I don't know how many of you know this about me, but I'm an English Literature graduate. When I say this, people (including my parents when I told them I have decided to study English Literature), give me the 'woe-unto-you' look!! This look is closely followed by the knowing nod of the head to mean, "Oooohhhh, you didn't score well in your high school final exams, did you? Tsk, Tsk!!....Woe unto you...."
I've learnt to deal with the nay-sayers, though...mostly because I can use words like 'nay-sayers' and actually not feel foolish...HA! (I have no idea how that is even related...) Anyway, I took this decision knowing fully well what I was getting into, and I was actually excited to be doing something I wanted to do, rather than something I have to do...And, really, the best part of my studying literature, is that it gave me the passion for writing that has helped me express myself better, sharpen my creativity, and given me a darn good job!! So, what's not to like, I ask??
Being a student of English Literature meant that I was introduced to some of the best writers in the world! And I devoured these works of literature like I would devour a Chocolate Brownie now (by the way, I have a special announcement regarding Chocolate brownies!! I will tell all in a few days, in my other blog...!)[update 30 August: post is up now] And these works of literature have shaped my personality in a significant way. Sometimes, I realize that a particular book or poem taught me to think or react in a particular way, and sometimes, I don't even know I have imbibed a certain way of thinking from a book....Still, these books I bring to you have inspired me, consoled me, and guided me through the best part of my youth...
I have provided links to these works that lead to the entire text of the book, poem, play etc. found on ReadPrint.com. I found this website a few months ago, and I can't believe my luck!! I mean, to be able to read some of the best books for free...that has got to be some kind of miracle!! Anyway, read on and enjoy...
1. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne - I read this book when I was in my first year of Undergrad, and I had tears in my eyes, thinking about the protagonist and her troubles. The important lesson I learnt from this book was 'Never judge people before you know the whole story....And believe me, everybody has a story'.
2. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost - not to be confused with "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening". "The Road Not Taken" talks about the difficulty of making a decision, and standing by it, about going against the current, and taking a risk. When we can do that, and not care what the world talks about us, I think we stand a chance in this life...
3. A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen - Apart from the ultra-cool name this author has (I first thought he was Henry Kibzen!), I can't believe that a man from that age could actually empathize with women, and be a kind of ambassador for them. If it took phenomenal courage for the women of the age to stand up for their rights, then, I think it took equal courage for a man to stand up and tell the world to leave these women the heck alone! If you are hooked on this guy, read Hedda Gabbler...you will never recover!
4. A Hanging by George Orwell - A man known for his insight and foresight, this story stopped my heart at the horror that was the human mind! If we can hang a man, and do it with the nonchalance of doing our daily chores, then we are all that is wrong with the world!
5. Silas Marner by George Eliot - Well, first of all, this book made me appreciate the fact that I was born in an age where a woman can be creative, and get full credit for it without having to make people believe she is a man! I fell in love with this book because of a totally different reason. It was like this - we had a teacher called Mr.Elango in our second year of post graduation. He was the bees knees as far as teachers go!! We could listen to him for hours and not know the time fly by!! When he discussed a play or a fiction novel, he didn't just talk, he performed! He became the characters he spoke about, and we hung on his every word. When he discussed Silas Marner with us in the class, well, my admiration for my teacher somewhere flowed into my fascination for the story, and the lines are quite blurred now!! Mr.Elango is the person I try to emulate as a teacher and trainer, and the person I want to be when I grow up... There! now you know everything about me...not quite, but almost....:P
6. I'm Nobody! Who are You? by Emily Dickinson - This woman has guts, I tell you...and not in the mindless, maudlin, suicidal sort of way like Sylvia Plath (who, by the way, I totally detest...but I guess you already picked that up!). Just read this poem, and you will know what I am talking about. With these few lines, I think she just insulted every politician that ever lived, lives, and will ever live!!! Her sense of humor....well...I just wish I could have half that humor when I look at myself objectively. She is also fearless. I'm not talking about guts, I'm talking about fearlessness. Read up on her and you'll understand. Emily Dickinson is a true hero.
7. Othello by William Shakespeare - Okay, if there's one thing I sometimes wish for from the very depths of my heart...it is that I was born in Elizabethan England, and went to see Shakespeare's plays. Probably meet the Bard himself, and get an autographed poster of one of his plays...How cool would that be!!! Anyway, that's not happening...so I read Shakespeare's works, and stuff about him, like my life depends on it!! I loved, loved the movie Shakespeare In Love, and I cannot imagine how anyone can ignore/dislike this guy. I loved the play Othello more than any thing else Shakespeare wrote, because I felt in it he created the truest testimonies of human nature than any one has created in literature. Everyone who writes psychological thrillers, I think, in a way, borrows from Shakespeare.
|Because I just have to have a picture of Shakespeare in this post!!|
8. Mending Wall by Robert Frost - Robert Frost is a genius! His words are really simple, and yet poignant in the most profound ways. His poems are one of the most quoted in the world, and everyone knows at least one line of Frost, no matter what their standard of education!! I recited this poem for an inter-college poetry recitation competition in my undergrad years, and I was trained by Ms.Betty D'Couto. Cool name, cool personality, she was the epitome of Cool! Every girl in that Girls-only college wished she would one day look even half as good in a cotton sari as Ms.Betty D'Couto (she of the super cool name). She had bangs that came down to her eyebrows, and she made English classes fun...no scratch that...she made them heavenly. The teacher that had a session following Ms.Betty's, was always, ALWAYS, met with glazed eyes mournful looks - as if to say, "God, woman...why do you even try?!" I love all my teachers from Undergrad, but Ms.Betty made us speechless!! Oh, by the way? I won that poetry recitation contest!! Howza?!!
9. David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens - David Copperfield (not the magician, please, Gawd No!) made me cry, and The Pickwick Papers made me laugh...there were copious amounts of tears involved in both instances.... What the Dickens?!?!?!?
10. If by Rudyard Kipling - How many works of Rudyard Kipling you know, shows your level of familiarity with literature. If all you can think of is The Jungle Book, then your literary pursuits probably stop at Disney Animations!! On the other hand, if you have read the The Second Jungle Book (heh!) you're getting closer.
Okay, that makes my list of top 10, but you're crazy if you thought I could stop with that...Some works of literature that touched me, top 10 or no....
The Last Leaf by O Henry
A Prayer for My Daughter by W.B. Yeats
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Paradise Lost by John Milton
Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas - this is not available on ReadPrint.com, but I the text is available on the Wiki entry on the poem.
Note: This post was entered in the Top Ten Tuesday Linky party over at OhAmanda.com. Enter your post and play!