Wednesday, May 4

Ethan Frome - Edith Wharton

Some notes and study guides online.

Full text. Published 1911.
Audio Book and full text at Project Gutenberg
Audio text at Libribox.


Book summary characters, study notes. (limited access, adds not suitable for school)
Themes: colours, death and isolation, environment, love.

Infidelity, love triangles, marks.(last para.)

Frame narrative, flashback, full circle character, symbolism (names), pov.

Lesson Plans (limited access)
Classroom study links.
Penguin guide pdf
Study guide pdf (webquest included)
Mini guide pdf
Book discussion club link

Sample essay questions, strategies, glossary of literary terms

Vocabulary search in the novel.

Flashcards examples
Flashcards Chapter 1

Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

Entrapment in the Literature of Edith Wharton pdf
The French Lieutenant's Woman confronts the Age of Innocence: John Fowles response to Edith Wharton. pdf

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Tuesday, April 14

Walker Percy "The Loss of the Creature"

Some quotes from 'The Loss of the Creature', by Walker Percy. This essay was written in 1954.

"The educator whose business it is to teach students biology or poetry is unaware of a whole ensemble of relations which exist between the student and the dogfish and between the student and the Shakespeare sonnet.

To put it bluntly: A student who has the desire to get at a dogfish or a Shakespeare sonnet may have the greatest difficulty in salvaging the creature itself from the educational package in which it is presented. The great difficulty is that he is not aware that there is a difficulty; surely, he thinks, in such a fine classroom, with such a fine textbook, the sonnet must come across! What's wrong with me?

The sonnet and the dogfish are obscured by two different processes. The sonnet is obscured by the symbolic package which is formulated not by the sonnet itself but by the media through which the sonnet is transmitted, the media which the educators believe for some reason to be transparent. The new textbook, the type, the smell of the page, the classroom, the aluminum windows and the winter sky, the personality of Miss Hawkins---these media which are supposed to transmit the sonnet may only succeed in transmitting themselves. It is only the hardiest and cleverest of students who can salvage the sonnet from this many-tissued package. It is only the rarest student who knows that the sonnet must be salvaged from the package. (The educator is well aware that something is wrong, that there is fatal gap between the student's learning and the student's life: The student reads the poem, appears to understand it, and gives all the answers. But what does he recall if he should happen to read a Shakespeare sonnet twenty years later? Does he recall the poem or does he recall the smell of the page and the smell of Miss Hawkins?)"


"I propose that English poetry and biology should be taught as usual, but that at irregular intervals, poetry students should find dogfishes on their desks and biology students should find Shakespeare sonnets on their dissecting boards ..."

Walter Percy -Bio
Wikipedia entry
"He devoted his literary life to the exploration of "the dislocation of man in the modern age." His work displays a unique combination of existential questioning, Southern sensibility, and deep Catholic faith."

Encyclopedia of Alabama
"Percy also wrote other noted works that explore the notion that human beings are out of place in the cosmos, that they have become alienated to the world they inhabit, and that they are searching for ways to bring significance into their lives. In short, as the title of one of his works of non-fiction implies, they are looking for "the message in the bottle" that will bring a salvation of sorts."

Some notes on Percy's essays
Wikipedia entry
"'The Loss of the Creature' is an exploration of the way the more or less objective reality of the individual is obscured in and ultimately lost to systems of education and classification."
"The literature student is blocked from the sonnet by the educational system built around it, what Percy calls its "package." Instead of transmitting the subject of education, education often transmits only itself, and the student does not view the subject as open and delightful, nor does he view himself as sovereign. Percy offers two ways around this, both involving, as did his solution to the problem of the Grand Canyon, an indirect approach. Either the student can suffer some sort of ordeal that opens the text to him in a new way; or else he can be apprenticed to a teacher who takes a very unusual approach to the subject. He suggests that biology students be occasionally taught literature, and vice-versa. The overall effect of this obscuration by structure is one of the basic conditions of modern society: The individual layman is reduced to being a consumer. The individual thing becomes lost to the systems of classification and theory created for the consumer, and the individual man loses all sense of ownership. The solution to this problem, according to Percy, is not to get rid of museums but for 'the sightseer to be prepared to enter into a struggle to recover a sight from a museum'"

Inventory of Percy's Works

The essay text

Pdf file

Percy at Notre Dame
In his speech, Percy reflects on the task of the novelist.

Image credits
Walker Percy by Brilarian

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Friday, March 27

Robert Frost- The Road Not Taken

Professor Kevin Murphy from Ithaca University lectures about Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken.

Video: 26:43

My notes while watching the vid:
-Frost 1874-1963
-Pulitzer Prize: 4 times
-Contrast between the public and private Frost
-Demystifying poem interpretations
-Min 7. Reads the poem
-Appeal of the poem- apparently simple poem for basic decisions in life
-An affirmation of non-conformity. Go your own way.
-Autobiography. A tale with this uncle Peter. Inspiration for the poem
-How do we know that the person speaking in his poem took the road less travelled by?
-Examined one road and then took quickly at the other
-Rather than giving us evidence, it becomes an equivocation
-He wishes he could do everything.
-Sigh. Shifting point in the poem. Jumps forward to the future
Sigh. contentment? nostalgia? regret?
-A slight revision takes place ...and I (hesitation)
-The evidence before contradicts the statement of having taken the less travelled by road.
-He doesn't say if the difference made was good or bad. People seem to want to hear a positive message. 1973 readings.
-In the future I will provide a happy rationalization of the experience, not that it was good or bad.
-We would think well of ourselves. Our understanding of ourselves is a positive one.
-Self-deception. The title. Looking back to a decision. A terrible sensation: what if I have made the wrong decision?
-Indecision and equivocation. Could it be that they naturally lead to this kind of rationalisation? As fallible human beings , we will question our decisions.
-Clearly, the final two lines are not supported by the evidence that precedes them.
-Frost's darker side in his life was masked. Just as in the poem.
A darker depth, underside to the poem is an interpretation which has been overlooked.

Some quotes on analysis of the poem.

Comments in a class blog. Yet another.

Pictures of Robert Frost.

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