Who said Literature students didn’t read…

See now, despite seemingly reading forever at University and yet at the same time, never seeming to complete a book, I”ve been surprised just how many books I’ve read throughout my University Career. Including those for the up and coming term. Reading has always been a passion of mine but to be honest, I always thought I’d slacked off a bit recently, no quite so apparently.

When recalling books I have read, I’ve been amazed at the list, astounded some might say. Not because i’ve read hundreds and fancy a good boast, but how lucky I’ve been to be forced (yes it is forced, however much you like reading) to rattle through some of the greatest books considered ever written, without thinking about it. most of them appear on lists like, Books you must read before you die, and I’ve kinda done most. Cool.

So I thought, I’d share my recent reading with you, I say recent meaning that of the novels and plays I have read since starting University and so far for my third and final (whoopee) year. Why, I don’t know. I guess so if any of you think, I really wanted to read that, well I could say, do, don’t or possibly with caution!

  • Atkinson, Kate Behind the Scenes at the Museum
  • Beckett, S., Waiting for Godot, Endgame
  • Braddon, Elizabeth Mary, Lady Audley’s Secret
  • Brecht, B., Mother Courage
  • Bronte, Charlottte, Jane Eyre
  • Bronte, Emily, Wuthering Heights
  • Brown, Dan The Da Vinci Code
  • Browning, Robert, Selected Poetry
  • Burney Frances Evelina
  • Burgess, Anthony Clockwork Orange
  • Carroll, Lewis, Alice in Wonderland
  • Chekhov, A., The Cherry Orchard
  • Chopin, Kate, The Awakening.
  • Collins, Wilkie, The Woman in White
  • Conrad, Joseph Heart of Darkness
  • DefoeDaniel  Moll Flanders
  • Dickens, Charles, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations
  • Ellison, Ralph, Invisible Man
  • Ensler, Eve The Vagina Monologues
  • Equiano, Olaudah  The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
  • Fielding Henry  Tom Jones
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott, The Great Gatsby.
  • Forster, E.M.  A Passage to India
  • Gaskell, Elizabeth, Mary Barton
  • Gay, John Beggar’s Opera
  • Eliot, George, Silas Marner
  • Eliot, T. S. The Waste Land
  • Gilman, Charlotte Perkins, The Yellow Wallpaper
  • Haddon, Mark The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time
  • Haggard, H. R., King Solomon’s Mines
  • Hardy, Thomas, Jude the Obscure
  • Handke, Peter Offending the Audience
  • Hawthorne, Nathaniel, The Scarlet Letter.
  • Heller, Joseph, Catch-22.
  • Himes , Chester Cotton Comes to Harlem 
  • Hurston, Zora Neale, Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Ibsen, H., Ghosts, A Doll’s House
  • Joyce, J.  Ulysses
  • Kane, Sarah 4.48 Psychosis
  • Kerouac, Jack, On The Road.
  • Kesey, Ken, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
  • Kipling, Rudyard  Kim
  • Kureishi,Hanif Intimacy
  • Lanchester, John Mr Phillips
  • Lawrence, D. H. The Rainbow
  • Lee, Harper, To Kill A Mockingbird.
  • McEwan,Ian Atonement
  • Melville, Herman, Moby-Dick.
  • Miller, Arthur; Death of a Salesman, The Crucible; A View from the Bridge,
  • Moore, S.,  In the Cut
  • Morrison, Toni, Beloved.
  • Mosley , Walter Devil in a Blue Dress
  • Nabokov, Vladmir Vladmimirovich Lolita
  • Orwell, George  Burmese Days
  • Pirandello, L., Six Characters in Search of an Author
  • Plath, Sylvia, The Bell Jar.
  • Roth, P.,  Portnoy’s Complaint
  • Shakespeare, William Richard III, Henry V, Othello 
  • Smith,Ali The Accidental
  • Steinbeck, John  Grapes of Wrath
  • Stevenson, Robert L. The Strange Case of  Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Thackeray, William M., Vanity Fair
  • Twain, Mark  Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 
  • Walker, Alice Color Purple 
  • Wharton, Edith, The Age of Innocence.
  • Welsh,Irvine Trainspotting
  • Williams, Tennessee; A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Wilson, August; The Piano Lesson
  • Winterson,Jeanette Oranges are not the Only Fruit
  • Woolf, V.  Mrs Dalloway
  • Wilde, Oscar, The Picture of Dorian

The best bit about looking at that is seeing progress. Studying an English degree most of the time, you don’t feel like you’re doing alot. You read alot, you write an essay on some of the stuff you’ve read, you move on, you forget all that is talked about in reference to text, the history, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and theoretical concept that are referenced, and discussed in depth within each seminar. Then there’s the secondary reading, the textbooks, journals, the resources, the essays, that you plough on through, its all seemingly forgotten when you move onto your next topic or task. As with everything, its stored somewhere in the back of your minds, and at the end of the year all your have is 8 essays and a piece of paper with your grades.

It does seem a little strange for a degree, the amount of marked work, but it is the same wherever you go. Looking at that makes me insanely happy, I’ve done something these three years, even if its only having read 15,000 pages of primary print.

Advertisements

Every book is an artefact.

Literature. The lifeblood of a nation, one of the true representations of our life, our current economy, our society, our… reality. Its stands to represent the thoughts and feelings of a nation. From the upper classes, to the lower, with popular culture and the start of the serial press back in Victorian Era, literature has come to be something we can all appreciate and reflect upon.

So why is it so important? Well, like all the arts, it’s a way of preserving our time. Think back to the Victorians, without the emergence of the popular serialised publishing by the new middle class, we would know nothing of the strife and struggle for the lower classes, the working conditions, the sense of the time they lived in. We wouldn’t understand the emergence of the middle class, it wouldn’t be, documented by those high brow writers we cherish. Victorian Literature that’s studied now is just that sort, the sort that focuses on the sociological and economical England of the time.

Every literature tells you something, ever written piece of prose, a thought, a doodle. Think of notes from a class, they reveal the voice of that age, their issues, their humour, the individuals perspective, their worries, which relates to the bigger picture. You get a note from a thirteen year old saying they’d love to do someone, well you can tell that the younger generations are sexually active, grown up, independent. It tells you something about the people of our time.

So why are we so concerned with the canon, the literary on that is. Of the high brow critics the writers that changed our nation, of Shelley and Joyce, of Hemingway and Shakes, of Woolf and Keats – because they wrote something revolutionary, the changed the course of the literature, they made a difference to our heritage or culture in someway with its representation of it. But don’t all authors do that.

A romance novel, concerned with a young woman trying to find herself and her lovers, husband the one. It shows the emotional state, talks of romance and love, of all the clichés we’ve heard a thousand times. Yet it does something more than that, so much more. It tells you about gender, about representations of the Masculine and Feminine in our time, it represents ideologies, so engrained within our culture, we write within them without realising or thought. It  tells you about what’s popular, what our nation is reading and why, about escapism, about a world which doesn’t reflect the romantic parallel we’ve made up. It explores the idea of anyone being able to write, about women writers, about their role within Literature during our time, our representation and restraints on society.

Erotica, a genre we might not normally consider. It represents our culture, open and accepting, or sexuality and the importance of sexual desire and freedom. It shows a nation willing and participating in the voicing of certain fetishes, of difference, of individualism, of self-expression. It represents issues of self-esteem, of freedom, of wanting to escape the norm, of fantasy. It shows relationships and the way we interact with one another, as sexes, within our gender constructs. All from one titillating tale of the plumber and the girl next door… But that’s just my point.

Everything we read is having an effect on us, its transcribing and voicing all these little details that we soak up and process without realising. It helps to broaden our understanding of our world, of ourselves, our society and our individualism. It challenges us with philosophy, sociology, psychology, politics, history and theoretical concepts. It imparts knowledge and understanding, opening our minds to new prospects, ideas and vocabulary.

Literature, every literature, is valuable. It should be saved and recorded, studied or enjoyed. In an age of technology we must not lose the written word, to online uploads and computer software. Books, the smell of the them, the feel of a hard back, of soft covers, of the pages, should always remain. What if we become so advanced, we lose books? We lose reading in all sense of the word, we simply get to a time where we download a book into our brains and we’ve read it instantly. The process of reading, of time out, of learning and the enjoyment of the journey would be lost. Its far-fetched I know, but its true. Reading is a learning process and one we must sustain and encourage.

Literature and every art form, represent us. Individually, because we fit into the grander schemes of society, of women and men and gender, of sexuality, of a nation, of a species, and therefore we are engaged with it. Lets not segregate ourselves from our world and heritage. lets read and enjoy, immerse ourselves in the brilliant minds and imaginations of others, enjoy each word, syllable and phrase for what it is – a journey through someone else’s eyes, a discovery of ourselves and an experience of our culture.