Rude Student Haiku

Rude, young male student,

He walks into my class, but
Never says hello.

Kind of tortured it to get the syllables. It’s been a super long time since I posted, but I just stopped in to check the comments/reply. It looks like a lot of my teaching stuff has been helping people out, and that’s great! I’ll try to make some time for more literary analysis soon; my schedule it very wonky this semester, so I definitely have the time.

Book Reviews of March 2018

Two short book reviews for March since in March I went on a pretty epic re-reading jag, and then didn’t write reviews for most of them. These two made it through though, so I hope you enjoy!

Fairy Tale (The New Critical Idiom Series) by Andrew Teverson

Fairy Tale by Andrew TeversonLately I’ve felt a renewed interest in doing more ‘serious’ scholarly work, so I decided to add some more serious reading to the rotation. I’ve been interested in fairy tale research for some time and have a respectable start to a fairy tale research library, but before I go into Zipes and Bettelheim, I thought a re-introduction to the genre would be in order. The New Critical Idiom series seems to be Routledge’s answer to Oxford’s A Very Short Introduction, but instead of brief, much more in-depth. That’s not the best explanation, but it’s early and I’m tired. Fairy Tale by Andrew Teverson discusses the schools of fairy tale creation, both the presumptive oral tradition, and the 19th century fairy tale creation wave, as well as major critical schools. There is a relatively low-level of engagement with the Disney machine, which I personally appreciated, since I do not respect their adaptations. The book is relatively light on the the feminist and revisionist schools, but focuses more of its attention on psychoanalytic and Marxist approaches. Biographical criticism, which I feel is much more important for ‘recent’ fairy tales like “The Little Mermaid,” is mentioned, but almost discounted. Still, it’s a dense-yet-engaging read, which is not an easy balance, and I definitely feel like it helped prepare me for tackling more fairy tale criticism.

Benito Cereno by Herman Melville

Benito Cereno by Herman MelvilleI am re-reading this novella for, I believe, the second time since my first reading in 2013. After reading the dense text (above) I wanted to read something short that moved quickly, and I picked Melville’s anxiety-producing novella Benito Cereno, of course. My copy is bundled with Bartleby, the Scrivener which I cannot believe I haven’t written about already. Right now, since I’m dealing with adjunct hell and general meh-ness, I thought Bartleby might push me over the stay-in-bed-all-day edge, so Benito Cereno it was. The story is amazingly well-written (ah, Melville) and extremely stressful to read. The strangest part is that there’s a lot of Amasa Delano’s thoughts, then just random violence out of nowhere, but it’s so brief I wasn’t sure if I had read it right. Like I guess someone lost all their fingers? I felt bad about it! I should probably mention what the novella is about. It follows the charming Amasa Delano, American captain of the ship Bachelor’s Delight, that has come upon a ship in distress. Almost all of the Spanish crew has died, except for Benito Cereno and a handful of others, but around 160 slaves are roaming free on the ship. Because Delano is super nice he cannot figure out that the slaves had a revolt and killed everyone, that Cereno is a prisoner, and that the slave Babo (pictured on the cover above) is behind it all. Everything sort of works out in the end though, basically, except for the people who died. Note: the same cover image is used for an edition of Blake, or the Huts of America, which I find interesting, though the image doesn’t make a ton of sense for Blake.

Throwback Thursday: A Decade of Blog-tastic March(s)

Many of my recent blog posts have focused on the fact that 10 years have passed since I started this blog, which has brought up a certain nostalgia for me, as well as the stark reality that my posts need to be cleaned up. Ten years will accrue a lot of broken links and unnecessary tags, if my blog is considered to be a representative sample. It also means that I’m in the depths of making sure all my photos aren’t being pulled from Flickr, which has proven a real treat.

March, like February, is a month that I posted rarely in over the years, but there are still some good bits around. I think I go into hibernation every spring, pretty much. Regardless, here is the best of March that my blog has to offer through the decade.

A Decade of Blog-tastic March(s)

March 30, 2008: Honeybee Haiku Cycle: Part 1
This is part one of my four part haiku cycle and contains three poems, most of which I still think are worthwhile.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

March 27, 2013: The Martian Chronicles: “Ylla” by Ray Bradbury and The Problem That Has No Name
This is an analysis of the story “Ylla” from Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles in the contact of Betty Friedan, for all the feminist Science Fiction scholars out there (which I need to be). This analysis is short, but I’m proud of it nonetheless.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

March 22, 2014: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This is my only post from March 2014, written after my first time teaching Gatsby to Juniors in public High School.

Like I said, slim pickings this month, but I guess it’s good to know that my Marchs of the past weren’t a total waste?

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis

Haunting of Hill House by Shirley JacksonI am currently re-reading The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson in anticipation of teaching it very shortly to my students. While I did a longform write up/thematic analysis of the novel after I read it last August, I wanted to (try to) write more involved chapter summaries, like the ones I attempted for War of the Worlds and The Martian Chronicles. We’ll see how far I get with Hill House; it’s pretty dense, so I’m already worried.

Below is a plot synopsis divided into sections based on the text, a list of characters introduced in Chapter 1, and then, an analysis of symbols and allusions that appear in the chapter. The house is practically a character, but since it’s technically inanimate it’s not on the official character list. I think it’s ultimately debatable though since the house does appear animate.

I’m not going to intentionally post information about the end of the novel, but this is written from the perspective of someone who is re-reading the novel. I sincerely wonder if anyone aside from teachers and students will find this interesting, but it will sure help me with my teaching, so here we go.

This post ended up being massive, so I built in a bit of navigation:

Chapter 1, Section 1
Chapter 1, Section 2
Chapter 1, Section 3
Chapter 1, Section 4
Chapter 1, Section 5
Characters
Symbols and Literary Elements
Allusions

Plot

In a novel that’s a very slow burn, the first chapter of the nine that make up the novel opens with a personified description of the eponymous Hill House. The house is “not sane,” eighty years old, and is “holding darkness within” (1). The last sentence of the opening paragraph that states “whatever walked there, walked alone” is absolutely terrifying (1). It’s repeated at the end, but the book itself is full of an almost-unnerving amount of repetition.

Section 1

The reader then learns the basic premise of the story, that Dr. Montague has rented the house for three months in order to investigate paranormal events alleged to have occured at Hill House. He is forced to hire assistants, presumably because there’s too much work for one person to do alone. Dr. Montague compiles a list of people who have been involved in “abnormal events” and invites them to the house (2). Hilariously, he eliminates the dead and those of “subnormal intelligence,” so when Eleanor’s sister isn’t invited it’s a very clever way of implying that she’s stupid. He is also forced to bring someone from the family who owns the house, along with the two people who actually respond to his letter.

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