Tag Archive for A level

Re-Reading Waterland

How does our understanding of a novel shift over time?I first read Graham Swift’s Waterland as a university fresher. Twenty-five years later, I’ve recently re-read the novel as I prepare to teach it to a group of A level students. Reading the novel afresh has been an interesting exercise in how we read and how…

A Scottish ‘Ulysses’?

Lanark by Alasdair Gray

Alasdair Gray’s novel ‘Lanark’ is an astonishing achievement, and well worth the huge time investment to read it… This will be a long post, but then Alasdair Gray’s Lanark is, like James Joyce’s Ulysses, a very long and exceptionally complex novel. But it’s worth the effort. Gray famously took thirty years to write Lanark; it took me almost as many to…

Beyond ‘the fever and the fret’

Review of John Keats: A New Life by Nicholas RoeThe Hebrides are one of the wildest landscapes in the British Isles. Even today, reaching them from the mainland is no small endeavour. Battered by the wind and waves of the mighty Atlantic, their beauty is often in the bleak and the rugged, while their history…

Reasons to Study English Literature: Our Spiritual Quest

Geneva Bible

The second in an occasional series for A level students which this time takes a very personal angle on the nature of literary study. Readers of Mister Pip will appreciate the transcendent power of literature: on a war torn Pacific island, the Victorian novel Great Expectations transforms a young girl. It’s a powerful illustration of how story crosses…