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Read Charlotte Bronte's Thoughts on Jane Austen’s Emma

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Fans of both authors might be surprised to discover that Jane Austen’s Emma was a little too prim for fellow writer Charlotte Brontë. Brontë, who was born just after Emma’s 1815 debut, wrote her editor William Smith Williams a letter detailing her feelings about the book some 35 years later in 1850. 

In her letter, she praises Austen’s ability to sketch the lives of the English gentry with accuracy. “She does her business of delineating the surface of the lives of genteel English people curiously well,” Brontë wrote. Yet Austen (who died in 1817) failed to understand people’s passions, according to Brontë, whose Jane Eyre has more than enough passionate characters to go around.

Brontë argued:

Her business is not half so much with the human heart as with the human eyes, mouth, hands, and feet.  What sees keenly, speaks aptly, moves flexibly, it suits her to study; but what throbs fast and full, though hidden, what the blood rushes through, what is the unseen seat of life and the sentient target of death—this Miss Austen ignores.  She no more, with her mind’s eye, beholds the heart of her race than each man, with bodily vision, sees the heart in his heaving breast.  Jane Austen was a complete and most sensible lady, but a very incomplete and rather insensible (not senseless) woman.  

The letter is now on display in Emma at 200: from English Village to Global Appeal, a bicentennial exhibition on Austen’s novel at the Chawton House Library in the UK. 

One question remains: Would Brontë have preferred Clueless?

All images courtesy the Huntington Library California via the University of Southampton.

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Hamilton Broadway
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A Hamilton-Themed Cookbook is Coming
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Hamilton Broadway

Fans of Broadway hit Hamilton will soon be able to dine like the Founding Fathers: As Eater reports, a new Alexander Hamilton-inspired cookbook is slated for release in fall 2017.

Cover art for Laura Kumin's forthcoming cookbook
Amazon

Called The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton’s World, the recipe collection by author Laura Kumin “takes you into Hamilton’s home and to his table, with historical information, recipes, and tips on how you can prepare food and serve the food that our founding fathers enjoyed in their day,” according to the Amazon description. It also recounts Hamilton’s favorite dishes, how he enjoyed them, and which ingredients were used.

Recipes included are cauliflower florets two ways, fried sausages and apples, gingerbread cake, and apple pie. (Cue the "young, scrappy, and hungry" references.) The cookbook’s official release is on November 21—but until then, you can stave off your appetite for all things Hamilton-related by downloading the musical’s new app.

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New Tolkien-Themed Botany Book Describes the Plants of Middle-Earth
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iStock

While reading The Lord of the Rings saga, it's hard not to notice J.R.R. Tolkien’s clear love of nature. The books are replete with descriptions of lush foliage, rolling prairies, and coniferous forests. A new botany book builds on that knowledge: Entertainment Weekly reports that Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien's Legendarium provides fantasy-loving naturalists with a round-up of plants that grow in Middle-earth.

Cover art for botanist Walter Judd's book
Oxford University Press

Written by University of Florida botanist Walter Judd, the book explores the ecology, etymology, and importance of over 160 plants. Many are either real—coffee, barley, wheat, etc.—or based on real-life species. (For example, pipe-weed may be tobacco, and mallorns are large trees similar to beech trees.)

Using his botany background, Judd explores why Tolkien may have felt compelled to include each in his fantasy world. His analyses are paired with woodcut-style drawings by artist Graham Judd, which depict Middle-earth's flowers, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and shrubs in their "natural" environments.

[h/t Entertainment Weekly]

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