what's the "Great American Novel"?


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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Pego » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:49 pm

What's wrong with people discovering literature on their own? There is only so much TOE's can assign. By the time I graduated from high school, assigned books were a small fraction of all the books I had read.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby kuha » Sun Jul 24, 2011 1:15 pm

Pego wrote:What's wrong with people discovering literature on their own? There is only so much TOE's can assign. By the time I graduated from high school, assigned books were a small fraction of all the books I had read.


Nothing wrong with that at all. In my mind, THE central goal of HS is to give students the impetus to be lifelong readers & learners. Assigning books is just part of that process--to get them (hopefully) used to reading and excited about the opportunities that are right at hand.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Marlow » Sun Jul 24, 2011 1:55 pm

kuha wrote:
Pego wrote:What's wrong with people discovering literature on their own? There is only so much TOE's can assign. By the time I graduated from high school, assigned books were a small fraction of all the books I had read.

Nothing wrong with that at all. In my mind, THE central goal of HS is to give students the impetus to be lifelong readers & learners. Assigning books is just part of that process--to get them (hopefully) used to reading and excited about the opportunities that are right at hand.

Zackly x 2. :D
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby muckin 4on » Sun Jul 24, 2011 2:35 pm

lonewolf wrote:
Loggins wrote:*Edit* I almost forgot Truman Capotes In Cold Blood. .

Scuse an old man if I have mentioned this before. No glory to me but this reminds me that I was drilling an oil well about a mile from the Clutter farmhouse when the murders occured.

Run Forrest, run.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby TrakFan » Sun Jul 24, 2011 2:38 pm

Pego wrote:What's wrong with people discovering literature on their own?


We can't lament the state of the American education system (current thread in this forum), and then leave it to chance for some to discover literature on their own; especially when books in the home/public library use is virtually non-existent for a number of students.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Marlow » Sun Jul 24, 2011 3:11 pm

TrakFan wrote:We can't lament the state of the American education system (current thread in this forum), and then leave it to chance for some to discover literature on their own; especially when books in the home/public library use is virtually non-existent for a number of students.

One of my first acts as English dept head was to restablish a viable Summer Reading program at our school. It had devolved into a 'read-what-ya-feel-like-reading' and one guess what happened next? Now we're back to 'classics' (juniors - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) with an interesting 'creative writing' assignment the first week that would separate the readers from the SparkNoters (or Wiki-ers) or movie-watchers.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Pego » Sun Jul 24, 2011 4:19 pm

TrakFan wrote:books in the home/public library use is virtually non-existent for a number of students


...and there is the root of ignorance. Education of every human should start at home.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Daisy » Sun Jul 24, 2011 4:41 pm

TrakFan wrote:especially when books in the home/public library use is virtually non-existent for a number of students.

I think most books are for show now. Worst case scenario. I went to a McDonald's and was interested to see they had a book shelf. I went over to look at what they had and was disgusted to find that it was a shallow book shelf and they had guillotined old books in half so they could fit onto the shelf. Then they had stapled them into place so people did not disturb the 'carefree look' of the books on the shelf.

Marlow wrote:One of my first acts as English dept head was to restablish a viable Summer Reading program at our school.

We had a very comprehensive summer reading list from the school at the end of semesters. Definitely a read what you're interested in approach. But it is a good starting point (4th grader) since I don't know all the things that are out there.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Vince » Sun Jul 24, 2011 8:24 pm

Would Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" be considered American or Russian? Either way, it was excellent.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby bman » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:58 am

Marlow wrote:
TrakFan wrote:We can't lament the state of the American education system (current thread in this forum), and then leave it to chance for some to discover literature on their own; especially when books in the home/public library use is virtually non-existent for a number of students.

One of my first acts as English dept head was to restablish a viable Summer Reading program at our school. It had devolved into a 'read-what-ya-feel-like-reading' and one guess what happened next? Now we're back to 'classics' (juniors - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) with an interesting 'creative writing' assignment the first week that would separate the readers from the SparkNoters (or Wiki-ers) or movie-watchers.


I don't agree with the premise here. I really don't think classics are the way to go in high school. Yes, the types of people who set the agenda like these books but really it doesn't hit the kids the way it could in my opinion. Yes Marlow Heart of Darkness is a great book but when we read it senior year it flew way over our heads, and it only really taught us how to find out the "meaning" through asking other people and looking on the internet. There are plenty of fantastic contemporary books that could teach the same concepts, and be way easier to get in to. I think the 'cult', for lack of a better word, of these same books gets passed down from one generation of intellectuals to another, and its not really based on objective criteria but rather just tradition.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Marlow » Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:35 am

bman wrote:Heart of Darkness is a great book but when we read it senior year it flew way over our heads

Ah yes, but you didn't have ME as a teacher! :wink: Seriously though, my students love it for its exploration of institutional and personal 'imperialism', esp. in conjunction with Apocalypse Now.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby lonewolf » Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:26 am

The only thing I remember reading in HS English was Chaucers CanterburyTales.. don't know if that is a classic. It was/is so indecipherable in Olde English we hardly recognized the risque tales.
I don't remember that we had any books at home. My earliest reading recollection is of devouring the pulp detective/crime and western magazines stacked in my grandparents cool storm/preserve cellar in those hot un-airconditioned days in the 30s.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Marlow » Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:17 pm

lonewolf wrote:The only thing I remember reading in HS English was Chaucers CanterburyTales.. don't know if that is a classic. It was/is so indecipherable in Olde English we hardly recognized the risque tales.

Here ya go!
http://www.librarius.com/canttran/genpr ... 01-042.htm

N.B. It's called 'Middle English' and yes, it's a classic.
Thus endeth today's TOE lesson. :D
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Pego » Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:11 pm

Marlow wrote:
lonewolf wrote:The only thing I remember reading in HS English was Chaucers CanterburyTales.. don't know if that is a classic. It was/is so indecipherable in Olde English we hardly recognized the risque tales.

Here ya go!
http://www.librarius.com/canttran/genpr ... 01-042.htm

N.B. It's called 'Middle English' and yes, it's a classic.
Thus endeth today's TOE lesson. :D


In "A distant mirror", Barbara Tuchman quotes Chaucer in his original 14th century English. I had to work hard to discern at least a gist of what was being said. Even that was probably wrong, lol.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby lonewolf » Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:28 pm

If Chaucer is Middle English, Old English must be more difficult than German. As I recall Miss Bright, our "old maid" English teacher, who must have been in her late 30s, made us figure it out as best we could without the "translation". That Wife of Bath was a character, huh?

BTW, Miss Bright was at our 50th class reunion (12 years ago) looking about the same, knew everyones name and was delighted that I had fulfilled her prediction by becoming an author and publisher.
(I did not disillusion her by admitting that I had not written The Great American Novel, that my authorship was limited to technical and geological treatises, publishing was an accidental hormonally motivated sideline and that in real life I was a Petroleum Geologist..among other things)
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Marlow » Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:51 pm

lonewolf wrote:If Chaucer is Middle English, Old English must be more difficult than German.

Old English is actually Anglo-Saxon, very close to Old German (but distinct).

lonewolf wrote:publishing was an accidental hormonally motivated sideline

Sigh . . . Isn't that the reason we do so many things in our youth?! :wink:
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby lonewolf » Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:02 pm

Marlow wrote:[
lonewolf wrote:publishing was an accidental hormonally motivated sideline

Sigh . . . Isn't that the reason we do so many things in our youth?! :wink:

Sigh... yeah, I was a youthful 59 years old when I got into publishing. :)
What? 59 year olds don't have hormones? Why do you think they are called sexagenerian?
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Marlow » Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:23 pm

lonewolf wrote:Sigh... yeah, I was a youthful 59 years old when I got into publishing. :)
What? 59 year olds don't have hormones? Why do you think they are called sexagenerian?

You were 59??!! :lol: :lol: :lol: Yer killing me!!
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby lonewolf » Tue Jul 26, 2011 10:30 pm

Marlow wrote:
lonewolf wrote:Sigh... yeah, I was a youthful 59 years old when I got into publishing. :)
What? 59 year olds don't have hormones? Why do you think they are called sexagenerian?

You were 59??!! :lol: :lol: :lol: Yer killing me!!

The punchline will finish you off.
The object of my fascination, who probably correctly deemed our June-September age disparity too great for happily-ever-aftering, is turning 59 in October.. still looks 39 and wondering why she feels 29.
But, it is OK. The publishing venture made her rich. She went from a Santa Monica condo to a 10 acre Malibu horse ranch........ and we are still good friends.
She says don't give up; in another 20 years the age difference won't matter. :)
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Marlow » Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:30 am

lonewolf wrote:The object of my fascination, who probably correctly deemed our June-September age disparity too great for happily-ever-aftering, is turning 59 in October.. still looks 39 and wondering why she feels 29.
But, it is OK. The publishing venture made her rich. She went from a Santa Monica condo to a 10 acre Malibu horse ranch........ and we are still good friends.
She says don't give up; in another 20 years the age difference won't matter. :)

Run, do not walk, to the movie theater this Friday and see the movie, Crazy, Stupid, Love. It's about this sort of thing. The wife and I found it VERY good. Might give you an idea. :wink:
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby lonewolf » Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:32 am

Marlow wrote:[ It's about this sort of thing. The wife and I found it VERY good. Might give you an idea. :wink:

Oh, I have the ideas. The problem is in implementing them. :)
But, I'll try to give it a look..if grandson doesn't have a basketball game.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Marlow » Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:40 am

lonewolf wrote:The problem is in implementing them.

Not to worry. The movie covers this aspect of the enterprise also.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby lonewolf » Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:44 am

Marlow wrote:
lonewolf wrote:The problem is in implementing them.

Not to worry. The movie covers this aspect of the enterprise also.

Thank you, Yenta. :)
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Marlow » Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:34 am

lonewolf wrote:
Marlow wrote:
lonewolf wrote:The problem is in implementing them.

Not to worry. The movie covers this aspect of the enterprise also.

Thank you, Yenta. :)

Meh, be a mensch and see the movie already.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby MOT » Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:10 pm

Yenta? Mensch? What's with you goys? :)
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby lonewolf » Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:52 pm

It all makes sense. You have to read the build up. :)
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby lonewolf » Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:36 pm

Marlow wrote:
lonewolf wrote:The object of my fascination, who probably correctly deemed our June-September age disparity too great for happily-ever-aftering, She says don't give up; in another 20 years the age difference won't matter. :)

Run, do not walk, to the movie theater this Friday and see the movie, Crazy, Stupid, Love. It's about this sort of thing. The wife and I found it VERY good. Might give you an idea. :wink:

Squeezed this movie (film?) in before basketball (W 39-24) tonight. Can't decide whether I enjoyed/liked it or not. I don't know what genre this movie is supposed to be but it is not a comedy.
In some respects, for some people, it is a sobering/sad movie.
Watched closely for parallels to my no longer dilema. I'm assuming the "never give up" mantra is what you were referring to but, alas, or maybe thankfully, that ship has sailed.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Marlow » Sat Jul 30, 2011 6:33 am

lonewolf wrote:Watched closely for parallels to my no longer dilema. I'm assuming the "never give up" mantra is what you were referring to but, alas, or maybe thankfully, that ship has sailed.

The lesson was 'it's never too late!' The ship may have sailed, but go rent a speed boat to catch up with it!!!! :D
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby lonewolf » Sat Jul 30, 2011 9:08 am

Marlow wrote:
lonewolf wrote:Watched closely for parallels to my no longer dilema. I'm assuming the "never give up" mantra is what you were referring to but, alas, or maybe thankfully, that ship has sailed.

The lesson was 'it's never too late!' The ship may have sailed, but go rent a speed boat to catch up with it!!!! :D

Bad news: That ship has a newfirst mate. :(
Good news: I've changed my mind. :)
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Marlow » Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:18 am

lonewolf wrote:Bad news: That ship has a newfirst mate. :(
Good news: I've changed my mind. :)

Oh . . . Ahoy, matie, set sail on a NEW ship! :wink:
[and do NOT say you're too old to break in a new boat!!!!]
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby lonewolf » Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:49 pm

Marlow wrote:[Oh . . . Ahoy, matie, set sail on a NEW ship! :wink:
[and do NOT say you're too old to break in a new boat!!!!]

You left out the more appropriate cliche about "when you get bucked off, get back on the horse.", an adage instilled in me by my father and grandfather back when I actually rode and broke horses and got bucked off.

The problem with that cliche is, whereas, once upon a time, I could simply grab the mane and jump onto the horse's bare back, now, unless the horse is saddled and someone is handy to help me get a foot in the stirrup, I have to coax the horse up next to the fence to mount. :)
Compounding the problem, If the horse is trained for left side mount, I would have to put my left foot in the stirrup and my damn left tin knee will not flex that mucn. :x
And, sadly, once in the saddle, it is more difficult to maintain my equilibrium than it was fifty-sixty years ago.:)
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Marlow » Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:54 pm

lonewolf wrote:once upon a time, I could simply . . . .[a bunch of whiny-ass excuses about growing old]

Cry me a river, you big wuss! Get yer buckin' butt back on the damn bronco and RIDE.
You know how to ride, don't ya, Steve? (. . . uh, I mean, Bill) Just put your legs together and . . .
8-)
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby lonewolf » Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:59 pm

Marlow wrote:
lonewolf wrote:once upon a time, I could simply . . . .[a bunch of whiny-ass excuses about growing old]

Cry me a river, you big wuss! Get yer buckin' butt back on the damn bronco and RIDE.
You know how to ride, don't ya, Steve? (. . . uh, I mean, Bill) Just put your legs together and . . .
8-)

Wha....? you ride side-saddle? :P
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Halfmiler2 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:15 pm

Marlow wrote:
lonewolf wrote:If Chaucer is Middle English, Old English must be more difficult than German.

Old English is actually Anglo-Saxon, very close to Old German (but distinct).



Old English pre-dates the Norman Conquest in 1066 and thus contains none of the French influence that Modern English contains - a reason why Modern English has so many synonyms. I once looked at an excerpt of Beowulf in the original Old English and I might as well been looking at ancient Greek.

Middle English in Chaucer's time had enough of the French roots (as well as the Anglo-Saxon Germanic roots) that it is at least intelligible to someone raised on Modern English - but barely.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Giant Panda » Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:11 am

The "Rabbit Angstrom" quartet by John Updike?
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Marlow » Tue May 14, 2013 2:42 pm

So I actually liked the new Great Gatsby movie, cuz the director knew he couldn't do justice to the book, so he stylized it into a caricature of the glitz and flash of the Roaring 20s and asked DiCaprio to play it over the top, which he did. Great fun.
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Per Andersen » Tue May 14, 2013 9:43 pm

Marlow wrote:So I actually liked the new Great Gatsby movie, cuz the director knew he couldn't do justice to the book, so he stylized it into a caricature of the glitz and flash of the Roaring 20s and asked DiCaprio to play it over the top, which he did. Great fun.

All glitz and flash is not Gatsby though. Where's the darkness and the futile American dream of Jay Gatz?
I read that book every 5 years or so and it's close to perfect.
How about that ending? "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past"
There are great American novels and another great one starts like this: "I am an American, Chicago born -Chicago, that somber city"
Who wrote that?
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby lonewolf » Tue May 14, 2013 10:22 pm

Studs Lonigan????? My early Alzheimers is acting up this morning. :)
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby Marlow » Wed May 15, 2013 4:19 am

Per Andersen wrote:
Marlow wrote:So I actually liked the new Great Gatsby movie, cuz the director knew he couldn't do justice to the book, so he stylized it into a caricature of the glitz and flash of the Roaring 20s and asked DiCaprio to play it over the top, which he did. Great fun.

All glitz and flash is not Gatsby though. Where's the darkness and the futile American dream of Jay Gatz?
I read that book every 5 years or so and it's close to perfect.
How about that ending? "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past"
There are great American novels and another great one starts like this: "I am an American, Chicago born -Chicago, that somber city"
Who wrote that?

Saul Bellows' Augie March.
As I said, no movie can encompass the whole book, so you just have to focus on one or two aspects,
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Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?

Postby bambam » Thu May 16, 2013 12:04 pm

Per Andersen wrote:How about that ending? "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past"


Best closing line of any book I've ever read.
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