Tag Archives: fiction/literature

Salman Rushdie

In memory of Samuel Paty, and in honor of teachers everywhere struggling to promote and conduct free and open inquiry, and as a cautionary tale about religious orthodoxy and extremism across the globe, I offer without further comment this reading on Salman Rushdie and its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

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.

Book of Answers: The First Book Printed in English

“What was the first book printed in English? The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, a prose romance by Raoul Lefevre, printed by William Caxton in 1474 in Bruges, Belgium. Caxton himself translated it from the French. Caxton also printed the first dated book printed in English, Dictes and Sayenges of the Phylosophers, published on November 18, 1477.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Term of Art: Atmosphere

“Atmosphere: The mood and feeling, the intangible quality which appeals to extra-sensory as well as sensory perception, evoked by a work of art. For instance, the opening scene in Hamlet where the watch is tense and apprehensive, even “jumpy.” By contrast, the beginning of Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist indicates clearly that the play is going to be comic to the point of knockabout. An excellent example in the novel is Hardy’s depiction of Egdon Heath in The Return of the Native.”

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

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

By posting this reading on Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet that it is appropriate for high-schoolers (it might be, for the right ones), or of particularly high interest (again, it might be, for the right one) or demand. I actually wrote this for one student who was very interested in philosophy, but not otherwise interested in school.

Anyway, any reading on Liebniz can complement a calculus class, particularly if you want students to know something about the history of the field. More broadly, if you are conducting inquiry into the Enlightenment, or teaching Voltaire’s Candide, this material will provide some context for that novella.

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.

Latin American Boom

“Latin American Boom: A term for the recognition and publication of Latin American fiction in Europe, the U.S., and Latin America during the 1960s. The ‘boom’ writers were innovative and experimental and yet also accessible, and included Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jose Donoso, and Julio Cortazar. Guillermo Cabrera Infante is often considered part of the group. The reasons for the boom include attention and the awarding of prizes by publishers in Spain to Latin American authors; the Cuban Revolution (1959), which focused attention on the Americas; the exhaustion of the Nouveau Roman style and a renewed interest in vibrant storytelling; and the conjunction of imaginative work that engaged political and historical themes. Paradoxically, the fame of book writers has obscured the recognition of pre-boom writers like Onetti, Pinera, Lezama Lima, Lispector, Arguedas, and Arreola, while post-boom writers have found it hard to crack the commercial market, given the starlike promotion of the boom novelists. Notable exceptions are Isabel Allende and writers whose work has been made into successful U.S. films, plays, or musicals, such as Manuel Puig.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Rotten Reviews: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

“’…The holy bearded veck all nagoy hanging on a cross’ is an example of the author’s language and questionable taste…. The author seems content to use a serious social challenge for frivolous purposes, but himself to stay neutral.”

 Times (London)

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

Cultural Literacy: Sinclair Lewis

Is Sinclair Lewis taught at the high school level? I don’t remember encountering him, with Babbitt, until I was well into my twenties. He was the first writer from the United States to win a Nobel Prize in Literature. I don’t remember seeing his books around the high school in which I served for ten years.

If you just want to introduce him to your students, or settle them after a class change, or both, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Sinclair Lewis that shouldn’t take anybody long.

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.

Book of Answers: Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond

“When did Thoreau live in his hut at Walden Pond? For two years from 1845 to 1847. His account of the experience, Walden, or Life in the Woods, appeared in 1854.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Cultural Literacy: Lost Generation

Because there has been a surge of interest in the United States in, well, leaving the United States, now seems like a perfect time to post this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Lost Generation, that group of American writers and artists who spend the 1920s in Paris. Among this group, as you may know, was Ernest Hemingway.

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.

A Rotten Reviews Omnibus: William S. Burroughs

The Ticket That Exploded

“The works of William Burroughs…have been taken seriously, even solemnly, by some literary types, including Mary McCarthy and Norman Mailer. Actually, Burroughs’s work adds up to the world’s pluperfect put-on.

Time

Naked Lunch

“…the merest trash, not worth a second look.”

New Republic

Nova Express

“…The book is unnecessary,”

Granville Hicks, The New Republic 

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