Thursday, January 25, 2018

Back in the swim



Even though I am no longer employed by a school or university, my life is still dictated by the academic calendar. I've had a very long winter break and now am just returning to work and study. This semester I am teaching English to two classes of francophones. One is a small group of pre-school and kindergarten teachers at a French school in Cambridge, and the other is made up of some accountants at a local French-owned company who could very well be the parents of the other group's students. That takes up two afternoons a week.

Two mornings a week I am a student. This time around, I'm participating in a Ulysses reading group and a class on Ulysses S. Grant, the American general and president. Fridays I attend two lectures on current issues.

The Grant biography has just arrived from Amazon and I am dismayed to see that it weighs in at over 1,000 pages. It's by Rob Chernow, author of the best-selling bio of Alexander Hamilton that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda's extraordinary Broadway musical. I got through those 800 pages, but it's possible my motivation had been elevated by having seen Hamilton. The Grant course is being led by a popular emeritus Harvard prof. Not quite the same as Miranda's wizardry, but I hope it's encouraging.

I really hope someone offers a Tristram Shandy course soon. I've never read it and think it might be best undertaken with a group. Some books are like that.

13 comments:

  1. You are absolutely right thinking that Tristram Shandy would be best undertaken with a group. (As would any book by James Joyce!) I have tried to read the book a couple of times but have found it such hard going. I live quite close to where Laurence Sterne was living at the time he wrote the book. It is such a beautiful rectory in such a lovely village - inspirational.

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    1. Thanks for this confirmation. Now to find the group....

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  2. Remembering my current relationship with books is tenuous, occasionally I remember snips of books I once knew. I think Tristram was a good, but tedious read. Read a bit, put it down. I remember disconnected bits of the plot thrown at the page. It was easy to leave and return to because it needs read twice anyway. The second time it stuck, I think.

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    1. These days I find it harder to stick with a difficult book because all the distractions that Trump and MSNBC provide. I'm impressed you got through Tristram twice.

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  3. Joyce and a fantastic pub crawl through Dublin. It's great medicine for the soul.

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    1. I'm still looking forward to that pub crawl.

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  4. I seem to remember that Tristram Shandy weighs in at more than 1000 pages.

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    1. I was afraid that might be the case.

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  5. I've never managed more than a few pages of Ulysses. I just can't get into it. I can't even get excited about The Dead, even though it's hailed as the best short story ever written. I'm clearly a literary oddball.

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    1. That was my experience too, Nick, until I read it with a class. Then I did it again. The second time around I could really enjoy it and see the humor in it.

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  6. I loved, loved, loved Tristram Shandy (and read it more than once - in English). Your schedule is very full - I enjoy the contact with my "medestudenten in het cursus Nederlands" - they are so fresh and great! We have a lot of fun together (beside learning).

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  7. Is learning Dutch fairly easy for a German speaker? In print it looks a lot like English, and like English it has lost its grammatical cases (Fall).

    I'll take that as an excellent recommendation for Tristram Shandy. Thanks!

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  8. Dutch is NOT easy for German speakers (though a lot of people think so) - it has a highly complicated orthography, a very wilful grammar, and to utter the pronunciation the right way is a real challenge. There is - of course - a strong link to English, and there is French in it - but all that is mixed in a sensible though unpredictable way. I think, one can say, that English peopele will learn Dutch as easily as Germans can :-) ( = Hahaha)

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