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Lee Smith and the Bronte Sisters

Lee Smith and the Bronte Sisters by H.H. Campbell Early in her recent book Lee Smith, Dorothy Combs Hill names Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Elizabeth Spencer, Katherine Anne Porter, and Virginia Woolf as among the early inspirations who taught Smith that she “could write out of female experience” (8). My purpose here is to demonstrate that Charlotte and Emily Bronte are also among the most important inspirations for Smith’s work. I will begin with some of Smith’s more obvious — if less significant — connections with the Brontes and build up to what I believe to be the most important relationship: that between Smith’s Oral History (1983) and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights (1847). The most readily apparent examples of Smith’s use of the Brontes are, however, the several references in Fair and Tender Ladies (1988) to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Smith’s protagonist letter writer Ivy Rowe, who, like Jane Eyre, is writing a kind of autobiography, reports when in her mid- teens, “I am reading a grate book Jane Eyre” (86); and she draws on this reading for terminology and images that allow her to impose some shape and definition on the powerful emotions she is beginning to experience, emotions that sometimes startle and frighten http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

Lee Smith and the Bronte Sisters

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 33 (1) – Dec 1, 2001

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2000 Department of English of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

by H.H. Campbell Early in her recent book Lee Smith, Dorothy Combs Hill names Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Elizabeth Spencer, Katherine Anne Porter, and Virginia Woolf as among the early inspirations who taught Smith that she “could write out of female experience” (8). My purpose here is to demonstrate that Charlotte and Emily Bronte are also among the most important inspirations for Smith’s work. I will begin with some of Smith’s more obvious — if less significant — connections with the Brontes and build up to what I believe to be the most important relationship: that between Smith’s Oral History (1983) and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights (1847). The most readily apparent examples of Smith’s use of the Brontes are, however, the several references in Fair and Tender Ladies (1988) to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Smith’s protagonist letter writer Ivy Rowe, who, like Jane Eyre, is writing a kind of autobiography, reports when in her mid- teens, “I am reading a grate book Jane Eyre” (86); and she draws on this reading for terminology and images that allow her to impose some shape and definition on the powerful emotions she is beginning to experience, emotions that sometimes startle and frighten

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Dec 1, 2001

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