03 August 2010

charlotte -- george smith

page 74-5
To George Smith, 30 October 1852

My dear Sir
You must notify honestly what you think of "Villette" when you have read it. I can hardly tell you how much I hunger to have some opinion besides my own, and how I have sometimes desponded and almost despaired because there was no one to whom to read a line -- or of whom to ask a counsel. "Jane Eyre" was not written under such circumstances, nor were two-thirds of "Shirley". I got so miserable about it, I could bear no allusion to the book -- it is not finished yet, but now -- I hope.

As to the anonymous publication -- I have this to say. If the withholding of the author's name should tend materially to injure the publisher's interest -- to interfere with booksellers' orders &c. I would not press the point; but if no such detriment is contingent -- I should be most thankful for the sheltering shadow of an incognito. I seem to dread the advertisements -- the large lettered "Currer Bell's New Novel" or "New Work by the Author of 'Jane Eyre' ". These, however, I feel well enough are the transcendentalisms of a retired wretch -- and must not be intruded in the way of solid considerations; so you must speak frankly.


You will see that "Villette" touches on no matter of public interest. I cannot write books handling the topics of the day -- it is of no use trying. Nor can I write a book for its moral -- Nor can I take up a philanthropic scheme though I honour Philanthropy -- And voluntarily and sincerely veil my face before such a might subject as that handled in Mrs. beecher Stowe's work -- "Uncle Tom's Cabin".

To manage these great matters rightly they must be long and practically studied -- their bearings known intimately and their evils felt genuinely -- they must not be taken up as a business-matter and a trading-speculation. I doubt not Mrs. Stowe had felt the iron of slavery enter into her heart from childhood upwards long before she ever thought of writing books. The feeling rthroughout her work is sincere and not got up.

Remember to be an honest critic of "Villette" and tell Mr. Williams to be unsparing -- not that I am likely to alter anything -- but I want to know his impression and yours.

Believe me
Yours sincerely
C. Bronte

No comments: