”Wuthering Heights” or Why I love it so much….

How can I find and put together the suitable words and write a review about one of the most iconic creations in World Literature? One of those books that provoke such intense feelings that either you worship them or you utterly hate them. There is no middle ground. Every year, I revisit Wuthering Heights for two reasons. First, it is one of my personal Christmas traditions and secondly, I prepare extracts to use in class for my intermediate level students. This year, I finally felt confident enough to write a text. I will not call it a review, but a summary of what this masterpiece means for me, what I feel each time I gaze upon its title.

I was 12 when my mother made me a special gift. (I have a mother that gave me a book about self-destructive love and a father that gave me Crime and Punishment a year later. I know, they rock!) It was a thick volume with a dark cover. A cover as black as the night scene it depicted. A young couple running in the moors against the wind, and a black, foreboding mansion looming in the background. To this day, that cherished Greek edition of Emily’s only novel is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. I read it in a single day. I remember it was a windy day, a summer torrent rain that lasted all afternoon. It left me speechless. It shaped me. It shaped my reading preferences, it shaped my love for eerie, dark, doomed, haunting stories with twisted anti-heroes. It even shaped the choice of my profession.

When I was 15, one of the best teachers I’ve ever had gave us a project. She divided us into groups and asked us to make a presentation of our favourite book. She put me in a group with two classmates. Such kind and charming souls they were but would never open a book if their lives depended on it. I didn’t care, I was happy because I’d get to choose the book. We left our teacher crying buckets in the classroom, marking a heroic A+ on our papers. During the 3rd year in university, we had to complete individual assignments. I’ll let you guess the theme and the book I chose. My professor had to interrupt me at some point, kindly but firmly. ”Yes, thank you, Amalia, this is great, but there are others waiting, you know.” Were they? Anyway, you get the point. My level of obsession with this novel equals Heathcliff’s obsession with Cathy.

Emily Brontë’s novel may not be for everyone. It doesn’t matter. Nothing is for everyone. But, she has created an eternal tale -or nightmare –  of a love that is destructive, dark, twisted and stranger than all the other sweet, lovey-dovey stories that have been written. She has created one of the most iconic couples in Literature, she has provided the first and finest example of the Anti-hero in the face of Heathcliff. She has ruined many girls’ expectations, because who wouldn’t want to be loved as fiercely as Cathy was? (For years, my notion of the ideal man was Ralph Fiennes as Heathcliff in the 1992 film. The best adaptation of the novel, with Juliette Binoche as Cathy) How many writers who have written only one novel can claim to have accomplished all these?

One of the reasons I became a teacher was to have the opportunity to teach this book. It is my greatest satisfaction when I see its impact on my teenage students. They are familiar with the bleak and twisted tales of our times, nothing shocks them anymore. They love it unanimously, it is a rare case where boys and girls love the same book equally. So, mission accomplished.

”I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” For me, this book is my soul. It lies there, making the question ”What is your favourite book?” the easiest ever.

P.S. Please, God, when I die, put me in a sector where I can meet Emily. You can keep Shakespeare, Austin, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. I prefer long talks with a disturbed, fragile, wild girl…

 

3 Comments Add yours

  1. You’re right about loving or hating it! I know I totally didn’t understand this book. Mostly because I couldn’t understand the characters and where they were coming from. The weird part is that I failed to see the love? I just saw their selfishness and the inability to understand another human being, acting how I’d never act, how nobody I know would ever act. Like, everything could have been avoided if they’d just paused and thought for a minute, or acted less selfishly. I still feel like I must’ve missed something in this book! Cause a lot of people love it and praise it for the feelings in it, but I just… could not find the feelings 😀 and it’s not about classics either! Jane Eyre is one of my biggest favorites, for example 🙂

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    1. Yes, I understand what you mean. Sometimes, it all comes down to the language and the way a character is drawn and composed, but most importantly, to the personal notion of the reader on what consists a ”relaistic” behaviour. For me, the love of Heathcliff was obsessive, possessive and destructive and this is the kind of love that I find fascinating. I was never one for lovey-dovey romance and the darkness that seems to plague the lives of both Heathclif and Catherine is what always attracts me to this masterpiece. And perhaps, this kind of seemingly unrealistic behaviour on their part is another feature that I find irresistable. But it is not for everyone. My preferences on Art (and admittedly sometimes in real life) have always favoured the abnormal, the strange and bleak with a touch of self-destructive. It is why I don’t like happy endings. On the other hand, it is probable that I am completely heartless:) But I would definitely suggest you give it another shot, just don’t judge them according to the standards of our time.

      I love ”Jane Eyre” too. It is among the books I read once a year. I would have loved it even more if the end had been different, a bit more tragic. See what I mean by saying that I am heartless? 🙂

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      1. Haha xD no, it’s perfectly fine to love tragedy! It wouldn’t be a genre if nobody did 😀 I am also not a lovey-dovey type, but I guess I have a deep belief that love = when you want the other person to be happy and you want good things for them. It wasn’t the case in this book… I didn’t see that the characters even wanted their ‘loved’ ones? To me it seemed like they were all just trying to do something bad to each other, to torture each other. And not because of love, but because of some weird jealousy, hurt or feelings of status. I guess I love in another world xD

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