An International Student of Literature in England.
Hey everyone! Week 12 could also be renamed “The week of mental collapse” or “Week of neurone death”.
I’m so sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while. Like Week 7, which I talked about here, week 12 was deadline week! “Deadline” has become a scary word now… My last two weeks of university were insane and I didn’t expect that! I thought I was mentally prepared and started well in advance to have as much time as I needed, but it didn’t go smoothly. I had three essays to work on, so I did a lot of research, stressed too much, had trouble coming up with ideas and then I ran out of time. I just realised I didn’t mention those essays in my last posts so here we go!
My Reading Translations essay was the first one I worked on because I was excited about it and had tons of ideas. I had to pick a novel (as long as it was in a foreign language) : I chose a famous French one, L’Etranger (1942) by Albert Camus. I’d studied it a few years ago in Sixth Form and loved it. It was also an easy one to work on due to the use of short sentences and easy language. Then I picked several English translations, wrote an essay about translation differences and the effects produced! That one was so much fun to write: I found four translations from various eras and they were all so different! I never thought that such an easy and factual novel would cause so many translation issues.
For instance, the first translator (Stuart Gilbert) changed so many elements, that’s crazy! How could this be published? It was actually fun to criticize him and to find critics who hated him too. I’d definitely recommend L’Etranger, it’s an interesting novel from a philosophical/psychological point of view (but don’t worry, it’s really simple and easy to understand) but NEVER EVER read Gilbert’s translation! Instead, I’d pick the latest version (2012), by Smith, or just learn French. Anyway, since my essay was relatively short (1750 words), I mostly focused on religion, the translation of the title and of “maman” (mummy) and finished with Gilbert’s awful “translation”. By the way, if anybody knows a good synonym for “translation”, let me know because I used that word at least 50 times in my essay and in this blog post.
For my second essay, Reading Texts, the teacher gave us twelve different questions and we could either work on The History Boys (Bennett), The Hiding Place (Azzopardi) or both. The question I picked was “Why does art dwell on suffering?” but I didn’t have much to say about it. My tutor helped me so much though, I went to discuss my essay with him three times or so. I absolutely hated The History Boys (I could write an essay on how much I hated it) so I really wanted to work on the other amazing novel – which I wrote about here. Although he suggested that I should write about war, I eventually came up with a much better plan: Desire and problematic sexuality in The History Boys and The Hiding Place! I was just so proud. It took a while for me to find solid ideas but I’m glad with this essay now.
However for the last essay, for Literature in History, it was a catastrophe. I don’t even know what happened. I wrote about Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell (a good novel!) but ran out of time and had to finish the essay very quickly. I’m not happy with it at all but now it’s too late. At least I had something to hand in and won’t have zero, I guess.
Those weeks were extremely stressful and it was made worse by the fact that the holidays were only a few days away. Now I’d all done and I’m back in France for Christmas! If you’re bored during the holidays, please read The History Boys and let me know how on earth someone could like this play. If you’re too lazy and decide to watch the movie, it’s as bad.