Monday, August 6, 2007

A Dark, Brooding Dream of Windy Moors.

I spent the better part of my two-week vacation resting and reading.

And reading.

And reading.

What a luxury! To sit in the shade of the big rowan tree and read half a book, take a break for lunch or tea or dinner, then read for a few more hours, only to move indoors and continue reading in bed until my lids were too heavy.

No wonder my blood pressure is looking so much better!

I caught up with Precious Ramotswe's latest adventures in the last two books in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, thrilled to the Life of Pi, and laughed out loud at David Sedaris' essays in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. (Full reading list is in the sidebar.)

Then I picked up my tattered old copy of Wuthering Heights, which I have not read in 25 years.

It wasn't a completely random choice. My current favorite CD is "Betcha Bottom Dollar" by the Puppini Sisters (read my previous blog entry about them) and enjoyed the track "Wuthering Heights." The Sisters put a lot of energy and spirit into the song – it's really a lot of fun to sway along with it.

So it wasn't until several listens that a faint memory suddenly asserted itself: this was the same haunting song I listened to as a teenager, strangely drawn to the voice of British pop diva Kate Bush. I'd never heard the likes of that voice: a highly unconventional style, worked over four octaves.

So I paid more attention to the lyrics. (Let me just say now, if you know nothing about Wuthering Heights and plan to read it some day, or watch one of the many versions on film, consider the rest of this blog entry a spoiler. STOP RIGHT HERE!)


Out on the wiley, windy moors

We'd roll and fall in green.

You had a temper like my jealousy:

Too hot, too greedy.

How could you leave me,

When I needed to possess you?

I hated you. I loved you, too.

Bad dreams in the night

You told me I was going to lose the fight,

Leave behind my wuthering, wuthering

Wuthering Heights.

Heathcliff, it's me, your Cathy, I've come home. I´m so cold,

let me in-a-your window

Heathcliff, it's me, your Cathy, I've come home. I´m so cold,

let me in-a-your window.

Ooh, it gets dark! It gets lonely,

On the other side from you.

I pine a lot. I find the lot

Falls through without you.

I'm coming back, love,

Cruel Heathcliff, my one dream,

My only master.

Too long I roamed in the night.

I'm coming back to his side, to put it right.

I'm coming home to wuthering, wuthering,

Wuthering Heights,

Heathcliff, it's me, your Cathy, I've come home. I'm so cold,

let me in-a-your window.

Heathcliff, it's me, your Cathy, I've come home. I'm so cold,

let me in-a-your window.

Ooh! Let me have it.

Let me grab your soul away.

Ooh! Let me have it.

Let me grab your soul away.

You know it's me--Cathy!

Heathcliff, it's me, your Cathy, I've come home. I´m so cold,

let me in-a-your window.


And just to let you know why I found this song creepy and haunting and so Yorkshire Moors, watch Kate Bush singing it:

I could just see Catherine Earnshaw wheedling at her demonic and cruel lover from beyond the grave. Kate Bush certainly caught the spirit - so to speak - of that dreadful, painful story!

As I said earlier, it's been a quarter century since I last read Emily Bronte's one and only novel. Even though it's impossible to forget the story, the details had become fuzzy and I decided grab my cloak and wander across the moors, as it were, with Lockwood's curiosity.

My reaction was considerably different on this reading! How on earth did I not remember Heathcliff as one of the vilest domestic abusers ever! How did I not see that he and Catherine were completely sick! How did I not find young Linton Heathcliff one of the most annoying figures in literature? And on and on and on....

Over the weekend I bumped into several people and mentioned that I'd just re-read WH, and almost all who told me they had re-visited the novel as mature adults were less enthralled on second read.

Evil and awful as these chracters may be, dark and chilling as the tale may be, Wuthering Heights is still riveting. Thus I ran out to the video shop and rented the 1992 movie, starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche. (The clerk told me there was also an MTV version of WH that came out a few years ago, but I decided to pass up. Maybe if I'm completley bored some day...)

And I watched it. Unfortunately, on a sunny summer afternoon. Given some similarities between the Yorkshire Moor and the Palouse, it might have been a thrill to watch it late at night, in a winter windstorm! Mybe I'll rent it again in December.

THIS was the role Fiennes played the year before portraying Amon Goeth in Schindler's List! Heathcliff was good prep for the Nazi SS butcher.

So - what are your thoughts on Wuthering Heights - novel, movie versions, songs, ripoffs? Please share!

Let's now have a palate cleanser to close this post, shall we? Here are the Puppini Sisters with their much sunnier version of Kate Bush's song.


Marie said...

Though my vacation has been a bit longer, it sounds much like yours. Read read read, rent DVDs rent DVDs rent DVDs, go to the movies go to the movies go to the movies. I've done more of those things this summer than in the past 15 years, with the exception of my doggedly faithful perusal of my beloved New Yorker magazine.

For reading, may I also recommend Alexander McCall Smith's heroine Isabel Dalhousie, whose series started with the Sunday Philsophy Club.

It reminds me of Montaigne's «Essais», which I adore. And she talks about food, baby!!!! :) :)

Robin said...


I first read "Wuthering Heights" when I was in my late 20's and could barely make myself finish the novel. Spending that much time with characters so utterly self-involved and without the slightest idea of what love is was exhausting. Personally, I think rereading that novel would make my blood pressure go sky high. If not the novel, then surely watching Kate Bush sing that song!

Great posting!


Anonymous said...

My first brush with Wuthering Heights was when I watched the 1970 movie (I must have been about 10 at the time). Had no idea what was going on except that there was a GHOST!! That was pretty cool to me.

Robin, you should try to watch the 1970 movie, because it stars your heartthrob Timothy Dalton as HC!

Robin said...

Timothy Dalton as Heathcliff! I'm soooooooo there!