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Emerging from radio silence - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
Emerging from radio silence
Hello everyone! I am still here, but I had to write the second essay for the Children's Literature course this week and that, along with going to the AS-level Maths class, getting the Welsh learning underway again and catching up after two weekends away just about swamped me.

As I'm behind with LJ, I probably won't be able to comment on as many posts as I would like, but
Congrats to all of you who did NaNo! This year I just never got started. I said I'd do Novel in 90 instead of NaNo -- then didn't even manage to make a start on that. However, now I have the essay out of the way, there's quite a gap until the next one, so I'll poke at some stories and try to get one going again. I can maintain progress while doing other things, even fairly demanding things, but I can't find enough brain capacity to get a stalled project moving and trawl through two long novels and half a dozen critical essays in order to put a coherent argument together.

Of course until I get the marked assignment back, I don't know whether I have -- put a coherent argument together, that is -- but I have to admit that I now have a much higher regard for Little Women than I did previously. Lousia May Alcott is a much cleverer writer than I gave her credit for. Also, everyone tends to look at the female characters, because, well, duh! little women, but in this essay I was asked to look at the male roles and they're much more interesting than a cursory glance would lead to you believe.

Basically, my argument was that you shouldn't believe what Alcott says overtly. Look at how she shows the characters. The showing completely contradicts the telling, and I don't think readers miss that, even if they don't consciously realise it. I certainly didn't realise it consciously as a child, but I did take the message on board subliminally.

I mean how many of you really think that Jo was happy giving up her writing and marrying Prof Bhaer? How many of you think that Laurie should have torn up his music manuscripts and devoted himself to business or that Amy should stop painting? Do I see any hands raised? I thought not. :)

The other novel I had to use in the essay was Treasure Island, but I decided that was really just, 'Yay! Pirates! Treasure! Aventure!' and lacked any hidden depths. Though it was better written then I expected and -- considering it was written in 1868 well before cinema -- it's very cinematic. It's no wonder it's been filmed so many times with another one coming out on Sky at Christmas.

Interestingly, Stevenson wrote it while he was stuck convelescing in a cottage in the middle of nowhere and turned out a chapter a morning so he could read it to his family in the evening. So not unlike a NaNo project then!

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

9 comments or Leave a comment
poliphilo From: poliphilo Date: December 2nd, 2011 11:45 am (UTC) (Link)
No hidden depths in Stevenson? I think not. Treasure Island is a profound disquisition on Capitalism (at least, that's what I think.) Also on virtue.
Who do we really want to be, dry Dr Livesey or juicy Long John- the man of distinction or the free spirit?

Also he writes like an aaaangel.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: December 2nd, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
One of the essays we had to read was about how Treasure Island was intended to prepare boys for the civil service. That was a dubious argument to say the least, though your suggestion that it it commenting on capitalism is more valid. However, it didn't have anything profound to say about boyhood, which was the subject of the essay. (I hope Ailz got hers done OK, by the way.)

With regard to Long John Silver, it's obvious that Stevenson fell in love with the character. In fact the book's original title was The Sea Cook, though that was changed before it was published.
poliphilo From: poliphilo Date: December 3rd, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I read that article too (Ailz wanted my opinion of it.) I thought it was far-fetched.

Ailz struggled with the essay but it's done and dusted now.

I love Stevenson.
(Deleted comment)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: December 2nd, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's certainly a valid reading, though I prefer to think of him as heterosexual, largely to avoid the stereotype of gentle/artistic = homosexual, tough/down to earth/businesslike = heterosexual.
readthisandweep From: readthisandweep Date: December 2nd, 2011 01:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nice to have you back! Congratulations on all the work.
Have you read, March by Geraldine Brooks? It's the story of the absent father from Little Women. Beautifully realised & evoking a genuine sense of the American Civil War.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: December 2nd, 2011 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, I haven't read March. I was struck by how little the Civil War seemed to impinge on the girls' lives, apart from the absence of their father, of course.
la_marquise_de_ From: la_marquise_de_ Date: December 2nd, 2011 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Alcott was a very subtle writer -- Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom address alcoholism and sexual assault, for instance, in ways that a young reader won't be scared by, but which still gets the message over that some behaviours are not acceptable in a non-preachy way. And Work is a wonderful piece of early feminism.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: December 2nd, 2011 06:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I must add those to my To Read list. The great thing about this course is that it's leading me to lots of interesting books. Of course I won't have any time to read them until the course is over, but hey! :)

We are now about to move on to poetry and plays, so that will be fun. Will I be able to overcome my aversion to Peter Pan and learn to love it, I wonder?
la_marquise_de_ From: la_marquise_de_ Date: December 2nd, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm averse to it, too, so I will be very interested to see your comments.
9 comments or Leave a comment