LITERATURE a journey in the heart of a language

"I imagined it. I wrote it. But I guess I never thought I'd see it." -Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth

Our teacher once told us that learning grammar is not enough to understand a language; you need to know its origins and its evolution to really master it. She asked us to write a diary to better realize how we feel about literature.

What literature is to me

I see literature as a medium to travel trough time and space with no need to really move. Through documents and with the help of a giude anyone can explore infinite places in different times. I would define it as a link between present and past that can not possibly be riven. To be honest I am very excited to begin this journey in the heart of a language.

GEOFFREY CHAUCER - the father of English literature

people can die of mere imagination

"Chaucer is regarded as the father of English literature and as the first major secular poet [...] His language, the dialect of London, gradually became standard English, thus becoming the basis of Modern English."

I really appreciated Geoffrey Chaucer because he was able to portray English society at his time by describing people belonging to different social classes. We contrued the prologue of his most famous poem, The Canterbury Tales, to have a better setting and dive right into the narration. We also analysed some of the main characters with the help of our teacher. The personage I liked the most is the Wife of Bath since she represents the figure of a strong and independent woman. Being emancipated was not simple at the time, and by reading The Canterbury Tales I better understood the importance of being freelance. I found the Monk disagreeable, since he impersonate the corruption of the Church, but I loved Chaucher's ruling to mock him.

Another aspect that duzzled me is the writer's decision to be a character of his own tale, which was a true innovation for the ancient standards; it also makes it easier to empathize with the events, rendering everything more interesting and involving.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE -the greatest writer in English language

Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.

"William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet, and the "Bard of Avon".[...] His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright "

I love William Shakespeare.

I'm in love with Shakespeare. He is fresh and actual, even if his works were composed 500 years ago. He was an absolute genius and I believe everybody should study him at school. Morover our teacher really likes him and her passion is influencing me a lot, so that, sometimes, when I have nothing to do, I read his poems out loud to pass the time.

New words

Shakespeare is said to be the inventor of 1,700 new words. In reality many of these words would likley have been in common parlance, just not written down prior to Shakespeare. I was amazed by the fact that most of these words have survived trough centuries and, even today, we use them without realizing that they are almost 500 years old.

My mistress' eyes

We analyzed a few poems with the help of our teacher. I liked them all, but my absolute favourite is My mistress' eyes.

In this sonnet, the writer describes his lover in a totally new way. In fact, Shakespeare wants to subvert courtly love; to do so he abandon the exaggerated metaphores that are tipical of the courtly poerty and he gives a realistic portrait of his woman. Even if his mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun and coral is far more red than her lips red, he concludes the sonnet stating that he is in love with her regardless of her not being perfect, which is, to me, the most romantic thing he could say. (I like romance, could you tell?)

Hamlet

Hamlet is one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies and my personal favourite topic we have dealed with in literature this year.

We analyzed the plot and some of the dialogues, such as Hamlet meets the ghost and Have you eyes?

To be or not to be

To be, or not to be--that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune Or to take arms against a sea of troubles And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep-- No more--and by a sleep to say we end The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep-- To sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub, For in that sleep of death what dreams may come When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause. There's the respect That makes calamity of so long life. For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely The pangs of despised love, the law's delay, The insolence of office, and the spurns That patient merit of th' unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear, To grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death, The undiscovered country, from whose bourn No traveller returns, puzzles the will, And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprise of great pitch and moment With this regard their currents turn awry And lose the name of action.

In this soliloquy Hamlet face one of the most difficult question every man needs to ask himself at least once in a lifetime: To be or not to be?

I am genuinely in love with this passage, so much that I have also memorized half of it. I am fascinated by Hamlet's desire not to be a pawn in the game of life, but also by his fear of death. I love the inner-fight the protagonist has to decide wether it is better to end all of his problems by committing siucide or to survive and not to risk something worse.

My favourite interpretation of the soliloquy is the one by Kenneth Branagh, because I find it really expressing, as it represents Hamlet's indecision.

Credits:

Created with images by janafalk - "untitled image" • MCAD Library - "Hamlet"

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