The Literary Blog Hop is a fortnightly event held at The Blue Bookcase prompting book bloggers to answer a question.
Discuss a work of literary merit that you hated when you were made to read it in school or university? Why did you dislike it?
This question brought me a bit of a surprise: I can’t remember most of the books I studied in school!
I remember very clearly the three books I studied one year and that is because the teacher was the best I ever had. The three books we studied that year were: Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo, Le Pigeon by Patrick Suskind and La Fée Carabine by Daniel Pennac. I loved La Fée Carabine. I liked Notre-Dame de Paris; it was a difficult read, but worth it, and our teacher was intelligent enough to beg us to skip the third chapter, which is a detailed description of the cathedral. I did not like Le Pigeon, simply because I found it boring; however, I remember it created a good discussion in the classroom. Those books are different and I remember our teacher made us think about them and discuss them, rather than just providing us with her analysis. If all my teachers had been like her, I would have had a much better experience of literary studies at school.
As for the other years, my memories have faded. Is it because I did not like the books and blocked them out? I have a vague memory of reading Manon Lescaut by l’Abbé Prévost and Le Rouge et le Noir by Stendhal. If I remember well, my feelings were mixed about both. I also remember studying Les Fleurs du Mal by Baudelaire. I like reading it, but was never really good at analysing poems. Unfortunately, the text I had to present at my French oral for the baccalauréat was one of them: “A une passante”. It was a disaster and I left the room in tears.
My memories of university reads (in France) are much more vivid and generally good. I loved discovering all those new books and I guess the way of teaching was really different. This is how I discovered Austen’s Emma, Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Plath’s The Bell Jar (what a revelation it was!). Of course, these were a bit difficult to read at first as English was not my first language, but I easily got into the stories.
Now, Shakespeare was a different matter altogether! The first year I read two of his plays (Macbeth and ?), I did not like them at all. In fact, I hated them. The language was difficult and I could not connect with the stories. These plays meant nothing to me. I failed the module. Second year, I had a different lecturer and she put a whole new perspective onto Shakespeare. She explained the context and helped us to read and analyse the plays. That year, we studied Macbeth and Richard III, and I really enjoyed them. I will always be thankful to this lecturer. I have actually had the occasion to talk to her again lately and told her the impact she had on my literary studies.