When we read different writer’s works, it helps if we are able to empathise with them – their life, the struggles they have. Writers possess character flaws, of which some can be considered alarming, hence making readers and students empathising with them a challenge. Take for example, Ibsen. Despite his glittering career and the timeless appeal of his works, Ibsen abandoned his mother for all the great concern about women and their situation shown in most of his works. He only resumed contact with his younger sister when they were both in their twilight years. Tsk tsk tsk, how could he do that? Even more incriminating was the tragic fact that his mother was bullied and
stomped upon by his father throughout their entire marriage until his father’s death. Ibsen witnessed it when he was living in his family house. But then Ibsen’s literary genius remains spellbinding and to appreciate his works, it helps to understand that he is an aloof character. And although he did not show any concern for his mother during his illustrious years, he was a man ahead of his time and his works are admired and studied by writers after him and of course by students from all over.
Then of course how can i ignore Edgar Allan Poe who achieved posthumous fame but was variously regarded as a practical joker, fraud, a foolish drunkard and worst of all an unbalanced and sadistic criminal. He would have frightened the daylights out of many of us if we had him for our neighbour or relative! Sorry that I am taking great liberty here to drive home a point! But then if we know his tragic life – he lost his parents at a tender age of 4, he struggled with poverty throughout his entire time – even at the height of his fame and his enormous reputation in France, he was still living on the cusp of impoverishment and his untimely demise at the age of forty make it less difficult to put aside our judgment and appreciate his works and even view him in a sympathetic light.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Adding a new title is a lot of work but it demonstrates my commitment to help as many students as possible.
There are many special features of the Literature sessions. Some of them are as follows:
no downloading of online materials from Wikipedia, Sparknotes or Bookrags.
no simple relating of events in the book
Instead there will be:
understanding the contexts. – relating the texts to certain periods such as modernism, postmodernism, naturalist theatre, etc and to the events and cultural phenomena of the period in which the texts are set.
detailed analysis and interpretation of events, actions and dialogue
mapping of literary and cultural theories onto the reading of the texts
analysing questions and practising answering them.