Sunday, October 01, 2006

British Novel: Some help needed

Ok, now I need some more assistance. I just found out that I have to add another novel (or play) to our syllabus for this year. I teach British lit (to twelfth graders) at a Catholic high school so any of you who have a suggestion, please send it my way.

We use a pretty good textbook that has quite a bit of the classics. I plan on using much of it. Then we will be reading A Christmas Carol just before Christmas and Animal Farm in the spring. I added Animal Farm because so many of the students have not yet read it. What a crime! So though it is something that should be read the first time in middle school (in my opinion), I want them to have the joy and pleasure of reading it with someone who really enjoys the book. If time permits, we will read Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot at the end of the year.

So what else would be a good British lit novel for twelfth graders (17 and 18 year old Catholic high school students) to read? Throughout the sections I teach, the reading levels are mixed: from high to middle to lower.

I have some on my mind, but I am not sure what kind of book I want them to read. I was thinking of some classics but they may end up being too serious or heavy. Then I thought that it might work better and be more enjoyable to read something fun and "comical" or entertaining (in a good literary sense) than the deeper cathartic type I initially thought of. Not sure yet, but it is something that would be read some time between February and May.

Thanks for your help. Put your suggestion(s) in the comment box below or in an email.

Books that I am thinking of:

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
How Right You Are, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton
Howards End by E. M. Forster
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
King Lear by William Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
The Tempest by William Shakespeare (leaning towards this)
As You Like It by William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare


Deep Furrows said...

if I were teaching 12th graders, I'd want to teach them Shakespeare's Measure for Measure...

Do you ever read aloud to them?


W. said...

Measure for Measure? Hmmm. I will have to think about that.

Yes, I do read to them. We read Beowulf last month and I read certain passages to them. They did do their own reading of it, both at home (and probably mostly silent) and aloud in class. But certain passages I wanted them to hear certain things so I read them and we discussed aspects of the form and the content. Though in translation, Beowulf loses some key aspects as most works do when they are translated into other languages. Nothing new.

With what I was leaning towards (Tempest), I decided to listen to Dr. David Allen White's 2 CD discussion of Shakespeare and many of the key elements for studying the Bard. He has some strong words for The Tempest, which I figured he would. The Tempest is one of the best, if that can even be said, but I will give Measure for Measure a consideration.

As well, Touchstone magazine has a good article a few issues back on The Tempest. They have it accessible in their archives:


Matthew Anderson said...

If you want a good discussion, Man Who Was Thursday is a great choice. It's fun, lighthearted, and confusing as anything. A class that is somewhat interested in figuring it out can have a lot of fun talking about it.

That said, I just finished Tale of Two Cities again and was struck by how good it is...tough decision!

Kathy Carroll said...

Two English novels with provocative themes likely to resonate with 12th graders:

The French Lieutenant's Woman - John Fowles
The End of the Affair - Graham Greene

Fausta said...

For a good discussion, Dr. Wortle's School, by Anthony Trollope.