Oh two posts in two days, I must be on a roll.
As the summer break is coming to an end, students must once again break out of the comfortable cushion that the holidays naturally carve for themselves. Tis only natural. So it is also natural for any Literature student to acquire these books, in the pursuit of learning and education (“pssssht”).
Interestingly, I am not doing any British modules this semester. While it was an adventure reading Crusoe and romping between 18th and 20th Century Britain. I have decided to take time-travelling to a whole new level by traipsing into the weirdness of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Initially rather reluctant to take this module, my love for fantasy literature (Yes, I am a closet Harry Potter, C S Lewis and Diana Wynne Jones – God bless her soul- fan) has pushed me to study it as a serious pursuit. I cannot help but wonder if my passion will be dulled by such intense study of literary theory of magic.
Also, I am rather excited about studying American and Asian American Literature, I suppose they would make a fascinating combination of modules. The White Man’s perspective and the Eastern perspective of said White Man.
The following is the booklist. I have realised that I am rather inefficient at keeping track of what I read so do bear with me as I try to cross them out on this list. So mechanical but much needed, yes?
EN3243: Science Fiction and Fantasy
Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card Hexwood, Diana Wynne Jones Miles Errant, Lois McmAster Bujold
Anno Dracula, Kim Newman
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
Ilium, Dan Simmons
A Philosophical Investigation, Philip Kerr
EN3234: Asian American Literature
The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston M Butterfly, David Henry Huang
Jasmine, Bharati Mukherjee
Sister Swing, Shirley Geok-lin Lim (just finished reading).
Selected writings (handout) of Garrett Hongo,
Wakako Yamauchi, Carlos Bulosan, Bienvenido Santos, Russell Leong and others.
EN3231: American Literature
“Self-Reliance”, Ralph Waldo Emerson “American Scholar”, Ralph Waldo Emerson “Young Goodman Brown”, Nathanial Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
“Civil Disobedience”, Henry David Thoreau
“Bartleby, the Scrivener”. Herman Melville
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass
“Paradise of Bachelors, Tartarus of Maids”, Herman Melville
“The Andreas sisters were raised on books – their family motto might as well be, ‘There’s no problem a library card can’t solve.’” – Summary taken from Eleanor Brown’s website.
Indeed, I was hooked from reading this very quote, perhaps it appealed to the Shakespeare geek in me or that I enjoy everything to do with Literature that is cleverly interwoven into texts, especially one so wonderfully written by Brown.
Yes, the use of the hyperbole is justified if you read the excerpt to her novel.
Of course, first impressions can be deceiving. But who cares? My literary appetite knows no boundaries and is hankering for a read of this novel.
Of late, there has been a trend of writing “literally literary” novels, joining the ranks of books like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (an epistolary novel) and one of the earliest I can remember reading, Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos. Some may mourn its lack of originality but really, I enjoy it because of the clever textual references. For the elitist in me, it works as an ego-booster.
And when one looks at Modern/Post-Modern books, you’ll realise that there is a trickling-down of original scripts, words, phrases, wit. And you start to realise.. There is a limit. Unfortunately, writers do not have the luxury of languishing in the sun or be trapped in their ivory tower. And writers are still human. And humans imitate each other. And yes, this is linked to Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.
Writers like Winterson today rewrite words and texts so much so that this recycled material is made new. It is almost a religious process, which brings to mine several Biblical verses (Does 2 Corinthians ring a bell?). They recognise that there is no longer any sense of originality, that they do not reflect reality but rather, it participates in reality’s deceit and hypocrisy.
The natural step would be to re-write, re-construct and re-cycle.
“People like to separate storytelling which is not fact from history which is fact. They do this so that they know what to believe and what not to believe… Knowing what to believe had its advantages. It built an empire and kept people where they belonged, in the bright realm of the wallet…” – Winterson, Jeanette. Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit. Chapter: Deuteronomy.
It is something for you to think about really. Shakespeare too is re-written so many times, though purists may mourn, the essential core remains unchanged. And perhaps I will go so far as to say that it too remains untainted. Indeed, it is wonderful that the possibilities are endless in Literature.