A recent blogpost by CricketMuse made me think back to fond memories of my high school and college literature classes. Although I enjoyed my English classes, I’m not sure that I appreciated the full import of what I was getting. I regarded it as something to get through, focusing more on the degree to be conferred at the end of 4 years, rather than an education to be savored. For the price my parents were paying, I should have paid more attention to the likes of Melville, Dickens, Hawthorne, Shakespeare, Dickens and Fitzgerald.
I wish I could take a literature class or two these days, just for the pure enjoyment of learning and discussion. I allow myself to daydream about a masters degree in English Literature, but Sallie Mae, Inc., reminds me every month that I am still paying off one postgraduate degree.
Here is my list of authors (and poets) who deserve an apology for the scant and shallow attention I gave them the first time around.
1. ee cummings. (Dude, his stuff didn’t rhyme and he messed around with punctuation and spacing. Years later I read “i carry your heart with me” and I wondered why I did not know more about this poet. Ooops.)
2. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams.
3. Walden by Henry David Thoreau. (My teacher went on and on and on about this guy who left society and went to live in a hut to be near nature. Good lord, who would want to do that, I thought. Clearly, I had nothing like bills, mortgage and the stress of a work to worry about. I also remember vague points on American Transcendentalism.)
5. John Steinbeck (I promise that someday I will read Grapes of Wrath, even though I heard that there is one chapter that goes on and on about dirt.)
6. Shakespeare’s Hamlet (My teacher did everything to make Hamlet palatable to high school students. She had us watch the movie, but I greatly resented being required to attend class over the weekend to watch soliloquies.)
7. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
8. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
9. Dante’s Inferno.
10. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. (I remember that there are stories by a nun and a knight. And it did not involve Monty Python and the holy grail.)
- Walden, Revisited (mattviews.wordpress.com)
- Struggling with Shakespeare? There’s an app for that (cbc.ca)
- Charles Dickens: I’ve Never Read His Novels (paulrwaibel.com)
- What I Want My Students to Know (polensplace.wordpress.com)
- #4: Required Reading for High School English (cricketmuse.wordpress.com)