Sunday, December 09, 2007

Doris Lessing, and Tom Paulin

Yesterday's Guardian Review had two particularly interesting articles. Next term we will be studying Doris Lessing's first novel The Grass is Singing with our V form as part of their comparative module in the Leaving Certificate course. Lessing is not well enough to travel to Stockholm to collect her recently-awarded Nobel Prize for Literature, but you can read her Nobel lecture, 'A Hunger for Books' online on the Guardian's site here. It is an impassioned defence of reading and storytelling :-

We are a jaded lot, we in our world - our threatened world. We are good for irony and even cynicism. Some words and ideas we hardly use, so worn out have they become. But we may want to restore some words that have lost their potency. We have a treasure-house of literature, going back to the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans. It is all there, this wealth of literature, to be discovered again and again by whoever is lucky enough to come up on it. suppose it did not exist. How impoverished, how empty we would be.

Also, Tom Paulin writes about our 12th Poem of the Week, John Keats's ode 'To Autumn' here, (picture of manuscript, right), and argues that it is 'not only a pastoral masterpiece but a coded political poem in the aftermath of the Peterloo massacre.'

Finally, Giles Whittell wrote a savage attack on Shakespeare in yesterday's London Times here :
It's the plays I loathe, and the orgiastic groupthink that drips from every one of them; the industrialised, irresistible consensus; the greatness thrust upon them by brainwashed English teachers, polished with coach vomit and fish-and-chip fat on every school trip to Stratford, mindlessly reaffirmed by every A-level English examiner, and worshipped with world-class, awestruck claptrap by academics and directors from Stanford to Irkutsk.

Entertaining hyperbole and, of course, wrong. We here at SCC continue to celebrate the works of Shakespeare in class, through our Shakespeare Society, and in our productions of his plays, such as
The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It and, this time last year, Twelfth Night.

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