weareliterarycritics

Debate with other literary critics.

Quote of the Day: Leo Tolstoy

portrait of Leo Tolstoy

Image via Wikipedia

“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced” (Leo Tolstoy, BrainyQuote).

Hi everyone,

Today I thought I would post a quote about art and writing.  Many artists and writers claim that they become inspired to do their work and that the results comes from their feelings.  Feelings and inspirations lets the artists, writers and musicians create works of art.  However, there are creative individuals who would argue against this claim.  Octavia Butler, one of the most prominent female science-fiction writers thinks that good writing is produced by habit.   In her short story, “Furor Scribendi”, she states what she thinks is important about writing.  “First forget inspiration.  Habit is more dependable.  Habit will sustain you whether you are inspired or not.  Habit will help you finish or polish your stories.  Inspiration won’t.  Habit is persistence in practice.  Forget talent.  If you have it, fine.  Use it.  If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter.  As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent” (Butler, 141).

Do you think feeling and inspiration are important?   Is habit?  Is there another factor that is more important?  

Thanks for reading, please post your comments below!

Butler, Octavia. Furor Scribendi. New York: Seven Stories, 1996. Print.

What book/play should I read over winter break?

Hello,

Since almost everyone said they wanted to wait to read a book as a group, I decided that I will read a book over break and give my synopsis and thoughts on the chapters I read for that day.  I have a poll listed below that has the options I chose but first I will give a synopsis of every book/play in case you are unfamiliar with the text.  Please click on the hyperlink text if you wish to read a more in-depth synopsis of the book/play.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover- The story concerns a young married woman, Constance (Lady Chatterley), whose upper-class husband, Clifford Chatterley, has been paralyzed and rendered impotent. Her sexual frustration leads her into an affair with the gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors. This novel is about Constance’s realisation that she cannot live with the mind alone; she must also be alive physically (wikipedia).

The Inferno-The book is an allegory telling of the journey of Dante through what is largely the medieval concept of Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil. In the poem, Hell is depicted as nine circles of suffering located within the Earth. Allegorically, the Divine Comedy represents the journey of the soul towards God, with the Inferno describing the recognition and rejection of sin (wikipedia).

The Time machine- The book’s protagonist is an English scientist and gentleman inventor living in Richmond, Surrey, identified by a narrator simply as the Time Traveler. The narrator recounts the Traveller’s lecture to his weekly dinner guests that time is simply a fourth dimension, and his demonstration of a tabletop model machine for travelling through it. He reveals that he has built a machine capable of carrying a person, and returns at dinner the following week to recount a remarkable tale, becoming the new narrator (wikipedia).

Macbeth The plot summary for this play is too dense and I do not want to give away the ending for the people who have not read it.  Please go to wikipedia if you wish to learn more about this play, but be careful not to read the whole summary because it gives away the ending.

The Hunger Games– In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed (amazon.com).

Thank you for your feedback!

Book reading for the month of December?

books

Hi everyone,

I apologize for the lack of posts this week, but I am finally done with my big exam!  Now that I am done I only have a ten page paper to write and two more exams, which is nothing compared to the amount of work my classmates have.  I can now give my blog, and my viewers, my full attention.

I wanted to ask if anyone would be interested in reading at least one book with me for the month of December and perhaps, part of January.  I go back to school January 12th so unfortunately I would have to stop reading any major works by then.  I have a couple of suggestions, but I wanted to see if anyone would be interested in doing this with me first.  We could set a deadline where we have certain chapters done and talk about the chapters we read on my blog, it would be similar to a book club.  If there are any current book reading “contests” going on that anyone knows about we can also sign up for that since those contests usually provide book suggestions.  I will be reading at least one book over break and will comment on it, but I thought it would be more fun with other people. 🙂  Please let me know if you want to participate in this “book club” and post any suggested reading in the comments, thank you!    

Something to brighten up your day

What are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Hey guys,

Today I thought I would ask you what you guys love the most about the holiday season.  The picture below I think sums up what I am looking forward to when I get home. 🙂

 

Getting ready for the holidays!


Since I am in the holiday spirit I thought I would share a picture of my school’s Administration building that was decorated recently.  Happy holidays!

Which book is your favorite from the Harry Potter series?

Hey guys,

In honor of the 25 days of Christmas on abc family, I thought I would post a poll and ask, what is your favorite book from the Harry Potter series?  There was a marathon on this weekend and there are still other great movies that will be playing the whole month of December.  Do not feel bad if you missed it, I didn’t get to see it either and will probably not watch a movie until I go back home on the 17th.  Hope you all had a great day.

Quote of the Day: Charles Dickens

“There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart” (Charles Dickens, BrainyQuote).

Today I wanted to post on wisdom and different views regarding rationality and emotion.  Charles Dickens seems to be asserting that wisdom is not just found in the head or heart, but in both areas.  A person cannot just think with their head and disregard their emotions.  Many ancient Greeks discouraged people from letting their emotions take over and said wisdom came from the heart.  Many literary figures, especially of the Romantic Era, put more value in emotions instead of wisdom from the head.  This argument has been ongoing for many centuries, but I personally have to agree with Charles Dickens that the head and the heart are both equally wise.

I have posted about this debate many times and have found that depending on the point of view and the way it is displayed, one could argue over the importance of the head and the heart.  Certain views may sway minds to the opposite point of view, but I think when scrutinizing each point it is almost impossible to prove if the head or heart has more wisdom.  Dickens may have made a “safe” choice by saying they are both equal, but also may realize that it is difficult to say which is more valuable.  A person is incomplete if they simply follow only their heart or head.  We were given both a heart and brain for a reason and therefore we must use both equally.

Q: Do you agree with Charles Dickens point of view?  What do you think has more wisdom, the heart, the head, or both?

Thanks for reading! 

My analysis of Pirandello’s With Other Eyes

Hey guys,

Today I will do a cultural analysis of Pirandello’s, “With other Eyes.”  For your benefit, I will post a summary so you can understand the short story if you have not read it.

Summary

Anna, Vittore Brivio’s wife of three years, gets her husband’s clothes ready when she discovers a portrait.  The portrait is of Brivio’s first wife who had an affair during the marriage.  She is first disgusted with the portrait and sees no similarities between her and the beautiful woman pictured.  She wonders why her husband would marry to completely different people.  As she looks more and more at the picture she realizes she is not that different from the woman in the photograph.  She tries to recall some things about the woman and remembers that Brivio challenged the wife’s lover to a duel.  The lover refused saying he would not fight a mad killer.  The wife, Almira, supposedly committed suicide.  “Anne had very vague information about the dead woman: she knew only that Vittore, when the betrayal was discovered, had, with the impassivity of a judge, forced her to take her own life” (Pirandello 150).

She at first could not relate to this woman who would cheat on the man she holds so dear, but then, realizes that Vittore does not love her back.  Her father did not approve of the marriage but Anna fell into despair and sickness until her father “agreed” to let her marry him.  After the marriage she never saw her family again and still hasn’t for three years.  She realizes how alone she really is and that her husband never appreciated the sacrifices she made.  She then sees herself in the portrait and feels that the portrait is pitying her.  “And it then seemed to her that those kindly eyes, intense with passion and heartbreak, were pitying her in their turn, were condoling her over the abandonment, the unrequited sacrifice, that love which remained locked up in her breast like a treasure in a casket to which he had the keys but would never use them, like a miser” (Pirandello 155).

Based on the summary, I will now share my analysis on Pirandello’s With Other Eyes.

Background

Luigi Pirandello is an interesting writer of the “Great Enlightenment” period that may have drawn from his own experiences in life to write his stories.  In the story we see the focus around Anna and her first husband’s dead wife.  Pirandello had many hardships in his life, but one of his greatest tragedies occurred when his wife slowly descended into madness for fourteen years.  The central theme that Pirandello often focused on in his work was the search to distinguish reality from illusion (Columbia Encyclopedia).  “Since truth was not ascertainable, man was condemned to live in moral and cultural confusion, or even anarchy.  These alienated beliefs may partly explain Pirandello’s acceptance of Mussolini as a man of order” (Columbia Encyclopedia).  There was obvious unrest during World War II and many political ideas in the world.  Pirandello, since he did not want anarchy, might have seen Mussolini as a “hero” that would unite the Italian people and end the chaos in the world.

Culture context

Marriage and adultery were central themes in many 20th century writing. Before the 20th century, women were often beaten and publically humiliated if they committed the crime of adultery.  By the 19th and 20th century the punishment for adultery became less of a concern and by the mid-20th century adultery just became grounds for divorce (sexuality-encyclopedia).  However, even though the grounds for punishment may have grown more lenient over the ages men were often afraid of becoming a “cuckold.”  If a woman cheated on a man in this time it could ruin a man’s reputation.  Most men in society would lose respect for the man who was cuckolded and make fun of his misfortune.  Brivio, rather than have his good named tainted, would think it would be justifiable to murder his wife.  If anyone suspected that Brivio was the cause of his wife’s suicide it would be punishable and not be considered an honor killing.

“Anna had very vague information about the dead woman: she knew only that Vittore, when the betrayal was discovered, had, with the impassivity of a judge, forced her to take her own life” (Pirandello 150).

It seems rather strange in this case that nothing was done to Brivio for murdering his wife.  Other things may have been done to cover up the murder, but we only know what we read from the text.  It could be perhaps that because the story is set in the late 19th century that a crime like this could be overlooked.  However, it could just be an assumption that Vittore murdered his wife, but it is interesting to note that there was no evidence that he did this.  Forensics was not very well-developed in the 1900’s and perhaps the authorities could not prove he caused her suicide.  Again, we do not have any detail into the death other than what Anna tells the readers.

Q: Can we assume it is only rumored that Brivio murdered his wife?  If not, why do you think he wasn’t punished?  Do you think that he said cruel things that eventually made her kill herself?

Dueling in the 20th century

Dueling was very common at this time and was often done to protect the honor of the family name.  There were many movements to discourage and band dueling starting in the early 19th century.  Many of the people in support of these movements considered honor killings murder and suicide.  The supporters thought that honor killings disrupted the social order and would lead to a never-ending cycle of duels between feuding families (Richard 383).  In the 20th century dueling was still common so it was not odd for Brivio to challenge his wife’s lover to a duel.

“She knew that[Arturo Valli] had married a few years later as if to prove his innocence of the blame that Vittore wanted to ascribe to him, that he had vigorously declined Vittore’s challenge to a duel, protesting that he would never fight with a mad killer” (Pirandello 134).

Q: Did you see Valli’s reason for not fighting as cowardly?  Why do you think he didn’t fight? (Did he not value the love he shared with Almira enough to fight in a duel, or maybe, did he not believe in duels?)      

BELL, RICHARD. “The Double Guilt Of Dueling: The Stain Of Suicide In Anti-Dueling Rhetoric In The Early Republic.” Journal Of The Early Republic 29.3 (2009): 383-410. Academic Search Complete. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.

ENotes. ENotes.com, 2011. Web. 29 Nov. 2011. <http://www.enotes.com&gt;.

“Pirandello, Luigi.” Credoreference. 2008. Columbia Encyclopedia. Web. 26 Nov. 2011.

Pirandello, Luigi. “With Other Eyes.” Great Short Short Stories. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2005. 149-55. Print.

SparkNotes. Sparknotes, LLC, 2011. Web. 29 Nov. 2011

Thanks for reading, please post your comments below!

Colleges with Easiest and Hardest Grades

Hey guys,

Today I thought I would share an article from CBS with you stating the top 16 hardest graders in the country.  I have to admit I am proud to know my college has made the list of the hardest graders in the south.  I do not want to sound like I am bragging, but it makes me happier knowing that I am truly getting my money’s worth on a good college education.  I may work very hard and still not have the highest GPA compared to other people in other schools, but I know at least when other people complain about their work that it is not nearly as bad as the workload I have at my school.  I have a ten-hour exam next week that determines if I will pass my major, wish me luck guys!

Q:What do you value in an education system?  Did you take any valuable information away from your school?  Did you enjoy your experiences there?

 

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