Tag Archives: John P. Meier


This is inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s Villette. After reading this 1853 novel a second time in the summer of 2018, I put some passages I liked into a LaTeX file. I added some commentary and came up with a document more than 90 A5 pages long. I recently reread it and was reminded how much I had enjoyed the novel. I thought some of my commentary could be adapted to stand alone as a blog post—this one.

Man in a field, sack over left shoulder, casts seeds with his right hand
The Sower,” 1850
Jean-François Millet (French, 1814–1875)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The subject is the supernatural. In Villette, Charlotte Brontë takes the voice of Lucy Snowe, who is practically if not literally an orphan. She ends up on the Continent, an English Protestant teaching Catholic girls in a former convent that is haunted by the ghost of a nun. Lucy will see the ghost herself. To read the novel seriously and sympathetically, we have to

  • ascertain what the author thinks of ghosts;
  • be able to think the same way.

This will depend on what we already think of ghosts.

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