Sunday, January 21, 2007

Wide Sargasso Sea

I just re-read Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea, a book that was part of an Am. Lit/Jane Eyre seminar I took last year. Beyond the first 20 pages, I remembered almost nothing of the book, so it was a fascinating re-read, and my head is still spinning from Rhys' maddening representation of madness (clumsy sentence, but the best I've got right now.)

Wide Sargasso Sea tells the backstory of Bertha Mason, how and why she met and married Rochester, and where her madness stems from.

Of interest in the book: jewelry as currency for the women (most of whom are currency themselves) and the fascination with dresses. I'm going to assume these are deliberate connections with Jane Eyre and return to ponder Rhys' focus on this.

Also of interest: employer/employee relationships. Lines are muddled all over the place re: who is in control when. This fits really well with Mr. Rochester's relationship with Jane in Brontë's novel.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

From Reader To Writer

While picking up texts at the university bookstore earlier this month, I couldn't help but scan through the required readings for other courses. One book in particular caught my eye. Unable to take a course on how to teach children's literature, because I already I have a full-year kid-lit course as part of my undergrad degree, I was still intrigued by one of the readings for the class: From Reader To Writer: Teaching Writing Through Classic Children's Books by Sarah Ellis.

This is a short book that focuses on how some of the most loved and well known books of children's literature can be used as examples of particular writing styles and strategies. Most of my favourites, including C.S. Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, Katherine Paterson, Jean Little, Tolkein, Lewis Carroll get a full chapter devoted to their work.

Ellis does a good job of providing some interesting background trivia that will help engage students in the literature and suggests texts for various grade levels (most are junior and up). She also suggests complementary writing activities and exercises that can be done as a class. A decent teacher resource.