Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Homework: An Update

Tomorrow I start back at school. I began the summer with a rather lengthy list of activities I wished to complete before my next nine month stretch of "I've got too much on my plate to worry about __" kicked in. I am quite happy to say that, aside from planning for this 9 month stretch, I finished everything on my list, including some that weren't even conceived of in June.

But more importantly than chores and activities around the house, my list of books that I've had a chance to read has finally increased. I am rather proud of myself for making the time and taking advantage of the fact that Syd takes 2+ hour naps now to finish chores so I have the time to read - for pleasure as well as for school.

I started the summer with Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. Initially, I didn't like it. At all. But after time to reflect, I have to say that her writing, though not my style, is quite poetic. This particular novel, without revealing too much, demonstrates her knowledge as a writer in that she is able to tie together the past and the present seamlessly. The reader sails from the present story, told through the eyes of an unreliable narrator, to the past and the origins of the characters directly involved in the plot line. I think I didn't like it at first because I had to struggle to keep up with the progression forwards and backwards, but in retrospect, the plot was told in an obfuscated way to protect the sensibilities of the reader. I don't like the book. But I appreciate the story and the manner in which it was written, and understand the hype that is made over the book.

From there, I moved to Tess of the D'Urbervilles. And I am happy to report I have a new love. Thomas Hardy, in typical Victorian fashion, has swept me off my feet. I spent the majority of the summer reading this novel, as it is deceptively dense. But the language used, and the style of writing, and the sheer beauty of Hardy's descriptions kept me coming back even when I thought I'd be too distracted by my other activities. I have a particular passion for 19th Century writing. I don't know what it is about the time, but I focused on that in college and seem to find myself at home there more than other time periods. I'd never read Hardy before, but knowing that his particular passion was poetry, and now being aware of his particular style and how beautiful I find it, I don't see that I have any choice but to obtain some of his poetry to see if it impacts me as much as, or more, than Tess did. I also am now looking forward to next summer, when I will make it a point to read his other highly controversial novel, Jude the Obscure. It is because of these two novels that Thomas stopped writing novels. Alas, the world got in its own way yet again.

Needless to say, I am feeling more refreshed as a student of life and literature. And now I find my way back to my own scholastic obligations. I am beginning Othello, to refresh myself on the play before the students return. And I have a list of books that I want to read for myself, as well as one loaned to me that I promised myself I wouldn't keep more than a year, so I've got my work cut out for me.

But for now, I feel I can sit back and relish the thoughts stirred by my literary accomplishments and reflect on where I may bring some of this in to my classes.

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