Tag Archives: English

Life as a Literary Critic

Life as a Literary Critic

I found this cartoon amusing. One of my old English teachers used to keep it on her wall. Of course, I believe that good literary criticism is worthwhile, but to be honest you can occasionally BS it if you’re with people who don’t really understand. Nonetheless, found this amusing.

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January 25, 2014 · 12:00 PM

Horror Stories for Horror Stories

Horror Stories for Horror Stories

I found this amusing and thought I’d share it. Just a cute cartoon about the reality of some books transition into movies. Hope it made you smile!

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August 24, 2013 · 3:16 PM

Confessions of a Reader

So, reading is one of my greatest passions but within the world of reading I’ve discovered several problems, or perhaps bad habits. So I’d like to highlight some of my problems as a reader and relieve my burdened soul. I hope you feel free to put your own confessions in the comments below!

I am a bookaholic- So I’ll confess that this is the biggest problem. I am addicted to books. Obviously there are worse things to be addicted to but this comes with a few problems of its own.

1. No shelf space- I currently have two shelves that are double stacked with books. I’m horrible at finding more space and yet for some reason every time I see a book at a yard sale or discounted at a bookstore I seem to forget all about what my room looks like.

2. Skimming- I’m a skimmer. It makes things difficult when I’m reading for class and the professor quizzes on minute details, but otherwise it does have its handy uses. I’m just so eager to get onto the next book I can’t seem to make myself read every word. This bad habit is something I am working on. I don’t believe every book should be skimmed.

3. Multiple books- I rarely finish a book before I pick another up. As you can see from my goodreads shelf on the side I have a problem with reading multiple books at once. I just read such a variety it makes it hard to pick just one thing to read.

4. Skipping ahead- As a kid I was especially bad about this. I used to just skip to the end and read it. If the end was worth it I’d finish the book but otherwise I wouldn’t.

5. Kidding myself- Sometimes I pick up books to read that I honestly know I’m not going to read but somehow try to convince myself I will. I can’t think of a specific example right now but far too many books I’ve gotten from the library have gone back untouched because I checked out the book for the wrong reasons.

6. Bad quality literature- as an English major there is a certain standard you feel you have to live up to in your reading. It’s always a bit embarrassing when people ask you what you’re reading and instead of replying Walden, or Great Expectations you have to admit it’s some teen romance novel. To be honest I know it’s good to read a variety and to know what’s out there besides classics, but this is still something I struggle with. Those guilty pleasure books are just too easy to pick up sometimes after struggling through a “classic”. As I am now 20 I still do feel a bit embarrassed going to the teens section and picking out a book, but I’ll admit I still do it anyways.

7. Books are my friends- now a days it’s usually my computer that consumes my time, but in the past I’ve had problems with picking up books instead of socializing. As a teenager my friends used to hide my books from me at lunch time so I would interact with people instead of pages.

8. Books before movies- I have always had a rule about books and movies. Always read the book first. Of course, while I state that rule I often lie about how well I follow it. Here is a list of movies I’ve watched before reading books or without reading the books:  The Help, The Lord of the Rings, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, The NeverEnding Story, The Jungle Book, Escape to Witch Mountain, Bridge to Terabethia, Ballet Shoes, Matilda, Pride and Prejudice, A Little Princess, Emma, Harriet the Spy, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and so many more. So, I confess I am a liar about this rule. I’ve likely seen more movies before reading the book than the other way around.

9. Being a nerd- This weekend I’ve been playing an old Harry Potter computer game I have and I have to admit there are a lot of inconsistencies with the books or what I know to be true. Sometimes I’m a nerd like that, knowing too much about the books I read. But to be honest I’m ok with that.

10. Travel issues- I always bring at least three books anytime I go on vacation. Sometimes even more. And of course that leads to a sore back when I return from carrying a heavy backpack or suitcase around. But I love my books and even if I don’t read them there’s something nice about having them along just in case.

So those are my confessions to make right now. Anyone else have some to share?

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Filed under Reading

Why Can’t the English?

As a person who studies the English language I have a certain appreciation for the structure and formatting. I am well inclined to like those who use it properly. I am not a “grammar nazi” by any means, and I certainly make a good amount of mistakes on a daily basis (I’m sure my talented readers could find many). Even so, living in our modern world that has so little appreciation for good grammar is hard sometimes.

Here are some lovely anonymous Facebook posts and comments I picked up as examples of the problems. I found these after just a few minutes of scanning my news feed:

“It’s just painful for a little while after, especially if the tensions start sticking to skin and bone, but for the most part, nothing to worry about! And if you have a good surgeon you’ll heal completely and have full use of yore hand in no time. And I don’t remember the slightest but of the surgery, and the pain meds made me happy lol”

“I miss you and love u!!! Wish I could have seen you before you left .. Have lots of fun!!!”

“Sadly no….but its kind of shockingly accurate

“So ___ and I saw this poor little duck that was struggling for its life in the pond at Julia Davis. We preceded to stop our game of disc golf and attempted to rescue her.”

“fantastic! i approve.”

These are just some random examples of the problems that can be seen on social media posts. Misspellings, lack of capitalization, no punctuation, etc. And these easily corrected errors drive me absolutely crazy. Though not perfect at English I wish some people could take more time before they speak or post.

Recently I’ve been listening to my favorite musicals as a stress reliever before my exams. While listening I came across an old favorite, “Why Can’t the English” from My Fair Lady. The song is an amusing dig at those who don’t know how to speak properly, but I relate it to writing as well.

I’ll post the lyrics and a Spotify track below. Give me your thoughts. Do you think there’s a problem with people not bothering to use proper grammar?

 

Higgins:
Look at her, a prisoner of the gutter,
Condemned by every syllable she utters.
By right she should be taken out and hung,
For the cold-blooded murder of the English tongue.

Eliza:
Aaoooww!

Higgins:
Aaoooww!
Heavens, what a noise!
This is what the British population,
Calls an elementary education.

Pickering:
Come, sir, I think you picked a poor example.

Higgins:
Did I?
Hear them down in Soho square,
Dropping “h’s” everywhere.
Speaking English anyway they like.
You sir, did you go to school?

Man:
Wadaya tike me for, a fool?

Higgins:
No one taught him ‘take’ instead of ‘tike’!

Hear a Yorkshireman, or worse,
Hear a Cornishman converse,
I’d rather hear a choir singing flat.
Chickens cackling in a barn,
Just like this one here.

Eliza:
Garn!

Higgins:
I ask you, sir, what sort of word is that?

It’s “Aaoooww” and “Garn” that keep her in her place.
Not her wretched clothes and dirty face.

Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak?
This verbal class distinction, by now,
Should be antique.
If you spoke as she does, sir,
Instead of the way you do,
Why, you might be selling flowers, too!

Pickering:
I beg your pardon!

Higgins: An Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him.
The moment he talks he makes some other Englishman despise him.
One common language I’m afraid we’ll never get,
Oh, why can’t the English learn to

set a good example to people whose
English is painful to your ears?
The Scots and the Irish leave you close to tears.
There even are places where English completely disappears.

In America, they haven’t used it for years!

Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak?
Norwegians learn Norwegian,
the Greeks are taught their Greek.
In France every Frenchman knows his language from “A” to “Zed”

The French never care what they do, actually, as long as they pronounce it properly.

Arabians learn Arabian with the speed of summer lightning,
The Hebrews learn it backwards,
which is absolutely frightening.
But use proper English and you’re regarded as a freak.

Why can’t the English,
Why can’t the English,
Learn To Speak?

 

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Filed under Writing

Easy Analysis: the Reasons Hawthorne Still Shows up in Hollywood

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Many people wonder why English is so important to study in school. In my high school years I heard complaint after complaint from friends. And of course, for those who don’t like reading, literature class is not exactly a treat.

However, I think there are valid reasons to study the written past. For one, to better understand our own language, the language we use around us in everyday life. The language I use as I type out to you, my readers. The language used on facebook and the news. The language we speak and write all the time. Language is what separates us from other animals and it is important, therefore, to devote some time to studying it.

Furthermore one might argue that literature teaches more about culture, history, philosophy, religion, psychology, and many other subjects alongside the area of linguistics. English is an all encompassing study in many ways.

However, I only recently discovered another use of reading the classics. It has come to my attention that a number of popular movies either reference or parody the books that high school English classes devote time to studying.

My friends are eager to get me to see a greater variety of movies and for that reason tonight I had my first experience with Easy A. I had to admit I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be seeing it, but figured it would be a good break from the day and agreed to watch. As the plot started out I was amused by some of the humor and reluctantly began to enjoy. And then came the part where I realized much of the movie is a reference to The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Though the plot may involve many modern scenarios and the problems of teen judgment and prejudice, there are slightly deeper rooted ideas through the connection to this older novel.

I have discovered that this is not entirely unknown amongst popular romcoms and chick flicks. Though I am just getting started in entering this field I have been appreciating how She’s the Man is a modern version of Twelfth Night. Or as I was watching You’ve Got Mail  (a bit of an older romcom, but amusing nonetheless) and realizing it was influenced by the Hungarian play Parfumerie.

To me this is a beautiful example of why literature is important to study. If books are being perpetuated in our popular culture there is clearly something that is still valuable about them. The messages are still relevant. The story ideas still have validity. Viewers can enjoy the humor of love and silly mix-ups in gender just as much in today’s time as in Shakespeare’s. And Hawthorne’s messages about judgment and condemnation also still have some relevance, especially to those living in the scary world of teenage cliques and rumors.

So why should we study the world of literature? Because it has something valuable to offer us, something we are still searching and seeking in other forms. And why not get a better understanding of how long these questions and problems have been perpetuating throughout our history. Perhaps Hawthorne’s visions of Puritan New England aren’t far off from the struggles faced by a girl in a modern high school.

Do you know of any more popular movies influenced by more “classical” sources? I would be curious to know! I am enjoying exploring this new finding of mine and hope I can continue to see literary influence in other films that I view in the future.

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Filed under Movies, Reading