Monday, 20 December 2010

"The Year Turns Around Again," a song from the popular play, "War Horse"

This poignant song seems appropriate for the year turning around again. "War Horse" is an emotional and popular play adapted from a novel by Michael Morpurgo.  It's a play about a a horse who gets conscripted into the British Army in World War I. The horse enriches the lives of those who meets him - until the original owner is re-united with the horse in "no man's land". Steven Speilberg has turned this into a film and it is being edited at present. Its release is sometime, late next summer.

With thanks to Paper Monocle who posted this on You Tube.

Here’s the official synopsis from Dreamworks:
From director Steven Spielberg comes “War Horse,” an epic adventure for audiences of all ages. Set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War, “War Horse” begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets—British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter—before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man’s Land. The First World War is experienced through the journey of this horse—an odyssey of joy and sorrow, passionate friendship and high adventure. “War Horse” is one of the great stories of friendship and war—a successful book, it was turned into a hugely successful international theatrical hit that is arriving on Broadway next year. It now comes to screen in an epic adaptation by one of the great directors in film history.

"Othello" summarised by Spark Notes

Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" summarised in a video by Spark Notes

Videos on the the novel and contexts of "The Great Gatsby"

The novel summarised by Spark Notes!

Gatsby's life story by Spark Notes.

This video is about the novel.

This novel's form and biographical information on F. Scott Fitzgerald.

A short video which is directly about F. Scott FitzGerald and is useful for understanding the literary context.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

The Roaring Twenties

While prohibition and stock market speculation appears to be missing, this presentation, possibly by another student, is helpful for understanding the 1920s cultural context of "The Great Gatsby".

The Great Gatsby - Quotations with Comments

This is the work of another US student. While not perfect, it is again, very useful for studying the text.

A Time-Line for "The Great Gatsby"

This looks to have been put together by a student in an American class. It is useful for gaining an overview of the characters and their passage over time in this text.

The Great Gatsby simplified into two themes and two sets of symbols

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Brighton Rock: The Song

In another video she gives her proper ending to the song. This is good - and creative.

Here's some Brighton Rock trivia from another blog, that refers to influences from other texts on Graham Greene and how Brighton Rock influenced songs in our age.

A recent theory is that Greene got the idea for the book from watching the Jean Gabin movie Pepe le Moko which he had reviewed in early 1937. Greene wrote - 'I cannot remember a picture which has succeeded so admirably in raising the thriller to a poetic level.' Similarities include smiling villains and the trivialisation of murder and betrayal. The crimes of the racecourse gangs who created havoc in Brighton during the 1930s had been reported widely and it is likely he was drawn to this; also he had stayed in Brighton and responded to its seedy and violent undercurrents. Brighton still has a louche and sordid side to it, although possibly less palpable than in GG's day.

The first of Greene's overtly Catholic novels. Orwell said that they put forward 'the idea…floating around since Baudelaire, that there is something rather distingué in being damned; Hell is a sort of high-class night club, entry to which is reserved for Catholics only, since the others, the non-Catholics, are too ignorant to be held guilty.…'

Still much read and studied, also the 1948 movie has cult status. Richard Attenborough, the original lovey, is unforgettable as the baby faced psychopath. TRIVIA:- The four members of Pinkie's gang receive a nod in the Morrissey song "Now My Heart Is Full" from his Vauxhall LP. - "Tell all of my friends (I don't have too many) Just some rain-coated lovers' puny brothers -Dallow, Spicer, Pinkie, Cubitt / Rush to danger, wind up nowhere." Pete Doherty wrote a song entitled "Love You But You're Green" which makes many references to Brighton Rock. Rock band My Vitriol (who?) take their name from Pinkie's habit of always carrying a bottle of sulphuric acid for protection. The climax of the film takes place at the West Pier, which differs from the novel, the end of which takes place in the nearby town of Peacehaven. In the United States, the film was released under the title Young Scarface.' Lastly, I once read that Greene stayed at the Metropole Hotel on the sea front whilst recovering from an opium binge in South East Asia.

A Pete Doherty song, said have been inspired by part of "Brighton Rock" by Graham Greene

Lyrics to I Love You (But You're Green) :
I was a troubled teen
Who put an advert in a magazine
To the annoyance of my imaginary lover
She questioned my integrity and this is what she said to me...

She said, 'Oh, you, you're green
You don't know what love means
Oh let me tell you'
Said, 'It tickles you pink oh yeah
But it likes to hear you scream'
Fire and damnation, lamentations
For the likes of you.

When she goes
Just let her go
If she says she's going
Just make sure she goes
Make sure she goes.

I was a troubled teen
Untroubled only in my daydreams
To the annoyance of somebody or other
Well they doubted my philosophy and this is what they said to me...

'Now you, you tee me up where you belong
But it's only blood from broken hearts
That writes the words to every song'
Oh a beatific smile for, for worthy servants
Oh but only I, only I, only I...

I can see the serpent
Oh you, you're green
You don't know what love means
Well let me tell you
It tickles you pink oh yeah
But it likes to hear you scream
Fire and damnation, lamentations
For the likes of you.

When she goes
Just let her go
If she says she's going
Just make sure she goes
Make sure she goes.

When she goes
You just let her go
If she says she's going
Just make sure she goes
Make sure she goes. 

Saturday, 20 November 2010

The teaser trailer from the new film version of "Brighton Rock"

Reviews appear mixed and some cinematic license is being taken with the text. The verdict's still out until I've seen the film.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

How to use SPIDER in analysing a poem

I've used FLIRT but this is good, too.  It's a useful acronym for examining unseen poetry. Ken Archer offers clear advice here on how to read a poem and write about it.

Improving your writing

This is essential for improving both your accuracy in punctuation and expression. It much easier to show your understanding of texts if you are up-to-speed with this key AO1 skill. The links below will enable you to do this independently!

BBC Skills Writing and links to other skils

Exercises in grammar and punctuation by Bristol University

If this does not work for you, why not try a video or a song from You Tube which focuses on the skill you need to learn? I like this video as it  rams home the message home in memorable way. Find the right

Here's a link to the Nazi Grammar Police, a play on a recent Quinton Tarantino film and it's very clever, too. Link to The Grammar Nazis

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Graham Greene on "Brighton Rock"

Graham Greene on Brighton Rock:

Brighton Rock I began in 1937 as a detective story and continued, I am sometimes tempted to think, as an error of judgment…The first fifty pages of Brighton Rock are all that remain of the detective story; they would irritate me, if I dared to look at them now, for I know I ought to have had the strength of mind to remove them, and to start the story again—however difficult the revisions might have proved — with what is now called Part Two.

...the setting of Brighton Rock may in part belong to an imaginary geographic region. Though Nelson Place has been cleared away since the war, and the Brighton race gangs were to all intents quashed forever as a serious menace at Lewes Assizes a little before the date of my novel, and even Sherry's dance hall has vanished, they certainly did exist; there was a real Nelson Place, and a man was kidnapped on Brighton front in a broad daylight of the thirties, though not in the same circumstances as Hale, and his body was found somewhere out towards the Downs flung from a car. Colleoni, the gang leader, had his real prototype who had retired by 1938 and lived a gracious Catholic life in one of the Brighton crescents, although I found his name was still law when I demanded entrance by virtue of it to a little London nightclub called The Nest behind Regent Street…

All the same I must plead guilty to manufacturing this Brighton of mine as I never manufactured Mexico or Indochina. There were no living models for these gangsters, nor for the barmaid who so obstinately refused to come alive. I had spent only one night in the company of someone who could have belonged to Pinkie's gang—a man from the Wandsworth dog-tracks whose face had been carved because he was suspected of grassing to the bogies after a killing in the stadium. (He taught me the only professional slang I knew, but one cannot learn a language in one night however long.)

...The Pinkies are the real Peter Pans – doomed to be juvenile for a lifetime. They have something of a fallen angel about them, a morality which once belonged to another place. The outlaw of justice always keeps in his heart the sense of justice outraged – his crimes have an excuse and yet he is pursued by the Others. The Others have committed worse crimes and flourish. The world is full of Others who wear the masks of Success, of a Happy Family. Whatever crime he may be driven to commit the child who doesn't grow up remains the great champion of justice. "An eye for an eye." "Give them a dose of their own medicine." As children we have all suffered punishments for faults we have not committed, but the wound has soon healed. With Raven and Pinkie the wound never heals.
from Ways of Escape, pp.56-57, 61

Captain Corelli's Mandolin - A Podcast Review (AO3)

This review tongue-in-cheek and fun. Yet the review is spoken by Tom Hewitt and Patrick Walsh,  just after their A Level studies, who obviously loved the book. This will help with understanding the text, especially for the chapter in which the Italian soldiers are massacred. I liked their banter, honesty and judgement.
Ex students review the novel.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Jane Austen couldn't write elegant prose!

Yet Jane Austen couldn't spell, had no grasp of punctuation and her writing betrayed an accent straight out of The Archers, according to an Oxford University academic.
Prof Kathryn Sutherland said analysis of Austen's handwritten letters and manuscripts reveal that her finished novels owed as much to the intervention of her editor as to the genius of the author.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Sunday, 19 September 2010

AO2 focus for the opening pages of "Brighton Rock" by Graham Greene (1938)

It's my first effort -  and there is a lot in this Prezi to promote active learning. Maybe I'll add music next time! You need to open it up in full screen by putting the cursor over "More".

Friday, 16 July 2010

Critical Views of "Othello" - over time

Click here for an excellent resource from the website, More Learning for a range of critical writing about Shakespeare's play. This will be invaluable for the all important AO3 for AS coursework in English Literature.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

"Eleftherios K. Venizelos" the main political influence on Dr. Iannis

In Chapter 9 of Captain Corelli's Mandolin Dr. Iannis describes his political views as being "Venizilist;"by this he means he follows the liberal politics which are not extreme. He is a follower of "Eleftherios K. Venizelos" Stamatis is a Monarchist and on the right; Kokolios is a communist and on the left. Both men's politics could and did lead to totalitarian dictatorships.

Eleftherios Venizelos (full name Elefthérios Kyriákou Venizélos, Greek: Ελευθέριος Κυριάκου Βενιζέλος; 23 August 1864 – 18 March 1936) was an eminent Greek revolutionary, a prominent and illustrious statesman as well as a charismatic leader in the early 20th century.Elected several times as Prime Minister of Greece and served from 1910 to 1920 and from 1928 to 1932. Venizelos had such profound influence on the internal and external affairs of Greece that he is credited with being "the maker of modern Greece",and he is still widely known as the "Ethnarch" ( leader ).

From Wikipedia

Saturday, 3 July 2010

"Captain Corelli's Mandolin" by John Mullan and The Guardian's Book Club Readers

Professor John Mullan's article from 2007 on The Guardian Book Club readers' meeting with Louis de Bernieres on Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Worth reading once you have finished reading the novel.

Friday, 2 July 2010

The widow seeks her goat in the Kephenion - from "Zorba The Greek" (1964)

"You know how they treat widows." spoken in coversation in the kaphenion in Chapter 9 of Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

Note how in Chapter 9 of CCM how politics is argued over and how it creates divisions between Stamatis, Kokolios and Dr. Iannis. What unites these characters of different viewpoints towards the end of this chapter and why are they united in this way?

The Widow (Irene Papas) looks for her goat which the "mangas" have sadistically hidden in the Kaphenion. The coffee house in "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" seems less threatening but it is still a place in which the men gather to drink coffee and smoke while talking politics, business, etc. Women are not expected to enter. And it seems, The Widow, like Pelagia, keeps at least one goat. Set in Crete, "Zorba The Greek" has several disturbing scenes which depict cruel, patriarchal attitudes in Greece, particularly on its islands, before growing commercialism softened them from the late 1960s.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Passages for deeper analysis from Chapters 5-6 of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Iannis Metaxas - Prime Minister April -August 1936 and dictator of Greece from August 1936 until his death in January 1941.
As a student of English Literature moving A2 you need to sharpen your analytical reading skills by practising on brief passages; this will enable you to analyse broader passages and chapters more skilfully on your own.
Where appropriate you could analyse the passages for any of the following:

Narrative viewpoint and voice: the attitude(s) of the narrator/speaker and direct and reported speech.

Tone – and whether the narrator is emotive, objective, reflective, judgemental, etc.

Intrusive narrating – whether de Bernieres is giving his opinions and ideas about a character, event, etc.

imagery: explore its deeper meanings.

Dialogue and description – how used and the balance between the two.

Language and its purpose, i.e. irony, for humour, to impress, to reflect mood, etc.

• Themes or ideas and how these are explored.

How characters are developed or remain flat.

The use of style – whether the passage is active or passive and the meanings you can deduce from that.

Other stylistic devices such as syntax (sentence construction) repetition, rhetorical questions, motifs, foregrounding, references to other texts, etc.

Structural devices such as parallel narratives, charactisation, etc.

Form and historical fiction and how passages/chapters relate the attitudes, behaviour, culture and history of the past – but from a modern vantage point of 1993!

Passages for practicing your skills ( in pairs or on your own )

1. Chapter 5, page 33: “ He remembered . . . to the top of page 34, “ . . . an absurd little man”.
2. Chapter 5, page 34: “But I have done my best” to “ . . .evil times have passed”.
3. Chapter 5, bottom of page 34: “Was it not a form of irony” to page 35 “ . . .every subversive fart in Greece”.
4. Chapter 6, page 37: “ I, Carlo Guercio” to “ . . . my mother’s womb”.
5. Chapter 6, page 39: “We were all young together” to “ . . . against people who fought like gods.
6. Chapter 6, bottom of page 39: “ I am not a cynic” to “ Page 40 “ . . . make me sad”.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Try an English quiz to learn key terms for novels and prose

What a great website for for making English seem like fun!  And you're learning at the same time!

Try the scatter game first to see what you know.

You need to drag the term over its answer to make them disappear. It's timed, too!

Quiz 1 English terms
Quiz 2 More English Terms
Quiz 3 Reading and Literature  (more challenging)

Thursday, 17 June 2010

A recent article on the massacre of the Italians in Cephalonia

The novel is, of course, based on real events as well as fictional characters.

The Trailer for the film version of Captain Corelli's Mandolin

If you keep in mind that the film is Hollywood fluff and not true to the novel this trailer is not that bad. But the love-making part is pure Hollywood, so don't get taken in by that bit!

Russell Watson sings Pelagia's song. Notice also the speech about love by Doctor Iannis. This is faithfully rendered from the text in the chapter where the Doctor advises his daughter.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Structure and Narration in "The Great Gatsby"

This is good stuff! The webpage deals with the novel's structural devices. (AO2).
It is also an example of a structural approach (AO3) to reading the text. (Under other readers/readings).

And, "The Ordering of Events" ( more on structure - again, excellent work from this French source.)

New assessment objectives for "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"

Remember that the  asssessment objectives for the new English Literature course have changed. The material on this blog relates to the old assessment criteria. That does not mean that much of the material is no longer relevant - you just need to be aware that there are now FOUR assessment objectives rather than Five as before 2008.

Simply adapt the new AO as you read as follows:

AO1 is for your written response and for using appropriate literary terms. ( the same as before 2008) 10 marks.

AO2 is for analysing language form and structure (again the same as before 2008) 10 marks.

AO3 is for exploring connections and comparisons between texts, informed by interpretation by other readers. 20 marks. ( This has changed but you still need to focus on specific passages which can be compared between the texts you studied and then consider how your connections and comparisons might be interpreted by you and other readers, such a feminists, gay, marxist, genre, pyschoanalytical, etc.)

AO4 is about showing your understanding of the significance and influence of the contexts (times) in which your texts were written and received. 20 marks. ( The Great Gatsby was written in 1924 and published in 1925 and Captain Corelli's Mandolin was written around 1993 and  published in 1994. What was happening in the USA when the first text was written and published  and how does this relate to this text, particularly in the passages or chapter(s) that you are writing about? What was happening in Europe and the Balkans when CCM was published? How does this relate to the chapter or passage your are exploring for your question? How was each text received when it was published and by what types of readers? How do readers receive each text today?

Tie these points to the chapters or passages that you select to help you answer the question.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Liz Lewis on "Shakespeare's Women"

Coursework students might focus on comments on female characters for the plays they studied.
Shakespeare's Women by Liz Lewis

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Primary sources for researching the context of Shakespeare's plays

The Folger Library has always been one of the best institutions for all things Shakespeare. Why not make your AO4 comments on the social and historical context in your essays STAND OUT from others by doing a little research on some texts associated with your plays. There may be a slight problem undestanding some of the lettering in Elizabethan fonts. An example is 'V' which is often represented as a 'U'. By reading entire sentences and paragraphs it is relatively easy to work out the older uses of letters that we no longer use.

Folger's Primary Sources Links

Here's another interesting link. You could check out other interesting "ideas" in their "ideas link".
University of Victoria in Canada's page on the sexes in Shakespeare's time

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Need a guide for revising your texts?

This is a great port of call for this stage of your studies. Whether you are writing an essay or revising for the exams this website has a fairly wide coverage of literary texts. Remember to credit them in bibliographies.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

A "Lies of Silence" review

For a thoughtful and detailed review Click Here . But read it only after you have finished reading the text.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Lies of Silence - reading prompts for notes for Chapters 6-7

Lies of Silence: reading focuses for Chapter 6
This post is for my AS class who are comparing this text with Graham Greene's Brighton Rock; anyone else who might find these pointers helpful are welcome to use them, too. I'll post the image, theme and narrative technique tracker sheets that the class already has, next week.

Write notes on the following as you notice them so you can later discuss  and write about them in class. Add other points on narrative technique, themes, imagery, etc. that you think are significant for comparing both texts.

What is Michael Dillon paranoid about?  (Mostly in the early part of the chapter and towards its end.).

How does his paranoia compare with Pinkie’s from Brighton Rock?

The Oxford English Dictionary's definition of paranoia
1. a mental condition in which a person thinks that they are being persecuted.
2. a person thinks that they are important.
3. unjustified suspicion and the mistrust of others.

Analyse the theme of deception in this Chapter
(The theme of deception is also significant in earlier in the novel.)

How does the deception practised by Michael on Moira compare with Pinkie's on Rose? (AO2)

What does the imagery in this chapter suggest about the characters?
How does the imagery of war, weapons, etc. add to readers' understanding of characters and the situations that they face? (AO2)

Lies of Silence: reading focuses for Chapter 7

Focus on: -

Michael Dillon’s paranoia – and the theme of appearance and reality.

Moira poses as “a witness” on TV.

Compare Moira with Rose as "a witness" from Brighton Rock?
How does Michael and Pinkie react to the threat that each female character poses?
(Think about loyalty to Michael; her own sense of power - Moira seems to be growing stronger as Michael becomes weaker; her perception of their marriage; her confidence to speak because of her education and class, etc.)

Narrative technique:
What is the effect on Michael Dillon and the readers as he and they gradually find out about what Moira said in the her BBC TV interview?

The theme of choice
Moira asks Michael whether he would have told the police about the bomb if Andrea was held hostage instead of her. Do you think he would have telephoned the police given how he feels about Andrea? What are the choices Michael made here?

What are the choices that Pinkie makes by marrying Rose? Compare Michael and Pinkies' choices as dilemmas.

What choices do other significan characters make in each text? 
(For instance, consider the choices that Ida, Dallow, Cubitt and Prewitt make in Brighton Rock. What is moral about the choices that Moira and Andrea make in Lies of Silence?)

The zeitgeist of "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"

This is again fromt the englishteacherguy. Context-wise it is very British orientated, yet good on changes taking place within British culture and society. Still, something on the Serbia-Bonsnian conflict would have helped give a broader context, particularly for the massacre that later took place in Sebrenica in 1995 and how the West did nothing to stop this from happening.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Othello YouTube videos on interpreting Desdamona and Iago

With thanks to englishteacherguy who produced these videos with the older syllabuses' assessment objectives in mind. Still, this work sits well with the new ones.
Various interpretations of Desdemona

Iago's motives and critics

Othello - Critical Perspectives

"Othello" - an introduction to the historical context

Need even more help with "Othello"? Try this video and links from it for other videos for various aspects of this play. Apparently these videos are helping students achieve As!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

AO3 - interpretations by other readers

Critics essays and interpretations of "Othello"

Critics essays and interpretations of "The Merchant of Venice"

Major Shakespeare Scholars mostly from the past

Definitely worth a read if you are working on an essay in this area. Remember to credit the author in your bibliography, even if you do not use him.
A blog post Shakespeares-Women

These are fascinating reviews by "other readers". One excuses and glosses over Shakespeare's treatment of Shylock and another reader from Israel cannot excuse it. Read these and other well written reviews on both Amazon's sites both in the US and UK.
Contrasting reviews on the treatment of race and Shakespeare1

More fascinating reviews and interpretations by recent readers

Friday, 5 March 2010

Scansion as a technique for understanding poems

Here's an excellent blogsite where you will find a range of poems where scansion has been applied and then used for analysis. The Vermont Poet also has a page in which he or she explains how to use 'basic' scansion.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Monday, 11 January 2010

English Literature Exam - Summer 2010

AS Students

6ET01 2h 15m 8 June 2010 Tuesday pm

A2 Students

6ET03 2h 45m 15 June 2010 Tuesday pm

About Me

I teach Film, Media and English Lit.