Sometimes you come across passages that remind you again of what good writing is.
I just started the classic Wuthering Heights last night (yes, you need to read the classics) and was taken aback by a passage not just because of the quality of the prose but also by the tone.
It was like the description of a house in a horror novel.
Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff’s dwelling, ‘Wuthering’ being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there, at all times, indeed; one may guess the power of the north wind, blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few, stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving the alms of the sun.Emily Brontë
Wuthering Heights, page 2
That’s just two sentences. And that second one, now that I’m re-reading this, is pure gothic dread.
I am a bit surprised by the tone at the start of the book, as I was expecting a sort of sappy victorian romance. What I found instead is rather a book full of tropes usually associated with horror; a narrator in a new place which is described as intimidating, he clearly feels unwelcome and there is an incident of danger; an attack by a pack of dogs.
I mean, just re-read the second part of the second sentence again.
“…the excessive slant of a few, stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving the alms of the sun.”
Have you read it? What am I in for?
2 thoughts on “The Best Writing of the Week – Wuthering Heights”
I don’t know if you have finished it yet, but I dare say you’re in for a treat! It’s a book that makes you feel, and I honestly think you either hate it or love it, but you always feel passionately about it.
I’ve just started. Five chapters in and I’m really being surprised by the tone and atmosphere of the book. I don’t think I’m going to hate it.