This Slate article by Ann Hulbert seeems to be about The Illustrated Jane Eyre, but it really has marvelous things to say about the original Jane.
"Brontë's guiding insight into life and literature, to simplify only somewhat, is that surfaces are suspect: Beware of assuming they are a reliable sign of the real passions within." Yes. Yes!
"And of course, Brontë's most famous character, the "Quakerish governess" Jane, is a prime case of deceptive packaging herself. Out of a "poor, obscure, plain, and little" victim emerges a commanding—and demanding—narrative voice, proclaiming a right to bold self-creation almost as jarring today as it was a century and a half ago." Yes! Jane did create herself!
Hulbert quotes an early Jane Eyre reviewer as saying "The love-scenes"..."glow with a fire as fierce as that of Sappho, and somewhat more fuliginous."" I had to look up fuliginous. It means "sooty." Was that reviewer saying the love scenes were dirty? Or so hot that they left only ash?
Hulbert also talks about the power of Jane as a first-person narrator and says, "I'm not sure the outspoken "I" looms quite so large for adults as for children; on revisiting Jane Eyre, an older reader may be distracted by assorted kinky undercurrents his or her 13-year-old self missed completely."
Perhaps that's true. I was probably closer to 16 or 17 when I read Jane Eyre, and I didn't find Jane and Rochester as "fuliginous" then as I did six or seven years ago when I reread the book. In fact, the thing that really stuck with me from my original reading was that party scene where Jane sits over in a corner with a book while everyone else is having a good time.
You don't have to have done better than a "C" in Psych 1 to figure out what was going on in young Gail's mind. Have I ever mentioned here that I was not a cheerleader in high school. I was a library aid?
Anyway, I've been reading about The Illustrated Jane Eyre by Dame Darcy for a while. After reading this article about the original Jane, I'm interested in at least taking a look at the new one.