AP Literature and Composition
DeLand High School
2007 - 2008

This site is being revised for the current school year.

E-Mail Kaney at School
E-Mail Kaney at Home
Keys to Success in AP Literature and Composition
Policies and Procedures
Extended Reading Due Dates
Pre-Course Assignment
AP Test Site
SAT Test Site
Sunshine State Standards
Volusia County Schools
Career Connection
AP Prompts

Preparation Guides


Keys to Success in AP Literature and Composition


  1. Reading recursively and querying the text to discover and to construct meaning.
  2. Discerning patterns and signals in the text; drawing inferences as to purpose and effect of same.
  3. Connecting and synthesizing observations about textual detail (e.g., figurative language, imagery, symbolism, diction, setting, characterization, tone) to make meaningful claims about the larger elements of structure, style, and theme.
  4. Engaging in intelligent discussion, including active listening and constructive speaking.
  5. Describing how language contributes both literally and figuratively to the meaning of a work.
  6. Writing to capture and clarify ideas.
  7. Forming meaningful claims and offering detailed textual proofs in cogent and effectively composed arguments and analyses.
  8. Composing genuine, well reasoned critical essays, making reasonably sophisticated decisions about semantics, register, rhetorical device, syntax, organization, and structure.
  9. Investigating meanings and nuances of new vocabulary and incorporating new language into working repertoire.

Preparation Deadlines for Extended Reading Preparation



Pre-Course Assignment
English IV - AP
Literature and Composition

Welcome!  I’m so glad that you’ve decided to join me in English IV- AP Literature and Composition.  This pre-course assignment is a little different from what you might be accustomed to, so be sure that you follow the yellow brick road.  (The last sentence contains an allusion.  Be ready to identify and explain it when you get to class.  By the time that you complete this assignment, you should be able not only to explain where the phrase comes from, but you should be able to tie the image to its archetypal roots!)

You will need to purchase the following three texts for this assignment.  These texts actually will be used throughout the entire course.  They are:

Foster, Thomas C.  How to Read Literature Like a Professor:  A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines.  New York:  HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2003. [ISBN 0-06-000942-X]

Murphy, Barbara L., and Estelle M. Rankin.  McGraw Hill 5 Steps to a 5:  AP English Literature.  New York:  The McGraw Hill Companies, Inc., 2002.  [ISBN 0-07-137719-0]

Murphy, Barbara L. and Estelle M. Rankin.  McGraw Hill 5 Steps to a 5:  Writing the AP English Essay.  New York:  The McGraw Hill Companies, Inc., 2004. [ISNB 0-07-141110-0]

 In addition, you will make extensive use of what you have previously thought of as internet cheat sites.  Bet you never would have dreamed …


Read the Foster book, cover to cover.  This is NOT a novel.  It’s easy to read and, as advertised, entertaining.  Moreover, it will unlock many of the mysteries about why teachers see things in books that you sometimes miss.

 Thoroughly read and internalize Chapters 1 and 2 of 5 Steps … AP English Literature.  Take the sample test in Chapter 2.

 Thoroughly read, internalize and do all exercises in Chapters 7 and 8 of 5 Steps … AP English Literature.

 Thoroughly read, internalize and do all exercises in Chapters 1 and 2 of 5 Steps … Writing the AP English Essay

Go to your favorite literature cheat site (actually, some are better than others) to read and study context, plot summary, chapter or act summary, theme, motif, etc., and discussion questions for all of the works I’ve listed below.  Make sufficient card notes to be able to carry on a reasonable conversation about these works.  Why would I do this?  Well, it turns out that there is a perfectly legitimate way to use such sites as these, as long as you realize that you’re getting a filtered look at the original text.  None of you has read widely enough to be conversant about some of our most important works of literature and some of those most commonly referenced or iterated in other texts.  I will continue to add texts to this “skim list” as we go through the course.  As you read Foster, you will quickly begin to realize that our literature is hugely intertextual; becoming knowledgeable about a broad base of works will make your AP Literature experience richer and it will make your university life (the school part) more rewarding.

List of Works:

The Iliad (Homer)

The Book of Job (Bible)

The Odyssey (Homer)

The Aeneid (Vergil)

Beowulf (Unknown)

The Divine Comedy (Dante)

Faust (Goethe)

 A Word to the Wise:  You will, no doubt, immediately note that there’s no big essay to produce.  I’m treating you like the college level students I’ll expect you to be when you get to class.  Believe me, by the end of the first week of classes, you will be much happier to have done this assignment (and done it very thoughtfully) than not to have …!

 With that ominous caution, I’ll wish you a happy summer!



Preparation Guide - Oedipus the King

1.   Do reasonable background reading/review about Greek mythology and the Greek theatre.  Some helpful websites: 
Greek Mythology
Ancient Greek Theater
Structure of Greek Theater
Theater Photographs and Information
In addition to exploring these websites, be certain that you read E.F. Watling's introduction to the Penguin edition.  (Always, always read introductions!)
2.   Study the following concepts and apply them to your reading of both play.
Dike:  Nature's attempt to provide a balance between elements, the only justice possible.
Moira:  Fate or the irrational principle that simply says, "What will be will be."  It is not predestination in the Calvinist sense because it considers the role of chance or luck.*
Protagonist:  A Greek term meaning, "first combatant;" one who wrestles with a problem.
Antagonist:  The person or thing that causes the problem.
Hubris:  Excessive pride in one's particular ability.
Hamartia:  A term from archery that means "missing the mark."  It is not by necessity a fault.  This trait in the protagonist's personality, together with moira, will impact the person's choices, setting the forces of change into motion.
Peripeteia:  In the course of the action, this is the reversal of fortune, the point from which the protagonist cannot recover.
Anagnoresis:  This is the moment of full recognition by the protagonist and acceptance of responsibility for the choices made and the tragedy that results.*
Catharsis:  A ritual purification of the community from the taints and sins of the past year.  For the Greeks, "sin" is a disabedience of the Divine Will, even if one is unaware of the transgression.
Tragic Hero:  A person with an exceptional quality, who through excessive pride, takes this quality to the extreme when confronted with an external force or problem outside of his control.  The external circumstances will defeat him; this is the tragedy.  However, he is a hero because while his fate is not completely in his control, his choices define his and all men's ability to transcend and achieve self-knowledge.  This process of transcendence is know as "pathe mathos": suffering into the knowledge that while humans desire a rational, controllable world, the universe often appears irrational.*
Greek Drama:  Originally a religious ceremony, with a community function to reinforce the ideas of tragedy and the tragic hero for the general community.
Spectacle:  Includes the technical aspects of the theatrical production.  For the Greek theatre, these include:  the stage itself (skene, orchestra, and lack of substantial scenery), the use of masks and stilts, the use of the Chorus, both strophe and antistrophe, the parados and exodus of each tragedy, the use of the ode.  (Know the meaning and significance of all these terms.  Your websites will be helpful.)

*The notions of moira, anagnoresis and pathe mathos are among the earliest articulations of an existential view of the universe.

3.   Go to The Poetics - Outline to read and carefully study Aristotle's theory of tragedy.  Pursue embedded links.  Then, examine how Oedipus the King meets Aristotle's standards for unity of action.  Sequencing the events listed below will help you to do this.  Consider cause and effect as you work through the sequence.
a.   the plague
b.   Oedipus' curse
c.   Oedipus' refusal to believe Teiresias
d.   Oedipus' refusal to believe Creon
e.   Oedipus' discovery of where Laius' murder occurred
f.   the announcement of Oedipus' father's death
g.   Oedipus' discovery of his being exposed to die as an infant
h.   Oedipus' discovery of the truth through the messenger
i.   Jocasta's suicide
j.   Oedipus' blinding

4.   Consider how the name "Oedipus" reflects the character of the man.  Note places where Sophocles plays on the meaning of the name throughout the play.

5.   Examine the role played by the Chorus in the play.

6.   Carefully examine the characterization of Oedipus evident in each of the Choral Odes.  Explore and note how the characterization develops and changes.

7.   Inherent in the concepts of moira, anagnoresis and pathe mathos is that a fundamental irony underpins human existence.  Carefully note all incidents of irony in the play.

8.   Examine Oedipus' revelation of his own character in his responses to the Chorus, to Creon, and to Teiresias throughout the play.  Follow these revelations and the anagnoresis that Oedipus ultimately experiences and reveals.

9.   Examine major symbols and light and darkness / sight and blindness in the play and arrange your list so that each symbol/image corresponds to a facet of Oedipus' character.  Make page and location notations for easy reference.  Arrange your notes so that you can easily locate your evidence for an in-class writing assignment about this motif.

10.Oedipus' original question (quest), "Who killed the king?" becomes a much larger question and one of far greater consequence, "Who am I?".  Sophocles turns the play from a murder mystery to a philosophical investigation of what it means to be human:  Who are we as a species, where do we come from, where are we going, what responsibilities to ourselves and others must be answered before we make basic choices in life?  Can we know all that is necessary to make informed choices?  What, then, is our condition?  Examine the play to determine how turns of the plot and Oedipus' responses to them reveal Sophocles' philosophical queries about the human delimma.

11.   How does the final Choral Ode elucidate the play's theme?

12.   The last lines of the play are a warning.  What is the warning and in what respects is it universally appropriate?

13.  How do you suppose seeing this play would have brought catharsis to the audience?  How would it have served as a ritual purification for the sins of the past year?  (Keep in mind that the story was well known to playgoers.  They already knew the plot.)


Preparation Guide:  Antigone
1.   Bring your background reading for Oedipus the King to your reading of Antigone.  In addition, you will need to explore the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and background information on Niobe. 
For Hymn to Demeter, see:
Sacred Texts
Hymn in Verse Form, with notes
For Niobe:
Myth Summary and Commentary
Translation of the Myth, with discussion of two major subsequent allusions

2.   From the very beginning, read Antigone and Ismene representatively.  Clearly annotate your text so that you can go back and accumulate data to characterize each and to write a scholarly discussion of the world views represented by each.  Note where each sister positions herself in the world.

3.   Explore the function of the Chorus in this play.  How does this function compare with the function of the Chorus in Oedipus the King?

4.   What of his own character does Creon reveal in his opening address to the Chorus?  What is revealed of his character in his reaction to the attempted burial of Polynices?

5.   Commentarial literature is filled with argument about whether the play's tragic hero is Antigone or Creon.  I want you to approach the argument as the result of purposeful ambiguity in the play.  To explore the ambiguity, look carefully at the following:
a.   In Ode I, the Chorus says, "...they walk with fixed eyes, as blind men walk."  How might this statement describe a hamartia in both characters?
b.   Explore how the sentry's words, "How dreadful it is when the right judge judges wrong." might apply to both characters.
c.   Analyze the argument between Creon and Antigone about the problem arising from the clash of public and private morality.
d.   How is Antigone's character reinforced in her confrontation with Ismene?
e.   How does Chorus Ode II reinforce the precautions of Ode I?
f.   In the conflict between Creon and Antigone resides a conflict between two types of law.  This is also a conflict between male and female power, foreshadowed in Ismene's words to Antigone in the prologue.  How is this attitude toward the weaker members of society seen again in Creon's confrontation with his son?  Creon originally describes the ideal ruler's attributes.  Haemon adds to the list of attributes which a perfect ruler should have.  How do Creon's words in this confrontation compare with his original speech to the townspeople in the play's opening?  What has corrupted him?  How does the method of Antigone's execution reinforce the corruption of Creon?
g.   The Chorus observes of Creon and Haemon, "Both speak well."

6.   For the Greek's, what is the difference between philia and eros?  (For the Greeks, there are several kinds of love, the most important of which is altruistic.)  What is the Chorus' commentary and caution with regard to love in the 3rd Choral Ode?

7.   Who or what does Antigone ultimately blame for her fate?  What are the Chorus' arguments against Antigone's charges?  What are the merits of the Chorus' arguments?

8.   Ultimately, Antigone doubts her innocence and curses Creon.  What does this reveal about her tragic nature?

9.   Pay careful attention to Teiresias address to Creon [pp 152-155 (Penguin)], beginning , "Then mark me now; for you stand on a razor's edge." and continuing to Teiresias exit.  Teiresias holds both Creon and Antigone responsible.  What, according to Teiresias, is Creon's crime?

10.   Do both Antigone and Creon experience anagnoresis?  If so,  where does the recognition come for each?  If not, does either experience anagnoresis?  If so, where?  What are the causes?

11.   What limitations do you find in viewing Antigone as a tragic hero?  What limitations do you find in viewing Creon as a tragic hero?

12.   How does the idea of fate or destiny differ between Antigone and Oedipus the King?

13.   What is Sophocles' theme?


Preparation Guide - Macbeth
Background Preparation
Read A.C. Bradley's "The Substance of Shakespearean Tragedy" .
This is a very long lecture, and Bradley makes extensive reference to plays and sources that you will not have read.  I suggest that you skim the lecture, pulling from it the essence of Bradley's comments about the nature of Shakespearean tragedy.  Bradley remains the premier Shakespearean scholar and you should get at least a small dose of his insight.  Use these questions to focus your reading:

1.   Bradley lists 3 elements subordinate to character:  abnormal conditions of mind, the supernatural, and chance.  Define and explain each.
2.   What is the role of "conflict" for Bradley?
3.   According to Bradley, what makes Shakespearean heroes "exceptional"?  What is the result of their being so?  What is the fundamental tragic trait"?
4.   Explain how the tragic hero's goodness can be his tragic trait.  Explain why he may not be "bood" but he must be great.  Define what produces the tone       of tragedy.
5.   For Bradley, what is the "ultimate power" that influences tragedy?  Does he see it as a moral order?  As fate?  As neither?
6.   What is the definition of tragedy for Bradley?

After you have skimmed Bradley, go to www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/eng366/lectures/macbeth.htm.   (You will have to cut and paste this URL.  My web page composer has lost its mind all of a sudden.)  This lecture will be much more accessible to you.  Read it carefully.

Go to http://www.rsc.org.uk/exploringshakespeare/mlanguageandthemes/macbethschoices.htm.  (Cut and paste this one, too.  I don't have time right now to track down the problem with linking to these two sites.)  This website is wonderful and very informative. To fully explore and enjoy, be sure that you have your speakers hooked up and turned up.

Additional websites for introduction to Shakespeare and his culture:
Mr. Shakespeare on the Internet
Shakespeare online
Shakespeare Biography

Research and explore the following:
1.   Similarities and differences between Greek and Renaissance drama:  purpose, staging, actors.
2.   Political, economic, and religious dimensions of Elizabethan England.  Key terms:  Christian humanism, reformation, nationalism, patron.
3.   The Renaissance man.
4.   Values that dominated 16th-century English culture.
5.   Dominant attitude toward education.
6.   Revenge tragedy.

Pay close attention to paradox and dramatic irony throughout the play.
1.   Roughly outline Acts I and II.  Indicate the causes and effects of the major actions.  Note lines that provide characterization.  Begin imagery log for               blood, clothing, light and dark, sickness, animals.
2.   What destroys Macbeth?  What destroys Lady Macbeth?
3.   What are the implications of "Fair is foul/foul is fair" (I.i.11)?
4.   How do the ironies surrounding the major characters in this act reveal the character of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?  How do they foreshadow the               action and the theme?
5.   Compare/contrast Macbeth and Banquo -- their reactions to the prophecies, martial abiltiy, courtliness, loyalty to their king.  How are their personalities       similar and different?
6.   Compare/contrast Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Act I.  Who appears morally stronger?  More ambitious?  More practical?  More courageous?  Are        different definitions of courage being implied here?
7.   How is the soliloquy in Act I, vii a summary of Macbeth's character?
8.   In Act II, look for the comparisons and contrasts that Shakespeare is making between the natures of Duncan, Banquo, and the Macbeths.  The                   disintegration of the murdering duo should also become clear -- both before and after the murder scene.  The way in which each personality changes            highlights the difference between the two.  Look for the Renaissance link between reason, nature, and the natural order.  To destroy one is to destroy            all.
9.    The drunken Porter scene (II,iii) is "comic relief."  Investigate the term.  Do you see traces of paradox in this scene?  Ambiguity?  Equivocation?  How         is the porter similar to the Witches?  The Porter is a tempter to what kind of hell?  Are the uncontrolled lust and drunkenness of the Porter similar to             anything in Macbeth's character?  Wherein lies the comedy in this scene?
10.   Macbeth makes the statement:  "The expedition of my violent love outrun the pauser, reason"  (II.iii.110-111).  Define "reason" here.  In what ways             can a person 'outrun" it?  How does this statement reinforce theme?
11.   In Act II.iv, how does the imagery highlight the dual nature of man?
12.   Why is the Macbeth's murdering Banquo the Climactic scene?  How is this murder different from Duncan's?  What has happened to the relationship             between the Macbeths and why?
13.   How does the tone of the scene between Macbeth and the two murderers remind you of Act I?
14.   How does this murder and the attempted murder of Fleance affect Macbeth?  Is he a different man?  What is the importance of Banquo's ghost?
15.   Has Lady Macbeth's role changed?  What is Shakespeare's purpose in showing her disintegration in contrast to Macbeth's?
16.   "Something wicked this way comes"  shows the witches' psychological and moral judgment of Macbeth.  Explain how he has changed from their first             meeting.  How do ambiguity and equivocation play an important part in this scene and reinforce the theme?
17.   Reason can be "outrun" for good as well as for evil.  Explain how this applies to Macduff.  Contrast Macduff and Macbeth, Malcom with both Duncan             and Macbeth as King.
18.   Why has Lady Macbeth been absent from the stage since Act III?  What is the dramatic effect of her absence?  She returns in the opening scene of             Act V.  What is the importance of her "sickness" to the theme?  What has Macbeth's kingship done to Scotland?  Why does Lady Macbeth's                     personality result in madness and suicide?
19.  Discuss what the famous soliloquy in V.v. reveals about Macbeth's state of mind and about the tragic hero?  What is the tone of this soliloquy?
20.   Does the death of Macbeth arouse the Aristotelian response of pity and fear?  What is your reaction to Malcolm's judgment that the pair are a "dead             butcher and his fiendlike queen"?
21.   Is Macbeth a classical tragic hero, responsible for his own fate, or are the witches and Lady Macbeth equally as or more responsible?  Why and how         is this issue important to the theme?
22.   Bradley says that Shakespeare's tragic heroes have an intensity to their natures -- an obsession that is both their genius and their undoing.  How is                 Macbeth an example of this?

To prepare for an outside essay on images in the play:
1.   Having listed the images related to Macbeth and clothing, what do you find?  What is the effect of a small man in oversized clothing?  How is it related to       the theme?
2.   Bradley has implied that all nature is united in its effort to attain the good.  Any evil act against one is an eviil act against the whole body.  Look at your           image list related to light and dark and to animals.  Pay attention to the progression of the imagery.  What is happening  as the body politic is disrupted?
3.   How does the use of light and dark imagery reinforce the nature of internal evil?
4.   How does Shakespeare use images of sickness or disease to support his theme?  Note characters and situations associated with this imagery.
5.   How does Shakespeare's use of blood imagery change from the beginning of the play to the end? 

Additional considerations:
1.   Isolate a major soliloquy and examine its relationship to the play's theme.
2.   Compare/contrast two foil characters as they reflect the play's theme.

Preparation Guide - Pride and Prejudice

Preparation Guide - Pride and Prejudice

AP Literature and Composition – Kaney

As you read, keep in mind that you will be working with a group to write a script for a scene from the novel.  You should expect the scene to require a ten minute performance.  Yes, you and your group also will perform your scene -- with basic set, costumes, and memorized lines.

Visit these two websites and study.

History of the Novel:  http://www.nvcc.edu/home/ataormina/novels/history/default.htm

Structure of the Novel:  http://www.nvcc.edu/home/ataormina/novels/structure/default.htm

Volume I, Chapters 1-11:

1. Analyze the opening statement.  From whose viewpoint is it written?  How does it set the ironic tone immediately?

2. List the members of the Bennet household and give a brief description of each person.  How do Jane and Elizabeth differ from each other?  How are Kitty and Lydia like their mother and Aunt Philips?    What can you tell of the Bennets' marriage?  Happy?  Unhappy?  Why?

3.  Describe Mrs. Bennet.  Be specific about her simple character traits.  How is Mr. Bennet different?

4.  Describe Mr. Bingley and his two sisters.   What are their attitudes toward the local people among whom they now live? 

5.  Describe Sir William Lucas, Lady Lucas, and daughter Charlotte.  How did they acquire their money?  What are Charlotte's views on marriage?

6.  Describe Mrs. Bennet's maneuvering when Jane is invited to Netherfield.  What does this tell you about her and her understanding of a mother's duty?

7.  Refer to the conversation at Netherfield with Bingley, his sisters, Darcy, and Elizabeth. What does the conversation reveal about the society’s attitude toward the possibilities for women?

NOTE:  The educated single woman of the early 19th century had few  professions open to her.  One option was the stage--a risky and perhaps not very honorable profession.  Another option was teaching--a poorly paid, low status position.  The only other course open was marriage—and one generally tried to find the best "situation" one could.  Note Charlotte's speech about marriage as well as her later speeches and actions. The focus of the novel is Elizabeth.  Although not as pretty as Jane, she has an independent mind.  Find examples of her wit and poise as well as examples of Mrs. Bennet's crassness.

Volume I, Chapters 12-20

1.  Characterize Mr. Collins.  What does Austen say about him? 

2. What do the Bennets think of him?  What is Mrs. Bennet's reaction to the announcement of his visit?  Explain entailment.  What do you deduce of Mr. Collins' character from his letter?  Is your analysis borne out when he arrives?  Explain.

3.  How is his character useful to the plot? Describe Mr. Collins’ proposal to Elizabeth.  What is Mrs. Bennet's reaction to her daughter's refusal?  Mr. Bennet's?  Are these typical of the time?  Compared with her other daughters, what are Mrs. Bennet's  feelings for Elizabeth?  How do you account for this?

4.  What is Lady Catherine de Bourgh to Mr. Collins and the plot?

5.  Characterize Wickham.  Why does Elizabeth believe him about Darcy?  Why does she ignore the caution of Jane?

6.  At the Netherfield Ball, how does Mrs. Bennet embarrass Elizabeth?  How does Mr. Bennet react as this goes on? What is Mary’s role in this embarrassment?  What should be Mr. Bennet’s role?  How does his reaction to Mary and the plight of her sisters reveal his character?   Relate this to the novel's theme. 

NOTE:  There were two principal kinds of clergymen to the Church of England at this time.   The "Establishment” type saw his profession in the same light as any other profession.  A young man took orders at the University often without evidence of spiritual calling.  He received his parish--his living--as a gift from a wealthy landowner who was often equally indifferent to spiritual matters.  This is the case with Mr. Collins and Lady de Bourgh. The other type of clergyman, called "Evangelical," tried to reach the hearts of his parishioners for the salvation of their souls.  The Evangelical received his living from the tithes given by parishioners.  They were considerably poorer than their colleagues. 

 You should begin to see the importance of the classification of “simple” and “complex” for Austen.  Pay particular attention to how each of the scenes in this section reveal character through the ironic dialogue—especially that between Darcy and Elizabeth.



Volume I, Chapters 21-Volume II, Chapter 7

1.      With Caroline Bingley’s letter to Jane, what is accomplished?  How does this advance the plot?

2. Explain the reaction Elizabeth has to Charlotte’s acceptance of Mr. Collins.  Should she have been surprised?  Why does Charlotte accept? Charlotte urges her father, younger sister, and Elizabeth to visit her at the parsonage.  Does she seem happy in her new situation?  Why has she encouraged her husband to become so deeply involved in gardening?

3.  What is Mrs. Bennet's reaction when she learns that Bingley is not returning to Netherfield?  Mr. Bennet's reaction?  What does he say about his wife?  Which one is a bigger failure as a parent, Mr. or Mrs. Bennet?  Defend your choice.

4.  How are the Gardiners related to the Bennet girls? What is their function in the novel?

5.  What is Lady de Bourgh’s relationship to Mr. Darcy?  What is Lady de Bourgh’s relationship to the Collinses?

6.  Elizabeth meets Darcy again at Rosings, along with his cousin Col. Fitzwilliam.  With which one does she find conversation easier?  Why?  By this time, Austen’s irony should have given the reader a different view of Darcy than Elizabeth has, explain.  How does this scene prepare the reader for the proposal, even though Elizabeth is shocked.

7.  What does the reader hear ironically in Wickham’s tale that Elizabeth does not?   Explain.

8.  England was a very class-conscious society in the 19th century.  It was a society based on pedigree and economic resources. How is this apparent in today's reading?

Volume II, Chapters 8-17

1.      Compare Mrs. Bennet’s crudeness with Lady Catherine’s.  How does this level the playing field between Elizabeth and Darcy?  Explain.

2.      How did the author prepare you for the proposal scene?  Why is Elizabeth so surprised?  Explain how the title of the book works in this scene.

3.      Describe Darcy's proposal to Elizabeth.  How would you characterize it?  Describe Elizabeth's response.  Is it justified?  Explain.

4.  Discuss the literary device of the letter from Darcy to Elizabeth which explains his motives for the misunderstandings between them.  What is the tone?  The letter causes her to re-evaluate her judgments.  Explain.

5.  As Elizabeth and Jane return home from their respective visits, they meet Kitty and Lydia.  Describe the conversation of the two younger sisters.  How does Elizabeth now view them?  Are they characters or caricatures?  Explain.

Volume II, Chapter 18 – Volume III, Chapter 5

1.      How does Elizabeth now summarize the Bennet's marriage and its compromises as described in Chapter 19.  Who is more at fault?  Why?

2.      When Elizabeth finds herself at Pemberley,  what does she think of it?  Explain her statement “…and at that moment she felt, that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!”  Does this show regret at not having accepted Darcy's proposal? If so, is it economic regret?  Something else? In what way does the housekeeper add to her changing view of Darcy?

3.      When Darcy appears, how does his treatment of her, her aunt,  and uncle reflect his changed attitude toward them?   Explain.

4.      How does Lydia bring disgrace on the family?  Why is this disgrace?  How does Elizabeth feel this will affect her new relationship with Darcy?

5.      In addition to eloping with Lydia, how else has Wickham disgraced himself in Meryton and Brighton?   How does this reflect on the Bennets?

Writing Topics for this Section

1.  Using several passages from the novel, analyze the ironic tone of the dialogue of Darcy and Elizabeth as it reveals character.

 2.  Using the dialogue of the first proposal scene, discuss how it reveals to the reader the complex character of either  Darcy or Elizabeth.

 3.  Choose a “simple” character such as Bingley, Mrs. Bennet, Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins, Jane and discuss how Austen develops them through Elizabeth as narrator.

 4.  Focusing on one of the major female characters, suggest how Austen has used irony to delineate the character.


Volume III, Chapters 6-12

1.      In the community nature of Jane Austen’s world, what is the danger of losing reputation? Explain, using Wickham and Lydia as examples.

2.      Discuss the static characters of Collins and Bennet.  How does Austen round them out?  Describe Mr. Collins' letter about Lydia to Mr. Bennet.   Discuss how the ironic tone completes the picture of Mr. Collins.  Describe Mrs. Bennet's reaction when Lydia is found and will be married.  How does this contrast with the reactions of the rest of the family?

3.      What role does Darcy play in effecting the wedding and paying the gambling debts? How does Elizabeth find out about the details? What does she think?

4.      Describe the way Lydia and Wickham act when they come to Longbourn after they are married. How does Wickham treat Elizabeth? How does she respond?  Is this characteristic? What is the future of the Wickhams in terms of living situation and emotional involvement with each other? How do you know?

 Volume III, Chapters 13-19

1.      Analyze Mr. Bennet's famous quotation:  "For what do we live, but to make sport of our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?"  Is this what the novel is about?  Explain.

2.      Analyze Darcy's second proposal and Elizabeth's acceptance.  Does Austen disappoint you here?  Does she lead you up to a point and then back away?  Would you like to hear/know what Elizabeth said?   Is the novel too controlled?   Discuss

3.      In a typical novel of the 18/19th-century, the novel ends neatly; all the characters are accounted for.  Discuss how you feel about this kind of ending.  What is the effect it has on the reader?  How is it very much like situation comedy on TV, or romantic comedies in film?  Why do you think readers/viewers continue to like this kind of ending?  Why do you think that this kind of ending is not prevalent in 20th novels?

 WRITING TOPICS – Comprehensive (Whole Novel)

1.      Defend/refute the statement that Austen delineates her female characters better than her male characters.

2.      How does Austen use the commonplace--ordinary people and ordinary events--to illustrate timeless truths about personal relationships?

3.      Discuss how Austen sustains her plot by using dialogue.

4.      What is the principal object of satire in the novel?  What is the effect of the satire?

5.  Analyze the early 19th-century concept of marriage—its prerequisites and purpose. Use examples from the text to support your analysis.


Preparation Guide - The Power and the Glory

Preparation Guide - Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant


Preparation Guide - Waiting for the Barbarians


AP Prompts

The following is a list of open-ended questions (Q3's) asked on AP examinations since 1971. They are a valuable collection of assignments for AP practice essays.

- Many writers use a country setting to establish values within a work of literature.  For example, the country may be a place of virtue and peace or one of primitivism and ignorance.  Choose a novel or play in which such a setting plays a significant role.  Then write an essay in which you analyze how the country setting functions in the work as a whole. 
2005 -
In Kate Chopin's The Awakening (1899), protagonist Edna Pontellier is said to possess "that outward existence which conforms, the inward life which questions."  In a novel or play that you have studied, identify a character who conforms outwardly while questioning inwardly.  Then write an essay in which you analyze how this tension between outward conformity and inward questioning contributes to the meaning of the work.  Avoid mere plot summary.
2004 Critic Roland Barthes has said, “Literature is the question minus the answer.” Choose a novel or play and, considering Barthes’ observation, write an essay in which you analyze a central question the work raises and the extent to which it offers any answers. Explain how the author’s treatment of this question affects your understanding of the work as a whole.
2003 According to critic Northrop Frye, “Tragic heroes are so much the highest points in their human landscape that they seem the inevitable conductors of the power about them, great trees more likely to be struck by lightning than a clump of grass. Conductors may of course be instruments as well as victims of the divine lightning.”  Select a novel or play in which a tragic figure functions as an instrument of the suffering of others. Then write an essay in which you explain how the suffering brought upon others by that figure contributes to the tragic vision of the work as a whole.
2002 Morally ambiguous characters — characters whose behavior discourages readers from identifying them as purely evil or purely good — are at the heart of many works of literature. Choose a novel or play in which a morally ambiguous character plays a pivotal role. Then write an essay in which you explain how the character can be viewed as morally ambiguous and why his or her moral ambiguity is significant to the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.
2001 One definition of madness is “mental delusion or the eccentric behavior arising from it.” But Emily Dickinson wrote
Much madness is divinest Sense — To a discerning Eye — Novelists and playwrights have often seen madness with a “discerning Eye.” Select a
novel or play in which a character’s apparent madness or irrational behavior plays an important role. Then write a well-organized essay in which you explain what this delusion or eccentric behavior consists of and how it might be judged reasonable. Explain the significance of the “madness” to the work as a whole.
2000 Many works of literature not readily identified with the mystery of detective story genre nonetheless involve the investigation of a mystery. In these works, the solution to the mystery may be less important than the knowledge gained in the process of its investigation. Choose a novel or play in which one or more of the characters confront a mystery. Then write an essay in which you identify the mystery and explain how the investigation illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole.
1999 The eighteenth-century British novelist Laurence Stern wrote, “No body, but he who has felt it, can conceive what a plaguing thing it is to have a man’s mind torn asunder by two projects of equal strength, both obstinately pulling in a contrary direction at the same time.”  From a novel or play choose a character (not necessarily the protagonist) whose mind is pulled in conflicting directions by two compelling desires, ambitions, obligations, or influences. Then, in a well-organized essay, identify each of the two conflicting forces and explain how this conflict within one character illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole.
1998 In his essay “Walking,” Henry David Thoreau offers the following assessment of literature:
In literature it is only the wild that attracts us. Dullness is but another name for tameness. It is the Uncivilized free and wild thinking in Hamlet and The Illiad, in all scriptures and mythologies, not learned in schools, that delights us.  From the works you have studied in school, choose a novel, play, or epic poem that you may initially have thought was conventional and tame but that you now value for its “uncivilized free and wild thinking.” Write an essay in which you explain what constitutes its “uncivilized free and wild thinking” and how that thinking is central to the value of the work as a whole. Support your ideas with specific references to the work you choose
1997 Novels and plays often include scenes of weddings, funerals, parties, and other social occasions. Such scenes may reveal the values of the characters and the society in which they live. Select a novel or play that includes such a scene and, in a focused essay, discuss the contribution the scene makes to the meaning of the work as a whole. You may choose a work from the list below or another novel or play of literary merit.
1996 The British novelist Fay Weldon offers this observation about happy endings: “The writers, I do believe, who get the best and most lasting response from readers are the writers who offer a happy ending through moral development. By a happy ending, I do not mean mere fortunate events: a marriage or a last-minute rescue from death; but some kind of spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation, even with the self, even at death.” Choose a novel or play that has the kind of ending Weldon describes. In a well-written essay, identify the spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation evident in the ending and explain its significance in the work as a whole.
1995 Writers often highlight the values of a culture or a society by using characters who are alienated from that culture or society because of gender, race, class, or creed. Choose a play or novel in which such a character plays a significant role, and show how that character’s alienation reveals the surrounding society’s assumptions and moral values. Do NOT write on a short story, poem, or film.
1994 In some works of literature, a character who appears briefly, or does not appear at all, is a significant presence. Choose a novel or play of literary merit and write an essay in which you show how such a character functions in the work. You may wish to discuss how the character affects action, theme, or the development of other characters. Avoid plot summary.
1993 “The true test of comedy is that it shall awaken thoughtful laughter.” (George Meredith) Choose a novel, play, or a long poem in which a scene or character awakens thoughtful laughter in the reader. Write an essay in which you show why this laughter is thoughtful and how it contributes to the meaning of the work.
1992 In a novel or play, a confidant (male) or confidante (female) is a character, often a friend or relative of the hero or heroine, whose role is to be present when the hero or heroine needs a sympathetic listener to confide in. Frequently the result is, as henry James remarked, that the confidant or confidante can be as much “the reader’s friend as the protagonist’s.” However, the author sometimes uses this character for other purposes as well. Choose a confidant or confidante from a novel or play of recognized literary merit and write an essay in which you discuss the various ways this character functions in the work. You may write your essay on one of the following novels or plays or on another of comparable quality, do not write on a poem or short story.
1991 Many plays and novels use contrasting places (for example, two countries, two cities or towns, two houses, or the land and the sea) to represent opposed forces or ideas that are central to the work. Choose a novel or play that contrasts two such places. Write an essay explaining how the places differ, what each place represents, and how their contrast contributes to the meaning of the work.
1990 Choose a novel or play that depicts a conflict between a parent (or a parental figure) and a son or daughter. Write an essay in which you analyze the sources of the conflict and explain how the conflict contributes to the meaning of the work. Avoid plot summary.
1989 In questioning the value of literary realism, Flannery O’Connor has written, “I am interested in making a good case for distortion because I am coming to believe that it is the only way to make people see.” Write an essay in which you make a good case for distortion, as distinct from literary realism. Base your essay on a work from the following list or choose another work of comparable merit that you know well. Analyze how important elements of the work you choose are distorted and explain how these distortions contribute to the effectiveness of the work. Avoid plot summary.
1988 Choose a distinguished novel or play in which some of the most significant events are mental or psychological; for example, awakenings, discoveries, changes in consciousness. In a wellorganized essay, describe how the author manages to give these internal events the sense of excitement, suspense, and climax usually associated with external action, Do not merely summarize the plot.
1987 Some novels and plays seem to advocate changes in social or political attitudes or in traditions. Choose a novel or play and note briefly the particular attitudes or traditions that the author apparently wishes to modify. Then analyze the techniques the author uses to influence the reader’s or audience’s views. Avoid plot summary.
1986 Some works of literature use the element of time in a distinct way. The chronological sequence of events may be altered, or time may be suspended or accelerated. Choose a novel, an epic, or a play of recognized literary merit and show how the author s manipulation of time contributes to the effectiveness of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.
1985 A critic has said that one important measure of a superior work of literature is its ability to produce in the reader a healthy confusion of pleasure and disquietude. Select a literary work that produces this healthy confusion. Write an essay in which you explain the sources of the pleasure and disquietude experienced by the readers of the work. You may base your essay on a work from the list below or choose another work of comparable literary merit. Do not base your essay on a movie, television program, or other adaptation of a work.
1984 Select a line or so of poetry, or a moment or scene in a novel, epic poem, or play that you find especially memorable. Write an essay in which you identify the line or the passage, explain its relationship to the work in which it is found, and analyze the reasons for its effectiveness. Do not base your essay on a work that you know about only from having seen a television or movie production of it. Select a work of recognized literary merit.
1983 From a novel or play of literary merit, select an important character who is a villain. Then, in a well-organized essay, analyze the nature of the character’s villainy and show how it enhances meaning in the work. Do not summarize plot.
1982 In great literature, no scene of violence exists for its own sake. Choose a work of literary merit that confronts the reader or audience with a scene or scenes of violence. In a well-organized essay, explain how the scene or scenes contribute to the meaning of the complete work. Avoid plot summary.
1981 The meaning of some literary works is often enhanced by sustained allusion to myths, the Bible, or other works of literature. Select a literary work that makes use of such a sustained reference. Then write a well-organized essay in which you explain the allusion that predominates in the work and analyze how it enhances the work s meaning.
1980 A recurring theme in literature is the classic war between passion and responsibility. For instance, a personal cause, a love, a desire for revenge, a determination to redress a wrong, or some other emotion or drive may conflict with moral duty. Choose a literary work in which a character confronts the demands of a private passion that conflicts with his or her responsibilities. In a wellwritten essay show clearly the nature of the conflict, its effects upon the character, and its significance to the work. Avoid plot summary.
1979 Choose a complex and important character in a novel or a play of recognized literary merit who might, on the basis of the character’s actions alone, be considered evil or immoral. In a wellorganized essay, explain both how and why the full presentation of the character in the work makes us react more sympathetically than we otherwise might. Avoid plot summary.
1978 Choose an implausible or strikingly unrealistic incident or character in a work of fiction or drama of recognized literary merit. Write an essay that explains how the incident or character is related to the more realistic or plausible elements in the rest of the work. Avoid plot summary.
1977 A character’s attempt to recapture or to reject the past is important in many plays, novels, and poems. Choose a literary work in which a character views the past with such feelings as reverence, bitterness, or longing. Show with clear evidence from the work how the character’s view of the past is used to develop a theme in the work.
1976 The conflict created when the will of an individual opposes the will of the majority is the recurring theme of many novels, plays, and essays. Select the work of an essayist who is in opposition to his or her society; or, from a work of recognized literary merit, select a fictional character who is in opposition to his or her society. In a critical essay analyze the conflict and discuss the moral and ethical implications for both the individual and the society. Do not summarize the plot or action of the work you choose.
1975 (Q1 of 2) Although literary critics have tended to praise the unique in literary characterization, many authors have employed the stereotyped character successfully. Select a work of acknowledged literary merit and, in a well-written essay, show how the conventional or stereotyped character or characters function to achieve the author’s purpose.
1975 (Q2 of 2) Unlike the novelist, the writer of a play does not use his own voice and only rarely uses a narrator’s voice to guide the audience’s responses to character and action. Select a play you have read and write an essay in which you explain the techniques the playwright uses to guide his audience’s respnses to the central characters and the action. You might consider the effect on the audience of things like setting, the use of comparable and contrasting characters, and the characters’ responses to each other. Support your argument with specific references to the play. Do not give a plot summary.
1974 Choose a work of literature written before 1900. Write an essay in which you present arguments for and against the work’s relevance for person [today]. Your own position should emerge in the course of the essay. You may refer to works of literature written after 1900 for the purpose of contrast or comparison.
1973 An effective literary work does not merely stop or cease; it concludes. In the view of some critics, a work that does not provide the pleasure of significant closure has terminated with an artistic fault. A satisfactory ending is not, however, always conclusive in every sense; significant closure may require to the reader to abide with or adjust to ambiguity and uncertainty. In an essay discuss the end of a novel or play of acknowledged literary merit. Explain precisely how and why the ending appropriately or inappropriately concludes the work. Do not merely summarize the plot.
1972 In retrospect the reader often discovers that the first chapter of a novel or the opening scene of a drama introduces some of the major themes of the work. Write an essay about the opening scene of a drama or the first chapter of a novel in which you explain how it functions in this way. In your essay do not merely summarize the plot of the work you are discussing.
1971 The significance of a title such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is easy to discover. However, in other works the full significance of the title becomes apparent to the reader only gradually. Choose two works and show how the significance of their respective titles is developed through the author’s use of devices such as contrast, repetition, allusion, and point of view.

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The Remains of the Day

General Procedures for Preparing A Text:

  • Read the first 50 pages, then select three (3) of the Past Q3 Prompts (Click here) that appear to be useful with this text.  Continue reading, now annotating evidence that supports each of the topics you selected.
  • Note and describe the author's narrative technique.  Annotate evidence to support your claim.
  • Note and describe the author's predominant literary devices.  Annotate evidence to support your claim.
  • Select three (3) passages the are representative of the author's techniques, devices, tone, and theme.

As you read, note evidence that would help you to support a claim about each of the following:

  • Narrator Reliability
  • Author’s technique of moving between frames of time
  • Author’s technique of authenticating fiction
  • Characteristics of language  (Here, please examine not only Steven’s language, but the language of Lord Darlington, Miss Kenton, Senator Lewis, and M. Dupont, as well.)
  • Characterization of Steven
  • The author’s voice:  tone and cultural insight
  • Establishing intimacy with the reader
  • Layering historical moments and personal lives

Prepare to write or speak to each of the following:

  • The significance of the title
  • Ending vs. end of text (see Lodge, 224)
  •  Conclusion as negation (see Lodge, 224)
  • The significance and generalizability of Mr. Stevens’ tiger story.

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Wuthering Heights

General Procedures for Preparing A Text:

  • Read the first 50 pages, then select three (3) of the Past Q3 Prompts (Click here) that appear to be useful with this text.  Continue reading, now annotating evidence that supports each of the topics you selected.
  • Note and describe the author's narrative technique.  Annotate evidence to support your claim.
  • Note and describe the author's predominant literary devices.  Annotate evidence to support your claim.
  • Select three (3) passages the are representative of the author's techniques, devices, tone, and theme.

As you read, note evidence that would help you to support a claim about each of the following:

  • Narrator Reliability
  • Author’s technique of moving between frames of time
  • The author’s voice
  • Establishing intimacy with the reader
  • Author's use of setting as character
Let the following guide your reading:

Examine Chapter 1 for all descriptions of Wuthering Heights and for all descriptions of the people who live there (whom you encounter in this chapter, only).  Explore how Brontë uses Wuthering Heights (the place) to extend and develop these characters.

Examine Chapters 1-7 for all descriptions of Thrushcross Grange and for all descriptions of Wuthering Heights.  Explore Brontë’s use of these settings to lay the groundwork for the novel’s conflicts.

Brontë reveals the bond between Heathcliff and Catherine with remarkable economy of detail.  Examine Chapters 5-7 and make a list of the details (maybe dialogue, incident, etc.) that reveal the force of the bond between the two.  Explore the effectiveness of this authorial decision as opposed to a decision to engage in a more robust revelation of the bond.

Review the visit from the Linton children in Chapter 7.  Explore how this visit, Edgar’s treatment of Heathcliff, and Hindley’s banishment of Heathcliff to the attic begin to warp Heathcliff’s impulses toward self improvement.

Review Chapter 8 to examine how Edgar, Heathcliff, and Catherine are presented.  Now how each is characterized.

Re-examine Chapter 9, making a deliberate effort to overlook your own emotional reactions and analyze the logic of Catherine’s decision to marry Edgar.  Explore the possibility that Catherine’s logic is sound. 

In Chapters 12-14, note examples of foreshadowing and prophesy.  Explore what narrative purposes are served.

In Chapter 15, examine Catherine’s description of what it’s like to love Heathcliff.  In Chapter 17, examine Isabella’s description of what it’s like to love Heathcliff.  Explore how their explanations are alike and how they are different.

Examine Nelly Dean’s discussion about Hindley and Edgar and their reactions to their wives’ deaths.  Explore how  Hindley and Edgar’s  reactions are reflective of their environments?

In Chapter 21, we read Heathcliff’s comparison of Hareton and Linton.  He says of Hareton, “[He is] gold put to the use of paving stones,” and of Linton, “[He is] tin polished to ape a service of silver.”  Note Heathcliff’s metaphors and their intent.

Assume that Heathcliff is the protagonist.  What is his objective.  Who are his antagonists?  Who wins?  What are the plot problems inherent in this design?  Assume that storm and calm are the opposing forces.  Which wins?  Are there plot problems with this design?

Read the paragraph (approximately on the second page of the novel) beginning, “Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff’s dwelling. …”  Now read the last paragraph in the novel.  Explore how these paragraphs help to establish the novel’s theme?

Wuthering Heights is a frame story.  Briefly note the content of the exterior story and of the interior story.

Explore the narrative and structural techniques Brontë uses to shift smoothly from one narrator to another.  (There are two narrators of note.)

Explore how Brontë resolves the potential problems of having an apparently educated outsider and an uneducated insider as the two main narrators?  Examine Chapter 7 for help.

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Absalom, Absalom! Reading Guide

  1. Any reader bewildered by the opening pages of Absalom, Absalom! will realize immediately that its greatest challenge lies in its complex narrative structure.You must learn how to read it as you go. How many narrators are there, and what is their relationship to one another? What are the sources of their authority as tellers of the Sutpen story? What, so far as you can make out, "happened," as opposed to what is conjectured by the various narrators? Why might Faulkner have chosen such a challenging narrative form, despite the difficulties it presents for his readers?
  2. At the center of the novel is the gigantic figure of Sutpen--a man who drives himself to extraordinary lengths in the pursuit of his "design." Sutpen means different things to different people: to Rosa, he is a monster, but one she would have married; whereas, to Colonel Compson, he is a human being with sympathetic characteristics. How does your view of Sutpen change as the web of his story emerges? How do you come away from the novel feeling about him? Is he evil? innocent? superhuman? mad? heroic? Does Sutpen's history, which he has told to Colonel Compson, justify his behavior?
  3. Why do the various tellers of the story interpret and embroider the tale so differently? What is Faulkner telling us about the human need to order and interpret the past? How does each teller affect your response? Whose version of events do you find most attractive, most compelling? Whose version makes most sense to you? Is "truth" largely irrelevant?
  4. Faulkner's original title for the novel was "Dark House," and as in much of his work, we see in Absalom, Absalom! strong elements of the gothic literary convention: a ruined and possibly haunted house, a demonic hero, family secrets, hints of incest, a melodramatic plot, an overwhelming mood of decadence and decay. Yet in its depth and intensity, the novel clearly transcends the often trivial melodrama of much gothic fiction. How does Faulkner's use of gothic elements contribute to the novel's dramatic effect?
  5. Consider Faulkner's brilliant development of the character of Charles Bon, the son that Sutpen has cast off. In both Quentin and Shreve's retelling and in Miss Rosa's, he is a figure of romance, while in Mr. Compson's version he is an opportunist, using both Judith and Henry to revenge himself upon his father. Which of these perspectives is more satisfying to you, and why? Why is the element of doubt about Bon's motivation--even about the extent of his knowledge about his origin--so crucial to Faulkner's plan?
  6. The book's title is taken from the biblical story of Absalom, son of King David, told in the second book of Samuel--a dynastic tale of incest, rebellion, revenge, and violent death. How is your perspective on the novel enlarged after reading the Absalom story? How does the biblical tale inflect the novel's themes of incest, dynastic hopes and failures, rivalry between father and son? How does David's grief at the death of Absalom (2 Samuel 18:33) compare with Thomas Sutpen's seeming lack of feeling for his sons--or for anyone else?
  7. Charles Bon is at heart of the incest plot, and it is the dual threat of incest and miscegenation that ruins Sutpen's great design. How do incest and miscegenation mirror each other? What is it that makes these two forms of mixing blood--endogamy and exogamy--so taboo? Do you agree that it is the thought of miscegenation, rather than incest, that Henry can't endure? Why do rage, self-loathing, and masochism play such a large role in the stories of Charles Bon's two direct descendants, Charles Etienne St. Valery Bon and Jim Bond?
  8. What do you think of Mr. Compson's theory of the incestuous triad formed by Henry, Bon, and Judith, described as follows: "The brother...taking that virginity in the person of the brother-in-law, the man whom he would be if he could become, metamorphose into, the lover, the husband; by whom he would be despoiled, choose for despoiler, if he could become, metamorphose into the sister, the mistress, the bride" [p. 77]? Does Faulkner assume that a strong incestuous component is part of the psychology of every family? Or only of extremely unusual families like the Sutpens?
  9. The concept of racial hierarchy is at odds with the domestic intimacy in which blacks and whites lived together in the South. During the Civil War, Judith, Clytie, and Rosa live together as sisters, eating the same food, working side by side. But when Rosa returns to the house in 1909, she warns Clytie not to touch her: "Let flesh touch with flesh, and watch the fall of all the eggshell shibboleth of caste and color too" [p. 112]. How does the novel expose the mental convolutions by which people tried to maintain the notion of an essential difference--a species difference--between black skin and white, even among members of the same family? What, in these circumstances, do you think of Clytie's loyalty and her efforts to protect Henry?
  10. To what degree do you see the self-destructiveness displayed by just about all of the figures in this novel as Faulkner's deliberate allegory of the South?
  11. Many critics have commented that Faulkner takes his stylistic eccentricity to its most involuted and exaggerated extremes in Absalom, Absalom!, making inordinate demands upon the reader's attention and patience. An anonymous reviewer for Time called this book "the strangest, least readable, most infuriating and yet in some respects the most impressive novel that William Faulkner has written." What use does Faulkner make of repetition, circularity, accumulation, and confusion? Are there aesthetic and intellectual reasons he takes his rhetoric and syntax to such exhaustive lengths, or do you feel that his style is too self-indulgent?
  12. Absalom, Absalom! is a novel about the meaning of history, and about the extreme pressure of the past, particularly in the South, upon the inhabitants of the present. More importantly, it is about the doubtful process of coming to know, reconstruct, and come to grips with history. Mr. Compson says to Quentin, "We have a few old mouth-to-mouth tales...we see dimly people, the people in whose living blood and seed we ourselves lay dormant and waiting...performing their acts of simple passion and violence, impervious to time and inexplicable" [p. 80]. Why does Quentin, who is unrelated to Sutpen, seem to understand the tale as bearing directly upon his own identity and fate? If history is "a dead time" [p. 71], as Mr. Compson calls it, why does it command so much mesmerized attention in this novel?
  13. Absalom, Absalom! shares certain characteristics with classical tragedy, and Faulkner uses Mr. Compson to make the connection clear. He alludes to Aeschylus's great play Agamemnon with his discussion on pages 48-49 of the name of Sutpen's daughter by a slave, suggesting that Sutpen might have meant to call her Cassandra rather than Clytemnestra. Elsewhere, Mr. Compson sees the story as a dramatic tableau, with "fate, destiny, retribution, irony--the stage manager" [p. 57]. Aristotle noted that a certain blindness, a character flaw he called hamartia, was common to tragic heroes. What are the flaws in Sutpen that contribute to his tragedy? If Sutpen is a character who stands for pure, unswerving will, what role does fate play in the story?
  14. Why does Faulkner have Quentin tell his story to Shreve McCannon, a Canadian, in a room at Harvard in January, 1910? Why does this reconstruction of a uniquely Southern tale take place on Yankee soil? What is the meaning of the relationship between story and setting, as contained in the following phrase: "that fragile pandora's box of scrawled paper which had filled with violent and unratiocinative djinns and demons this snug monastic coign, this dreamy and heatless alcove of what we call the best of thought" [p. 208]? What do you make of the book's final line, in which Quentin hysterically insists that he doesn't hate the South?
  15. In the last few pages of the novel we learn at last, as in a mystery, what Quentin's role in the story has been. He has entered into the final chapter of the nightmare of the Sutpen family with his own eyes, accompanying Miss Rosa to Sutpen's Hundred, where he sees the dying Henry. He seems unable to emerge from this experience into ordinary life. Why does the past have such hallucinatory power for Quentin? What does his meeting with Henry mean to him? Do you see Clytie's burning of the house, with herself and Henry in it, as a final purgation of the family curse? Why then does this history seem to be a nightmare from which Quentin is unable to awaken?


Chronicle of a Death Foretold - Guide


These were combined because they are integrally tied in this book.  The Point of View is fluid – ostensibly it’s first person, limited – from the point of view of the Chronicler, a friend of Santiago’s who happened not to be present on or around the square at the time of the murder and who spent many years interviewing others to learn what took place on that morning.  The chronicler’s reliance on stories of other’s, however, introduces us to elements of the story from multiple points of view and gives the chronicler something of an omniscient quality.


The setting is not so much revealed to us from the chronicler’s point of view as from the points of view of the interviewed characters.  Much of the color of the setting comes to us through these characters.  Pay attention to the fact that most of the action takes place on and around the square – which serves as a kind of microcosm, or miniature cosmos.  We do, however, travel to other settings.  For example, we travel to the home of Angela Vicario (pig farm), to the home of Xius, and to the home of Angela Vicario, some 27 years after the event of the murder.


The fact that most of the names have some religious connection may or may not be of major importance, except to further underscore the importance of religion in the lives of these peasants.  Names with some religious overtone are not unusual in Latin cultures.  Santiago’s fiance, Mercedes, is named for Garcia Marquez wife.


Pay attention to the setting and to the classes and races in the village.  This is a patriarchal society and a village with three classes:  the servant and lower class, the mercantile class, and the landed gentry.  Note that the upper, or gentry class has its way with the other classes.  Note the open racial identification and the open racial tension evinced in the blatant slurs:  whites, mulatto, Indian, Spanish, Turk, Jew, Negro, etc.  This class-divided, race-conscious society is anathema to Marxist-communism.


Pay attention to the characters who are central to the action.  Look at the role that each plays and look at the attitude of each with regard to the central action.



Although irony and chance are at least as old in our literature as the Greeks, this novel appears to be especially heavily imbued with them.  Be sure that you can identify major examples of irony and chance and that you can hypothesize what their extensive use might indicate about Garcia Marquez’ world view.



The novel certainly is replete with examples of both.  Be sure that you can cite examples extensively.  The major element of superstition, thinly veiled, is religion.  Be sure that you are able to explain GM’s view of religion as superstition and that you can explain the novel in light of religion as superstition and in light of the enormous irony of the total set of events on the day of the murder.



GM’s style is characterized by irony, chance, magical realism, religious symbolism, hyperbole, superstition, etc.  Be sure that you can locate and explicate a text selection that fully illustrates GM’s style.



Here’s the heart.  What is GM writing about?  Is this merely a journalist, fictionalized account of an actual occurrence, richly imbued with the local color of the village and its people?  Or, is it historic in an epic sense?  Be sure that you can speak competently about GM’s tone – that is, his attitude about his subject matter.  Doing so will require that you tie the novel to GM’s political and philosophical thinking and that you thoroughly understand GM’s use of symbols, metaphors, archetypes, and other literary devices


Examine the possibilities:


Angela as a Marxist revolutionary.

The last scene as an uprising of the proletariat.

Duty to kill Santiago as a duty to rise up against oppression.

Latin culture and preparation for suffering.

Light and its shades as metaphor for knowledge.

Perceptions of rain as reflective of perceptions of goodness or evil of the act.

Marxist doctrines:  (1)  Rich and powerful few live by labors of many; (2) Rift in social scale; (3)  Rights granted to all do not do away with injustices; (4)  the more productive the system, the harder it is to make it work.

Dual layers of meaning in language.

Apathy of bishop.

Science vs. Religion.

Echoes of images (slaughter of rabbits; slaughter of Santiago – buzzards; autopsy – )


Racial and class tension



1)     Examine Garcia-Marquez use of cinematic techniques, the baroque, and the mythical in Chronicle.


2)     Explore the novel's kinship to fairytales and myths.


3)     The nature of time and memory -- thematics of history -- are important currents in 20th century fiction.  Explore Chronicle's fit in this paradigm.


4)     Garcia-Marquez' novels are concerned with the nature and narration of the past.  Explore Chronicle's fit in this paradigm.


5)     Magical realism engages in erasing and redrawing the lines between fiction and historic event for political purposes.  Explore Chronicle's fit in this paradigm.


6)     Strong biblical metaphors and references are a reflection of the author's cultural framework and of a prehistoric or pre-industrial innocence.  Explore Chronicle in light of this proposition.


7)     Explore how Garcia-Marquez' magical realism emerges from history, politics, religion, and social structure.


8)     Many of Garcia-Marquez' novels are concerned with the nature of time and memory and the narration of the past.  In fact, one of the most written-about characteristics of G-M's works is their historical perspective:  their use of a curved time model created by the mixture of primitive (circular) and biblical (linear) temporal patterns; mythic history that coexists with documented history; and their sweeping narrative perspective.  Explore how these attributes apply to Chronicle.  Be sure to incorporate extensive concrete examples from the novel.


9)     In literature, a motif might appear in the form of recurrent images, words, objects, phrases, or actions; it might serve to unify the work, or it might serve to deliver a subscript to accompany the central fabula (plot/story skeleton).  Explore G-M’s use of birds as a motif in Chronicle.  Be sure that you propose a purpose for the bird motif, and be sure that you assemble extensive evidence


10) Many contemporary Latin American novelists entwine patterns of verisimilar and non-verisimilar incidences to address the abuses of contemporary political and social institutions.  Explore this dimension of Chronicle.  Be sure to identify extensive examples of the technique, and be sure to make connections between the novel and its political and social context.


Waiting for the Barbarians
(J.M. Coetzee)
Guide to Close Reading

Directions:  These questions and statements should guide your annotation, journaling and thinking about the novel.  Much of this guide is a compilation of critics' commentary.  You may agree or disagree with the critics, but your position must be informed by assertion, evidence and argument.

  1. Coetzee titled his novel after Constantine Cavafy’s poem “Waiting for the Barbarians”.  Read the poem and argue its connection to the novel. 
  1. The Magistrate obsesses about his sexual eccentricities, but it is part of the book’s theme of humanity. 
  1. Critic Tony Morphet says, “Gordimer …write[s] with the authority of history because history was to be the force that would deliver freedom – to herself …For Coetzee … there is no ‘history,’ only ‘histories’ – endless stories moving in multiple directions and presenting themselves to him as a writer – and they can offer no deliverance.” 
  1. Coetzee’s use of language is … very lean, and sparse with words.  Critic James Wood says, “But there is a point beyond which pressurized shorthand is no longer an enrichment but an impoverishment, and an unnatural containment.”  Wood continues, “Coetzee’s books eschew loosened abundance for impacted allegory.”  He describes Coetzee’s novels as intelligently starved – feeding on exclusion.  Wood says that Coetzee’s readers always feel a zeal of omission and, further, that what Coetzee’s novels keep out may well be as important as what they keep in. 
  1. Coetzee’s prose is able to register physical pain, and the wrack of moral confusion. 
  1. The main character in … Waiting for the Barbarians is a magistrate in an outpost at the edge of an empire.  He is aware of the dangers of passing judgment on the barbarians:  while his fellow settlers blame them for lying drunk in the gutter, the magistrate finds fault with the settlers for selling them the liquor.  Yet for all of his sensitivity he fails to understand the barbarian girl he adopts out of a mixture of compassion and lust.  
  1. Coetzee’s narrator, never identified by name, is the magistrate of an imperial settlement in “an indeterminate time and place.  Three existential puzzles attend his twilight years as a civil servant on the frontier of the Empire.  The first is what to do with the knowledge he acquires by observing too closely the methods of the Third Bureau of the Civil Guard, which, allegedly under threat from barbarians, has emergency powers he must acknowledge if not respect.  The second is how to understand his own relationship both to the military authority that has supplanted his own and to the Empire behind it.  The third puzzle is how to animate – and authenticate – an admittedly antiquarian love of history:  how to tell a true story of place and time.  He clearly recognizes the heart of darkness as “the submerged mind of Empire.”  When he attempts to write, he finds himself, paradoxically, to be an historian of the idyll, a prelapsarian paradise.  He can only write, nostalgically, of the general desire to maintain the charm of the frontier oasis at any cost, “Had we only known what.”  But in fact the cost is constantly before him:  it is imperial vigilance manifested in the creation and objectification of an enemy, the taking of prisoners, and the excavation of “truth” through torture.  When the Magistrate himself becomes a victim of the Third Bureau, he is denied justice under law.  He is compelled to a meditative interrogation of his own:  By what rites can a torturer recover his humanity?  What is truth?  What is justice? 
  1. Of Joll, the Magistrate observes, “I was the lie that Empire tells itself when times are easy, the truth that Empire tells when harsh winds blow.  Two sides of imperial rule, no more, no less.” 
  1. Extensive reading of Coetzee’s works reveals a recurring pattern:  the downward spiraling journeys he considers necessary for the salvation of his characters.  His protagonists are overwhelmed by the urge to sink but paradoxically derive strength from being stripped of all external dignity. 
  1. Coetzee has made use of Hegel’s conception of the master/slave or lord/bondsman relationship as mutually damaging, but also as an inverse dependency which in some measure authenticates the bondsman rather than the lord. 
  1. Waiting for the Barbarians appears as a moral parable, the story of a man of conscience standing up to the horrors of imperialism, which, he discovers, are to be found within himself as well as without.  
  1. Though he tries to consider himself as separate from the others in his community, the Magistrate’s grammar belies his real sense of his belonging to the collective. This self-inclusive syntax is Coetzee’s first hint that the Magistrate has unconsciously established a “you/we” divide between the political body represented by Colonel Joll and the little civilization created from the inside and the periphery of the Outpost. 
  1. Because Colonel Joll’s presence jostles the uneasy truce between the natives and settlers that has been fostered during the Magistrate’s rule, the Magistrate is compelled to open his eyes to face his own culpability as an agent of that political entity. 
  1. In Doctor Zhivago, Pasternak wrote, "The personal life is dead – history has killed it.”  In Coetzee’s Disgrace, Lucy, after being raped, says to her father, “But why did they hate me so?  I had never set eyes on them.”  Her father replies, “It was history speaking through them.  A history of wrong.  Think of it that way, if it helps.  It may have seemed personal, but it wasn’t.”  Is it true that in the face of irresistible historical change – the collapse of corrupt order – the claims of the individual are necessarily of secondary importance, even irrelevant?
  1. Despite the gritty subject matter, Waiting for the Barbarians is a story first and foremost about love and unspoken forgiveness. 
  1. How does Coetzee show compassion to his victims and villains alike?
  1. Examine and commentate about Coetzee’s conflation of sex and violence. 
  1. When they encounter the barbarian riders and the girl is offered to them, the magistrate tells her to “Tell them the truth.  What else is there to tell?”  Here there is a subtle conflation of Joll and the Magistrate.  Both implored her to tell the truth.  And in both cases, the proof of the truth is in the physical marks on her body.  As torturer, Joll needed to inflict the marks to prove he’d succeeded, and the Magistrate, as storyteller complicit in the appropriation of her torture, needs only to offer those same marks as proof of her story’s truth.  It is at this point that a real transition occurs within the novel.  As the magistrate hands over the girl, she ceases to be objectified.

Madame Bovary
Guide to Close Reading

  1. Note and annotate evidence in the novel related to each of the following concepts:
    • Social Satire
    • Cautionary Tale
    • Abnormal Psychology
    • Cultural Anthropology (Look at the actual full title.)
    • Realism
    • Tragedy or Melodrama
  2. Note and annotate occurrences of the following motifs.  How does each motif develop the novel's ideas?
    • Death and Sickness
    • Eating
    • Travel and Escape
    • Literature and Music
    • Costume and Clothing
    • Religion
    • Windows
    • Language
    • Science
    • Appearance and Reality
    • Role of Women
    • Class System
  3. What purpose is served by Chapter 1? 
  4. How does Chapter 2 operate narratively?  (The Aristotelian model requires:  Exposition, Initial Incident, Conflicts that generate Rising Action, Climax - the point beyond which the outcome is inevitable, Falling Action or Resolution, and Denouement.)  Explain your response.
  5. Locate evidence that indicates stagnation in Emma's life at the Rouault farm.
  6. What is Flaubert's tone with regard to the death of Charles' first wife?  Locate evidence to support your claim.
  7. In Chapter 4, locate evidence of Emma's discomfort with her own social class?  Locate evidence of general tensions between social classes.
  8. When Emma enters her new house, in Chapter 5, Flaubert writes, "The smell of melted butter penetrated through the walls when [Charles] saw patients, just as in the kitchen one could hear the people coughing in the consulting room and recounting their whole histories."  Describe the syntax of this sentence and explore its narrative contribution.
  9. In Chapter 6, Flaubert writes about what attracted Emma to religion:"Instead of attending to mass, she looked at the pious vignettes with their azure borders in her book, and she loved the sick lamb, the sacred heart pierced with sharp arrows, or the poor Jesus sinking beneath the cross he carries.  She tried, by way of mortification, to eat nothing a whole day.  She puzzled her head to find some vow to fulfill."  How does this passage explain what attracted Emma to marriage and what will not attract her to marriage? 
  10. What narrative purpose is served by Chapter 8?  Explain with full text support.
  11. This chapter ends Part I of the novel.  Keeping in mind that the novel was first published serially, examine the narrative impact of Part I's closing events.
  12. Look at the development of Emma's character in Part II.  Outline changes and their precipitators in this section.  Pay attention to both internal and external influences on Emma's decisions.  Describe the narrative progression.
  13. In Part III, we see Emma's search become almost frenetic.  She virtually throws caution to the wind as she moves inexorably toward the point of no return.  What are the dynamics here?  What does Emma seek?  What realization or recognition causes her to seek her own death?
  14. What is the greatest irony of Emma's death-bed scene?
  15. Note that Emma appears neither in the beginning nor in the ending of this novel.  Because we know that Flaubert was an extremely careful constructor of his works, we know that Emma's absence is meaningful.  What are your thoughts about what Flaubert's reasoning might have been?
  16. In the novel, the carnal and the spiritual are linked.  Locate evidence of this link in the scene with Emma and the Priest, in the taxi scene, and in the death scene.
  17. How do the notions of restriction, constriction, and circularity work in this novel?
  18. Flaubert's use of free indirect discourse allows him to be both inside and outside the character.  Locate several examples.
  19. Is Emma a transgressor or a noble victim?  Explain
In addition to the above analysis, choose three prompts from the AP Prompts list; prepare an opening assertion and outline your argument for each.


Madame Bovary Discussion / Presentation Format and Schedule

                                    Group A                                                          Group B                                                            Group C
Fishbowl Format
  • Class sits in concentric circles: group members form the inside circle and non-members form the outside circle.
  • Group conducts a full discussion of the assigned topic(s): making assertions; citing evidence; giving commentation; synthesizing to closure.
  • Non-group members listen and note.  You may get points for raising cogent points or questions at the end of the discussion.
  • Time limits are imposed.
  • Teacher scores general quality of discussion and individual contributions.
Oral Argument
Using an easily readable and neatly constructed presentation board as an aid, each student orally presents a full argument for one of his/her prepared AP Prompts.  This is a formal academic presentation and will be evaluated on the basis of  soundness of content and effectiveness of presentation.

Wednesday, 1.26
Group A: Death and Sickness; Travel and Escape; Literature on Music; Language
Group B: Eating; Costume/Clothing; Windows; Science
Group C: Religion; Appearance and Reality; Role of Women; Class System

Thursday, 1.27
Group B: Narrative Progression in Part I
Group C: Narrative Progression in Part II
Group A: Narrative Progression in Part III
Plenary: Emma's Absence in the beginning and the end of the novel

Friday, 1.28
Group A:  Social Satire; Realism; Links Between the Carnal and the Spiritual
Group B:  Cautionary Tale; Abnormal Psychology; Effects of Free Indirect Discourse
Group C:  Cultural Anthropology; Tragedy or Melodrama; Restriction, Constriction, and Circularity


The Most Advanced Film Screened in Class This Year:
A Catalogue of Effects

Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane is the most advanced film seen by Film Production students thus far because of its rich experimentation, innovations, and combinations in photography, editing, and sound. The success of the film, however, does not rest alone on Welles’s diverse and sophisticated use of editing, sound, and lights. It is his careful planning and coordination of techniques which allows the smooth transitions which are the foundation of Kane. With excellent direction, Kane becomes a landmark for its total stimulation of the intellect and emotions.

Undoubtedly the most important aspect of the film is Welles’s treatment of time and its transitions. In order to discuss my appreciation for this film, I must comment about specific techniques.
  • First, Welles used objects to suggest enormous proportions relevant to the basis of Kane’s life. These include the shots of Xanadu at the opening, Thatcher’s statue and library, Kane’s “Declaration of Principles,” the letters of the Inquirer building by the windows, the large poster of Kane at the rally, Kane’s typing of the word “weak” in Leland’s review, Susan’s unflattering review scattered on the floor (reminiscent of Kane’s “Declaration of Principles” which Leland sends him in that same scene), the area shot of Xanadu (showing the staircase, statues, fireplace), the long series of arches in the house, and the mass of “junk” (including the Rosebud sleigh) covering the floor. Welles uses objects to suggest symbolism with a shocking effect—the bright light burning out to signify the virtual end of Susan’s unproductive singing career, and the screaming bird to emphasize the shock sustained by Kane when he realizes that Susan had actually left him.
  • In his deployment of lighting, he again uses two types to heighten the dramatic effect. I would call one the “quick cut” of lights used in the beginning at Xanadu when Kane dies, the light from the projector going out after the newsreel, the flash of lightning over the “El Rancho” nightclub, the harsh opening of stage lights at Susan’s debut, and the quick change from dark to light and back to dark again as Kane walks through the arches at Xanadu. The second type consists of diverse angle lighting, including the light beams coming through the openings in the projection room, the ghoulish effect caused by the low lighting of the nightclub, the skylights in the Thatcher Library (almost producing a spotlight effect), the gaslights shining up and out, the side lighting in the Inquirer office after the election casting long shadows, the light from the bay window which divides Susan’s face while on her recovery bed, and the selective top lighting which gave a “museum” effect to Xanadu when Thompson was talking to the butler.
  • Welles showed a fondness for deep shadows and silhouettes. As for deep shadows, we find examples with Kane just before he dies, the projection-room sequence, Kane’s long shadow when searching for the drunk Leland, Kane’s foreboding shadow over Susan after the show, the “rooster” Kane projects on the wall, and Kane’s shadow as he walks down the stairs in Xanadu. Silhouettes consisted of Kane dead on his bed, the men filing past the screen, and Kane’s top hat in front of Leland’s office door (which followed through very nicely from one end of the office to the other). What I term as “selective shadowing” refers to the times when those talking are in shadows or darkness. This allows for quick repetition of lives or concentration on one character. (Welles further diversifies this technique by putting the person being discussed in the shadow.) The best examples of this: the projection room (and the same people at the end in Xanadu), Kane’s “Declaration” from the darkness, the rally where only Leland can be distinguished in the crowd, Kane and Gettys (Ray Collins) in alternate shadows arguing in Susan’s apartment, and (quite exclusively) Kane sitting in the box at the opera with his wildly shifting eyes the only things visible on an otherwise (shadow-) masked face.
  • His scenes using mirrors and reflections were subdued but complementary. Mirrors are used twice; first in Susan’s apartment (nicely complementing the framed pictures), and second the multi-imaged Kane, his newly smashed life passing down the corridor in silence. Reflections are noted with Bernstein’s (Everett Sloane) image on the desk top and the dancing Kane in the office window.
  • With his training in radio, Welles had no trouble producing dramatic backgrounds and quick cuts with his sound editing. The booming of the newsreel jolts one from the sedate (deathbed) to a fabricated image of Kane (amplified by the demonstrator in the newsreel with the bullhorn); the crack of thunder which leads to the low-keyed nightclub music; the echoes within the library and hollow sound of the closing vault and door; Kane’s party, with the singing and the marching band (showing a noticeable drum beat, comparable to that of the blues singer at the picnic); Kane’s booming voice at the rally; the door closing from Susan’s flat, which cuts off Kane’s voice and substitutes traffic (quite a demeaning transition); Kane’s singular clapping during the opera; and the rapping of the typewriter, the wrecking of Susan’s room (especially glass objects), and the butler’s voice echoing through the now empty Xanadu.
  • Depth was much easier to obtain with the full ceilings used to give reinforcement to any implications of size or scope which Welles wished to make. The very low angle shot of Kane after dropping the paperweight and the nurse’s elongated shadows make the room appear extra large (this scene seemed to have been shot through a concave lens apparatus of some sort); the long tracking shot over the rooftops down into the “El Rancho” nightclub (similarly used at the end with the long shot of Kane’s “junk” ending with “Rosebud”); the construction of the Inquirer building, with its poles, beams, guard rails, and lights, which was geometrically perfect; Leland at the hospital (soft focus giving a feeling of deterioration); Gettys surveying the campaign from far above (even dwarfing Kane’s poster); Gettys walking down the stairway (using the spiral construction to complement the reverse cutting); after Susan’s suicide attempt; glass and poison (large) in half-light of foreground, Susan in shadows of the middle ground, Kane silhouetted by the doorway in the background; and Susan’s walk through the multiple archways at Xanadu. Each time Welles used deep focus (seven times, I believe; the nightclub, library, boarding house, Kane’s party, Kane typing, singing lesson, and the aging Kane at Xanadu). He not only allows the audience selection of attention; he goes further to work in framing, lighting, shadows, and silhouettes.
Probably the most important aspect of the film was, as mentioned before, his transition and treatment of time. Welles uses every technique possible to obtain smooth transitions. (These “smooth” transitions may call for a jolt now and then to pull the audience through time; the professional treatment of the change overrides the jump and it is hardly noticed.) It begins with the long tracking shot to Xanadu, from the “No Trespassing” sign to the house. The next was from the projection room to the thunderstorm. Twice he employs a triple transition successfully.

The first was the snow-covered “Rosebud” to the new metal sled from Thatcher (“Merry Christmas”) ending with “And A Happy New Year” about fifteen years later. The second was the time Kane was sitting in the parlor listening to Susan sing; his clapping for her performance led to the applause of a crowd hearing Leland campaigning for Kane. The speech Leland makes is finished by Kane himself at the huge hall (effective transition in size of audience and area of performance). Two transitions deal with picitures: the staff photograph in the Chronicle window to the actual men at the party and the address number “185” (Susan’s apartment) to the photograph on the front page of the newspaper (each opposite of the other). The breakfast sequence succeeded because we knew the time lapses were coming. Thus, each drastic change was accepted and appreciated (change in clothing, temperanent, length and tone of conversation, ending with silence at the long  table). As soon as we see Bernstein lift the headline proof (“Fraud At the Polls”), it is lowered to reveal a disgusted Leland, who throws the paper to the street. (The street is cobblestone. Kane meets Susan on a cobb1estoned street. His political future and marriage end on cobblestones,)

The screaming bird, although a pleasant diversification, is one of those shock cuts which works only because of Welles’s quick implementation of depth (arches) and lighting (shadows). In my opinion, the best transition took place when Kane was finishing Leland’s notice.  I refer specifically to the composition of the frame. Kane takes up about one eighth in the upper right-hand corner (cut diagonally); the rest of the press room is in darkness. As Leland finishes his review, what was once Kane now becomes structural shadows. What was once darkess becomes the aged Leland. This particular scene (keeping its perfect symmetry) not only bridges time and point of view well; it also gives one the feeling that Leland’s memories are once again fading back into the shadows of his past life.

Although my own reactions to Citizen Kane were very favorable, writing this paper was quite difficult. It seems that the difficulty stemmed from the inherent “completeness” of Kane; completeness in the context of each foot of film complementing, enhancing, linking the other to form a total film . . . THE example of the potentials of film.  As soon as I tried to classify Kane down into small subdivisions (lighting, sound, photography), I realized that what I had was literally hundreds of specific points. After assembling these points for review, all I had left was a helter-skelter composition; reinforcing my belief that Citizen Kane should be reviewed from an overall viewpoint . . . it seems that this is one film which defies “final and definitive analyzing.”

Personally, I think that Citizen Kane is undoubtedly the finest film we have screened this year. Probably it is the most important film I have ever seen. Besides being technically perfect, the general story outline and acting made it quite an enjoyable and stimulating film. Much more important than my accolades is the feeling that this is the first film that I have learned anything from. For me, this is the only time the film appreciation aspects of the Film Production course has had any direct relation to that of filmmaking. This realization that the two have begun to mesh together is probably a reflection on the genius of Orson Welles’s direction.

“The Most Advanced Film Screened in Class This Year: A Catalogue of Effects” by Michael Stephanick. From Montage 3 (1970): 5-7. Reprinted by permission of the author and the Center for Film Production.


Kubla Khan
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled around:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw;
It was an Abyssinian maid.
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ‘twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honeydew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.


My Last Duchess
Robert Browning

The time is the 16th centuly, the scene the city of Ferrara In northern Italy. The speaker is the Duke of Ferrara.

That’s my last duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will ‘t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Fra Pandolf" by design. for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus, Sir, ‘twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of Joy into the Duchess’cheek: perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat”: such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?—too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ‘twas all one! My favor at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West.
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech.
Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked
Somehow — I know not how — as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech—which I have not—to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let
Herself be lessened so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth. and made excuse—
E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands:
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will ‘t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed:
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though.
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruek cast in bronze for me!


Fifth Novel Assignment

Nobel Laureates in Literature traditionally give lectures or banquet speeches in which they define or comment on the higher purposes, obligations, or visions of the literati.  The following links will take you to the lectures or speeches of seven Nobel Laureates in Literature who have had particularly noteworthly observations to make about these matters.  Read each lecture/speech and find one laureate whose address has special relevance to your fifth novel.  Then, in a well developed and documented essay, argue the relevance of the laureate's observations to your novel.  Your essay must be replete with detail and formally composed.  Your submission must be typed, according to the rules and conventions set out in Manuscript Requirements, above.

Nobel Addresses:
( I copied, pasted and putzed with these speeches, so the links are not active.  If you would like more information from the original source, see me.)

Albert Camus
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Octavio Paz
Seamus Heaney
Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Joseph Brodsky
Saul Bellow
William Faulkner

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Albert Camus – Banquet Speech

original version here

Albert Camus' speech of thanks at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1957


In receiving the distinction with which your free Academy has so generously honoured me, my gratitude has been profound, particularly when I consider the extent to which this recompense has surpassed my personal merits. Every man, and for stronger reasons, every artist, wants to be recognized. So do I. But I have not been able to learn of your decision without comparing its repercussions to what I really am. A man almost young, rich only in his doubts and with his work still in progress, accustomed to living in the solitude of work or in the retreats of friendship: how would he not feel a kind of panic at hearing the decree that transports him all of a sudden, alone and reduced to himself, to the centre of a glaring light? And with what feelings could he accept this honour at a time when other writers in Europe, among them the very greatest, are condemned to silence, and even at a time when the country of his birth is going through unending misery?

I felt that shock and inner turmoil. In order to regain peace I have had, in short, to come to terms with a too generous fortune. And since I cannot live up to it by merely resting on my achievement, I have found nothing to support me but what has supported me through all my life, even in the most contrary circumstances: the idea that I have of my art and of the role of the writer. Let me only tell you, in a spirit of gratitude and friendship, as simply as I can, what this idea is.

For myself, I cannot live without my art. But I have never placed it above everything. If, on the other hand, I need it, it is because it cannot be separated from my fellow men, and it allows me to live, such as I am, on one level with them. It is a means of stirring the greatest number of people by offering them a privileged picture of common joys and sufferings. It obliges the artist not to keep himself apart; it subjects him to the most humble and the most universal truth. And often he who has chosen the fate of the artist because he felt himself to be different soon realizes that he can maintain neither his art nor his difference unless he admits that he is like the others. The artist forges himself to the others, midway between the beauty he cannot do without and the community he cannot tear himself away from. That is why true artists scorn nothing: they are obliged to understand rather than to judge. And if they have to take sides in this world, they can perhaps side only with that society in which, according to Nietzsche's great words, not the judge but the creator will rule, whether he be a worker or an intellectual.

By the same token, the writer's role is not free from difficult duties. By definition he cannot put himself today in the service of those who make history; he is at the service of those who suffer it. Otherwise, he will be alone and deprived of his art. Not all the armies of tyranny with their millions of men will free him from his isolation, even and particularly if he falls into step with them. But the silence of an unknown prisoner, abandoned to humiliations at the other end of the world, is enough to draw the writer out of his exile, at least whenever, in the midst of the privileges of freedom, he manages not to forget that silence, and to transmit it in order to make it resound by means of his art.

None of us is great enough for such a task. But in all circumstances of life, in obscurity or temporary fame, cast in the irons of tyranny or for a time free to express himself, the writer can win the heart of a living community that will justify him, on the one condition that he will accept to the limit of his abilities the two tasks that constitute the greatness of his craft: the service of truth and the service of liberty. Because his task is to unite the greatest possible number of people, his art must not compromise with lies and servitude which, wherever they rule, breed solitude. Whatever our personal weaknesses may be, the nobility of our craft will always be rooted in two commitments, difficult to maintain: the refusal to lie about what one knows and the resistance to oppression.

For more than twenty years of an insane history, hopelessly lost like all the men of my generation in the convulsions of time, I have been supported by one thing: by the hidden feeling that to write today was an honour because this activity was a commitment - and a commitment not only to write. Specifically, in view of my powers and my state of being, it was a commitment to bear, together with all those who were living through the same history, the misery and the hope we shared. These men, who were born at the beginning of the First World War, who were twenty when Hitler came to power and the first revolutionary trials were beginning, who were then confronted as a completion of their education with the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, the world of concentration camps, a Europe of torture and prisons - these men must today rear their sons and create their works in a world threatened by nuclear destruction. Nobody, I think, can ask them to be optimists. And I even think that we should understand - without ceasing to fight it - the error of those who in an excess of despair have asserted their right to dishonour and have rushed into the nihilism of the era. But the fact remains that most of us, in my country and in Europe, have refused this nihilism and have engaged upon a quest for legitimacy. They have had to forge for themselves an art of living in times of catastrophe in order to be born a second time and to fight openly against the instinct of death at work in our history.

Each generation doubtless feels called upon to reform the world. Mine knows that it will not reform it, but its task is perhaps even greater. It consists in preventing the world from destroying itself. Heir to a corrupt history, in which are mingled fallen revolutions, technology gone mad, dead gods, and worn-out ideologies, where mediocre powers can destroy all yet no longer know how to convince, where intelligence has debased itself to become the servant of hatred and oppression, this generation starting from its own negations has had to re-establish, both within and without, a little of that which constitutes the dignity of life and death. In a world threatened by disintegration, in which our grand inquisitors run the risk of establishing forever the kingdom of death, it knows that it should, in an insane race against the clock, restore among the nations a peace that is not servitude, reconcile anew labour and culture, and remake with all men the Ark of the Covenant. It is not certain that this generation will ever be able to accomplish this immense task, but already it is rising everywhere in the world to the double challenge of truth and liberty and, if necessary, knows how to die for it without hate. Wherever it is found, it deserves to be saluted and encouraged, particularly where it is sacrificing itself. In any event, certain of your complete approval, it is to this generation that I should like to pass on the honour that you have just given me.

At the same time, after having outlined the nobility of the writer's craft, I should have put him in his proper place. He has no other claims but those which he shares with his comrades in arms: vulnerable but obstinate, unjust but impassioned for justice, doing his work without shame or pride in view of everybody, not ceasing to be divided between sorrow and beauty, and devoted finally to drawing from his double existence the creations that he obstinately tries to erect in the destructive movement of history. Who after all this can expect from him complete solutions and high morals? Truth is mysterious, elusive, always to be conquered. Liberty is dangerous, as hard to live with as it is elating. We must march toward these two goals, painfully but resolutely, certain in advance of our failings on so long a road. What writer would from now on in good conscience dare set himself up as a preacher of virture? For myself, I must state once more that I am not of this kind. I have never been able to renounce the light, the pleasure of being, and the freedom in which I grew up. But although this nostalgia explains many of my errors and my faults, it has doubtless helped me toward a better understanding of my craft. It is helping me still to support unquestioningly all those silent men who sustain the life made for them in the world only through memory of the return of brief and free happiness.

Thus reduced to what I really am, to my limits and debts as well as to my difficult creed, I feel freer, in concluding, to comment upon the extent and the generosity of the honour you have just bestowed upon me, freer also to tell you that I would receive it as an homage rendered to all those who, sharing in the same fight, have not received any privilege, but have on the contrary known misery and persecution. It remains for me to thank you from the bottom of my heart and to make before you publicly, as a personal sign of my gratitude, the same and ancient promise of faithfulness which every true artist repeats to himself in silence every day.

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Gabriel García Márquez – Nobel Lecture



Nobel Lecture, 8 December, 1982


The Solitude of Latin America

Antonio Pigafetta, a Florentine navigator who went with Magellan on the first voyage around the world, wrote, upon his passage through our southern lands of America, a strictly accurate account that nonetheless resembles a venture into fantasy. In it he recorded that he had seen hogs with navels on their haunches, clawless birds whose hens laid eggs on the backs of their mates, and others still, resembling tongueless pelicans, with beaks like spoons. He wrote of having seen a misbegotten creature with the head and ears of a mule, a camel's body, the legs of a deer and the whinny of a horse. He described how the first native encountered in Patagonia was confronted with a mirror, whereupon that impassioned giant lost his senses to the terror of his own image.

This short and fascinating book, which even then contained the seeds of our present-day novels, is by no means the most staggering account of our reality in that age. The Chronicles of the Indies left us countless others. Eldorado, our so avidly sought and illusory land, appeared on numerous maps for many a long year, shifting its place and form to suit the fantasy of cartographers. In his search for the fountain of eternal youth, the mythical Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca explored the north of Mexico for eight years, in a deluded expedition whose members devoured each other and only five of whom returned, of the six hundred who had undertaken it. One of the many unfathomed mysteries of that age is that of the eleven thousand mules, each loaded with one hundred pounds of gold, that left Cuzco one day to pay the ransom of Atahualpa and never reached their destination. Subsequently, in colonial times, hens were sold in Cartagena de Indias, that had been raised on alluvial land and whose gizzards contained tiny lumps of gold. One founder's lust for gold beset us until recently. As late as the last century, a German mission appointed to study the construction of an interoceanic railroad across the Isthmus of Panama concluded that the project was feasible on one condition: that the rails not be made of iron, which was scarce in the region, but of gold.

Our independence from Spanish domination did not put us beyond the reach of madness. General Antonio López de Santana, three times dictator of Mexico, held a magnificent funeral for the right leg he had lost in the so-called Pastry War. General Gabriel García Moreno ruled Ecuador for sixteen years as an absolute monarch; at his wake, the corpse was seated on the presidential chair, decked out in full-dress uniform and a protective layer of medals. General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, the theosophical despot of El Salvador who had thirty thousand peasants slaughtered in a savage massacre, invented a pendulum to detect poison in his food, and had streetlamps draped in red paper to defeat an epidemic of scarlet fever. The statue to General Francisco Moraz´n erected in the main square of Tegucigalpa is actually one of Marshal Ney, purchased at a Paris warehouse of second-hand sculptures.

Eleven years ago, the Chilean Pablo Neruda, one of the outstanding poets of our time, enlightened this audience with his word. Since then, the Europeans of good will - and sometimes those of bad, as well - have been struck, with ever greater force, by the unearthly tidings of Latin America, that boundless realm of haunted men and historic women, whose unending obstinacy blurs into legend. We have not had a moment's rest. A promethean president, entrenched in his burning palace, died fighting an entire army, alone; and two suspicious airplane accidents, yet to be explained, cut short the life of another great-hearted president and that of a democratic soldier who had revived the dignity of his people. There have been five wars and seventeen military coups; there emerged a diabolic dictator who is carrying out, in God's name, the first Latin American ethnocide of our time. In the meantime, twenty million Latin American children died before the age of one - more than have been born in Europe since 1970. Those missing because of repression number nearly one hundred and twenty thousand, which is as if no one could account for all the inhabitants of Uppsala. Numerous women arrested while pregnant have given birth in Argentine prisons, yet nobody knows the whereabouts and identity of their children who were furtively adopted or sent to an orphanage by order of the military authorities. Because they tried to change this state of things, nearly two hundred thousand men and women have died throughout the continent, and over one hundred thousand have lost their lives in three small and ill-fated countries of Central America: Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. If this had happened in the United States, the corresponding figure would be that of one million six hundred thousand violent deaths in four years.

One million people have fled Chile, a country with a tradition of hospitality - that is, ten per cent of its population. Uruguay, a tiny nation of two and a half million inhabitants which considered itself the continent's most civilized country, has lost to exile one out of every five citizens. Since 1979, the civil war in El Salvador has produced almost one refugee every twenty minutes. The country that could be formed of all the exiles and forced emigrants of Latin America would have a population larger than that of Norway.

I dare to think that it is this outsized reality, and not just its literary expression, that has deserved the attention of the Swedish Academy of Letters. A reality not of paper, but one that lives within us and determines each instant of our countless daily deaths, and that nourishes a source of insatiable creativity, full of sorrow and beauty, of which this roving and nostalgic Colombian is but one cipher more, singled out by fortune. Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable. This, my friends, is the crux of our solitude.

And if these difficulties, whose essence we share, hinder us, it is understandable that the rational talents on this side of the world, exalted in the contemplation of their own cultures, should have found themselves without valid means to interpret us. It is only natural that they insist on measuring us with the yardstick that they use for themselves, forgetting that the ravages of life are not the same for all, and that the quest of our own identity is just as arduous and bloody for us as it was for them. The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary. Venerable Europe would perhaps be more perceptive if it tried to see us in its own past. If only it recalled that London took three hundred years to build its first city wall, and three hundred years more to acquire a bishop; that Rome labored in a gloom of uncertainty for twenty centuries, until an Etruscan King anchored it in history; and that the peaceful Swiss of today, who feast us with their mild cheeses and apathetic watches, bloodied Europe as soldiers of fortune, as late as the Sixteenth Century. Even at the height of the Renaissance, twelve thousand lansquenets in the pay of the imperial armies sacked and devastated Rome and put eight thousand of its inhabitants to the sword.

I do not mean to embody the illusions of Tonio Kröger, whose dreams of uniting a chaste north to a passionate south were exalted here, fifty-three years ago, by Thomas Mann. But I do believe that those clear-sighted Europeans who struggle, here as well, for a more just and humane homeland, could help us far better if they reconsidered their way of seeing us. Solidarity with our dreams will not make us feel less alone, as long as it is not translated into concrete acts of legitimate support for all the peoples that assume the illusion of having a life of their own in the distribution of the world.

Latin America neither wants, nor has any reason, to be a pawn without a will of its own; nor is it merely wishful thinking that its quest for independence and originality should become a Western aspiration. However, the navigational advances that have narrowed such distances between our Americas and Europe seem, conversely, to have accentuated our cultural remoteness. Why is the originality so readily granted us in literature so mistrustfully denied us in our difficult attempts at social change? Why think that the social justice sought by progressive Europeans for their own countries cannot also be a goal for Latin America, with different methods for dissimilar conditions? No: the immeasurable violence and pain of our history are the result of age-old inequities and untold bitterness, and not a conspiracy plotted three thousand leagues from our home. But many European leaders and thinkers have thought so, with the childishness of old-timers who have forgotten the fruitful excess of their youth as if it were impossible to find another destiny than to live at the mercy of the two great masters of the world. This, my friends, is the very scale of our solitude.

In spite of this, to oppression, plundering and abandonment, we respond with life. Neither floods nor plagues, famines nor cataclysms, nor even the eternal wars of century upon century, have been able to subdue the persistent advantage of life over death. An advantage that grows and quickens: every year, there are seventy-four million more births than deaths, a sufficient number of new lives to multiply, each year, the population of New York sevenfold. Most of these births occur in the countries of least resources - including, of course, those of Latin America. Conversely, the most prosperous countries have succeeded in accumulating powers of destruction such as to annihilate, a hundred times over, not only all the human beings that have existed to this day, but also the totality of all living beings that have ever drawn breath on this planet of misfortune.

On a day like today, my master William Faulkner said, "I decline to accept the end of man". I would fall unworthy of standing in this place that was his, if I were not fully aware that the colossal tragedy he refused to recognize thirty-two years ago is now, for the first time since the beginning of humanity, nothing more than a simple scientific possibility. Faced with this awesome reality that must have seemed a mere utopia through all of human time, we, the inventors of tales, who will believe anything, feel entitled to believe that it is not yet too late to engage in the creation of the opposite utopia. A new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth.

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Octavio Paz – Nobel Lecture



Nobel Lecture, December 8, 1990


In Search of the Present

I begin with two words that all men have uttered since the dawn of humanity: thank you. The word gratitude has equivalents in every language and in each tongue the range of meanings is abundant. In the Romance languages this breadth spans the spiritual and the physical, from the divine grace conceded to men to save them from error and death, to the bodily grace of the dancing girl or the feline leaping through the undergrowth. Grace means pardon, forgiveness, favour, benefice, inspiration; it is a form of address, a pleasing style of speaking or painting, a gesture expressing politeness, and, in short, an act that reveals spiritual goodness. Grace is gratuitous; it is a gift. The person who receives it, the favoured one, is grateful for it; if he is not base, he expresses gratitude. That is what I am doing at this very moment with these weightless words. I hope my emotion compensates their weightlessness. If each of my words were a drop of water, you would see through them and glimpse what I feel: gratitude, acknowledgement. And also an indefinable mixture of fear, respect and surprise at finding myself here before you, in this place which is the home of both Swedish learning and world literature.

Languages are vast realities that transcend those political and historical entities we call nations. The European languages we speak in the Americas illustrate this. The special position of our literatures when compared to those of England, Spain, Portugal and France depends precisely on this fundamental fact: they are literatures written in transplanted tongues. Languages are born and grow from the native soil, nourished by a common history. The European languages were rooted out from their native soil and their own tradition, and then planted in an unknown and unnamed world: they took root in the new lands and, as they grew within the societies of America, they were transformed. They are the same plant yet also a different plant. Our literatures did not passively accept the changing fortunes of the transplanted languages: they participated in the process and even accelerated it. They very soon ceased to be mere transatlantic reflections: at times they have been the negation of the literatures of Europe; more often, they have been a reply.

In spite of these oscillations the link has never been broken. My classics are those of my language and I consider myself to be a descendant of Lope and Quevedo, as any Spanish writer would ... yet I am not a Spaniard. I think that most writers of Spanish America, as well as those from the United States, Brazil and Canada, would say the same as regards the English, Portuguese and French traditions. To understand more clearly the special position of writers in the Americas, we should think of the dialogue maintained by Japanese, Chinese or Arabic writers with the different literatures of Europe. It is a dialogue that cuts across multiple languages and civilizations. Our dialogue, on the other hand, takes place within the same language. We are Europeans yet we are not Europeans. What are we then? It is diffcult to define what we are, but our works speak for us.

In the field of literature, the great novelty of the present century has been the appearance of the American literatures. The first to appear was that of the English-speaking part and then, in the second half of the 20th Century, that of Latin America in its two great branches: Spanish America and Brazil. Although they are very different, these three literatures have one common feature: the conflict, which is more ideological than literary, between the cosmopolitan and nativist tendencies, between Europeanism and Americanism. What is the legacy of this dispute? The polemics have disappeared; what remain are the works. Apart from this general resemblance, the differences between the three literatures are multiple and profound. One of them belongs more to history than to literature: the development of Anglo-American literature coincides with the rise of the United States as a world power whereas the rise of our literature coincides with the political and social misfortunes and upheavals of our nations. This proves once more the limitations of social and historical determinism: the decline of empires and social disturbances sometimes coincide with moments of artistic and literary splendour. Li-Po and Tu Fu witnessed the fall of the Tang dynasty; Velázquez painted for Felipe IV; Seneca and Lucan were contemporaries and also victims of Nero. Other differences are of a literary nature and apply more to particular works than to the character of each literature. But can we say that literatures have a character? Do they possess a set of shared features that distinguish them from other literatures? I doubt it. A literature is not defined by some fanciful, intangible character; it is a society of unique works united by relations of opposition and affinity.

The first basic difference between Latin-American and Anglo-American literature lies in the diversity of their origins. Both begin as projections of Europe. The projection of an island in the case of North America; that of a peninsula in our case. Two regions that are geographically, historically and culturally eccentric. The origins of North America are in England and the Reformation; ours are in Spain, Portugal and the Counter-Reformation. For the case of Spanish America I should briefly mention what distinguishes Spain from other European countries, giving it a particularly original historical identity. Spain is no less eccentric than England but its eccentricity is of a different kind. The eccentricity of the English is insular and is characterized by isolation: an eccentricity that excludes. Hispanic eccentricity is peninsular and consists of the coexistence of different civilizations and different pasts: an inclusive eccentricity. In what would later be Catholic Spain, the Visigoths professed the heresy of Arianism, and we could also speak about the centuries of domination by Arabic civilization, the influence of Jewish thought, the Reconquest, and other characteristic features.

Hispanic eccentricity is reproduced and multiplied in America, especially in those countries such as Mexico and Peru, where ancient and splendid civilizations had existed. In Mexico, the Spaniards encountered history as well as geography. That history is still alive: it is a present rather than a past. The temples and gods of pre-Columbian Mexico are a pile of ruins, but the spirit that breathed life into that world has not disappeared; it speaks to us in the hermetic language of myth, legend, forms of social coexistence, popular art, customs. Being a Mexican writer means listening to the voice of that present, that presence. Listening to it, speaking with it, deciphering it: expressing it ... After this brief digression we may be able to perceive the peculiar relation that simultaneously binds us to and separates us from the European tradition.

This consciousness of being separate is a constant feature of our spiritual history. Separation is sometimes experienced as a wound that marks an internal division, an anguished awareness that invites self-examination; at other times it appears as a challenge, a spur that incites us to action, to go forth and encounter others and the outside world. It is true that the feeling of separation is universal and not peculiar to Spanish Americans. It is born at the very moment of our birth: as we are wrenched from the Whole we fall into an alien land. This experience becomes a wound that never heals. It is the unfathomable depth of every man; all our ventures and exploits, all our acts and dreams, are bridges designed to overcome the separation and reunite us with the world and our fellow-beings. Each man's life and the collective history of mankind can thus be seen as attempts to reconstruct the original situation. An unfinished and endless cure for our divided condition. But it is not my intention to provide yet another description of this feeling. I am simply stressing the fact that for us this existential condition expresses itself in historical terms. It thus becomes an awareness of our history. How and when does this feeling appear and how is it transformed into consciousness? The reply to this double-edged question can be given in the form of a theory or a personal testimony. I prefer the latter: there are many theories and none is entirely convincing.

The feeling of separation is bound up with the oldest and vaguest of my memories: the first cry, the first scare. Like every child I built emotional bridges in the imagination to link me to the world and to other people. I lived in a town on the outskirts of Mexico City, in an old dilapidated house that had a jungle-like garden and a great room full of books. First games and first lessons. The garden soon became the centre of my world; the library, an enchanted cave. I used to read and play with my cousins and schoolmates. There was a fig tree, temple of vegetation, four pine trees, three ash trees, a nightshade, a pomegranate tree, wild grass and prickly plants that produced purple grazes. Adobe walls. Time was elastic; space was a spinning wheel. All time, past or future, real or imaginary, was pure presence. Space transformed itself ceaselessly. The beyond was here, all was here: a valley, a mountain, a distant country, the neighbours' patio. Books with pictures, especially history books, eagerly leafed through, supplied images of deserts and jungles, palaces and hovels, warriors and princesses, beggars and kings. We were shipwrecked with Sinbad and with Robinson, we fought with d'Artagnan, we took Valencia with the Cid. How I would have liked to stay forever on the Isle of Calypso! In summer the green branches of the fig tree would sway like the sails of a caravel or a pirate ship. High up on the mast, swept by the wind, I could make out islands and continents, lands that vanished as soon as they became tangible. The world was limitless yet it was always within reach; time was a pliable substance that weaved an unbroken present.

When was the spell broken? Gradually rather than suddenly. It is hard to accept being betrayed by a friend, deceived by the woman we love, or that the idea of freedom is the mask of a tyrant. What we call "finding out" is a slow and tricky process because we ourselves are the accomplices of our errors and deceptions. Nevertheless, I can remember fairly clearly an incident that was the first sign, although it was quickly forgotten. I must have been about six when one of my cousins who was a little older showed me a North American magazine with a photograph of soldiers marching along a huge avenue, probably in New York. "They've returned from the war" she said. This handful of words disturbed me, as if they foreshadowed the end of the world or the Second Coming of Christ. I vaguely knew that somewhere far away a war had ended a few years earlier and that the soldiers were marching to celebrate their victory. For me, that war had taken place in another time, not here and now. The photo refuted me. I felt literally dislodged from the present.

From that moment time began to fracture more and more. And there was a plurality of spaces. The experience repeated itself more and more frequently. Any piece of news, a harmless phrase, the headline in a newspaper: everything proved the outside world's existence and my own unreality. I felt that the world was splitting and that I did not inhabit the present. My present was disintegrating: real time was somewhere else. My time, the time of the garden, the fig tree, the games with friends, the drowsiness among the plants at three in the afternoon under the sun, a fig torn open (black and red like a live coal but one that is sweet and fresh): this was a fictitious time. In spite of what my senses told me, the time from over there, belonging to the others, was the real one, the time of the real present. I accepted the inevitable: I became an adult. That was how my expulsion from the present began.

It may seem paradoxical to say that we have been expelled from the present, but it is a feeling we have all had at some moment. Some of us experienced it first as a condemnation, later transformed into consciousness and action. The search for the present is neither the pursuit of an earthly paradise nor that of a timeless eternity: it is the search for a real reality. For us, as Spanish Americans, the real present was not in our own countries: it was the time lived by others, by the English, the French and the Germans. It was the time of New York, Paris, London. We had to go and look for it and bring it back home. These years were also the years of my discovery of literature. I began writing poems. I did not know what made me write them: I was moved by an inner need that is difficult to define. Only now have I understood that there was a secret relationship between what I have called my expulsion from the present and the writing of poetry. Poetry is in love with the instant and seeks to relive it in the poem, thus separating it from sequential time and turning it into a fixed present. But at that time I wrote without wondering why I was doing it. I was searching for the gateway to the present: I wanted to belong to my time and to my century. A little later this obsession became a fixed idea: I wanted to be a modern poet. My search for modernity had begun.

What is modernity? First of all it is an ambiguous term: there are as many types of modernity as there are societies. Each has its own. The word's meaning is uncertain and arbitrary, like the name of the period that precedes it, the Middle Ages. If we are modern when compared to medieval times, are we perhaps the Middle Ages of a future modernity? Is a name that changes with time a real name? Modernity is a word in search of its meaning. Is it an idea, a mirage or a moment of history? Are we the children of modernity or its creators? Nobody knows for sure. It doesn't matter much: we follow it, we pursue it. For me at that time modernity was fused with the present or rather produced it: the present was its last supreme flower. My case is neither unique nor exceptional: from the Symbolist period, all modern poets have chased after that magnetic and elusive figure tha

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