Literature class or How to Make Silas Marner Even More Boring

Did anyone here actually literature classes in high school? I absolutely hated 'em. We would have to read amazingly boring stories (the aforementioned Silas Marner) and then analyze it. Yech!!! When I read a story, novel, etc., I take it at face value and not try to “read” anything into it. Analyzing a novel is, to me, the same as trying to explain a joke to some one without a sense of humor.

The funny thing is, I love to read. Newspapers, magazines, novels, the TV Guide, and other greats forms of print :slight_smile:

OK posters, lemme hear from you…

Man, is it getting late! I left out the key word. I’m asking if anyone LIKED literature class.

I can remember reading “Of Mice and Men” in high school and not appreciating what a good author Steinbeck was.
As for Silas Marner, watch the episode of “Wishbone” about Silas Marner—It makes it seem like a good book.

“Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you, my friend–
Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again…”
-Steely Dan

I never had a literature class in high school, but that was because it wasn’t offered. I would have been there if it had. One of the few college courses I’ve had, though, was a Modern American Literature class, and it was awesome. My professor really enjoyed teaching the class, and that made it worthwhile. She started the class with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” and we ended with Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon.” It was a small class, too, only about 13 or 14 people, so we had room for plenty of discussion.

I’ve never read “Silas Marner,” though…is it good? :wink:

Trumpy, I agree. I think it was because I had to look for all the symbolism crap that made the lit classes so bad. As an adult, I have read Steinbeck, Dumas, etc., and enjoyed all of it. James Joyce sucks at any age, tho.

I completely agree with Scarred about James Joyce, which doubtless makes us both philistines. “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” was assigned in five different classes I took in college, and I hated it every time. But so often the problem is not the book itself, but the having to read it in a rush and with the notion of taking a test in mind. That’s no way to treat a good novel.


I had a World Lit class in high school with a great teacher. We read Things Fall Apart, Sidhartha (sp?) and a handful of others… He also showed the class the movie of “A Clockwork Orange” in its entirety (it was a senior class, all over 17yrs of age).

On the other hand, I took a horrid class in college… it was a WRITING class and they had us read various short stories then write papers about them. The teacher was horrible. He told us that irony and humor were synonyms. He actually marked me down on a paper once because HE was wrong about who the main character was in one of the stories we read… and something that still pisses me off:

We read some Faulkner (I think) story which was full of really really bad writing. Things that the editor should have found and corrected. I’m not talking about poetic license or relaxed writing, I’m talking about BAD writing. Like writing a long and complex sentence that was a paragraph long and had no verb. Oh, some of the clauses had verbs, but the sentence itself was not a complete sentence. Another one that stands out was that in the same sentence he switched perspectives. Like “he walked to the store, then he stood still” where “he” was two different people.
Anyway, I pointed this out to the teacher, who said that it was ok. I said that if we turned in a paper written like that he’d mark it up and give it a D at best. His response was that since the guy made money writing, we couldn’t criticize it. I said malarky, if this was a class about writing properly, we should at least be able to discuss when something isn’t written properly… I actually photocopied the story and “graded” it in red pen and handed it in. He wasn’t amused.

He also marked my final paper a “B” claiming that it wasn’t long enough, when it was over the word count he’d specified by over 200 words. He didn’t change the grade til I had the department head look into it.

My my but I’ve drifted off the topic…

“Cluemobile? You’ve got a pickup…”
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I absolutely loved literature class, at least during the last two years of high school (had awesome teachers!) But I agree, English with a bad teacher is god-awful. I still remember the woman I had for ninth grade, who would introduce EVERY book by telling us how stupid it was. (“Now we’re going to read Catcher in the Rye, which is about a dumb kid who calls everything ‘phony’. And then we’ll read Romeo and Juliet, a play about stupid kids who disobey their parents and end up killing themselves.”) Aarrgh.

Oh, and there IS somebody who actually likes Silas Marner – Ms. Zylka, my tenth-grade English teacher. She was an improvement on the ninth-grade teacher, but not by much …

I’m an English major, so you guys can probably tell where I stand on literature classes. However, I completely agree with the fact that they suck without a good teacher. Luckily, I like to read enough that I can get past a bad teacher and learn just for the sheer joy of it.

I would have loved taking literature class, but the school I went to was ran by rabid fundamentalists, and we weren’t allowed to read “worldly” literature. In sixth grade, my bag was searched for a now-forgotten reason, and with a grim face, my principal pulled out a forbidden copy of Gone With the Wind. Pretty tame stuff, actually, but I faced expulsion. You would have thought I had been caught in a lewd act from the severity of the punishment I faced.

We read “decent and uplifting” books like In His Steps, The Martyr of the Catacombs, The Hiding Place and countless biographies of missionaries among the savages.

In the tenth or eleventh grade, I was handed a copy of Heidi, and told that my report was due on Thursday.

Had I not been the kind of person that wanted to learn, I never would have been exposed to any real literature. I’ve been out of school for about five years now, and I’m making up for lost time. But my friends from school haven’t. They either believe that the books are sinful, and refuse to expose their minds to it, or they just don’t care. It’s kind of sad.

Lisa, I think it’s more than sad…It’s tragic. I’m glad you overcame this experience.

In 10th grade we had to tackle Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury.” Can you imagine that? I thought I was reading the ramblings of a syphillitic monkey.

“The Scarlet Letter” confused the crap out of me to the point where at the end of the book I was under the impression that Rev. Dimmesdale was the “bad guy” and that Dr. Prynne was the hero. It was the exact opposite.

“My hovercraft is full of eels.”

Woohoo! I’m not the only one who hates Faulkner.

“Cluemobile? You’ve got a pickup…”
OpalCat’s site:
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I hate Henry James. I’m still traumatized by the experience.

I prefer rogues to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest.
Alexandre Dumas the Younger (1824-1895)

We never had a literature class in high school, but in English we did have to read several books or excerpts from books and discuss them. I thought it was interesting. Afterwards we got to see the movie based off of the book we read (I loved “The Great Gatsby”).

Here in college this semester, I am enrolled in a World Mythology class. I count it as literature because we are reading things like “The Epic Of Gilgamesh” (Along with Hindu, Norse, Native American, and Celtic mythologies :)). We will have to analyze the readings but the professor is funny, and he makes the two hours go by fast. He’s even made learning about the theories behind myth interesting.

In other words, it’s really all about the teacher/professor. If they’re good they can make boring books at least a little interesting.

My vote for absolute worst lit. book is Moby Dick. I tried everything to get through that stupifying book. Even Cliff notes on it are boring.

Well, I love Faulkner, but no one made me read it in school. What kind of idiot assigns Faulkner in the 10th grade?

In 6th grade, we had a new English teacher (new to teaching, I mean), and she decided that we should read Thomas Hardy. Not the best choice for 12-year olds. She made it so painful, it was YEARS before I could read him again.

Why don’t these people THINK about what they’re doing?! You can turn someone off reading for the rest of their lives by pulling stunts like that!

The Cat In The Hat

In my 4 years of high school I took every English class offered. I loved (still do) to read and write, even diagram. By the last quarter of my senior year my only choice was an elective called Philosophy in Literature. Normally I would have enjoyed such a class, but it seemed that the teacher thought he should be a college professor instead of wasting his time with high schoolers. Though he didn’t quash my desire to read, it was a long time before I was able to enjoy philosophical writings again.

The overwhelming majority of people have more than the average (mean) number of legs. – E. Grebenik

I wince when I read most of these posts since I really like a lot of the books that have been the basis for trauma for many of you. Silas Marner is an old friend and The Scarlet Letter is one of my top three novels of all time. (The others are Pride and Prejudice and Bleak House.) I love Thomas Hardy, like Melville and tolerate Henry James, although I will admit I don’t care for Faulkner.

However, I can’t say I was ever traumatized by a literature class so I didn’t have to overcome the stupidity that some of you suffered. I did take a Humanities class my senior year which was run by two intellectual wannabes (their idea of great art was that dreadful movie, “Billy Jack”!) who ruined my introduction to a lot of great thinkers. I switched back to regular English after the first semester but I still have a hard time putting up with someone acting as an interpreter for someone else’s ideas. In retrospect that’s not a bad thing to learn, but it certainly wasn’t what they set out to teach.

My all-time favorite short story, for all you post-literature-class-stress-disorder sufferers out there – is “The Rocking Horse Winner”, by D. H. Lawrence (the author we wish they would have made us read in literature class!). Here’s a URL to the e-text:

A well-written and touching story, guaranteed to help restore your appreciation for “literature”.

When you’ve finished, write a three-page essay on the meaning of the story. Include references to the author’s use of simile and metaphor. Is this story a fable or merely fantasy? Who is the hero? Who is the villain? Have you ever had a similar experience? What is the theme of the story? What is the moral?
Use ink. Do not make big, blotchy cross-outs. Just draw a line through the incorrect word(s) and continue. Hand it in by Friday. For every day you are late I will deduct 20 points.


“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham

Try this link instead –

Just like in your real literature class – just because I screwed up you don’t get any more time on your assignment.


“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham