Thursday, February 26, 2009

Let Us Compare Mythologies

Like all book-lovers, and I think a fair amount of those who aren't even *that* bookish, I am certain my lens on the world is distinctly tinted by what I read when I was young. What I read now, too, but in those impressionable years I do think I internalized stories more thoroughly than perhaps I do now in my older jaded years. I feel those books formed my internal mythology.

Naively, perhaps, I assumed that school-inflicted part of this lens was semi-universal; that many if not most of the books I read in school were on syllabi all over the country. But then I asked around my friends of like age and station...and *no one* had read what I read in school. Did I go to a mutant school? I find it so odd to think that I read the world in the light of *Antigone* and most don't.

So here is a list of all that I can remember reading in high school. I think some of the years are off, as there is more in some than others, but it's a good approximation. The starred items are book-report books, chosen off a list of 3-4 (I don't think we ever had free choice). I would love to see other people's lists, if you feel like posting'em somewhere or in the comments or sending them to me. I'm once again really curious about something minor and irrelevant.

English Course Requirements, Wentworth County, Middle Nineties

Grade 9 English, Enriched

--Selection of Greek and Roman mythology (plus excerpts of The Iliad
--Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
--Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
--Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut*

Grade 10 English, Enriched
--A short story collection about multiculturalism--the only story I remember being A Class of New Canadians by Clark Blaise
--Obasan by Joy Kogowa
--Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
--A selection of ballads--the only ballad I remember being The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson
--The Diviners by Margeret Laurence*

Grade 11 English, Enriched
--Everyman, a medieval morality play and my pick for most-hated high-school text
--The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
--a selection of sonnets, the only sonnets I remember being Shakespeare's love sonnets
--Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw (I remember nothing about this play)
--Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Grade 12 English, Advanced
--The Oedipus Plays by Sophocles--we read all three, but only studied Antigone in-depth
--The Tempest by William Shakespeare
--Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
--something else that I am forgetting

OAC English
--Hamlet by William Shakespeare
--Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (my pick for most-loved high-school text)
--The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood*
--The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence

Never, sadly, anything by Leonard Cohen, whose work I didn't read until university (and never the title work of this post, actually). But I sure did like the songs when I was a teenager!

There's music on Clinton Street all the through the evening


Ransermo said...

I'm afraid I don't remember all I read in high school (and I was in school pre-google so I can't even find the reading list from my school.) But here is what read.

Grade Nine (Advanced)
Who has seen the Wind
Taming of the Shrew
collection of short stories
collection of poetry

Grade Ten (Advanced)
Merchant of Venice
The Great Gatsby
The Glass Menagerie
collection of short stories
collection of poetry

Grade Eleven (Advanced)
Lord of the Flies
Fahrenhit 451
Romeo & Juliet
collection of short stories
collection of poetry

Grade Twelve (Advanced)
Stone Angel
Wuthering Heights
collection of short stories
collection of poetry

collection of short stories
collection of poetry

My ICU was on Arthurian legend so I read Mist of Avalon, Once and Future King, and Morte d'Arthur

What is missing is the different volume of Canadian short stories and volume of poetry we read each year. Sadly none of them our memorable now, excep the short story the firing squad.

Rebecca Rosenblum said...

This is fascinating--you did riskier Shakespeare (the anti/feminist play, the anti/semetic play, and way more 20th century stuff. I would've loved to study Glass Menagerie in school. I read it on my own around that time--would've made more sense if I'd had a little context!

AMT said...

well, i apparently do not have your gift of memory, but here are things i read in highschool:

romeo and juliet
merchant of venice
possibly othello... and one other shakespeare i am forgetting

great gatsby
lord of the flies
the grapes of wrath
the prince of tides
the handmaid's tale
the edible woman
a separate peace
watership down
tess of the d'ubervilles
the french lieutenant's woman
the woman in white (!!)

... and certainly collections of short stories. often canadian, i think. often terrible. oh -- except that i am pretty sure we read some alice munro stories.

i don't remember what was required and what was my choice from a set of choices... or which ones go with which years (apart from the shakespeares, which match up as they overlap with your previous commenter...)

man, now i have to go put on a flannel shirt and listen to nirvana for a while.

Ransermo said...

Although I don't remember the names of the short story collections, they were largely 20th century as well. I think there was some O Henry in there and a couple Canadian authors (this was before the salon to refuse, so they must have been the canadian old guard).

Yes, we had to talk at length about the "risky" nature of the plays. I don't recall the details, but I remember my class convinced that men that can't recoginze their girlfriends might not be worth saving and that Juliet could have done much better. :)

Ransermo said...

I didn't listen to Nirvana until 2003. In high school I was listening to Pet Shop Boys and early Euro techno (man I was nerd)

Rebecca Rosenblum said...

Fascinating! Nothing like other people's reading lists to make feel illiterate. I didn't even know that *Prince of Tides* was a book; I just thought it was a movie I haven't seen.

It is starting to appear that no school besides mine relied so heavily on materials more than 1000 years old. Odd!