I’ve managed to get advanced information on subjects of study for the courses I’m taking, a feature I’m not used to, and one I’m thankful for. I’ve read some Shakespeare, but I’m glad I’ve had time now to peruse the material, and I’m finding the more I read of his work, the more I’m able to understand the fanciful phraseology. After having seen a few theatrical photos of Othello, I’m officially informed of the plot: Othello is a culturally infiltrating story of, among others, interracial marriage. What I love, (love, love, love…) is reading the critical commentary on stories that have been so scrutinized over the ages. Reading the critical commentary enlightens my mind intensely, a habit of reading I’ve only noted in the past five years; to read these commentaries is to understand the impact and importance of storytelling, and reading commentaries from differing authors helps to round out my own interpretation of a story. Sweet.
By the same token on the subject of race, we’ve been instructed to read what is often classified as the “birth of the English novel,” a somewhat disorganized story-reading by Aphra Behn. Until this class, I’d never heard of her, and she is recognized as being extremely lucky, even enigmatic, for being a woman of the age and having her work published to have endured the test of time. Concerning the situation of a black man who’d somehow avoided the chains of slavery in the late 17th century, the meandering story of Oroonoko takes account of a woman who has traveled to a colony in South America and happens upon this odd hero (odd by contemporary standards), and goes on to detail his tragedy stricken love affair followed by a gruesome fate. Reading her work is taxing on the brain with the bizarre interjections and lengthy, somewhat technical descriptions, but after forty pages, I’m finally getting the hang of it. I’m glad to be getting the ahead on all this as, for one, I simply enjoy the subjects, and for two, I hope to do well with the courses and prove my worth to the instructors.
Aside from the seemingly more fun side of the major, I’m not escaping some pain in the matter. But to the contrary, the subject of critical thinking may be only painful for some, yet I happen to find it quite challenging. I have a contradictory instinct ingrained into my psyche for some reason, though I’m thankful I’m pretty much, I think, for the most part, am not contradictory with people I know in person, unless need be. I loathe arguing. The classic discussion/argument is different, however, and to hash out the pros and cons, the rights and wrongs of an argument is a blast, though in some cases I understand the content can be quite serious. Okay, so I love being involved with the process of researching and engaging the argument, with all of the attendant tools of arguing at my disposal, but my mind experienced a sour pang when I felt the weight of this tank-of-a-theory-and-criticism-book arrive in the mail today. I guess I will be experiencing some pain in the matter after all!
For my personal reading endeavors, I’ve finally obtained a copy of Virginia Woolf’s work. This should be interesting because on the back cover, I am informed that The Voyage Out is among her earlier works, which means I will have to purchase some of her later work to absorb how she matured as a writer. This is a task I don’t always perform with other writers, but I’m interested in knowing how her thought patterns changed, how her sentenced structure evolved. I want to say to myself, “awesome,” about doing this, but I can’t always stomach how she left this world; just thinking about it affects me. I’ve read some of her work already, and I read more for the purposes of satisfying my curiosity while at the same time paying tribute to this amazing, sometimes difficult to discern what she’s conveying, writer.
Lastly, I’m continuing my series of reading the classics. I always hear that everyone else has read all the classics. I fail to fall into this category. I’ve read Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, which I found utterly fascinating, and of course I do my gothic novels. I finished M.G.L’s The Monk, and while I was sort of dragged along, I was met with an impeccable conclusion that I found exceptionally satisfying to say the least; I see now why the ending of a novel, as Stephen King states in his Secret Garden, is the most important part. I read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens and found the richness of the writing to have pulled me into 19th century London with intrigue, and so I decided it was finally time to be pulled into Alice’s wonderland for the first time. Down into the rabbit hole I go…