What is literature?
To be honest, I am not very fond of reading, thus answering this question is pretty challenging: I do not believe it is something that must be studied in order to be cultured but for a personal pleasure.
In my lifetime, it has happened to me only once to be fully involved by a book: it is 1984 by George Orwell, and it my favourite for many reasons: in first place, it made me open my eyes and realise that what Orwell describes perfectly suits our world. Secondly, day by day I find out that 1984 has a strong impact on today's society: it has influenced many films (such as The Truman Show), TV programmes (The Big Brother) and songs (it is the name of some albums).
As regards the importance of studying literature, I think it is the tool to fully get to know the culture of a country: knowing the grammar allows you to be able to communicate, but with the power of literature, you can grasp other aspects.
Geoffrey Chaucer (London, 1343 – London, 1400)
From the 11th of January for aabout a month time, we focused on Chaucer and his masterpiece "The Canterbury Tales".
Although he can be deemed a "copycat" and so not fully original, I found his descriptions very captivating for the reason that Chaucer had been able to create a bound between the story narrated by a pilgrim, and his background.
In addition, he used his feather to mock his society, mainly focusing on the clergy. To me, his descriptions and his irony make him worth studying.
Among the pictures I found about Chaucer's masterpiece, the one I believed is the best is this one:
It is a detail of a mural by Ezra Winter. (Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington D.C.)
William Shakespeare (Stratford-upon-Avon, 1564 - Stratford-upon-Avon, 1616)
On the 28th of January, we started dealing with Shakespeare: for the first period, what we did was analysing his sonnets. One in particular fascinated me: "My mistress' eyes".
In this sonnet, Shakespeare distorts the idea of how a woman is seen through the eyes of her lover. There is an obvious link to Petrarch, who compares his woman to an angelic figure.
I guess Shakespeare found this ridiculous since, at the end of the poem, he restates that love goes beyond this stereotype and it is real even if the woman is not a goddess (as she is not in the sonnet).
If I were asked to represent the passing of time with an image, as Shakespeare does in "Like as the waves", I would choose a picture of the Colosseum, as it symbolises how time can change, and perhaps ruin, things.
The first tragedy we have studied, and the only one at the moment, is Hamlet.
At the very beginning, it did not very intrigued me without any specific reason. Now I know I was mistaken.
The key point is Hamlet's monologue "To be or not to be", in which he claims that committing suicide is not a gesture that a coward would do, but it makes us reflect upon the meaning of life. I still have not found the answer to the question "does killing yourself make you a coward?", but I certainly do not convey with Hamlet: he states that, committing suicide, we can end up in a place that is worse that Earth. I strongly believe that people believe in Heaven and Hell because they cannot accept the fact that their lives would end at the very moment their hearts halt. So how can we end up in another place?
Nevertheless, to me everyone should be able to decide what to do during their life, but before doing that, they must reflect upon it and be sure it is not a harm to anyone. Killing yourself is acceptable as long as you do not involve other people. This does not make you a coward, but a "cleverless" person.
I truly loved this play because of its insights into the human psyche, Hamlet's thoughts upon life and the theme of ambiguity, which, among the others, rules.
Romeo and Juliet
After having analysed Hamlet, we started dealing with Shakespeare's most famous tragedy, namely the love story par excellence.