Independent reading list by pptfiles


									Independent Reading List—English Literature
(Short but important books that mesh with our learning in English Lit.)

Satire (Novels)
     The Loved One—Evelyn Waugh (British)
                In this short novel, a young English poet, Dennis Barlow, goes to Los Angeles to live
                with a friend who works at a film studio. The friend commits suicide, and Dennis goes to
                the imposing cemetery called Whispering Glades (its details clearly inspired by Forest
                Lawn, which mesmerized Waugh) to arrange for the funeral. While there, he meets
                Aimee Thanatogenos, a cosmetician, becomes obsessed with her, and competes for her
                attention with the sinister embalmer Mr. Joyboy. The comedy is savage and macabre, as
                biting today as it was when it was written. It attacks the commercialisation of what would
                normally be considered 'sacred'. The Loved One appeared on most of the 'Hundred Best
                Novels of the Century' lists in 2000. (Warning: the book’s dark humor isn’t for
                everyone—some people find it disturbing.

        Gulliver’s Travels—Jonathan Swift (British)
                  The masterpiece of British satire. Select one of the four books, each detailing one of
                  Gulliver’s strange adventures.
                       Book One: Gulliver’s trip to Lilliput, the land of little people
                       Book Two: Gulliver’s trip to Brobdingnag, the land of giants
                       Book Three: Gulliver’s trip to various odd islands
                       Book Four: Gulliver’s trip to the land of Houyhnhnms (wise horses) and Yahoos
                           (brutish men).
                  The book will shock you and make you laugh, but it’s difficult to read.

        Candide—Voltaire (French)
                This classic French satire written by the famous pragmatist, mocks idealism, the flaws of
                the Roman Catholic Church, France’s educational system, and much more. Candide,
                whose name means “innocent,” lacks knowledge of the outside world. He believes that
                his castle is the best place to live in. One day he and Cunégonde, the Baron’s daughter,
                are seen making love, so he is kicked and thrown out of the castle. Candide goes through
                many misadventures and his eyes open to reality. He sees that everything does not
                happen for the best as the philosophers and metaphysician Pangloss had told him. The
                book is short, funny, and easy to read, but it’s also risqué and biting. It’ll surprise you.

        Pride and Prejudice—Jane Austin (British)
                 Jane Austen's classic novel about the prejudice that occurred between the 19th century
                 classes and the pride which would keep lovers apart.
                 Elizabeth Bennett is a strong-willed yet sensible young woman in a well-off but lower
                 class family. The story details the relationship that develops between Elizabeth and
                 Mr.Darcy, an arrogant gentleman. In this book, the satire is gentle and the wit is sharp.

Comedy (Dramas)
(Feel free to choose any other book by these writers.)

        She Stoops to Conquer—Oliver Goldsmith (Irish)
                 This comedy of manners was first performed in 1773. The play is a great favourite for
                 study by English literature classes in Britain. It is one of the few plays from the 18th
                 century to have an enduring appeal, and is still regularly performed today. The play
                 follows Charles Marlow, a wealthy young man who is being forced by his family to
                 consider a potential bride whom he has never met. He is anxious about meeting her; he
                 suffers from shyness around women of some wealth, but around women of the lower
                 classes transforms into a positively lecherous rogue. In essence, the play is a farce and
                 comedy of errors, based on multiple misunderstandings.
       Tartuffe—Moliere (French)
                In this play, Orgon, a wealthy family man, takes in a stranger by the name of Tartuffe to
                stay in his home. Tartuffe appears to be an extremely pious and devout man of religion,
                and Orgon regards him almost as a saint. Orgon offers Tartuffe his best food and drink
                and places the needs of his guest above those of his wife and children. He plans to force
                his daughter to marry Tartuffe and to disinherit his son in order to make Tartuffe the sole
                heir to his fortune. All of Orgon's friends and family regard Tartuffe as a con man who
                only pretends to be of the highest moral authority but who does not practice what he
                preaches. The play is a brilliant mockery of religious hypocrisy. The writing is sharp
                and clever.

Dystopian Fiction (Novels)
     1984—George Orwell (British)
                Published in 1940, this futuristic novel depicts a nightmare world ruled by Big Brother,
                where man has lost his freedom and where thought is closely monitored. The hero,
                Winston Smith, rebels, falls love, and faces the horrifying consequences of breaking the
                law. (A great read—but somewhat lengthy)
     The Time Machine—H.G. Wells (British)
                H.G. Wells was an early, prominent dystopian thinker and writer. His most famous
                dystopian fiction is probably The Time Machine, the story of a man’s trip into the future,
                where class divisions cause a horrific evolution to extreme class structure, with
                aboveground “elites” serving as food for underground “workers” (A short, but
                challenging novel)
     A Clockwork Orange—Anthony Burgess (British)
                In this 1962 novel (turned later into a Stanley Kubrick film), amoral youth gangs
                completely numbed to violence roam the streets of London. Warning: the book is written
                in an invented “slang,” which is difficult to read, and the violence in the book repels
                some readers. The novel reflects the post-war malaise, the sense that England had not
                only lost its empire but was also an increasingly hostile place to live
     The Handmaid’s Tale—Margaret Atwood (British)
                In this novel’s futuristic society, patriarchy, religious extremism and environmental
                damage run amok. Most women are infertile, so those that aren’t are enslaved as baby
                machines. The book is often read in college classrooms because of its feminist themes.
                (Contains sexual content)

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