Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882, the daughter of the Victorian literary critic Leslie Stephen. She lived and was educated in a highly intellectual atmosphere at home, as her father was friendly with many of the main literary figures of the period, among them Henry James. Her mother died when she was 13 and the loss influenced her profoundly. It was soon after her mother’s death that she had the first of a series of nervous breakdowns which affected her all her life. When her father died in 1904, she moved to a new area of London, Bloomsbury, where she founded a close circle of intellectuals, who became known as the “Bloomsbury Group”. Among them there was Leonard Woolf, who later became her husband, and the novelist E.M. Forster, besides painters and art critics.
The Bloomsberries shared the desire to challenge the strict Victorian social norms, and demonstrated a sexual freedom that was ahead of their time. They were rather elitist and exclusive. They have been highly criticized for their snobbishness and selfishness. The group was also reproached with its pacifism during the First World War.
In 1913, after completing her first novel, The Voyage Out, she attempted suicide following another of her recurrent mental breakdowns. In 1917 she and her husband founded the Hogarth Press which published the best experimental works of the period besides her own works. Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), The Waves (1931) and Between the Acts (1941) are her most famous novels. Her love affair with Vita Sackville-West inspired her to write a fantasy Orlando (1928), the story of an attractive nobleman who lives through different centuries changing sex several times. Besides being a novelist, she was an essayist, journalist and art critic. Her judgments were both highly regarded and feared for their uncompromising frankness. The Common Reader (1925-32) contains the best critical work. She was also deeply interested in feminist themes. Discrimination against women is examined in A Room of One’s Own (1929), while the dominant role played by men in society is the theme of Three Guineas (1938). She eventually committed suicide by drowning in the River Ouse in 1941.
The work of Virginia Woolf marks an important step in the development of the novel, as she consciously rejected some of the main conventions of the realistic fiction of the Victorian Age and developed a new way of expressing a different perception of reality. For her, events were not important in themselves. What was important was the impression they made on the characters who experienced them. The great technical innovation she introduced in narrative technique was to shift the point of view inside her characters’ minds, thus revealing them through their own thoughts, sensations and impressions. This led to the abandonment of the chronological ordering of events. Her novels involve constant shifting backwards and forwards in time according to the sensations and recollections aroused in the characters by the events they are experiencing. Virginia Woolf’s fiction is often characterized by two levels of narration, one of external events arranged in chronological order and one of the flux of thoughts arranged according to the association of ideas. Her novels rely on very flimsy plots. They focus on internal thoughts, feelings and reactions in a highly evocative and figurative language which follows the random associations.
Sunday, 5 May 2013
A Room with a View is a 1908 novel by English writer E. M. Forster, about a young woman in the repressed culture of Edwardian era England. Set in Italy and England, the story is both a romance and a critique of English society at the beginning of the 20th century.
In 1998, the Modern Library ranked A Room with a View 79th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
A Room with a View is also a 1985 British drama film directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant. The film is a close adaptation of 's and even uses his chapter titles to divide the film into sections. It stars Maggie Smith as "Charlotte Bartlett", Helena Bonham Carter as "Lucy Honeychurch", Judi Dench as "Eleanor Lavish", Julian Sands as "George Emerson," Daniel Day-Lewis as "Cecil Vyse" and Simon Callow as "The Reverend Mr. Beebe".
Wednesday, 1 May 2013
May Day on May 1 is an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures.
The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane. Many pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized during the process of conversion in Europe.
A more secular version of May Day continues to be observed in Europe and America. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing "the maypole dance" and crowning of the May Queen.
Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of "May baskets", small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbours' doorsteps.
Here you can read an interesting article about May Day as "a cornucopia of holidays" ...
Friday, 26 April 2013
This is why I studied literature in college. This is why I became a teacher: to share in grand conversations about books, to spread the joy, to initiate and welcome students into the fraternity, into..."the club of clubs," to travel with them into wondrously familiar or incredibly strange imaginative worlds.
Jeffrey D. Wilhelm
The Victorian Age was called the "age of fiction" because of the immense popularity the genre gained in the period. Many outstanding writers turned to novel writing and the number of novels published yearly increased enormously. Novels were also serialised in magazines. The first part of the Victorian Age was characterised by the triumph of the realistic novel. Both characters and events were interpreted and judged by an omniscient narrator who expressed the dominant moral view of the time. The story generally ended in a happy way or at least with good triumphing over evil. In the second part of the Victorian Age an anti-Victorian trend developed in the criticism of the hypocrisy and bigotry of the middle classes. The general anti-Victorian trend culminated towards the end of the century with the Aesthetic Movement which rejected the Victorian moral view of literature.
Here you can download a handout about the Victorian novel.
Thursday, 25 April 2013
Here you can download a mind map of Medieval literature.
You will certainly enjoy this video of Geoffrey Chaucer, known as the Father of English literature, widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages.
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
Today is the 449th birthday of not only the greatest playwright who ever lived, but also the greatest poet. William Shakespeare is the most accomplished English writer of all time, by far the world’s most produced dramatist, and the finest wordsmith to ever pen a word in the English language.
He invented more words than most people even know. There are at least 1,500 different words and phrases that don't appear anywhere prior to the Bard of Avon putting them on paper. When he got stuck trying to think up a word, the man just made his own!
The following words and phrases were first coined by William Shakespeare:
A dish fit for the gods (Julius Caesar)
All our yesterdays (Macbeth)
All's well that ends well (title)
As merry as the day is long (Much Ado About Nothing)
In a better world than this (As You Like It)
Break the ice (The Taming of the Shrew)
Brevity is the soul of wit (Hamlet)
For goodness' sake (Henry VIII)
Jealousy is the green-eyed monster (Othello)
It was Greek to me (Julius Caesar)
Make a virtue of necessity (The Two Gentlemen of Verona)
Much Ado About Nothing (title)
Neither rhyme nor reason (As You Like It)
A sorry sight (Macbeth)
Stony hearted (I Henry IV)
Spotless reputation (Richard II)
The world's my oyster (Merry Wives of Windsor)