I have broken the back of both courses by now and have fifth (second last) assignment in the bag for The Nineteenth Century Novel course and am busy planning the sixth (and last) assignment for the Twentieth Century One. I am pleased to have even got this far, having spent the last three weeks seemingly marooned on a desert island with no fair wind to speak of, and some very ill-tempered children to boot.
That essay is to analyse passages from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and some poetry from Heaney’s New Selected Poems, 1966-1987, using the judging criteria for the Nobel Literature awards committee.
The trouble is there are two ways (of many I’m sure) that this could be argued. You could say that the vague line of Alfred Nobel’s will left interpretation wide open: "the candidate should have bestowed "the greatest benefit on mankind" – and the special condition for literature, "in an ideal direction" (possibly a good thing), or you could argue that the committee tends towards conservative choices with Beckett and Heaney appearing to reward that criteria (possibly a bad thing).
Oh the whole thing now seems so nebulous that I’m giving myself a headache!
I chose the Heaney/ Beckett option, thinking of it as a rehearsal for the final End of Course Assessment, thinking that looking into the judging of literature might open a few cracks for me with regard to that particular nut.
For that one, we must devise a literary prize of our own conditions; choose between
So, first select your critical weapons and then try to use them, whilst aiming vaguely in the right direction – target practice anyone?