Literature: Introduction to Literature

Ah, literature. You know, that thing many of us pretended to understand in high school? The reason you probably used SparkNotes at least once? Well, my dear reader, fasten your metaphorical seatbelt because today, you and I will embark on a whirlwind tour of literature’s delights, with tales so riveting you might just spill your tea.

Imagine, for a moment, a world without literature. A bleak picture, right? No romantic novels to swoon over, no gripping mysteries to puzzle out, no thought-provoking classics to… well, pretend you’ve read at posh dinner parties. Because let’s face it, who among us can truly claim to have read every word of “War and Peace”? Tolstoy, I’m looking at you.

Now, literature is like that eccentric aunt we all have. She’s been everywhere, seen everything, and is teeming with tales from days of yore and lands far and wide. And while sometimes her stories might seem a tad too dramatic or long-winded (I mean, 18 pages just to describe a curtain, Dickens?), they always offer a glimpse into the depths of the human soul.

Let’s take Romeo and Juliet, for example. While it’s easy to scoff at the thought of a couple of teens deciding they’re madly in love after one dance, who among us hasn’t done something a smidge impulsive for love? Like, say, buying that ridiculously overpriced limited-edition latte because your crush happens to work at the cafe? Shakespeare was onto something, folks.

But literature isn’t just about stories of romance or tragedy. Oh no, it’s also a mirror reflecting society’s virtues, vices, dreams, and fears. Take Orwell’s “1984.” It wasn’t just a tale of a grim future; it was a cautionary tale about unchecked power and the loss of individual freedoms. And if you think about it, Big Brother does bear a striking resemblance to that nosy neighbor who’s always peeking through the blinds.

Then there’s magical realism. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is like your everyday family drama but sprinkle in some flying carpets, rains of yellow flowers, and a few prophetic dreams. It’s the Kardashians meet Narnia. This genre reminds us that the line between reality and fantasy is often blurrier than we think. For instance, ever lost a sock in the dryer and convinced yourself it’s been spirited away by mischievous pixies?

Let’s not forget about the heroes and heroines who grace the pages, teaching us resilience, courage, and the importance of good hair (Yes, Jo March from “Little Women”, I’m talking about that impulsive haircut). They face insurmountable odds, often with nothing but their wits and a suspiciously convenient magical amulet. But isn’t that life? Sometimes, we’re the underdog, armed with nothing but determination and a not-so-magical lucky pen.

And then there’s poetry. Oh, poetry. It’s like trying to catch smoke with your hands, isn’t it? Sometimes ethereal, sometimes maddeningly vague, but always beautiful. Emily Dickinson, with her musings on immortality, makes us ponder life’s big questions, while Dr. Seuss reminds us that fun is to be had, even in a house with a mouse.

So, why study literature? Because it’s a treasure trove of tales that span centuries and continents. It reminds us that, whether we’re falling in love in Verona or battling orcs in Middle Earth, our human experience, with its highs, lows, and missing socks, is a shared one.

To end, I offer you a challenge. Pick up a book. Any book. Dive into its pages, swim in its words, and let it sweep you away. Because in the enchanting world of literature, every day is an adventure waiting to happen. Just… maybe steer clear of Russian novels if you’re looking for a light read. I hear they can be a bit… weighty.

Practice What You Learned

Exercise 1: Matching the Author to Their Work

Given the hints and the story descriptions from the lesson, match the following authors to their respective works:

Options:
A) William Shakespeare
B) George Orwell
C) Gabriel Garcia Marquez
D) Emily Dickinson
E) Dr. Seuss
F) Leo Tolstoy
G) Charles Dickens

  1. Wrote about a grim future and a character named Big Brother.
  2. Known for an expansive novel, possibly with a curtain description that takes up pages.
  3. Blended everyday life with elements like flying carpets and prophetic dreams.
  4. Penned poems on immortality and the fleeting nature of life.
  5. Crafted tales that reminded us of fun with creatures in houses.
  6. Told a tale of two star-crossed lovers in Verona.
  7. Known for long-winded descriptions and rich details in his tales.

Reveal Answer Key

Exercise 2: Connect the Quote

Identify which literary work or author from the lesson the following quotes could be inspired by:

  1. “The rain of yellow flowers…”
  2. “That neighbor peeking through the blinds might just be…”
  3. “The hero with a suspiciously convenient magical amulet…”
  4. “A curtain description that takes up pages…”

Reveal Answer Key

Exercise 3: Personal Reflection

Write a short paragraph about a piece of literature or author you’ve encountered that gives you feelings similar to the ones described in the lesson. Explain why. (This exercise is subjective and doesn’t have a specific answer key. It encourages students to personally relate to the lesson.)

Steps for Further Exploration:

  1. Read Widely: Venture into a genre you’ve never tried before. Perhaps a mystery, romance, or even magical realism.
  2. Book Club: Start or join a book club. Discussing literature with peers can offer new perspectives and deeper insights.
  3. Write: Pen a short story or poem. Try incorporating elements from different genres or styles mentioned in the lesson.
  4. Visit Libraries and Bookstores: These are treasure troves for discovering classic and contemporary works. Don’t shy away from asking librarians or store workers for recommendations!
  5. Attend Literary Events: Participate in poetry readings, author discussions, or workshops. They can enhance your appreciation of literature and its various forms.
  6. Journal: After reading a new book or poem, write down your thoughts, feelings, and reflections. This can deepen your connection and understanding of the text.

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<a href="https://englishpluspodcast.com/author/dannyballanowner/" target="_self">Danny Ballan</a>

Danny Ballan

Author

Danny is a podcaster, teacher, and writer. He worked in educational technology for over a decade. He creates daily podcasts, online courses, educational videos, educational games, and he also writes poetry, novels and music.

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