Monthly Archives: October 2018

Anti-Hero (n)

A ‘non-hero’ or the antithesis of a hero of the old-fashioned kind who was capable of heroic deeds, who was dashing, strong, brave and resourceful. It is a little doubtful whether such heroes have ever existed in any quantity in fiction except in some romances (q.v.) and in the cheaper kind of romantic novelette (q.v.). However, there have been many instances of fictional heroes who have displayed noble qualities and virtuous attributes. The anti-hero is the man who is given the vocation of failure.

The anti-hero—a type who is incompetent, unlucky, tactless, clumsy, cack-handed, stupid, buffoonish—is of ancient lineage and is to be found, for instance, in the Greek new comedy (q.v.). An early and outstanding example in European literature is the endearing figure of the eponymous knight of Don Quixote(1605-1615). But perhaps the first anti-heor who fits the modern image is Hylas, in d’Urfe’s very successful Astree (1627). Another notable instance is Tristram Shandy in Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (1760-1767). On can find isolated representatives in European from the 18thcentury onwards, for example Hasek’s Schweik in The Good Soldier Schweik (1920-23). A case could be argued that Leopold Bloom in Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) is a kind of anti-hero. Charles Lumley in John Wain’s Hurry on Down (1953) is another. When Kingsley Amis created Jim Dixon in Lucky Jim (1954) the post-war anti-hero type was established, and the anti-hero Jimmy Porter of John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger (1957) produced a succession of personalities of the same kind. Other examples are Sebastien in J.P. Donleavy’s The Ginger Man (1955). Herzog in Bellow’s Herzog (1964), and Yossarian in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 (1961). The principal male characters in several of Graham Greene’s novels are also anti-heroes.”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Word Root Exercise: Gnos, Gnom, Gnomon

One last thing this afternoon, to wit a worksheet on the Greek roots gnos, gnom, and gnomon. They mean knowledge.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The 83 Departements of Revolutionary France

“The many old provinces and parlements of France were swept away by the French Revolution. On 4 March 1791, France was divided into 83 new department units, named after unitary geographic units such as valley or mountain range. Each was to be governed by and official, the all-powerful Intendant, appointed by the central government. These officials were instructed to establish a departmental capital so that no area should be more than a day’s ride from the head office. At the height of the conquests of Napoleon, the efficient bureaucratic Empire of Departements expanded to 130, but it later reverted to 86. In 1860, the seizure of Nice and Savoy from Italy took the number up to 89, whilst victory in the First World War allowed for the Alsatian fortress of Belfort to become number 90. Further reorganization and the addition of five overseas departements brought the number to its current tally of 101.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Role (n), Roll (n), and Roll (vt/vi)

Here’s a series of five homophone worksheets on the noun role, the noun roll, and the verb, used both transitively and intransitively, roll. In general, and only this conclusion requires only scant thought, roll as these two parts of speech is a very busy polysemous word.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Timely Words from a Founding Father

“Learned Institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty and dangerous encroachments on the public liberty.”

James Madison (1751-1836)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.

Independent Practice: Roman Republic

On a bright autumn afternoon the day before Halloween, here is an independent practice worksheet on the Roman Republic.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Rotten Reviews: George Bernard Shaw Pans Othello

“Pure melodrama. There is not a touch of characterization that goes below the skin.”

George Bernard Shaw, Saturday Review 1897 

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.