The Critical Recuperation of and Theoretical Approaches to the Brontës

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Early critics praised the Brontës’ novels’ readability but condemned many of the writers’ themes as “coarse” and irreligious. Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1848) and Villette (1853) enjoyed more early popularity than the novels of her sisters. Early questions about the writers’ identities, exacerbated by the siblings’ use of pseudonyms, gave rise to a tradition of biographical criticism that persisted well into the twentieth century. As literary modernism advanced, the critical reputation of Emily Brontë's novel and poetry eclipsed that of her sister Charlotte; formalist critics found much to admire in the structure and composition of her masterpiece. Anne Brontë's works received increasing critical attention as the twentieth century progressed, and the Brontës’ works attracted the attention of feminist critics, who read them as narratives of female empowerment. The many facets of the Brontës’ works have continued to attract the critical attention of postcolonial, poststructuralist, and political critics.




Chapter published as: Jadwin, L. (2016). The Critical Recuperation of and Theoretical Approaches to the Brontës. In A Companion to the Brontës (eds D. L. Hoeveler and D. D. Morse). doi:10.1002/9781118405543.ch3

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