My third competent communicator task.
Ernest, John and William
How many of you are aware that it was World book and copyright day two days ago? 23 April is a symbolic date for world literature. And what comes to your mind when I speak of literature? Most of the time, people will find that they are hit by the big L. Some difficult language studies, word scrutiny and even multiple layers of interpretation of a literary work. In my course as a literature student and a literature teacher, I like to explain it my way. Literature is story, and it is about life.
My title tonight is “Ernest, John and William”. Ernest, John and William are not my boyfriends in the waiting list, but some prominent authors that I like and have stood the test of time.
Ernest, Ernest Hemmingway. I like his work because the language he used is simple. In fact, you can hardly find any complex sentence in his stories. Scholars claim Hemmingway’s writing style is paralel to the Iceberg Theory. Meaning to say, he is economical with words, but his words carry penetrating meanings. I particularly remembered reading Hemmingway’s works when I was a teenager, a series of 16 stories about a teenage boy, Nick Adams. Nick Adams’ father was a doctor, and he always followed his dad on his medical trip to the Indian camps. He witnessed child labour, sufferings, poverty and even death. The stories made me think much, and I only learned much later on that Nick is actually a projection of Hemmingway, where his teenage life experience has cast the dark shadow over his whole life. Eventually, he killed himself.
Then, John Steinback. He was an American like Hemmingway, but he was the total opposite of Hemmingway. Steinback likes to use lengthy descriptions so that the readers can picture what they read. His stories are social stories that show us the economic problems of the rural poor. His stories reflect the Great Depression period, a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding WWII. In Malaysia, his work is simplified to be read by the Form 5 students, The Pearl. His other famous fictions are The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. Steinbeck’s own life story is not as gloomy as Hemmingway’s, nor as stunning as William’s.
The William that I talk about is the famous William Shakespeare. I think everyone know William Shakespeare even if you don’t study literature. His famous work includes Romeo and Juliet, Julius Ceasar and Hamlet. For your information, all that I mentioned are tragedy themed plays. Shakespeare wrote lots of plays. There are comedy plays too. The famous one being Merchant of Venice. But I like Shakespeare not because of his plays, I like him only for his sonnets. I dislike making head or tails out of complicated relationships, betrayal and dirty politics. However, his sonnets are short, easy to read and VERY interesting. In studying Shakespearean work, we have the Shakespeare Conspiracy. You can’t blame the scholars, because when you read his sonnets, especially sonnet 20 the big letter G word is just practically screaming out loud on your face – GAY. I first started to feel suspicious when I read sonnet 130, but it was only when I read and study sonnet 20 that I was fully flabbergasted. Shakespeare’s life is in itself an interesting study topic. Many have made inferences that he is bisexual.
Maybe you are wondering why I only like men’s works. Well, this is because in the history, the society is very patriachal. Women writers only made their fames after the 18th century. Their works are mainly concerning women’s rights and supression of women in the patriachal society. My take is, gender bias and power struggle between men and women is an undebatable issue and it is not as interesting as reading depressed, poor and lonely men, or better gay. But maybe the society is changing, because the top paid writers in the world today are dominated by women – JK Rowlings that wrote the Harry Potter series, and Stephanie Meyer that wrote The Twilight Saga.
Authors aside, reading, is essentially the key to open up one’s mind. We are connected to different cultures, lifestyles and even ways of thinking through literary works. The author tells a story, but we fill in the gaps and make our comprehension whole. So read up, who knows what you will discover in the course of doing so.