The World of Wuthering Heights

Emily Brontë was born 200 years ago today. This week's featured review shines a spotlight on her only published novel.

The annotated Wuthering Heights

Brontë, Emily. ed. by Janet Gezari. Belknap, Harvard, 2014
454p bibl afp, 9780674724693 $35.00

The annotated Wuthering Heights book cover

An enduringly popular novel, Wuthering Heights (1847) has variously been cited as erotic, evil, mythical, realistic, and/or moral. This wonderfully printed annotated edition provides fascinating illustrations and a useful introduction. Gezari (Connecticut College) retains Brontë’s original two-volume, 20-chapter structure, and her annotations fill in countless gaps that few could have known existed. Included are genealogy, maps, photographs, and textual notes galore. For ease of reading, Brontë’s text is printed on the left side of each page with supporting editorial materials appearing on the right. Annotations are factual, providing many contexts—such as history, economics, politics, religion, philosophy, and linguistics—and elucidating literary allusions to the Bible, Shakespeare, folklore, and so on. In the introduction, Gezari explains her plan and indebtedness to earlier work on Brontë, including Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857), Terry Eagleton’s Myths of Power: A Marxist Study of the Brontës (CH, Oct’75), and Winifred Gerin’s Emily Brontë: A Biography (CH, Oct’72). The volume’s “Further Reading” lists primary sources, biographical and critical books, and essays. Wuthering Heights has never been so usefully packaged for readers. An important edition of a work by an important Victorian novelist.

Summing Up: Essential. All readers.
Reviewer: S. A. Parker, Hiram College
Subject: Humanities – Language & Literature – English & American
Choice Issue: Mar 2015