In this review of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights the critic swerves between repulsion and admiration for the novel.
Beginning, ‘This is a strange book’, the critic dwells on the novel’s dark and disturbing elements. They are concerned that, amongst the ‘evil’ of Heathcliff and the messy relationships, they cannot ‘perceive any very obvious moral in the story’. Furthermore, they struggle with the ‘confused’ plot, and describe the whole as novel ‘wild, confused, disjointed, and improbable’. To modern critics, the ‘confused’ plot is instead seen as evidence of Brontë’s experimental narrative technique.
However, the critic also finds much to praise. Most notably, they like it for how different it is compared to the ‘common-place and affectation’ found in most other novels at that time. They enjoy the novel’s grittiness and the ‘desolate places’ it shows us, and grants that it contains ‘good dashes at character’. For these reasons they ‘[hope] that he will produce a second’.
Where was the review published?
Written for The Examiner, a radical weekly periodical, the review was released at the beginning of January 1848, a month after the novel was first published. As typical of 19th century reviews, it quotes excessively from the novel and contains major plot spoilers.