ENGL 341: Modern Fiction
Below are the passages to choose from for Textual Analysis # 2, due October 16. In writing this assignment, please consider the comments I gave on your first assignment, and please consider coming to my office hours (or booking an appointment) to discuss your ideas before the assignment is due. Try to avoid too much retreading of lecture material–though you should not hesitate to use things said in lecture as the springboard for further investigation or rebuttal. To see an example of the kind of attention to detail I’m looking for, click here for the analysis by a student in my former Film Adaptation class, or click here to see my own short (excerpt of an) analysis of a passage from Portrait.
As before, you may bring in other parts of the novel, but remember to focus mostly on the passage in question. When in doubt, focus more rather than making large, general statements. Avoid paraphrasing the passage and please skip unnecessary preliminaries (There’s no need to begin your piece “In Jean Rhys’s novel Good Morning, Midnight, published in 1939, Sasha wanders around Paris drinking alcohol and trying to avoid facing up to her poverty, friendlessness and age.” For an assignment this short, you can assume I know that. A better, more to the point beginning might be, for example, “In Passage 3, Sasha’s phrase describing a film actor’s movement (‘too wild a gesture’) echoes her own inability to act with efficacy….”).
Formatting: the analysis should be about 3/4 of a page to a maximum of 1 page single-spaced, 12-point font Times New Roman.
You should cite the text, but there is no need for a separate sheet of paper for a bibliography; also, please submit your analysis without a cover page (to save paper).
Passage 1, from Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis (Modern Library, 2013): 54.
Was he an animal, that music could move him so? He felt as if the way to the unknown nourishment he longer for were coming to light. He was determined to force himself on until he reached his sister, to pluck at her skirt, and to let her know in this way that she should bring her violin into his room, for no one here appreciated her playing the way he would appreciate it. He would never again let her out of his room—at least not for as long as he lived; for once, his nightmarish looks would be of use to him; he would be at all the doors of his room at the same time and hiss and spit at the aggressors; his sister, however, should not be forced to stay with him, but would do so of her own free will.
Passage 2, from André Gide, The Counterfeiters (Vintage, 1973): 150.
Then Vincent spoke about selection. He explained how in order to obtain the finest seedlings, the ordinary plan is to choose the most robust specimens; and then he told them of the fantastic experiment of one audacious horticulturist, who, out of horror of routine—it really seemed almost like a challenge—took it into his head, on the contrary, to select the most weakly—with the result that he obtained blooms of incomparable beauty.
Passage 3, from Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight (Penguin, 2000): 90.
The film goes on and on. After many vicissitudes, the good young man is triumphant. He has permission to propose to his employer’s daughter. He is waiting on the bank of a large pond, with a ring that he is going to offer her ready in his waistcoat pocket. He takes it out to make sure that he has it. Mad with happiness, he strides up and down the shores of the pond, gesticulating. He makes too wild a gesture. The ring flies from his hand into the middle of the pond. He takes off his trousers; he wades out. He has to get the ring back; he must get it back.
Exactly the sort of thing that happens to me. I laugh till the tears come into my eyes. However, the film shows no signs of stopping, so I get up and go out.
Passage 5, from Gabriel Marquez, Leaf Storm (HarperPerennial, 2005): 80.
When we went in the back way we found the ruins of a man abandoned in the hammock. Nothing in this world can be more fearsome than the ruins of a man. And those of this citizen of nowhere who sat up in the hammock when he saw us come in were even worse, and he himself seemed to be covered by the coat of dust that covered everything in the room. His head was steely and his hard yellow eyes still had the powerful inner strength that I had seen in them in my house. I had the impression that if we’d scratched him with our nails his body would have fallen apart, turning into a pile of human sawdust. He’d cut his mustache but he hadn’t shaved it off. He’d used shears on his beard so that his chin didn’t seem to be sown with hard and vigorous sprouts but with sort, white fuzz. Seeing him in the hammock I thought: He doesn’t look like a man now. Now he looks like a corpse whose eyes still haven’t died.
Passage 6, from Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (Vintage, 1991), 10.
My father was a gentle, easy-going person, a salad of racial genes: a Swiss citizen, of mixed French and Austrian descent, with a dash of the Danube in his veins. I am going to pass around in a minute some lovely, glossy-blue picture-postcards. He owned a luxurious hotel on the Riviera. His father and two grandfathers had sold wine, jewels and silk, respectively. At thirty he married an English girl, daughter of Jerome Dunn, the alpinist, and granddaughter of two Dorset parsons, experts in obscure subjects–paleopedology and Aeolian harps, respectively. My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three, and, save for a pocket of warmth in the darkest past, nothing of her subsists within the hollows and dells of memory, over which, if you can still stand my style (I am writing under observation), the sun of my infancy had set: surely, you all know those redolent remnants of day suspended, with the midges, about some hedge in bloom or suddenly entered and traversed by the rambler, at the bottom of a hill, in the summer dusk; a furry warmth, golden midges.
My mother’s elder sister, Sybil, whom a cousin of my father’s had married and then neglected, served in my immediate family as a kind of unpaid governess and housekeeper. Somebody told me later that she had been in love with my father, and that he had lightheartedly taken advantage of it one rainy day and forgotten it by the time the weather cleared.
Passage 7, from Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Penguin, 2000), 36.
“I am summoned to see the headmistress at morning break on Monday,” said Miss Brodie. “I have no doubt Miss Mackay [the headmistress] wishes to question my methods of instruction. It has happened before. It will happen again. Meanwhile, I follow my principles of education and give of the best in my prime. The word ‘education’ comes from the root e from ex, out, and duco, I lead. It means a leading out. To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul. To Miss Mackay it is a putting in of something that is not there, and that is not what I call education, I call it intrusion, from the Latin root prefix in meaning in and the stem trudo, I thrust. Miss Mackay’s method is to thrust a lot of information into a pupil’s head; mine is a leading out of knowledge, and that is true education as is proved by the root meaning. Now Miss Mackay has accused me of putting ideas into my girls’ heads, but in fact that is her practice and mine is quite the opposite. Never let it be said that I put ideas into your heads.”