My Favourite Book – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

img_4058.jpg

Today I wanted to write a blog post about my favourite book. This is probably one of the most exciting blog posts that I have ever written because it has been a really great opportunity to photograph and look through all my editions of Wuthering Heights and remember why I own them and why I love them. I will be posting pictures throughout of some of my favourite copies and some aspects of these.

IMG_3991I read Wuthering Heights for the first time when I was 16, studying my A Level in English Literature. I was convinced I would hate it. I’m not particularly fond of ‘classics’ or Victorian literature and I just didn’t understand why I would like this. I was wrong. The best part of studying English for me has always been the opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone and find a book that I never thought I would enjoy. It took me 2 days to read the book, over my bus rides, my lunch at college and my free periods. This is the first time I publically wept at a book (chapter 16) and the first book that I felt broke my heart, for every character concerned.

IMG_3994Wuthering Heights is a hard book to like. The romance between the two leads in this novel is intensely flawed – they are both intensely flawed individuals, and I don’t think you’re actually supposed to like them. Catherine is petty, childish and naive; she does not gain any maturity and is very selfish, but she is also passionately, wildly loving and intense. She is a woman restricted by the culture and set free by the environment, but she is grounded, and this is her downfall. Ultimately, she makes decisions which restrict her and seal the fate of those around her, as she understands aspects of her realistic position within society.

IMG_3975Heathcliff seems demonic, a sardonic man who takes out perverse revenge on those who he feels have wronged him. Yet he loves Catherine so passionately that he cannot live without her. He cannot hide his emotions, whether good or bad, and he is distinctly singleminded in his treatment of himself and all others. He is an abused antagonist to every character within the novel and plays the role of ultimate villain. But he is a ruined man, deriving his only sense of worth or identity from his foster sister and great love, Catherine; without her, he is no one and is lost.

IMG_4023What I love best about Wuthering Heights is that it doesn’t stop there. Most versions of Wuthering Heights do, finishing at the point at which the two lovers are forever separated, but the novel continues. It shows you the repercussions of their actions, it follows the next generation, through downfall and redemption. It shows a world that carries on, and though it ultimately gives hope, it also has some very bittersweet criticisms of the society in which this was written. I adore the first part of the book, but it is the second half (chapter 16 – 32) which make me love this book. It is the second part of this book which makes the novel a classic.

IMG_4027My love for this book led it becoming one of the only books that I have reread numerous times. I am not a big rereader. I find that because there are always so many new books for me to read, I just don’t have time to go back to old books that often, but I usually read Wuthering Heights at least once a year. The story never gets old for me, and I just feel there is so much to take from it, even in today’s society and culture. Now, I can’t go into any more detail about why here. I’ll probably make a post in the future where I actually discuss Wuthering Heights and the various elements of it which I feel keep it relevant.

IMG_4052When I started to travel around during my university years, my sister came up with a fantastic idea, rather than buy myself a keyring or fridge magnet, I should get a new copy of Wuthering Heights – preferably in the language of the country I had visited. This was a great idea and is something I started with my trip to America in 2008, and continue to this day. It doesn’t always work out, and I am quite notably missing a copy from my trip to Marrakech, but it is definitely something that I enjoy doing. It adds a little treasure hunt element to my trips, as I have to try and bookshops that will have a copy in, and I have to hunt around for the title in a different language, or a different edition (in English speaking places). So far, I have 15 copies from my travels, with a copy in Dutch (Amsterdam), Spanish (Madrid), Catalan (Barcelona), Italian (My sister got me from Venice), French (Paris), English (Lytham St Annes, Edinburgh, Colchester, America and Haworth!)and Czech (Prague).

IMG_3989As well as the copies I have acquired while travelling, I also have some special copies of Wuthering Heights which have been purchased/gifted to me, as memory copies. Starting with the oldest, I have the very first copy of Wuthering Heights that I ever owned and read. It no longer has a cover…because I read it that much. I have had that copy since 2004. I have a copy from my sister which she gave me when I graduated with my BA in 2010, and in which she wrote a message that made me cry. I have a copy that my best friend got me when we were out shopping and having coffee around 7 years ago. It is my oldest copy and is from 1894. It’s not in the greatest of conditions, but we just happened on it in a second-hand shop and he got me it with the very last of his money for the month. He said he just couldn’t leave without me having it. I really appreciated that and the fact that he walked home in the cold because he had purchased it for me.

IMG_4005I also have a rare edition from America published in 1975, which Wayne got me for our first Christmas together. I have a personalised copy from another friend with Catherine replaced as my name and Heathcliff replaced as Wayne – it is very difficult to read this one as I just don’t want to imagine Wayne being in any way as cruel as Heathcliff? Ha! I also have some gorgeous editions that I got when I was in Haworth with Wayne for our trip there. I enjoyed every second of it, and seeing those books brings back those memories and makes me smile. Additionally, I have editions purchased in the year that I started my masters, the year I did my teacher training, the year that my nan passed away, my university copy…etc. These books hold a lot of memories?

IMG_4019And the main reason I decided to write this post is that of my newest copy. For this Christmas, Wayne found me a first edition from 1955. It is in beautiful condition and is my second oldest copy. It has an introduction by Daphne Du Maurier, which I have never read before, but also, it contains the most gorgeous illustrations throughout. I will include pictures of these illustrations below. I find the one with the spectral Cathy standing behind Heathcliff to be the most stunning, as I love the way the illustrator has managed to make her look like she is a ghost haunting him, faded in the background, ever present. I think these illustrations capture a magnificent element of the story and the characters.

 

 

1 thought on “My Favourite Book – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte”

Comments are closed.