, her first, and then Jane Eyre and Shirley.


Villette is noted not so much for its plot as for its acute tracing of Lucy's psychology. The novel is sometimes celebrated as an exploration of gender roles and repression. In The Madwoman in the Attic, critics Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar have argued that the character of Lucy Snowe is based in part on William Wordsworth's Lucy poems. Gilbert and Gubar emphasise the idea of feminine re-writing. Some critics have explored the issues of Lucy's psychological state in terms of what they call "patriarchal constructs" which form her cultural context.

Villette also explores isolation and cross-cultural conflict in Lucy's attempts to master the French language, as well as conflicts between her English Protestantism and Catholicism. Her denunciation of Catholicism is unsparing: e.g., "God is not with Rome."

Author's background

In 1842 Charlotte Bront , at the age of 26, travelled to Brussels, Belgium, with her sister Emily. There they enrolled in a pensionnat (boarding school) run by M. and Mme. Constantin H ger. In return for board and tuition, Charlotte taught English and Emily taught music.

The sisters' time at the pensionnat was cut short when their aunt, Elizabeth Branwell, died in October 1842. Elizabeth had joined the family to look after the children after the death of their mother.

Charlotte returned, alone, to Brussels in January 1843 to take up a teaching post at the pensionnat. Her second stay in Brussels was not a happy one. She became lonely and homesick, and fell in love with M. H ger, a married man. She finally returned to her family's rectory in Haworth, England, in January 1844.

Bront drew on this source material for her first (albeit unsuccessful) novel The Professor. After several publishers had rejected it, Bront reworked the material and made it the basis of Villette. Most literary historians believe that the character of M. Paul Emanuel is closely based upon that of M. H ger. Furthermore, the character of Graham Bretton is widely acknowledged to have been modelled upon Bront 's publisher, George Murray Smith, who was her suitor at one time .

About the Author

Charlotte Bronte (21 April 1816 - 31 March 1855) was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Bronte sisters who survived into adulthood and whose novels are English literature standards. She wrote Jane Eyre under the pen name Currer Bell.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781497301214
ISBN-10: 1497301211
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: March 10th, 2014
Pages: 596
Language: English