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The Annotated Wuthering Heights
Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press, 2014
464 pp., 35.0
Jennifer L. Holberg
"A Supremely Independent But Not Isolated Mind"
I have to admit that I am an inveterate book buyer. It's actually starting to get embarrassing as the piles of books stacked around my house multiply each year. One of the good things about reading on my iPad is that no one can see the virtual stacks also accumulating—but they're still there, rebuking me, even if in secret. I seem never to have enough time to read, and yet I can't resist new titles.
With so many new books clamoring for attention, why bother with the old ones? The New York Times Book Review featured a version of this question in its "Bookends" section: "Which Books Do You Read Over and Over Again?" Implicit in the "which" question, of course, is the "why" question, and in recent years, there have been some engaging examinations of the topic in books like Rebecca Mead's My Life in Middlemarch, Samantha Ellis's How to Be a Heroine, or, most obviously, Patricia Meyer Spacks' On Re-Reading.
Harvard University Press's fine series of annotated editions embodies another answer by demonstrating just how much more there is to know, even (perhaps particularly) about long-loved favorites. Among the volumes to appear thus far in the literary part of the series (which also features historical documents), Harvard has brought out an almost-complete set of Jane Austen's novels (to be concluded with an edition of Mansfield Park in the fall of 2016), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, Ralph Waldo Emerson's works, and Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest. These annotated editions provide a richness of reading experience akin to a feast: not just the main course of the text, but a dazzling array of "side dishes" as well.
Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights makes a splendid addition to the collection. Like all the other volumes in the Harvard series, ...