When I was in high school, I had the most amazing English teacher for several years in a row. I remember the first day of Mr. Nobes’ class, the first year I had him… I was listening intently and heard him mention a bunch of books. I thought to myself, “I’ll write the names of these books down so I can choose one of them for my major assignment (for that course).” What a brown noser, eh? One of the ones that Mr. Nobes mentioned was Wuthering Heights (by Emily Bronte) – and that was the book that I did my major assignment on.
I was thoroughly confused with Wuthering Heights from the very beginning. My strongest memory of it is utter confusion. I pressed on and read it several times, getting more and more from it each time. I even watched a movie version of it to try to clear some things up. But I never grasped why Mr. Nobes spoke so highly of it. I had thought that I’d remembered him mentioning how it was some sort of great romance. Huh???
The other memory I have of Wuthering Heights is when I said to myself that, “years down the road, I’ll have to read it again and see if its greatness elevates in my opinion. Maybe I’ll appreciate it more when I’m older.”
Now to present day. Several months ago, when I was browsing through a used bookstore in Chiang Mai (I love doing this) I saw a copy of Wuthering Heights and thought to myself, “maybe it’s time.” So I bought it. And it’s sat on my shelf, calling out to me: read me!
I’ve been reading a lot of Jane Austen lately and as much as I do love Jane Austen (believe me, I do), I’ve been feeling like maybe I need to veer away from Jane Austen for a little while. So I started Wuthering Heights a few days ago, once I’d finished with Emma.
Within the first couple of pages, my confusion came up again. And I’ll tell you why. It’s the way some of the characters speak. If you don’t know, Wuthering Heights is set on the Yorkshire moors and some of the characters have VERY strong accents. Deciphering their written accents is tricky. It requires some outloud reading at times (which can sound kind of funny if you don’t have an accent from the Yorkshire moors already). I think I’m doing MUCH better at understanding and deciphering the accents than I did when I was high school but I’ve come across a few lines already that I’ve had trouble figuring out.
For example, Joseph, “an elderly, nay, an old man: very old, perhaps, though hale and sinewy” (p. 2, Chapter 1, Volume 1) says to Mr. Lockwood on p. 8 “Nor-ne me! Aw’ll hae noa hend wi’t.” My interpretation is something like this: “No, not me! I’ll have nothing to do with it.” But I’m not quite sure.
Do you know? If you have another suggestion, write it down as a comment to this post.
[Note (on Sunday, April 20): Since I wrote this post, I’ve read a little bit more of Wuthering Heights and discovered that Joseph hasn’t really had too many opportunities to say much – which is fortunate for me I think! His character seems to be the only one with a strong accent. Oh, and by the way – I am enjoying the novel so far.]