This week I’ve been slogging through everyone’s fourth-favorite 19th Century sleeper hit Jane Eyre, a somewhat tedious and blatantly shameless rip-off of Sherri Browning Erwin’s bloody masterpiece Jane Slayre, available at Amazon and other fine literary retailers. Charlotte Bronte’s re-envisioning, anemic and prudish as it may be, has actually startled me with an occasional gobsmacking crafty whopper of a sentence, such as this passage from Chapter 12, after something about some guy on a horse:
“When I came to the stile, I stopped a minute, looked round and listened, with an idea that a horse’s hoofs might ring on the causeway again, and that a rider in a cloak, and a Gytrash-like Newfoundland dog might be again apparent: I saw only the hedge and a pollard willow before me, rising up still and straight to meet the moonbeams; I heard only the faintest waft of wind roaming fitful among the trees round Thornfield, a mile distant; and when I glance down in the direction of the murmur, my eye, traversing the hall-front, caught a light kindling in a window: it reminded me that I was late, and I hurried on.”
Damn. For a novel hopelessly void of sex, blood, and swearing, I’ll concede that Jane Eyre is on fire with awe-inspiring literary gymnastics. Writers learn from other writers, and Bronte’s technique is worth studying, paying attention to the precision of rhythm and detail, excluding a few of those goddamn commas.