Lit. Crit. (was: Re: More than you ever wanted to know (was Re: answers from Diana))

otheng otheng at
Tue Jun 5 08:21:59 EDT 2001

> Well, I thought at the time it was meant literally, but not in the sense
> studying would destroy our enjoyment of the books.  Mr E---- seemed to be
saying  that Sci Fi books were not sufficiently deep that studying them
would be
> rewarding.  He didn't seem to think that any of our set "novels" would be
ruined  by studying them, after all.

Some SF is fine to study in depth - but others show the gaps if you look at
them too closely. I did "1984" at A Level, and came out respecting Orwell
much less as a result. This did not happen with "Hamlet", or Wordsworth, or
most of the other books. OTOH, I did "The Chrysalids" for O Level and loved

> I still think he was a good teacher.  I'm sure I could have come out of
> course hating all three books, but I was merely not interested - much the
> emotion I felt going into it.  That said, I have used set-book-dom as an
> for not liking Silas Marner, but I will confess I wasn't really being
> PS It was a serious question, "What is Lit Crit?"!  And no-one has
attempted to answer it except Gill's little comment about deconstructing

Perhaps I need to try again? For me it's about reading and exploring my own
reactions to what I have read, looking closely at the way in which something
is put together so I appreciate it more. Knowing that the onomatopoeia is
one of the things that makes Owen's poem "Dulce et Decorum est" so powerful
doesn't hurt, and makes me realise the sheer craftsmanship that went into
the writing of it. Working out why I find a reading experience intensely
powerful doesn't dilute the experience, but allows me to appreciate it more.

Critical Analysis, as performed at A Level can be a very artificial
exercise - but reading about how writers work and focussing closely on how
individual groups of words are put together can be immensely rewarding.


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