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Branwell: A Novel of the Bronte Brother [Paperback]

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Item description for Branwell: A Novel of the Bronte Brother by Douglas A. Martin...

A gifted artist and writer, Branwell Bronte, an only son, is expected to make the family fortune and distinguish the Bronte name. Instead, he dies at 31 from alcohol and opium abuse. Painstakingly tutored at home by his father, Branwell and his sisters write endless stories about imaginary worlds far from their bleak parsonage home. As his sisters spin the stories that will immortalize them, Branwell sinks under the weight of great expectations. With language as rich and dark as the moors of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, Douglas A. Martin probes the locus where history and myth collide, and uncovers Branwell's lost loves, thwarted talent, and possible homosexuality. Maintaining the haunting quality of childhood memory throughout, Bronte Boy is a genre-bending exploration of the tragic figure of Branwell Bronte and the dismal, dazzling landscape that inspired his sisters to greatness.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   232
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.48 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 10, 2006
Publisher   Soft Skull Press
ISBN  1933368004  
ISBN13  9781933368009  

Availability  0 units.

More About Douglas A. Martin

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Douglas A. Martin is the author of Branwell: A Novel of the Bronte Brother, Outline of My Lover (selected by Colm Toibin as International Book of the Year in the TLS), and They Change the Subject, and In the Time of Assignments. Born in Georgia in 1973, he now lives in New York City.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical

Reviews - What do customers think about Branwell: A Novel of the Bronte Brother?

Poor Branwell  Jun 3, 2008
I didn't find this book poetic, mood-evoking, or compelling at all. The writing is artsy-fartsy affectation. Not to mention shallow and trite.

I've been reading books by and about the Brontes for most of my life. This includes literary criticism, biographies, and fictional novels based on their lives. With fiction a writer can speculate, take some liberties, expand on ideas concerning a famous literary genius' personality. That's to be expected and the result is often alluring. However, in this novel, there seems to be no setting of historical place. We have no idea if and when we are in the 18-teens, when Branwell was born, or the 1840's, when Branwell died. There is no background, no atmosphere, whether of the Yorkshire moors or England itself. Branwell Bronte's father and famous literary sisters are just names to be mentioned, shadowy puppets in the background, stick figures enacting the simplest reactions. There's no description - just a queasy glut of mood, if that's what it's to be called. The inferrence of Branwell's activities is the worst of all. The author coyly skirts around Branwell's "depravity", never settling in on naming it, only hinting at what might have occurred, and slithering the supposed events over with an oily, liquor-and-laudenaum-soaked fog of guessing.

Reknown Bronte historian and researcher Juliet Barker has proven without doubt, in discovering transcribed eyewitness accounts of the time, that Branwell Bronte did indeed have a sexual affair with his employer, Lydia Robinson, which was the direct cause for his dismissal as the Robinson son's tutor. He also known to have impregnanted one, perhaps two young women in neighborhoods where he was elsewhere employed. Whether or not he was also engaged in clandestine homosexual activities is something which has not been sufficiently proven even though it's been popular to hint at it for the past three decades (Barker refutes it, as well as do other contemporary Bronte biographers), but this was Branwell's own personal business anyway. What he definitely was not was a pedophile preying upon the child of the family for whom he worked. Artistic license has gone too far and made a sympathetic if pitiful historical figure repugnant, and to not zero in on the reactions of the protagonists, the effects upon all concerned, however fictional this device, is a cop-out. Instead the smarmy curtain of "mood" remains.

I think this book was a sorry failure at what it was attempting. Immediately upon finishing - for I forced myself to get through the entire thing - I tossed it into the giveaway pile - only because I can't bear to throw any book, no matter how bad, into the garbage can.
Douglas A. Martin has done it again!  Oct 14, 2007
The historical narrative of the one and only Bronte son, BRANWELL is a grand gesture, Martin's style is so dreamily crafted. The author not only reconstructs the permanent veiling of Branwell's spirit by way of his sisters' fame, but through prose as mesmeric as that found in his previous works, it seems as though Martin personally knows his protagonist, Patrick "Branwell" Bronte, alighting the years between with dexterity unlike any other. Martin is a time traveler and his books well-oiled machines, facilitating insight, enlightening, and grooming audiences for what is yet to come. This novel continues to educate far beyond its first reading.
A poetic novel / biography of the Bronte brother  Oct 9, 2007

This isn't a straightforward biography of Branwell Bronte, it is much better than that.

Douglas Martin is a poet and this book is a beautiful poetic dream, using the dark, damp, brooding atmosphere of the moors and parsonage to set the scene. Branwell's relationship with his sisters, his involvement with their writings, his drug and alcohol abuse and eventual downfall are all brilliantly portrayed.

Douglas Martin has a deceptively simple style of writing, very easy to read. I don't know of any other author who can convey so much meaning and emotion in so few words. He never tries to give a complete picture, the narrative is fragmentary, and he doesn't draw conclusions. Subtly outlining such issues such as Branwell's sexuality and his sudden dismissal from his post as tutor at Thorp Green, he leaves it to the readers to decide for themselves what actually happened. His extensive knowledge of the Bronte family and their writings comes across clearly.

It's tempting to read the book quickly, but don't do that - you will miss a lot of the subtleties in the text. The more you reread this book, the better it gets - brilliant!
The brother who was painted out of his picture  Aug 15, 2007
BRANWELL is an historical novel which tells the story of the Bronte family from the perspective of the black sheep brother, about whom most readers only know he was painted out of the family portrait. Like Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea (about the first Mrs. Rochester in Jane Eyre), Branwell enhances any reading of the sister's novels.


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