Category Archives: Lit

First Time (220/303/415)

“The realist novel represents one of the great revolutionary cultural forms of human history. In the domain of culture, it has something like the importance of steam power or electricity in the material realm, or of democracy in in the political sphere. For art to depict the world in its everyday, unregenerate state is now so familiar that it is impossible to recapture its shattering originality when it first emerged. I doing so, art finally returned the world to the common people who had created it through their labour, and who could now contemplate their own faces in it for the first time.”

— Terry Eagleton

Oppositions (303)

Maybe focus on this for the moment:

As an opening gambit we broke into the play at the level of character. Ex. the Ghost, an unnatural (supernatural) figure, the victim of an unnatural act, who commands Hamlet to be a “natural” son and avenge him.

Thus the un/natural opposition as a theme with resonances throughout the play.

The Ghost also describes Gertrude as “seeming-virtuous,” echoing Hamlet’s response to her earlier: “‘Seems,’ madam? Nay, it is. I know not seems.” For Hamlet, mere appearance can never express true depth. Some things are ineffable. In the corrupted world of Elsinore, at least, all is show.

Thus two more oppositions: seeming/being and in/effable.

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Easter, 1916

Easter, 1916

By William Butler Yeats 1865–1939

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

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The Prioress (HUM303)

I didn’t eat lunch before class today so forgive me if I wandered a bit. I also mistook “The Prioress’s Tale” for “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale.” It is the Prioress who tells a story about a beautiful, innocent Christian boy who is murdered by Jews. That narrative is one iteration of the Blood Libel (see http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/source/rinn.asp ).

Here is an extract with standard Modern English interspersing the original Middle English:

551        As I have seyd, thurghout the Juerie
                  As I have said, throughout the Ghetto
552        This litel child, as he cam to and fro,
                  This little child, as he came to and fro,
553        Ful murily than wolde he synge and crie
                  Very merrily then would he sing and cry
554        O Alma redemptoris everemo.
                   Always `O Gracious (mother) of the Redeemer’
555        The swetnesse his herte perced so
                  So pierced his heart the sweetness
556        Of Cristes mooder that, to hire to preye,
                  Of Christ’s mother that, to pray to her,
557        He kan nat stynte of syngyng by the weye.
                  He can not stop singing by the way.


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