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The Professor (Anglais)
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The novel, written in 1846, astonishes by its brevity and realism and by its portrayal of the heroine’s insistence on a working career after her marriage.
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It is a love story, and as such, I thought it succeeded. What most people saw as dry, I saw as sparse, unsentimental narration. I thought it made the love story a little more original and fresh for me. Though if this sort of storytelling isn't for you, I definitely wouldn't read it.
The other problem that most people have with this is the character of William Crimsworth. At times, he is a chauvenist and a racist. These are difficult aspects to overcome for many.
I think there are two ways to see the novel. First, it can be seen as a decent love story between a flawed man and a woman who may offer him redemption. I don't think this is a totally unenjoyable way to read it. You could also see it as a satire on the chauvenistic, supposedly self-reliant Crimsworth. It's probably a little more successful if you see it this way. If you don't like it one way, look at it from the other. Don't read this novel before Jane Eyre or Villette, but this can be a pretty good read.
Once at the school in Brussels, he immediately begins a successful, if not profitable, teaching career. Soon enough he finds himself teaching four classes per week at the neighboring school for girls, and also finds himself falling for the headmistress Mlle. Reuter. Inexperienced with women, he is susceptible to and deceived by her whiles and charms until love enters his life in the form of a fellow teacher-pupil Frances Henri. As is to be expected, despite the abuse Crimsworth suffered from his brother, and having nothing of his own, he manages to work his way into wealth and is able to marry the woman he has fallen in love with.
At the beginning of "The Professor", Crimsworth confesses that is narrative his not exciting and he holds true to his word, especially since he can be a rather irksome narrator. While not a novel to shake the foundations of literature, "The Professor" offers insights into who Charlotte Bronte would become as a writer. Her characters, a few who are one-dimensional, are mainly well-sketched and drawn out; and despite her claim to the lack of excitement in her narrator's story, his tale unfolds briskly and with few unexpected revelations. Having been a governess herself, (the novel is based on her own experiences), Bronte combines asides about the state of education and the relationship that exists between teacher and pupil. Some of these insights hold true for today as well, making "The Professor" an undated and well-written account of man's struggle for success and happiness.
**Two things I disliked about the Wordsworth Classics edition. This version was rampant with typos throughout the entire novel; the same mistakes were repeated numerous times. I was also maddened by the fact that entire conversations in French were not translated, and therefore not understood, especially during the climax of the story.
If this sounds rather dull to you, then you have the correct impression. The book is not as exciting as Jane Eyre or as moving as Villette. The narrative moves slowly, and Crimsworth is a very analytical type of character who does not scruple to record his thoughts on every detail. Nothing really dramatic happens and emotions are not heightened. But what I really dislike about this novel is the prejudiced portrayal of the Flemish, described often as coarse and unthinking, as inferior to the English.
The novel has a strong negative sound, very different to that in Villette. Although Crimsworth is the marble image of perseverance and self-control, almost to an inhuman level, he is haunted by hypochondria. There is a general sense of mistrust and hostility between all the characters. The editor explains in her introduction that this is the result of suppressed impulses and denied indulgences of the main characters, and reveals Bronte as a social critic. And there is one very interesting character, Mr. Hunsden, a cynical, but very like-able artistocrat who dislikes wealth (he's a bit like Rochester). Though the story is lacking in feeling, it still has bits here and there of beautiful prose and warmth that make it worth reading for a Bronte fan, but most others would judge it too slow-paced and dull.