Thinking in Zebra Mode – and Literature

Reading Literature is more than just a question of books; it’s a question of our worldview, our endless mental assumptions. This post is an attempt at becoming conscious of my own Achilles heel – black and white thinking.

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Literary Theory: Why Should a Young Writer Care?

Why should I be spending my summer holidays reading Terry Eagleton’s ‘Introduction to Literary Theory’? The unglamorous reason, of course, is to acclimatise myself to the looming rigours of studying English at university. Another reason is anxiety: count yourself lucky if you can sit in one place without your mind running wild. Mine, meanwhile, needs…

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Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh

One more exam, and then the freedom to write blog posts beckons! (can you tell that I snatched some time for this one between French revision sessions?). So, let’s talk ‘Vile Bodies’ by Evelyn Waugh. It sounds like an apt name for secondary examination organisations. It is in fact a comedy, and the satirical type.…

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Thoughts on the Poem “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath

‘Mirror’ appears like a relatively simple poem. However, in no way does it lack depth: narrated from the point of view of a personified mirror, we witness the coming and going of a woman who looks in and reacts bitterly to what she sees. What I found most stunning about this poem were the contrasts.…

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Isabella; or, The Pot of Basil

A pot of basil, two lovers and a tragedy. It’s a plot that will always sound like you’ve heard it before (save for the pot of basil.) This week, read my take on the tragic Romantic-era poem ‘Isabella’ by Keats.

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‘Unaccustomed Earth’: Lahiri and The Subtle Art of Short Stories

It is rare to find that one book on my reading list leads so effortlessly into the next one, but no sooner had I emerged from Hawthorne’s ‘The Scarlet Letter’ did I stumble upon ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ by Jhumpa Lahiri, opening with this vivid epigraph (above). Long having claimed her place on my ‘Favourite Authors’ shelf, Lahiri brings her skill with the short story form to a life of travel and rootlessness.

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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Woman vs World?

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter delves into one woman’s journey through guilt, temptation and societal humiliation. Set in a Puritan New England settlement, a young woman named Hester Prynne has been condemned to wear a ‘scarlet letter’ to shame her for having a child out of wedlock. Her husband, a traveler who is usually abroad,…

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Millat Iqbal (A Character Study): White Teeth by Zadie Smith

“What had gone wrong with these first descendants of the first great ocean crossing experiment? Was there not a substantial garden area, regular meals, clean clothes from Marks ‘n’ Sparks, A class top-notch education?” These are the telling words of White Teeth by Zadie Smith. It’s not only a riotous panorama of multicultural England, but…

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The Bubble: A Micro-Pastiche of The Great Gatsby

Here’s this week’s creative experiment – a 200 word paragraph about a child playing in puddles after the rain, inspired by the rich imagery of The Great Gatsby.

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Prelude by Katherine Mansfield Analysis

In this post, I respond to what I have read in quite a few academic journals (links below) and make summary notes about the context and narrator. With the background knowledge to inspire my own analyses, I’ve sprung off some thoughts about Mansfield’s literary and writing choices. Step 2: Analysing the opening You can’t go…

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