Monday, June 01, 2009

Spoiling Charlotte


The mighty Normblog has a nice post about the way the notes in classic editions of novels give away plot details, assuming we have all read it before. Norm cites Nick Hornsby's neat line about this:
Even the snootiest critic/publisher/whatever must presumably accept that we must all, at some point, read a book for the first time. I know that the only thing brainy people do with their lives is reread great works of fiction, but surely even James Wood and Harold Bloom read before they reread? (Maybe not. Maybe they've only ever reread, and that's what separates them from us. Hats off to them.)
I remember teaching Jane Eyre to a first year group a couple of years ago. We were in the final week of the unit, so all of them should have finished reading it weeks before. I was trying to get them to think about the ending, and to compare it with conventional endings a la Jane Austen. I mentioned the classic line "Reader, I married him" at which one member of the class exclaimed "What? She marries him! Stupid cow!"

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. You don't have to tar us all with the same brush, this may come as a surprise, but some of your students do actually do the reading, because, even more shocking - we actually like reading! Perhaps you should give credit where credit is due?

Rob Spence said...

Hmmm... I didn't think I had tarred everyone with the same brush - this was one particular student.
Sorry I didn't respond earlier - I have been away since July 23rd, and just now getting back into blogging etc.

Anonymous said...

Well, yes, it was just one person, but it doesn't give us English students much kudos.

Rob Spence said...

No- it was just one person... Trouble is, anecdotes about brilliant students saying interesting things aren't that entertaining.
I have had the privilege of teaching some excellent students, but it's the useless ones that tend to be the subject of these rants.

Anonymissus said...

I had the privilege of being taught by you a few years ago and know exactly where you're coming from with your comments about students not reading set texts. I wonder if it's any comfort to you to know that they irritated their fellow students in addition to their tutors?!

Rob Spence said...

Mutual admiration society or what? You should remove the veil of anonymiussity...

Anonymissus said...

...might be dangerous given my earlier comment!

Anonymissus said...

Thanks for the clarification - although given that we've posted with different 'names' I'm not sure it was necessary. Having said that, I'm happy to be dissociated from your comments.