Thursday, May 24, 2012

New Charlotte Brontë Story Discovered

When Charlotte was 25 years old, she and Emily Brontë were students at the Pensionnat Heger in Brussels, they received instruction in French Literature from Monsieur Heger. 

He taught them first to read and analyze the phrasing and structure of French passages and then to choose their own subject matter and write out their stories in a style that borrowed heavily from the original text.  

Approximately thirty of these homework essays (or devoirs) have survived. 

Recently, one of Charlotte’s stories, dated March 16, 1842 and entitled L’Ingratitude, has been found in the Musée Royal de Mariemont in Belgium. M. Heger’s son had given the story to a Belgian collector in 1913.

Brian Bracken, an archivist, found the little manuscript and discovered that “it was finished a month after Charlotte arrived in Brussels and is the first known devoir of 30 the sisters would write for Heger.” Bracken believes that Charlotte may have been using one of the works of the French fabulist La Fontaine as her source for the story of an ungrateful and foolish young rat that leaves the care and protection of his home for a more exciting life. The story is reproduced in French and English here:

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