Friday, October 10, 2014

Rite of passage

I own a few editions of Villette, by Charlotte Bronte, at least partly because it is my favorite book.

The intro of one states that she was "hopelessly fixated" on her Lit teacher at the Pensionnat Heger, the school in Brussels at which she taught English and studied French and other subjects. Besides this being a strange statement to make about any writer, and the fact that many young women fall in love with their lit. profs, it is close to a rite of passage for female writers and professors to fall in love with their brilliant, magnetic professors. One falls in love, one sighs, one writes love poems, one reads poems outside, one listens to lots of sad love songs -or writes a few- and hey nonny nonny, one goes on with one's life. Sometimes one writes letters. So, nu? 

Men are forever falling in love, often unrequited, with female teachers, professors, nurses, etc. They may or may not be "hopelessly fixated," but somehow it is recognized that famous male writers will indeed undergo this rite of passage and that it will enrich their writing.

Charlotte Bronte wrote her best book after she had come to terms with her (probably) unrequited love for her brilliant literature professor, the one who stirred and stimulated and stung her intellect and challenged her to find, in herself, the resources to understand and transform her pain. She did so magnificently. 

The person who wrote that Charlotte Bronte was "hopelessly fixated" either does not understand or was not willing to grant Charlotte Bronte the rite of passage granted to most intelligent female and male writers. Why? Lack of vision, understanding? Thorough insensitivity? A kind of blind stupidity?

A combination of all of them?