Sunday, October 4, 2009

Paper on "Old School"

1. Five pages, typed, double-space, 14 point.

2. Must have a central, controlling thesis it will prove, that is, support, with logic, evidence from the plot, and close reading of the text.

3. Opening paragraph must name the novel and author; must express, briefly, the major point, ie, thesis, that will be explored.


We have seen several themes or issues come up in almost every discussion we have had of "Old School". They include:

1. The question of living a "double life", which includes the difficulty of self-knowledge.

2. The frequent misinterpretation of literature or art, giving complication to the narrator's at least initial love of literature as a means of defining one's self in the world, and indeed, transcending one's origins.

3. The question of how we define literature that is truly superior in quality and insight. The narrator's three friends as exemplars of general traits all good writing must have; the difficulty of getting all three to combine in one act of writing.

4. The folly of literary celebrity.

5. The role the imagination plays--for good or for evil--in the novel.

6. The ending: how does it bring together all or most of the various themes the novel has developed along the way?

7. The "incarnational" aspects of Wolff's writing; how does he anchor down into the sensible world the scenes and the characters that inhabit the novel?

8. The three major "visiting" writers and their theories of literature: how do they play off of one another, how do they influence the action, the plot, and hence the meaning of the novel as a whole?

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