Thursday, July 26, 2012

Heathcliff, Anne Shirley, And Hound Dog

I am sure many of you recall that I recently read Withering Tights by Louise Rennison because I just wrote about it two days ago. Remember how I said that I found this book about Tallulah Casey a little deeper than Rennison's books about Georgia Nicholson? One of the ways you can tell if a book is deep is if it raises questions in your mind, questions that you keep asking yourself even after you have read the final sentence and closed the cover forever. 

Questions I asked myself after reading Wither Tights:

1. Do folks in Yorkshire use still use "thee" for "you" as in "Are thee daft?" "Daft" is a great word, in and of itself, but it becomes even better when preceded by "thee."

2. Is it common for young people to be so familiar with Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights that they can make jokes about the characters? For instance, if they notice a house on fire in Yorkshire and someone on the roof of said house, would they automatically start talking about daft Mrs. Rochester?

3. Yorkshire is home to the Bronte sisters. Well, it was home to the Bronte sisters. Are the Brontes a big deal there the way Lucy Maud Montgomery is a big deal on Prince Edward Island?  Do tourists flock to Yorkshire to be near the sites of Heathcliff's and Jane Eyre's stories the way they flock to Prince Edward Island to be near the site of Anne of Green Gables' stories?  
These could easily have ended up being eternal questions. However, I am not without resources. I have a family member who knows an honest-to-God Yorkshireman and his wife. (I've met them, so I have at least met an honest-to-God Yorkshireman.) Okay. So...where was I going with this?...Got it. Through the wonders of e-mail, said family member contacted the honest-to-God Yorkshireman's wife, and now I know:
1. Yes, indeed! Yorkshire folk do use "thee." It's fairly common, making Yorkshire one of the cooler places on Earth.

2. My source has never heard any young people making Bronte-related jokes, herself, but she would expect Britain's young to study the Bronte's fiction in school. Bronte humor might turn up on television in sketch shows. Classic literary humor--who might do that in this country? I am at a loss. Is there anyone on American TV doing Huck Finn jokes? I am sure I've heard Moby Dick jokes, but probably not on TV.
3. And, finally, Haworth, the town in Yorkshire where the Brontes grew up and wrote in a somewhat depressing looking parsonage next to a cemetery, is a tourist draw for book people.
As with so many answers, these led to more questions. Or, to be honest, one. "Do we have any writers in this country who have such fans that their homes draw crowds years after they've turned to dust, the way the way Anne of Green Gables Land and the Brontes home do?" 
I asked this question out loud to a dinner companion this evening, and I was about to answer it, myself, with, "I'm thinking maybe Orchard House," when he jumped in with, "Elvis's place."
Well, I suppose. 

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