Saturday, January 8, 2011

literary pop: Wuthering Heights

I've decided that the next few entries are going to be about literary-inspired pop music.

First up, Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights." Bush magically renders the narrative into a single song, capturing the all-encompassing passion between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw that eventually destroys them, and all those connected with them.

Here is a live performance, from 1978

Bush herself seems captivated by the tale-- am expressive imp moving through the motions of the Healthcliff and Cathy's haunting relationship.

What I especially enjoy about the song is that she focuses on the "Ghost at the Window" scene of Chapter 3--  which I think is the most chilling. I remember reading it for the first time and being scared. I think I wrote a paper about it somewhere.

....I heard distinctly the gusty wind, and the driving of the snow; I heard, also, the fir bough repeat its teasing sound, and ascribed it to the right cause: but it annoyed me so much, that I resolved to silence it, if possible; and, I thought, I rose and endeavoured to unhasp the casement. The hook was soldered into the staple: a circumstance observed by me when awake, but forgotten. 'I must stop it, nevertheless!' I muttered, knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, 'Let me in - let me in!' 'Who are you?' I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself. 'Catherine Linton,' it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of Linton? I had read Earnshaw twenty times for Linton) - 'I'm come home: I'd lost my way on the moor!' As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child's face looking through the window. Terror made me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes: still it wailed, 'Let me in!' and maintained its tenacious gripe, almost maddening me with fear. 'How can I!' I said at length. 'Let me go, if you want me to let you in!' The fingers relaxed, I snatched mine through the hole, hurriedly piled the books up in a pyramid against it, and stopped my ears to exclude the lamentable prayer. I seemed to keep them closed above a quarter of an hour; yet, the instant I listened again, there was the doleful cry moaning on! 'Begone!' I shouted. 'I'll never let you in, not if you beg for twenty years.' 'It is twenty years,' mourned the voice: 'twenty years. I've been a waif for twenty years!' Thereat began a feeble scratching outside, and the pile of books moved as if thrust forward. I tried to jump up; but could not stir a limb; and so yelled aloud, in a frenzy of fright (Chapter 3, Wuthering Heights)

Here's a link to just that scene from the 1992 film . It's worth watching!

1 comment:

  1. Ack! Do you know I've NEVER read "Wuthering Heights"? Practically everyone I know has read it and loves it.

    Thanks for the link to the 1992 film. Will bookmark this page for viewing later. :)