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CW2020 Fiction

Summer Reading (2015-16)

Course Tutor: Dr Doug Cowie

CW1020 Why Write? A post-course Summer Term Reading List

Below, find some titles of works you might consider reading during the Summer Term, arranged parallel to the CW1020 course structure. It might also be a good idea to think about the works both in terms of how they relate to the particular author/ week of the course, but also to one another and across the various ideas and themes of the course as a whole. Many of these texts will be useful ways to prepare for CW2010, CW2020, and CW2030 as well.

  1. George Orwell, 1984Animal FarmHomage to Catalonia. Orwell dismisses parts of Homage to Catalonia in his essay "Why I Write", but it is a fascinating first-hand account of the Spanish Civil War. You should also read "Politics and the English Language", his rightly famous essay on usage, as well as David Foster Wallace's "Authority and American Usage", from Consider the Lobster and Other Essays, which is essentially a twenty-first century updating of Orwell's idea in that essay. 
  2. Homer, The Odyssey. I like the Richard Lattimore translation. Plato addresses Homer as "my dear Homer." If you haven't read this epic poem, then you should do so as a matter of urgency.
  3. Sophocles, The Theban Plays (Oedipus RexOedipus at ColonusAntigone) and/ or Aeschylus, The Oresteia (AgamemnonThe Libation BearersThe Eumenidies). Again, Lattimore translated this stuff, although I think I might prefer the Feagles translation of The Oresteia, probably because that's the one I read first. Anyway, two of the great trilogies of tragedy, so you'll know what Aristotle was banging on about. Better than Star Wars, less funny than American Pie.
  4. John Milton, Paradise Lost. The greatest poem in the English language. Edmund Burke is correct to use it as his example of all that is sublime, and also wonderful, about poetry.
  5. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass. Walt Whitman's life work. Get the "Death Bed Edition" and read it for the rest of your life.
  6. Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Mont blanc", "Ozymandias", "Adonais", "Ode to the West Wind". "Adonais" is Shelley's elegy to John Keats. If you really like Shelley and/ or you are feeling ambitious, read "Prometheus Unbound".
  7. Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady. You've already read the preface. If you're put off by its length, then try his shorter works, which are excellent. Daisy MillerThe Beast in the JungleThe Turn of the Screw.
  8. Matthew Arnold, "Dover Beach" as well as other poems. Why not read the rest of Culture and Anarchy, too? It's got a great title.
  9. Oscar Wilde, A Picture of Dorian Gray. You've read the preface.
  10. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra. Supposedly this is a novel, but really it isn't. It is baffling and interesting and exciting and weird, though.
  11. Euripides, The Bacchae. Nietzsche blames him for the death of tragedy.
  12. Find an anthology of Futurist and/or Dada writing (there are many).
  13. Virginia Woolf, OrlandoTo The LighthouseMrs Dalloway. If you liker her essays, then try Three Guineas as well.
  14. T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land and Other Poems. You have read "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" for EN1112. but you should really read the title poem, too, not to mention the rest of them.
  15. Bertolt Brecht, Mother CourageThe Life of GalileoThe Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Mother. But really, you should find out if you can see a production of one of his plays to really see what happens.
  16. William Carlos Williams, Imaginations. This is the volume from which "Spring and All" comes. It also contains the pretty weird and amazing "Kora in Hell", among other writings.
  17. E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime. Fredric Jameson talks a lot about this novel. It is strange and excellent.
  18. W. H. Auden, Collected Poems. Auden's poems are constructed with a lot of attention to form, and he really gets a lot out of form.
  19. Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man. You've read the introduction. one of the the genuine contenders for Great American Novel. Not to be confused with H. G. Well's The Invisible Man, which is something completely different.
  20. Aleksandar Hemon, A Question of BrunoNowhere ManThe Lazarus Project, Love and Other Obstacles. I think he's one of the few writers working in English at the moment who really matters. His most recent book, a collection of short stories, is wonderful.
  21. Colum McCann, Dancer, Let the Great World Spin. Russian ballet and/or Twin Tower tightropes.
  22. Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections, Ben Marcus, The Flame AlphabetLeaving the Sea, Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl, Heir to the Glimmering World (published as The Bear Boy in the UK), poems, essays. Cynthia Ozick does it all. Look up her bibliography and pick something. Read the other two and see whether it sheds light on their argument in Harper's.


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