Read variety; get exposed to different genres within
By Dr Shradha Kaul
While we face challenges in life, our struggles with the pressures of exams, personal lives, whatever, bring us face to face with the choices that we have to make in life. Some of us go along with what is expected of us, some want to experiment (without the component of risk) but very few of us do something, which our heart wants to do. Well, it’s quite reasonable to expect a pragmatic viewpoint towards decisions that are pivotal and may help in shaping our future. A transition means essentially a change from one position to another; it may involve change in one’s position, state, subject, and concept, to another.
As children we are continuously taking decisions and making choices. This process is woven into almost all our actions and as a student it finds its reflection in the subjects or the stream we opt for.
As students of English in school, you get ample opportunities to read some good pieces of literature. Both core and elective English provide an opportunity to explore the subject. Fascinatingly, English, as a subject knows no boundaries. There is no demarcation of how much should you study. The more you read the better you get. Of course, one may argue that this holds true of almost all subjects but with English its very important to get the feel of the various forms of writings that exist. To appreciate and also to differentiate between two types of writing styles it becomes necessary to read more of the same style and also read other forms or styles.
The curious reader gets exposed to the different genres that exist within the subject. As you move on in subject you may try and explore more and more. For instance, while reading Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, which brought him wide critical acclaim and the Pulitzer Prize (he went on to get the Nobel Prize for literature), you may be tempted to read up other literary works, which were thus awarded.
In school I was greatly inspired by Rabindra Nath Tagore’s works. We got a glimpse into his writings through poems like “ When the head is held high…” This tempted me to read up further on and led me to the The Gitanjali or Song Offerings for which the Nobel Prize for literature 1913 has been bestowed on him. Imagine Tagore started writing when he was eight years old and his works uphold universal humanistic values.
YB Yeats, an English poet, and a fellow Nobel laureate, describes Tagore and his writings in these words, “He is the first among our saints who has not refused to live, but has spoken out of life itself, and that is why we give him our love.”
Like I always say that once the spark gets ignited, you automatically move onto the next level. As a reader of the Old Man and the Sea if I were tempted to know more about Hemingway’s other works, I would say that I had arrived. In the sense I was on the right path and had moved on in the right direction. Hemingway’s other works like A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls etc were quite different so you will realise the range of styles that he
Drama has been the favoured genre of many great writers. I guess the quality of being arresting or highly emotional made it a preferred form, keeping the times they were written in in mind. Shakespeare has a majority of his works in the form of plays. Another great social commentator who was also a great writer is George Bernard Shaw. A 1923 Noble Prize laureate, his verbal wit was his raison d’être and his writings were a reflection of his radical rationalism and his utter disregard of conventions. He had the knack of turning the stage into a forum of ideas. His plays were comic, dramatic and contained a social message; this combination gave his works a high level of popularity.
I would say that if I had read Arms and the Man, there should be no stopping me from picking up at least one more play written by him. Incidentally, one of plays went on to become a very popular movie entitled My Fair Lady, which was based on his play Pygmalion.
To provide one with endless reading lists may seem to be mechanical, but sometimes these lists provide the subtle yet tenacious link, which the eager reader is looking for. They supply the connection which one may not have thought about or did not have the time to look for. Once you master this art of moving up you will be on your way to mastering the skill of conversion into the next realm of challenges.
—The author is an academic & writes on varied issues