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The Professor (1857)

by Charlotte Brontë

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,292375,055 (3.34)80
The hero of Charlotte Brontë'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 Zoraïde Reuter, complicates his affections for a penniless girl who is both teacher and pupil in Reuter's school. Also included in this edition is Emma, Charlotte Brontë's last, unfinished novel. Both works are drawn from the original Clarendon texts.… (more)
  1. 20
    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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» See also 80 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
This was a terrible book. The main character was infuriatingly supercilious and completely convinced of his own superiority. He doesn't even bother to teach well but frequently mentions that he doesn't challenge his students because he doesn't think they'll bother to learn, when it was his job to make them want to learn. I was very disappointed when Frances accepted his proposal since she was the only character that wasn't totally horrible, and she didn't deserve to be dominated by this awful man. I was truly surprised when Mr. Crimsworth allowed her to keep working and teaching. It seemed very out of character for him given his habit of demanding everyone do what he want or he would treat them with veiled contempt, and he told Frances repeatedly that he wanted to provide for her and didn't give it up until she insisted she work.

Miss Brontë also expects her reader to understand French. She expected this in Jane Eyre as well, but as only the exchanges with Adele, which never contained anything important, where I really was under the impression I was missing important information in this book.

These things led to me not particularly enjoying the book, but the final nail in the coffin was Mr. Crimsworth's absolute raging anti-Catholicism. It's hard to read the prospective of a prejudiced character at any time, but especially when he or she refuses to learn better or admit his discrimination. I also thought it was horribly hypocritical of Charlotte Brontë to claim that all Catholic girls and women are wicked seducers with no sense of morality considering her own infatuation with a married man who was her teacher. I don't usually listen to classic audiobooks at more than 1.5 as the recordings tend to be less clear and the language sometimes takes time to digest and understand, but I found myself so impatient to be done with this book that I listened to it at twice the speed starting from about half way through, and sometimes even ventured to 2.15 in my eagerness to be done with the torture. I probably should have just DNFed it, but I do hate leaving books incomplete.

I don't know how Charlotte went from writing this monstrosity to writing the wonderful Jane Eyre, but I'm very glad that I read this after Jane Eyre or I probably wouldn't have ventured to read another of Charlotte Brontë's books. ( )
  ComposingComposer | Jan 12, 2021 |
The Professor
In one sense, this is exactly what you would expect from the author of Jane Eyre - a romance in which the characters have no particularly good looks and prize mutual respect, intelligence, education and moral rectitude (according to Charlotte's views on the latter). In every other respect it's rather surprising: it's short; the hero's a bit unpleasant (his faith in national stereotypes is rather obnoxious); there's nothing GofficK or sensationalist to the plot; "happily ever after" is actually described! Nevertheless it could have been shorter, still - way too much time is spent dissing the French and Flemish school-girls to very little purpose except to show our hero as Master in his own class room - and the romance, once a misdirection is passed, is entirely predictable. The real fun comes every time Hunsden intervenes. Sarcastic, sardonic, abusive, interfering, mysterious, possibly revolutionary Hunsden. Charlotte should have written a book about him! Imagine a political thriller by a Bronte! And since there is much here supporting the concept of meritocracy and challenging conventional stratified class roles and social immobility, why not? There are hints here of what Hardy would take up later in the century.

Oh, well - plainly it wasn't to be. I have Shirley and Villette (which apparently reworks much of what is in The Professor) still to go and like Jane Eyre, they are somewhat daunting bricks. I'm actually now more interested in the juvinalia and somewhat curious about the poetry.

Emma
An interesting mystery comes to light just in time for Charlotte to give up writing novels... ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
It’s clear this is Charlotte’s first effort at writing a novel. Yet I’m glad I read it, because you can see the seeds of her talent in the way she crafts sentences. I do think the story of a teacher in Brussels is stronger when she reworks it from the female point of view in Villette.

The main character is a bit insufferable and annoying. The romance fell flat for me as I never understood what Frances saw in him. Regardless, it’s Brontë, so it’s worth reading.

“In sunshine, in prosperity, the flowers are very well; but how many wet days are there in life—November seasons of disaster, when a man’s hearth and home would be cold indeed, without the clear, cheering gleam of intellect.” ( )
  bookworm12 | Mar 17, 2020 |
My first Charlotte Bronte book and again I wonder how I could have missed this book or ignored this author for so long. Although Anne is still my favorite in the early part of my reading, Charlotte's The Professor follows the same form of story telling. The major characters are well developed and likable or unlikable as the case maybe. Minor characters are not developed, such as William's friend Charles.

William is the main character, an Englishman with an education who rejecting going into the clergy to become a trades man. William, an orphan, is raised by close family and we discover he has a very unlikable brother. Persuaded by Hunsden to do something better with his life than be his brother's clerk, William leaves for Belgium.

The majority of the story takes places in Belgium and centers around William and his job as a professor, which simply means teacher. The story does contain more than a few lines of French, so a dictionary may be handy for non-French speakers. Luckily, no Flemish is spoken.

It is an enjoyable story even though it is not considered Charlotte's better works. She seems to stay away from many of the social themes that Anne wrote into her stories. Like other Victorian novels I have read, the book leaves you with a good and satisfying feeling All in all a very likable story. ( )
  evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (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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The hero of Charlotte Brontë'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 Zoraïde Reuter, complicates his affections for a penniless girl who is both teacher and pupil in Reuter's school. Also included in this edition is Emma, Charlotte Brontë's last, unfinished novel. Both works are drawn from the original Clarendon texts.

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