Oh yeh, I studied that one….

Since we’ve all survived it, now we can be honest about it: what did you really think about your A level texts? We want to know which you loved, and which you loathed, and of course why. Comment now to make sure your book gets remembered in the way it most deserves!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Oh yeh, I studied that one….

  1. My favourite text (which has endured actually as one of my favourite plays) was Journey’s End by R. C. Sherriff. I loved the comradeship and the flaws in these incredible characters, but most of all I loved the humour. I found myself so absorbed that the sudden and stark loss and violence really touched me. I cared about these characters in a way I hadn’t previously experienced through literature before. It was this play that made me really consider the importance of literature as a means of exploring and exposing trauma, and looking back over my studies, it was this play that opened me up to everything I find interesting and important now. Does anyone else feel the same way, or am I showing my considerable age by admitting that I studied it?

    I’ve also been told that I cheated in not telling you which text I didn’t like…which is true…and a little awkward…because I think (hope) I did a reasonable job of hiding it….but I remember having a very heated discussion about it with my tutor at school and saying that it was completely unreadable! Which it is…erm no I can’t really get away with that! I just struggled because it seemed, for a play about magic, to take away the unexpected pleasure (the sense of magic) from love and life and make everything seem so constrained and constructed. But then again hopefully you guys like the Tempest…there I said it!
    Posted by Emma Wilde

  2. I really didn’t get the Great Gatsby when I studied it in school (though that might have been GCSE rather than A-Level…) Don’t think I understood the glamour of disillusion which Fitzgerald likes to work, how he manages to make destroying illusions as shimmeringly tempting as the illusions themselves. Possibly related to how I used to read the first section of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History as a teenager, and then skip the rest. (One of my best friends in college used to skip the first part and only read the latter bits… we clearly had equivalently screwed up views of human nature, just in different directions!)

    Favourite was definitely (probably) Midsummer Night’s Dream. Endlessly reworkable fantasy – I have the Britten opera of it playing in my office at the moment. (Which I maintain you can’t understand properly unless you’ve had it playing in your headphones as you try to find your way across a part of London you’ve never been in before at five o’clock in the morning, before the Tube is running, whilst dawn is breaking, after a birthday party combined with a union march…) The texture of that play seems to give people so much to work with, whilst its self-consciousness of being fantasy invites the audience to co-construct the world they’re being offered.

  3. Briony Ne

    The text I came to loathe was Enduring Love by Ian McEwan. It didn’t particularly capture my interest and the more we had to examine the literary techniques and style McEwan made heavy-handed use of, the more I despised the self-conscious pretentiousness of the thing, all the way through to the tacked-on resolution of Joe and Clarissa’s relationship within the ‘medical report’ appendix. (And regarding the film adaptation, Daniel Craig as Joe, a ‘large, clumsy, balding fellow’, is as laughable a casting as Cliff Richard as Heathcliff. Speaking of …)

    Wuthering Heights is my favourite A level text (apart from The Bloody Chamber, but as I already read and loved it years ago that seems like cheating) but I went into the A2 year with a lot of preconceptions against it, mainly the idea of Cathy and Heathcliff being written as an epic love when it seemed unhealthy and problematic to idolise them, Heathcliff especially (I do still think this, but for other reasons that would probably warrant an entirely separate discussion). Good job it was much more than a romantic tale; I personally find that an inaccurate reputation – not helped by adaptations that ignore the second generation entirely – that hides a fascinating, shrewdly Gothic portrayal of obsession and revenge that I really relished breaking down in class and exploring in the exam. Lesson learned – don’t judge a book by its cover (or the cover society attributes to it, anyway!)

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