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Prose Study: The Bloody Chamber

by Margaret Atwood Introduction Published in 1979, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories retells classic fairy tales in a disturbing, blood-tinged, explicit way. Angela Carter revises Sleeping Beauty, for example, from an adult, twentieth-century perspective. You might think that fairy tales are the sorts of stories to read to […]

Prose Study: Nervous Conditions

by Tsitsi Dangarembga Introduction Tambu, an adolescent living in colonial Rhodesia (modern-day Zimbabwe) of the ’60s, seizes the opportunity to leave her rural community to study at the missionary school run by her wealthy, British-educated uncle. Like many heroes, Tambu, in addition to excelling at her studies, slowly […]

Dramatic Study: Pygmalion

by George Bernard Shaw Introduction When George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1925, he was praised for turning “his weapons against everything that he conceives of as prejudice.” This is clearly true of Pygmalion, which was premiered in German in Vienna in 1913. […]

Dramatic Study: The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare Introduction The Merchant of Venice ranks with Hamlet as one of Shakespeare’s most frequently performed dramas. Written sometime between 1594 and 1598, the play is primarily based on a story in Il Pecorone,a collection of tales and anecdotes by the fourteenth-century Italian writer Giovanni Fiorentino. There is considerable […]

William Wordsworth: Poetry Study

Introduction The principal object, then, which I proposed to myself in these Poems was to choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them, throughout, as far as was possible, in a selection of language really used by men; and, at the same time, […]

All is Allusion

Allusions know their audience and trust them to understand the hidden reference. Allusions invite the reader into a kind of club with other people who ‘get it’. This is normally a good feeling for those who spot the allusion. Allusions are clever, observant or open-minded. There is an […]

Appropriation and Adaptation

TBC Class Activity Like the story of the Three Little Pigs in the Guardian film above, the following stories have a rich history of adaptation and appropriation. Choose one title each and spend a few minutes tracing the timeline. In most cases, the title is neither the start […]