Jane Eyre’s Fantastic Origins

More on Jane Eyre (it is, after all, the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth) and its complex intertextual relationships with other texts and genres (following my post below).

Here, Emma Butcher traces the novel’s origins in Brontë’s (and her siblings’) own literature of the fantastic–her youthful tales of the brooding heroes and sighing heroines of the imaginary topography of Verdopolis and Angria.

Thus, one of the most powerful Victorian novels of psychological realism is rooted in the fantasy genre; in turn, it becomes a crucial source for romantic fiction and then paranormal romance. It was also a model for other adaptations in other genres, notably Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, but also the zombie film I Walked with a Zombie (fitting in nicely with another of OGOM’s interests).

This intermodulation of genres–the process Genette calls ‘architextuality’–fascinates me. Sarah Bartlett and I attempted a provisional graphing of these relationships in an article here, which explored the idea of representing these relationships digitally.

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