World Literature : Reflections
(a recap of the semester and works I had not yet blogged about)
            I had originally intended on creating several vlogs to finish up my blogging for the year, but I decided one long, reflection blog on the semester and the literary works we covered would be better. I discovered I not only have issues speaking in public, but speaking in front of a camera as well.

            I am not  exaggerating when I say this has been one of the most fun courses I’ve ever had the opportunity to take. It has really opened my eyes to a wider variety of literature than I was used to. Before I took this class, I considered myself a well-read person. I was proven wrong.

            Beginning with the twentieth century literary works, my favorites were Lu Xun’s Diary of a Madman, Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. These were the works I connected to most easily of the twentieth century section; it doesn’t mean I necessarily disliked the other works. I wasn’t terribly fond of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, but I believe it is a necessity in a world literature course. I think I just got lost in the descriptions rather than the story itself.

            The works from the nineteenth century were actually easier for me to relate to than many of the twentieth century works. I’m not sure why this is, but I felt like the stories were more similar to the type of books I read for fun. My favorite piece from the nineteenth century section was The Queen of Spades. It had me invested in the characters from the very first page, something that doesn’t occur that often when I read. I often find characters to be a bit flat, especially in works I am required to read for class. Well, perhaps I shouldn’t say that. To me, there is nothing better in a story than a complex yet real character. Good characters can turn an average plot into something great. I felt like Pushkin definitely accomplished this in his story. The plot wasn’t terribly complex, but it was so well-written that it didn’t matter. Another author that I really felt accomplished this was Chinua Achebe. Okonkwo, though I didn’t like him much, was such a dynamic character I couldn’t help but love him. Faust (by Goethe), on the other hand, demonstrates the exact opposite kind of reader-writer relationship. The plot – the classic story of good and evil – was far more intriguing than the characters, Faust in particular. Though a bit predictable, the plot was well-developed and never dull. Faust was a popular topic in the group I met with for lunch every day after class. Thanks to them, now I can only imagine Adam Lambert of all people as Mephistopheles, but I can’t say I disagree with that idea and that’s beside the point.

            Tartuffe…how do I even begin to describe Moliere’s Tartuffe, which may just be one of the funniest pieces I’ve ever read? This piece is hilarious because it can apply to situations in modern life as well (like so many other works). Tartuffe is brilliantly satirical, and I would recommend it to anyone. I don’t think it’s a piece that needs to be exclusive to literature students. I think everyone should read it. If nothing else, it’s great for a good laugh!

            This brings me to a bit of a nerdy connection I made with Wu Ch’eng-En’s Monkey. I simply could not get the movie The Forbidden Kingdom out of my mind! Even though Monkey is depicted as a powerful, slightly more serious warrior in this original story, he was depicted as wacky and bizarre in The Forbidden Kingdom. I also noticed a pattern that can be traced back to Monkey or the Monkey King. At least half of staff-wielding characters in video games or anime are strongly influenced in their design by the Monkey King. The Monkey King – though not directly stated as such – often makes appearances as an unnamed character in anime, especially one that has spiritual symbolism. As a martial artist myself, it may not be so strange that I noticed this, but I am blushing right now because I know such nerdy statements ought to stay in my head rather than being published. However, I feel the need to make this connection. I am certainly not the first to notice this and I don’t claim to be. Many martial arts styles, especially Chinese martial arts, are strongly influenced by animals. For example – the tiger, crane, and snake are often mimicked in various styles, as well as other animals.

            The history behind a story can really affect its meaning to readers. For example, without the rich history of the Maya culture and how the Spanish burned their books, Popol Vuh is, to put simply, not your average creation story. Not that any creation story is average, of course, but this one seems more rare because of it was orally passed down rather than a written work. It was interesting to me that the Maya creation story was similar to other stories of creation.

            This class has helped me to not only improve my literary knowledge and writing skills. In this class I have made new friends; I’ve learned more about myself than I would have ever thought possible. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. I wish I had this class to look forward to next semester.

            Also,

            because I made such incredibly (SHAMEFULLY) nerdy pop culture references, I feel the need to at least provide some explanation behind them.

The Forbidden Kingdom movie trailer :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e66Og0lOCcE  The staff the boy is wielding belongs to the Monkey King. =)

A character influenced by the Monkey King :

http://i-d.animepaper.net/thumbnails/preview/221733/1/[animepaper.net]picture-standard-anime-soul-calibur-xiba-render-soul-calibur-5-221733-ashoka-preview-dde4e450.jpg This is Xiba, a newcomer in Soul Calibur V. He replaced Kilik (MY FAVORITE!) as the staff-wielding character while Kilik (my favorite) took on the role of one of the game’s edge master’s. Xiba’s moveset is very Monkey King while Kilik’s was more solid and traditional (which I prefer, though I like Xiba too).

The “Monkey King” also makes an appearance, though brief (only shown for a few seconds in one or two episodes) in the Spirit World in Avatar : the Last Airbender. I know he is shown in the same episode as Koh (book one), but I can’t remember if he appears in any other episodes. It was never directly stated that he was the Monkey King, but that connection can definitely be made.

Mephistopheles as “portrayed by Adam Lambert” (according to Sacha) : http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/18600000/Adam-Lambert-adam-lambert-18674264-439-524.jpg  Considering Adam was on Broadway for years, I don’t doubt he could pull off the role. Plus he’s just so…Mephistopheles.

Examples of Chinese martial arts :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEFTdGTQ-bU Crane style is put to the test!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQsNgQPGgfo  This is known as Hung Gar style, which is also known as “Tiger Crane” style kung fu. For ATLA fans, yes, this is earthbending. Sorry about the cheesy sound effects. I didn’t create this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkbm-H1w4mE A Monkey style kung fu form.

            I feel that, to some extent at least, everything can be compared to classic/World Literature. I certainly don’t think that’s a bad thing, but unfortunately I believe it gives a lot of students a been-there-done-that attitude when it comes to reading. Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night? Students have probably seen She’s the Man. The Duke of Orsino IS NOT Duke Orsino. As far as I know, Malvolio in Shakespeare’s work was NOT a tarantula. (I’ll admit, I quite liked that tarantula). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OhwrMidSU Here is a link to the movie trailer. I LOVE this movie, but feel that the classic should still be read. The same can be said with 10 Things I Hate About You. It is not the same as The Taming of the Shrew.

            As a person who loves movies, there are some pieces in our World Literature anthology that I would love to see be made into movies. I wouldn’t want to see modern remakes, but I would like to see movies that stay true to the story’s form. (I’m sorry if some of these have already been made. If that is the case, I’m not aware of the existence of the movie). Queen of Spades, Things Fall Apart, Tartuffe, Faust, The Cherry Orchard (by Chekov), and several others would make interesting films if done correctly. I think it would be really interesting and give audiences a fresh new style of cinema that I believe they are so desperately craving.

            I wish I were taking this class again. If there’s one book I’m keeping from my freshman year at college, it’s my World Literature anthology. There are too many good works of literature in it. But there are far more great memories.




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