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Determining Wuthering Heights

Ideology, Intertexts, Tradition

María Valero Redondo

Recent criticism on Emily Brontë and her novel has tried to correct the deep-rooted belief that Emily Brontë was a literary "genius" isolated in the moors of Haworth. Indeed, an overview of recent Brontë scholarship indicates that two important critical shifts have lately cropped up: an increasing sociological attention to cultural studies on the one hand and an emphasis on interdisciplinarity. The present book is an unprecedented and groundbreaking study on Wuthering Heights. It detaches itself from the current productive vogue for sociological approaches to narrative texts which has contributed to obscure the focus on anomalous intertextual relations, and prioritizes the literary context over any other biographical, historical, or cultural context. Determining Wuthering Heights postulates a determinate intertextual meaning of Emily Brontë’s novel, enriching its heterogeneity by examining its dialogic relation with previous, contemporary and subsequent texts in order to confirm that Emily Brontë’s novel is not sui generis.

The target audience of the book would be members of the academic community interested in Victorian literature in general (researchers, scholars…) and in Wuthering Heights in particular. However, since Wuthering Heights has become a classic novel which is today read and discussed in universities around the world, the subject may also appeal to students who have to take a course on Victorian Literature and/or on the Brontës.

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Introduction

How This Book Engages Scholarly Debates

Extract

“Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside of books. Now I realized that non infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me.”

(Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose 286)

Recent criticism on Emily Brontë and her novel has tried to correct the deep-rooted belief that Emily Bronte was a literary “genius” isolated in the moors of Haworth. Twenty-first century scholarship on Wuthering Heights and the Brontës has built on previous critical currents (psychoanalysis, Marxism, feminism, post-colonialism) and has given due attention to the broader, social, historical and cultural factors that had been disregarded by earlier critics. Indeed, an overview of recent Brontë scholarship indicates that issues of class, gender and race are still discussed, reinvigorated with a detailed attention to historical/cultural context and—often but not always—directed by close textual analysis. Two important critical shifts have lately cropped up: an increasing sociological attention to cultural studies on the one hand and an emphasis on interdisciplinarity on the other. Hence, discussions of (and disagreements about) Wuthering Heights and its author abound. And yet, for all these critical developments, the most quoted critical ←1 | 2→assessment of Wuthering Heights remains F.R. Leavis’s statement that Wuthering Heights “is a kind of sport” (27) and it would be hard to prove that scholars who quote Leavis’s diagnostic...

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