Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Ode to Lit


To Kill a Mockingbird:
I think this is the edition
we had in the 70s, 
I remember it had an orange cover.
Literature is something I have always enjoyed. In secondary school, I enjoyed all the books we had to do (well, not all of Shakespeare's plays). We had books like "Six Short Stories" -- such a great selection of stories by masters long dead and gone.

There was "The Bagman's Story" by Charles Dicken. Never knew what a "bagman" was till we started on this story. So, this bagman stopped by an inn one night and had an interesting conversation with a weird chair. In the same book, there's "The Bottle Imp" by Robert Louis Stevenson when we learnt what an "imp" was.

Later on, we did "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Good Earth". Which other subject lets you read for pleasure but Literature? Even Shakespeare, after a while, wasn't too bad.

In university, we got to read more novels. It was credits to most of our Lit tutors that we didn't have to overly dissect and analyse the text so that we lost our own reactions to the stories. But it was good that they made us wary of not putting ourselves too much into the story and taking it totally away from the authors.

I was happy that my tutorial group did not have members who were always ready with answers. Er, we liked to think deeply first and collect our thoughts before we answer.

After another quiet class, Dr Max Le Blond ( a very good tutor) became rather exasperated. He said he would let us think without disturbing our thoughts -- so there was a long silence in class with just the breathing of his huge mastiff sitting next to me. This mastiff was as tall as me when seated. Loved its presence!

Even now, snatches of remembered lines would for no good reason, flit through my mind. Lines such as:

The horror, the horror (Conrad's Heart of Darkness)

Rivets I wanted (Heart of Darkness, and the visual image of a demented man looking for rivets...)

No not yet... no not there (Forster's Passage to India)

And of course:

When shall we three meet again, in thunder, lightning or in rain?

Et tu Brute?

The Ides of March are here. Aye, but not gone...

Cowards die many times before their deaths...

Now, we just need a little bit of the "stream of consciousness" to link them up into some kind of meaning...

Anyway, I wish I haven't thrown or given away all my Lit books. Nothing like re-reading one on a rainy afternoon.

4 comments:

streetsing said...

In secondary school we studied John Steinbeck's "The Pearl" the tragic story of a poor family who came in possession a valuable pearl. The other was Thor Heyerdahl's "Kon Tiki's" voyage :)

Tienyin Lo said...

Have read John Steinbeck. But don't think I have read "The Pearl" :) Read his Grapes of War... and some other novels, but not for Lit. Wah, have not heard of Thor Heyedahl though. Any good?

streetsing said...

The Kon Tiki voyage is an interesting book, the author re-traced the route on a balsa raft taken by natives of South America to the Polynesian islands. Captured the imagination of secondary students like us :) It was so long ago since I studied it, remembered the adventurers had to fish for food and collect rain water to survive during the arduous trip.

Tienyin Lo said...

I will look out for this book in the library :)