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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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Afterword by Julián Jiménez Heffernan

I

Extract

In memory of J. Hillis Miller “A Paper-knife and an English Novel”: Slitting Wuthering Heights

C’est que le savoir n’est pas fait pour comprendre, il est fait pour trancher.

Michel Foucault1

Anna Karenina has just boarded the railway carriage. She sits beside her maid Annushka and peers round the sleeping compartment. She is anxious. She unlocks her red bag, takes out a small pillow, places it on her knees. Two ladies engage in small talk about the train’s heating. Reluctant but polite, Anna says a few words

but not foreseeing anything interesting from the conversation asked her maid to get out her reading-lamp, fixed it to the arm of her seat, and took a paper-knife and an English novel from her handbag. At first she could not read. For a while the bustle of people moving about disturbed her, and when the train had finally started it was impossible not to listen to the noises.

Then comes the snow, beating against the window, the sight of the guard, a new conversation about the raging snow-storm, some jolting and knocking, the changings from heat to cold, the gleam of the faces, Annushka’s sudden doze.

Anna read and understood, but it was unpleasant to read, that is to say, to follow the reflection of other people’s lives. She was too eager to live herself. When she read how the heroine of the novel nursed a sick man, she wanted to...

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