Clare Leighton - Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights
Known for her illustrations of nineteenth-century British novels by authors like Thomas Hardy, Claire Leighton also wrote prolifically on the virtues of rural life in an increasingly urban and industrial world. This series of wood engravings for the 1931 Random House edition of Wuthering Heights combines Leighton’s cherished English countryside with the brooding moors of the novel’s romanticized Yorkshire landscape. Written in 1846, Wuthering Heights was the only novel by Emily Brontë, a member of the famous Brontë family of writers. Leighton’s series of twelve illustrations depicts both crucial moments in the book’s narrative, which chronicles the passionate but doomed love story of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, as well as tangential episodes and characters.
These works are on view in the exhibition “Representing the Word: Modern Book Illustrations” through July 31.
Clare Leighton (English, 1900–1989)
Heathcliff’s Grief, from the series Wuthering Heights, 1930
Gift of Mrs. Malcolm L. McBride
And just as she evades total subordinance, Reno also avoids victimhood. Reno does not die, she does not despair, and she doesn’t break down.The difference has something to do with her connection to a machine: “It was only a motorcycle but it felt like a mode of being.” When a man on the street watches her ride by and gives her a thumbs-up, she explains, “He wasn’t coming on to me. He was envious. He wanted what I had like a man might want something another man has.” The move may seem too obvious on Kushner’s part, the motorcycle a stock way to toughen up a routine heroine, but it works because the toughness isn’t complete. Reno isn’t saved by being a hot, gap-toothed blonde on a motorcycle, that metonym for danger; instead she is complicated by it. We understand that Reno is neither as aggressive as the motorcycle signals she might be nor as passive as a contrast might suggest. And the motorcycle, in the hands of this more or less tractable, acquiescent girl, yields an irony, for the machine that led her to a supporting role in a man’s life and a revolution is also the thing that might enable a new life and way of being, one that doesn’t depend on men or sex.
photo from the vintagent