Charlotte Brontë, who died in 1855 aged 38, might almost have been an Elizabeth Gaskell heroine. Like Margaret Hale in North and South (1855), or Molly Gibson in Wives and Daughters (1864), she’d had to look after a widowed and cantankerous father in very difficult circumstances, facing the grim realities of sickness and death. Perhaps it was this that inspired an extraordinary friendship between two great Victorian writers, which would ultimately blossom into one of the most remarkable literary biographies in English prose. The two novelists first met in the Lake District in the summer of 1850. They were, in many respects, polar opposites. Gaskell was beautiful, worldly and dizzyingly public: a mother of four; familiar with Florence Nightingale, Ruskin, Thomas Carlyle, and even Dickens, with whom she did not get on (“If I were Mr G,” exclaimed Dickens, “oh heaven, how I would beat her”). By contrast, Brontë (pseudonymously hiding behind … [Read more...] about The 100 best nonfiction books: No 63 – The Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell (1857)
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China, Japan and South Korea agreed Wednesday to work together to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. The trilateral summit in Tokyo also saw Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang discuss regional free trade agreements. Moon briefed his counterparts on his April 27 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In his opening remarks, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lauded the efforts of China and South Korea to get North Korea to the negotiating table. "Using this momentum, we should carry on our work to push for the full, verifiable and irreversible abolishment of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction and every type of ballistic missile," Abe said. Read more: South Korea's self-appointed 'patriots' protest against rapprochement with North Korea Abe also said his country would normalize ties with North Korea if the nuclear and missile issues, along with that of the … [Read more...] about China, Japan, South Korea agree on North Korea nuclear action
Endangered Australian marsupials are being burnt to death in massive numbers as the worst bushfires in living memory destroy more than two million hectares of habitat. Scientists fear koalas could be almost wiped out, making them functionally extinct, with more than 1,000 feared killed in New South Wales in only a few weeks. They are far from the only casualties, with gliders, possums, goannas, bandicoots, and kangaroos decimated, as firefighters battle to contain 57 bushfires, with little prospect of rain. Wildlife carers are also being offered counselling to help them cope after being overrun with native animals suffering burns so severe they need to be put down. Australian marsupials are being burnt to death as the worst bushfires in living memory destroy their millions of hectares of their habitatat. Feral cat researcher Guy Ballard found the burnt carcass of a glider (pictured) at Cathedral Rock National Park last week. The Rural Fire Service had spent two weeks battling the … [Read more...] about Native animals bear the brunt of bushfires as wildlife carers seek counselling to cope with the heartbreaking task of caring for the casualties
Christine Langan, who runs BBC Films, recently felt obliged to defend the latest cinematic adaptations of novels by Charlotte and Emily Brontë – Cary Fukunaga's Jane Eyre, which opens early next month, and Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights, due for release in November – against accusations of deja vu. "People," Langan sighed, "will be saying, 'Why the hell are they doing all that over again?'" They are doing it, I'd suggest, because it needs to be done. Certain books – by the Brontës and by Jane Austen and Dickens – are indispensable to us and accompany us through life. When we first read them, they prospectively sketch our quest to discover who we are and our struggle to impose ourselves on the world; in later decades, they remain as markers of our progress or testaments to our disillusionment. In Jane Eyre, a disadvantaged girl prevails by force of will and by the intensity of an uncompromising imagination. Oliver Twist is about an even more … [Read more...] about Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights: do we need new film versions?
China has become a generous, ready and easy lender to African countries and a key investor. Researchers say its line of credit to the continent has stretched considerably since 2000 and the money is flowing faster. China's President Xi Jinping, currently on his fourth visit to Africa, inked a few more loan deals with Senegal and Rwanda. In South Africa, China's biggest trade partner in Africa, Xi unveiled a $14.7 billion (€17 billion) investment in its broke national energy utility Eskom and its rail, port and pipeline company. Beijing's cumulative loans to Africa since 2000 amounted to $124 billion by 2016, according to figures compiled by the China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in the United States. "Half of those loans were given in the past four years," Janet Eom, an associate researcher at CARI, told DW. "So Africa's debt to China is becoming more of a concern moving forward.” … [Read more...] about Double debt risk for African countries that turn to China