The hero of Charlotte Brontë's first novel escapes a dreary clerkship in industrial Yorkshire by taking a job as a teacher in Belgium. There, however, his entanglement with the sensuous but manipulative Zoraïde Reuter, complicates his affections for a penniless girl who is both teacher and pupil in Reuter's school. Also included in this edition is Emma, Charlotte Brontë's last, unfinished novel. Both works are drawn from the original Clarendon texts.
The Professor was the first novel that Charlotte Brontë completed. Rejected by the publisher who took on the work of her sisters in 1846--Anne's Agnes Grey and Emily's Wuthering Heights--it remained unpublished until 1857, two years after Charlotte Brontë's death. Like Villette (1853), The Professor is based on her experiences as a language student in Brussels in 1842. Told from the point of view of William Crimsworth, the only male narrator that she used, the work formulated a new aesthetic that questioned many of the presuppositions of Victorian society. Brontë's hero escapes from a humiliating clerkship in a Yorkshire mill to find work as a teacher in Belgium, where he falls in love with an impoverished student-teacher, who is perhaps the author's most realistic feminist heroine. The Professor endures today as both a harbinger of Brontë's later novels and a compelling read in its own right.
"The middle and latter portion of The Professor is as good as I can write," proclaimed Brontë. "It contains more pith, more substance, more reality, in my judgment, than much of Jane Eyre."
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"We read Charlotte Bronte not for exquisite observation of character, not for comedy, not for a philosophic view of life, but for her poetry. Probably that is so with all writers who have, as she has, an overpowering personality, so that . . . they only have to open the door to make themselves felt. There is in them some untamed ferocity perpetually at war with the accepted order of things."
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