Just as the weather turns brutal and wild, comes a gorgeous new edition of “Wuthering Heights,” the perfect classic for a howling winter’s night.

Emily Brontë’s only novel is the latest volume from the Folio Society, those folks who still remember that reading can involve tactile pleasures, too. This hefty book ($69.95) is bound in buckram with a subtle drawing of the moors wrapped around the front and back covers. Dropped throughout the text inside, several slightly nightmarish illustrations by Rovina Cai accentuate the story’s gothic tone.

In a stroke of editorial genius, Patti Smith has been invited to provide the introduction. The celebrated punk rocker won a National Book Award in 2010 for her memoir “Just Kids” about her relationship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Surely, somewhere Catherine and Heathcliff are singing:

Forgive, the yearning burning
I believe it’s time, too real to feel
So touch me now, touch me now, touch me now
Because the night belongs to lovers.

Smith is a devoted fan of the Brontës, those cloistered, brilliant siblings. Last year she did a benefit performance in Haworth, Britain, to raise money for the Brontë Parsonage Museum. “I really was introduced to the Brontës through my sister,” Smith told the BBC at the time, “and we’re very close. She’s one year younger than I. When I married, I moved quite a bit away, and we kept almost daily correspondence by reading all of Charlotte’s books.”

If only the Folio Society had encouraged Smith to write something more personal and intimate about how “Wuthering Heights” speaks to her. Instead, her introduction trudges along dutifully with all the passion of those opening pages in a Norton Anthology: “Emily, the fifth of six children, was born on July 30, 1818, in the village of Thornton, to Maria Branwell and Patrick Brontë, an Irish Anglican clergyman.” So far, so wiki.

But this is Patti Smith! Why not give her some room to reflect on Brontë’s evocative story?

Only near the end of this brief introduction do we really get to hear her distinctive voice and feel her sympathy for these characters. “You hold a volume hard-pressed to contain the words within it,” Smith writes. “Emily died on a bright December afternoon. She was but thirty. Where did she go when she tuned her eyes from the sun? Perhaps to roam unfettered in the wild and desolate Yorkshire hills. Let us not interfere with her. She stood her ground. Her untied mind did not create a neat package. In the writing of Wuthering Heights she did not give what she wanted; she gave what she had.”

That’s a reader who understands what Catherine feels when she proclaims, “I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free!”