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Wicked: what's a novel? 
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Post Wicked: what's a novel?
Quote:
Constance wrote:

Quote:
In pretty much all of my literature classes in high school and college we paralleled novels to current life and we always had to learn a little about the time period in which a book was written when we studied it. So I tend to look at books this way when I read them - I am a product of my education


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? :doze:



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."
:eek:


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Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:43 pm
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Maybe the way we are taught is a cultural difference. Based on the other American's posting you referenced it sounds like that may just be what American teachers ask about a book. I've been out of college for about 7 years or so now and I have already forgotten quite a bit, sadly - math being the majority of my forgetting, or maybe selective forgetting :laugh:

I have kept a lot of my notes from my classes so out of curiosity I want to take a look through the ones from my literature classes and see some of the questions I jotted down. I specifically remember a lot of direct references to real life in relation to Puritan writings like the Scarlet Letter. I had to read that book 3 or 4 times in school so that one stands out in particular.

I remember being asked what certain themes are in a book and relating characters and events back to those themes, who the antagonist and protagonist were, and what ideas the author might be trying to get across in the novel.


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Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:10 am
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Post 
Quote:
I have kept a lot of my notes from my classes so out of curiosity I want to take a look through the ones from my literature classes and see some of the questions I jotted down. I specifically remember a lot of direct references to real life in relation to Puritan writings like the Scarlet Letter. I had to read that book 3 or 4 times in school so that one stands out in particular.


It's amazing how some books or themes seem to follow you! :smile:

I did Hamlet three times, each time in depth, and there was still a lot to learn I never got bored and I saw the play at least 6 times after that.

Then, there 's the other sort. I love history, and it seems that every person who writes a curriculum here wants you to study the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century, so it started in history and French lit in high school, and then English 19th century every year they could fit it in.
And really, it's one of the easiest themes there are, I had got the facts the very first time!


Actually, I still don't know whether there are differences between two ways of looking at fiction.

I'll post the one site I found that was detailed, and most thing are straight forward and as i would expect them to be.

First I have a short version of it with my commentaries between brackets.


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Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:32 am
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Fiction* http://www.criticalreading.com/fiction.htm

[* Here is one difference perhaps: the word "fiction" exists in French but we did not use it.
We talked about "literature" and "novels".

- Booktalk divides reading into fiction and non-fiction (useful distinction).
I suppose bookshops may use that distinction too?

In France the one big bookshop , FNAC, goes into subcategories immediately, such as: French literature, foreign literature, history...

- Is "fiction" more a word of the English language?
- Is it a term which is used recently to include recreational reading (and now we sometimes hear of "literary fiction") ? ]


Fiction: The Story And The Moral
Fiction is subjective and evocative. It is "made up," and indirect in its communication.*

[* This is perhaps what had attracted my attention in Wicked: did Maguire perhaps give those quotations in too direct a way, that could be then then taken straight out of the novel and discussed in the real world without the context of the novel?
I only checked one example, about hot anger and cold anger, and, no, author not guilty there (!), it had been brought about very naturally in the flow of the dialogue.]


A work of fiction may evoke:


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Post Showing, not telling.
I often remark I find Wicked strange.

For example, after introducing Gawnette's children, we expected to read more about Elphaba's childhood, but the author decided to take us straight to university.

It seems we might have some flashbacks at the end of the book.

And here is an example of writing that amuses me:

p 371: Nanny: Do you remember that pair of shoes that Frex had decorated for her (Nasserose)?
"The beautiful shoes! Her father's sign of devotion to his second daughter, his desire to accentuate her beauty and draw attention away from he deformity."

So, how is this for introducing the theme of the shoes and kindly giving us the key to everything within in the next sentence? :smile:


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Fri Apr 18, 2008 10:26 am
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