They must coax his hidden talent out into full bloom. He must be driven enough, in imagination, talented enough to support them all.
Branwell Brontë–brother of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne–has a childhood marked by tragedy and the weight of expectations. After the early deaths of his mother and a beloved older sister, he is kept away from school and tutored at home by his father, a curate, who rests all his ambitions for his children on his only son. Branwell grows up isolated in his family’s parsonage on the moors, learning Latin and Greek, being trained in painting, and collaborating on endless stories and poems with his sisters. Yet while his sisters go on to write Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and Agnes Grey, Branwell wanders from job to job, growing increasingly dependent on alcohol and opium and failing to become a great poet or artist. With rich, suggestive sentences “perfectly fitted to this famously imaginative, headstrong family” (Publishers Weekly) Branwell is a portrait of childhood dreams, thwarted desire, the confinements of gender–and an homage to the landscape and milieu that inspired some of the most revolutionary works of English literature. A new edition with an introduction by Darcey Steinke.
Martin has evocatively captured the sad parameters of Branwell’s world, revealing the pattern of his self-destructive path through life in a way that is painful but also memorable.
A tender, tragic portrayal of a doomed artist...this volume’s beautiful declarative sentences are perfectly fitted to this famously imaginative, headstrong family; they bring Branwell Brontë’s world to light.
raise for Acker
"Douglas A. Martin’s Acker is exactly the kind of literary criticism I want to read right now: an open-ended yet utterly thorough record of one deft, curious, intrepid mind beholding another. Personal when he needs to be and clinical when his investigation calls for it, Martin acts as the perfect counterpoint to Acker’s all caps bombast.
In his unconventional approach to his equally unconventional subject--Acker was an iconoclastic experimental novelist, poet, essayist and feminist, who died of breast cancer in 1997--Martin’s lyrical criticism blends unmistakable (yet unshowy) erudition and intellectual rigor with disarming intimacy and self-revelation.
This is a book worthy of its subject: singular, unpredictable, a mongrel that occupies that rare, evocative space between genres. Expressing truths that transcend the stolid facts of conventional biography and literary analysis, Douglas A. Martin reveals how the act of writing is also, always, an act of self-authorship, of identity destruction and creation--and how Acker took this process to an extreme that still stuns, confounds, and inspires.
Martin’s is a lyric essay in many movements, fragmented and chaotic and academic and personal in ways Acker would have likely related to.