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The Professor by Charlotte Brontë

The Professor (1857)

by Charlotte Brontë

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,047344,843 (3.37)1 / 76
  1. 10
    Hard Times by Charles Dickens (CurrerBell)
    CurrerBell: The Professor and Hard Times don't have all that much in common — and even less so do CB and CD have that much in common — but there's an interesting conversational exchange in The Professor, in the last chapter but one, that reminds me of the "reason vs. sensibility" theme in Hard Times.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
William Crimsworth is without a doubt the most sanctimonious and dull protagonist in the Brontë canon, thankfully, though we have to live in his head throughout the novel, and see him succeed in his efforts with such smug self-righteousness, there is relief at hand.

No, I'm not talking about Frances Evans Henri, who could give Esther Sumerson a run for her money in the homely self-effacing modest maiden awards, or the antagonists, such as they are: venal and snobbish relations and loathsome foreigners, and Catholics to boot!

I mean Hunsden Yorke Hunsden. He is the only character whose opinion or happiness mattered. His appearances were refreshing and provided the only humor, sometimes even inspiring more than dull platitudes of bland admonishments from William or Frances.

He, along with Charlotte Brontë's occasional flashes of prose brilliance, are what saves 'The Professor' from complete disaster. This book is a shadow compared to 'Jane Eyre' or 'Villette', but its threadbare nature allow one to see Brontë learning how to iron out quirks in description and narrative.

There is no doubt about her talents here, and I especially liked how she crafted the ending, it's abrupt and maybe a little sloppy, but its a risk that showed her potential for shaking up the English novel equaled those of her sisters whose first efforts did find a publisher.

This is a book solely for completists if there ever was one. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
I said to myself, [...] 'Look at the sooty smoke in that hollow, and know that there is your post! There you cannot dream, you cannot speculate and theorize – there you shall out and work!' (48)

I read this novel as part of my project to read Victorian scientist novels. I actually wasn't sure if the eponymous professor actually was a scientist; the article I had read had been vague and a quick search didn't turn up any specific answers, so I just went and bought the book and read it to find out.

William Crimsworth is at first a clerk (that's when he utters the above) and later in fact a professor of English in Belgium, so no scientist. He only gets the gig because any vaguely educated English-speaking person could do it. But the book is filled with that other thing I am obsessed with in literature: observation. Crimsworth's friend Hunsden the tradesman, in particular, is always watching Crimsworth and drawing conclusions, sometimes right, sometimes wrong. At one point, Crimsworth observes Hunsden observing him, though he gets it wrong (255); Hunsden is not as perceptive as Crimsworth had perceived. And as a teacher Crimsworth must observe his class, which only gets harder once he picks up a job at a girls' school, full of hot young teenagers.

I didn't think there was much of a story here to be honest. Crimsworth falls in love with a would-be governess sitting in on his classes; they marry and live highly successful lives. A couple temptations are thrown in Crimsworth's way, but he overcomes them all with ease, so there's not much in the way of compelling struggle. He does kind of start from misery, but his ascent out of it is relatively unbroken.

I mostly think the book is an excuse for Brontë (as in Villette) to practice her most annoying writing tic: dialogue in untranslated French. Thank God for the end notes, but sometimes I got too tired to flip to the end and read them. I don't think I missed much.
  Stevil2001 | Jan 18, 2019 |
Is it crazy to say that I love all of the Bronte books more than I love any of Jane Austen's books? Of course, there are a couple I haven't read from the Bronte sisters and Austen. But I think the examples would prove the rule. I just love this book. Of course, it isn't as amazing as some of the other books, but there is so much here while also being a pretty straightforward plot. Though Charlotte fills the plot with much detail and life. Though Charlotte wrote this first, it was the last of the published novels (I think Branwell even helped with this one, possibly?) It's also interesting that Arthur decided to publish this after Charlotte's death, as it mirrors Charlotte's past. The book begins with a man not knowing what to do with his life, but coveting knowledge and intelligence above all else. He falls into teaching at a school in Brussels. He becomes entangled in a love triangle with the directors of his school and the neighboring school for girls, but soon has his eyes opened to their true character. I won't divulge more, but I found the degree of detail and pacing lovely, the main characters fully formed. And as usual I'm always in awe of Charlotte's way with words. I could especially appreciate the preface with Charlotte explaining the realistic plot "that no sudden turns should lift him in a moment to wealth and high station" which could be the only complaint of a book like 'Jane Eyre' (if I even had a complaint with that perfect book). There is no elevated unrealistic drama here. The Bronte sisters were geniuses and may their books live forever. ( )
  booklove2 | Aug 29, 2018 |
Whenever the introduction to a classic suggests that I read the novel before I read the introduction, I shall do so. I was a little disappointed that my view of the novel was shaped by the introduction, nonetheless, this was my first Brontë novel so I am sure to recover! I found the story to be like a first-person biography (as opposed to an auto-biography), and indeed that was intended. Tainted as my view was by the introduction, I could not help but notice the effeminate nature of the protagonist, although I cannot be sure if this was a result of knowing beforehand that which I would not have taken into account without the introduction. An interesting feature is the pace of the climax - a long slow, undulating yet gentle slope upwards until a climax that engulfs a decade in a moment, only to stroll along the precipice with no real danger of excitement; yet an abrupt end that lingers tantalisingly so with even the introduction's gossipy lack of deference a pleasant enough experience. ( )
  madepercy | Nov 7, 2017 |
A precursor to Villette
By sally tarbox on 21 October 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
Charlotte Bronte's first novel; the reader familiar with her other works will soon recognize familiar themes - schools, Belgium, an exacting professor, an eager female pupil and cruel relatives.
Here, however, the professor is the narrator; and while we recognise Monsieur Heger, Charlotte's adored teacher in Brussels, here the nationalities are transposed, and he is an Englishman, striving to make his way in the world. The pupil is an oppressed needlework teacher, French-speaking but likewise determined to better herself...
The writing skills are all there, but it all seems a little shapeless - I kept waiting for the blunt-spoken but apparently well-meaning Mr Hunsdon to have some vital role to play, or for the dissimulating headteachers Pelet and Reuter (or the nasty elder brother) to feature significantly but it all kind of floats off into a happy ending.
*3.5 - a fair but vastly weaker novel than the superlative 'Villette'. ( )
  starbox | Oct 20, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brontë, Charlotteprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Glen, HeatherEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pyne, GeorgeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosengarten, HerbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, MargaretEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tute, GeorgeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, Mary A. [Mrs Humphry]Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, Marionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The other day, in looking over my papers, I found in my desk the following copy of a letter sent by me a year since to an old school acquaintance: - 'DEAR CHARLES, - I think when you and I were at Eton together, we were neither of us what could be called popular characters; you were a sarcastic, observant, shrewd, cold-blooded creature; my own portrait I will not attempt to draw, but I cannot recollect that it was a strikingly attractive one - can you?
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Some of these include Emma as well; those should be separated from editions that include only The Professor.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140433112, Paperback)

The hero of Charlotte Bronte's first novel escapes a dreary clerkship in industrial Yorkshire by taking a job as a teacher in Belgium. There, however, his entanglement with the sensuous but manipulative Zoraide Reuter, complicates his affections for a penniless girl who is both teacher and pupil in Reuter's school.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:43 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Presents Charlotte Bronte's classic novel about a young man's life from ancillary work in the local mills to the position of a professor in Belgium and the various people with whom he comes in contact whose values differ from his own.

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Average: (3.37)
1 8
1.5 3
2 30
2.5 16
3 115
3.5 19
4 88
4.5 13
5 31

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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