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  1. Ahh I love Tennyson! My favourite poem has to be Maud, which I studied in great depth at university. The tension between Tennyson's role as poet laureate, writing about war for the public, and his roots in aesthetic poetry are perfectly embodied in Maud. The form and metre is constantly shifting and changing, indicative of the narrator's troubled mind, and his descriptions of beauty and the passion of love and desire always seem to be tainted with an edge of death or violence. I also voted for 'The Lady of Shalott', 'Tithonus' and In Memoriam. All very rich poems with lots to analyse, whic
  2. This was the first Sarah Waters book I read and I thought it was fantastic! I loved the reverse chronology as it really heightened the sense that the characters, at the start of the novel, were missing something or hiding something, due to the fact that their sense of self was rooted so heavily in the atmosphere and action of the war. I read Tipping the Velvet soon afterwards and thought it would be even better, but I was slightly disappointed. It didn't have the same pull for me, and I thought the drama of The Night Watch, with Vivienne's abortion and the bombings etc made for a much bet
  3. I started a literature blog quite a few months back (see link below) to indulge my love of textual analysis! My super fiancé built the website and I just update whenever I get the chance (not that often) on whatever takes my fancy. Mostly I've kept it secret – I refuse to tell any friends/family about it – but for some reason I don't mind people I don't know reading it!
  4. I've just finished 'The Year of the Flood' by Margaret Atwood which I thought was fantastic. I'm currently reading 'Seabiscuit: The True Story of 3 Men and 1 Racehorse', which really isn't my type of thing normally but I'm enjoying it!
  5. I never used to buy books second hand until a friend at university dragged me into a charity shop one day, and since then I have not looked back! For my lit course at uni I paid full price for all my coursebooks, textbooks and novels and it cost a fortune. It hardly seems to make sense to spend £7.99 on a throwaway paperback novel when you can buy them so cheaply second hand, and most of the new titles have only been read once and then given to charity. Often I'll go in and buy 10 novels at a time, and line them up on my shelves to read, but they are not novels that I would have bought new
  6. I agree completely that the narrator was very intrusive and rather unlikable. I read Midnight's Children a few years ago now, and remember thinking that it could have been a really wonderful novel if only the style of writing wasn't so pretentious! I got the feeling that throughout the book Rushdie himself (never mind the narrator!) was reveling in his own clever use of metaphors and magical realism. Haroun and the Sea of Stories was much more enjoyable, but still had a little too much of the omniscient author projected over it.
  7. I studied 3 or 4 Mills and Boon novels as part of my module on Middle English Romance and Popular Fiction during my Lit degree. We came to the conclusion that the books are so popular largely because they are so formulaic. They follow a typical storyline and lead towards an expected ending (i.e. love and marriage). The reader therefore does not have to be concerned about what may happen in at the end of the novel but simply enjoy the way they get there. I expect that the novels are mostly criticised for their lack of literary value, and I agree that they are mass market rubbish, but all t
  8. I absolutely agree!! I saw this around 5 or 6 years ago and it had me in stitches – I think it's the best play I have ever seen and not enough people know about it! As for other plays, I think Beckett's Waiting for Godot is a fair work of genius, and of course Wilde's plays are very cleverly written and full of unforgettable wit. I also think Richard Brinsley Sheridan is completely underrated and deserves a higher place in the literary canon. The Rivals and The School for Scandal are extremely funny and I encourage everyone to read them!
  9. I studied Things Fall Apart when we did a module on post-colonial literature during my degree and really enjoyed it. The plot, characters and language are very simple and straightforward, which I think led a lot of people in my group to underestimate the book, but I think this makes the novel more effective and emotive. I always enjoy being introduced to cultures and histories so different from my own, and Achebe's novel does this beautifully. In fact, one of my favourite quotes comes from this book: "Proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten".
  10. I read White Teeth by Zadie Smith about a year ago and found it incredibly boring with a tedious plot and empty characters, but everyone seems to rave about it and keeps giving it awards! I also agree with everyone who has said that The Lovely Bones and The Time Traveler's Wife are overrated, as I didn't think they were anything special. Ian McEwan too is very hit and miss. I loved Atonement but hated Enduring Love because the plot was non-existent and it was missing the emotional intensity of his other novels.
  11. I'm not really a stubborn person but I find the idea of giving up on a book hard to deal with! The only novel I have ever consciously decided not to finish was 'The Idiot' by Dostoyevsky, partly, I think, because it was a bad translation, and partly due to the fact that even when I was over halfway through the novel I still had no idea who each of the characters were and what they were doing! I looked up the rest of the plot on Wikipedia... Otherwise I tend not to give up on novels, I just take very long breaks from them (we're talking years at a time...). Though of course by the time I ge
  12. For me this is one of the rare times where I actually prefer the movie to the book! I find that Neil Gaiman writes in a very cinematic style; his books could almost be scripts. Like many of his novels, I found that Stardust was interesting on the surface, full of unique ideas and a clashing genres and themes, but there didn't seem to be much depth to the book. Neverwhere was similar in that it played very cleverly on the names of the London Underground stations, creating a whole sub-world from them, but it seemed to end there without pushing the plot or the themes introduced much further.
  13. This may sound slightly ridiculous but I have been reading Ulysses on my phone! I downloaded the 'Gutenberger' app and the first novel I decided to read was Ulysses. Surprisingly, it lends itself extremely well to the format! You aren't overwhelmed by pages of text, and the stream-of-consciousness writing draws you onwards from one little screen to the next without the feeling of plodding through a giant novel. In little snippets I'm finding it far easier to appreciate Joyce's clever use of language and infinite outside references. The only advice I would give is to read it as it was writ
  14. I bought this a few months ago and so far have made it to about halfway through chapter 4 – it's just not gripping me. Does it have the same trudging pace throughout or does it improve? This is the first novel I've read by Byatt and was hoping to be more impressed!
  15. I'm surprised at the amount of criticism of The Kite Runner, as I thought it was a very good novel and very well written. Most modern novels totally fail to engage me on an emotional level (The Lovely Bones, The Time Traveler's Wife...) but this one certainly did. I do agree with the criticisms that the section of the novel set in America is weak, and I thought the ending was very cliche, as though it had been deliberately Hollywood-ized in anticipation of being made into a movie. Having said that, I would certainly recommend reading the novel; its strengths far outweigh its weaknesse
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