I'll go on with my thoughts about Wicked
as a novel , and especially as triggered by what Constance and Tammy wrote.
Yes, we are a product of our educations, and the difference is not a matter of things being antithetical, but a matter of placing the emphasis on different things.
I learnt a lot about my education by realizing what it was NOT at the University of Cape Town and then later in San Diego.
So what did I learn at university?
I'll sum up the situations in two ways, so take your pick:
1- It's amazing how much I have forgotten. I remember the titles of many books... but the content of very few.
2- Shall we decide that... culture is what is left when you've forgotten most of what you ever learnt?
Next, you two ladies have the following advantages over me:
a- went to university recently, as opposed to the early eighties, so it's all fresh in your minds.
b- The French school system in those days, though suffering no self doubts and not being given to causing confusion, explained nothing in its methods.
I would not try it with twenty first century high school students, but it worked then.
This leads me to the following examples and comments.
Yesterday, by chance, I came to read a posting by an American reader somewhere, who was very capably explaining what analyzing a novel was. Sadly, I lost the page, but I remember this.
In her first three essential questions to ask was:
Does this reflect reality?
And I thought "That's definitely NOT what I learnt to ask!"
So since yesterday I've been puzzling about what questions I learnt to ask, and I don't know exactly.
Still, one observation: if "Does this reflect reality?" was turned to "What does this tell us about the human condition?", I'd feel more comfortable.
Also I have a suggestion about why the above question would not have cropped up.
French schools and universities are always packed, nobody needs to worry about next year's enrolment figures and our professors had a knack for choosing the really serious stuff : Milton, The Spire
by William Golding, or D H Lawrence (you have to enter his wordview , he wrote those Phoenix I
and Phoenix II books to explain it...) : try leading a class discussion relating to anybody's experience after those...
But still, if the book had lent itself to other types of discussion, for example in the French lit class in high school, they would not have been explored, because nobody would have thought of them.
OK, next, I thought I quite liked this trip on Memory Lane and I might look up what the web had to say about "What is fiction?".
I'll give one good site in my next postings, but first I'll mention that a few sites started with life-saving tips like:
"First of all, you must ask yourselves who the main character is."