Category: Literature


Historical Analysis: Regeneration by Pat Barker

It is important to remember that Regeneration is a work of fiction, even if it is based on a real historical event. Certain circumstantial settings of the novel are indeed true. For example, it is not contested that within the theatre of the First World War, many British soldiers suffered severe psychological trauma. Likewise, it is a fact that some of them were treated at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh. While retaining these basic facts of the war, author Barker had taken the liberty to change chronology of events or distil the collective experiences of the soldiers onto one character, etc. These literary licenses do not majorly diminish the utility of the work as a historical record. To the contrary they condense and encapsulate British soldiers’ experiences. The book proves to be both intellectually engaging and technically satisfying, while not compromising on history. This essay will argue that while accommodating the imperatives of the novel form, . . . Read More

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How the ‘fuku’ is an obstacle to happiness for characters in Oscar Wao and how they try to solve this issue?

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao has attained both popular and critical acclaim. The novel is a melange of several interesting stylistic features. It brings social history, science fiction and magical fantasy all together in an experimental narrative form. The copious use of footnotes and imaginative asides are also notable. The novel is also an exposition on Dominican culture, especially with respect to notions of masculinity. It is held in Dominican culture that supernatural curses (fukus) and remedies (zafas) are integral parts of an individual’s life. Sometimes these fukus can get transferred across various generations of a family. While factually speaking these are no more than superstitions, for the natives, they are an integral part of life. Dominicans treats fukus and zafas as if they are divine revelations. This essay will delve into some of the perceived instances of fuku in the story of Oscar Wao and how some of them are resolved through the grace of . . . Read More

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The Spaces between Stars by Geeta Kothari: An interpretation based on Hindusism

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions of the world. It evolved in the Indian subcontinent over 5000 years ago and has a rich body of literature. Unlike monotheistic religions such as Christianity or Islam, Hinduism is polytheistic, with thousands of deities and gods being worshipped. Even in terms of ethnography and culture there is a rich diversity of Hindu expression. The sacred rituals and beliefs related to Hinduism vary across ethnic communities in India. The Hindu scriptures explain morality in the form of legends and myths. More than a religion per se, Hinduism can be looked at as a philosophical system. The key themes of this system are that of the interconnectedness of life, repercussions of good and bad deeds (karma), the temporariness of earthly existence and the aspiration toward liberation from it (moksha). Texts such as the Upanishads and epics such as Ramayana and Mahabaratha serve as mediums of this philosophic discourse.

In Geeta Kothari’s short story the . . . Read More

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Synthesis of select War Literature by Tim O’Brien, Ann Jones and Michael Herr

The hallmark of good literature is that it combines art with raising social consciousness. This is certainly true of the 3 classics perused for this essay. Falling into different genres like fiction, nonfiction and reportage, the three works treat the social consequences of war in their own unique ways. The rest of this essay will show how themes of love, loss, perception and reality are adequately addressed in these works.

The Things They Carried is an assortment of short stories penned by Tim O’Brien based on his first hand experiences in Vietnam. O’Brien was part of the platoon called Alpha Company, which was actively engaged in combat with the Vietnamese. As a result, though the stories contain fictitious additions, they are mostly based on real events witnessed by the author. Several themes recur through these stories. Chief among them are love, camaraderie and courage. Love is most pronounced in the relationship between Cross and Martha. Cross agrees to narrate his . . . Read More

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Why we should read To the Reader (from Fleurs du Mal) by Charles Baudelaire

Thesis: Charles Baudelaire expanded subject matter and vocabulary in French poetry, writing about topics previously considered taboo and using language considered too coarse for poetry. Analyzing To the Reader makes a case for why Baudelaire’s subject matter and language choice belong in poetry.

Dear Reader,

Any work of art that attracts controversy is also likely to be interesting. This can certainly be said of Charles Baudelaire’s Fleurs Du Mal (Flowers of Evil), of which Au Lecteur (To the Reader) serves as a preface. There are many reasons why I would recommend Au Lecteur to you. The utilization of sharp sensory imagery, deliberation of topics considered taboo and a freestyle choice of vocabulary are major attractions in the poem. But instead of detracting from the value of poetry, these facets of his art only enhance its appeal. Through the rest of the letter I hope to convince you of this, my friend.

Having known you for many years . . . Read More

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In what ways is WH Auden’s In Memory of WB Yeats typical of the tradition of elegy, and in what ways is it distinctive?

WH Auden’s classic elegy of his contemporary WB Yeats has withstood the test of time. Even after five decades of its first publication, the poem is fresh in its invocation of feelings of loss and suffering. The loss and suffering are so much at the deceased artist and the cessation of his work, but more pointedly at the larger lamentation of the futility of poetry as an instrument of social change. This is one area where Auden transgresses the traditional elegy form.

Auden’s work is atypical of the elegy genre in many other ways. Firstly, he makes no attempt to praise the object of his attention. Nor does he overtly express a sensation of loss at the demise of the artist. Instead, Auden uses the scaffolding of the three part elegy form in putting forth his observations on the nature of poetry. Although it is a fairly pessimistic viewpoint it does not lack in merit. Using the imagery in a redemptive fashion, the elegy

“begins in a frozen landscape, as . . . Read More

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The Great Man Theory of History as evidenced in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance

Applying the Great Man theory of History as a subtext to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s classic essay Self-Reliance makes for an interesting synthesis. The Great Man theory was brought into public discourse by Thomas Carlyle in the 1840s. But most of the later commentators pointed out to some of the misassumptions and flaws in the theory. Chief among them was Herbert Spencer who viewed that great individuals were products of their culture, history and environment and the inverse is seldom true. Yet the idea of the Great Man holds an intuitive appeal to readers. As people sharing a sense of community we are all looking for leaders and role models to provide us guidance. It is this intuitive appeal for leadership that sustains the value of the Great Man Theory, although it had somewhat become unfashionable in the last century.

Great men are thought to be path-breakers and independent thinkers. (James, p.114) In Emerson’s text, we find a powerful invocation of individuality. He . . . Read More

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Literary theoretical analysis of Virginia Woolf’s To the Light House

Woolf’s novel was a ground breaking work at the time of its publication in 1927.  It broke away from the literary tradition of narrative, plot based story-telling. Instead the work experimented with impressionistic and modernist methods of art, borrowing from their successful implementation in the visual arts. In his insightful essay, Jonathan Culler enlists five observations on the nature of literature. It makes for an interesting scholarly exercise to examine which of these points apply to Virginia Woolf’s novel.  This essay will argue that the presence of both the properties and consequences of the language of Woolf make it a characteristically literary.

Woolf’s novel was a ground breaking work at the time of its publication in 1927.  It broke away from the literary tradition of narrative, plot based story-telling. Instead the work experimented with impressionistic and modernist methods of art, borrowing from their successful implementation in the visual arts. In . . . Read More

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The dehumanizing effects of totalitarianism in 1984 by George Orwell:

The most prominent message of 1984 is that totalitarianism destroys all that is civil and noble in human beings. In the novel, Orwell writes “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two equals four. Once that is granted, all else follows.” The converse of this quote is that by disallowing fundamental freedoms that are inherent to humanity Big Brother and his Party are able to produce a dehumanized, mechanical race of people. In other words, dehumanization is both the cause and effect of a totalitarian political system. This essay will take this as its thesis and flesh out arguments and evidence in support.

There are several methods adopted by the party to dehumanize its population. One such is the rigid scheduling of everyday activities for the people. This is most pronounced for members of the Outer Party and Inner Party and less so for the Proletariat. Winston Smith, the protagonist of the story, is a member of the Outer Party. As a result he is subject to strict daily . . . Read More

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A speculation on the most valuable book lost to humanity

Much of the knowledge which the world had at one time has been lost to us now.  Natural disasters, wars, fires, have destroyed books and the knowledge in them.  We know they existed once, but they no longer exist now.Suppose you could protect and save ONE of the things we’ve read this semester so people of future generations could read it and think about it, which one would it be and why?

There are several contenders for the title of the most valuable book lost to humanity.  Homer’s Margites is a strong candidate due to its philosophical richness.  Likewise, the Lost Books of the Bible leaves Christians wondering at possibilities.  Jane Austen’s Sanditon would have enhanced the author’s already formidable reputation.   But from several such worthy contenders, my choice for the most valuable book would be William Shakespeare’s Cardenio. If I am endowed with the power to save the book through . . . Read More

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