5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Dr. Chuang Wei Ping
- Publié sur Amazon.com
This hardcover book is a joy to hold in my hands. With a white crystal coated cover, it is best to put a plastic jacket on quickly, as losing the shine of such an expensive book would be distressing. It is actually printed in the USA, mine being the 5th re-print. Nice stitching of the smooth white pages to the spine.
The paucity of references to the actual text means it is not an advanced version of Cliffs Notes. Nor is it a teaching guide for high GPA students. The author assumes you have read the book from front to back and from centre outwards, and invites the reader to savour the context of the book. "Literature in Context" is precisely what it means. Emphasis is on CONTEXT. The cover states clearly that you are going to get "Issues, Sources, and Historic Documents" and this is precisely what you get.
This book is not for those preparing to sit for an examination paper. Arguably, it is a good weapon to have if you have a zealous English Literature teacher throwing projects for you to do. It is more for people who have studied the book, watched the movie, and want to savour more. After all, Harper Lee (like Margaret Mitchell), published only one book (the 1985 work by Harper Lee, "High Romance and Adventure" is not well known). One good book is enough to give you a place in history. So it is for the curious who want to look around for clues to their success. For mature geezers who want to explore the peripherals of "Mockingbird" and more, this is the ultimate companion book.
Chapter 1 deals with two Universal Themes: Insiders vs Outsiders, and the Complexity of the Law as practised. There is a quick canter through (1)voice and language (2)tone (3)time and place of setting (4) characters (5) plot structure and (6) images and symbols.
Chapter 2 from pages 15 to 81 is the Historical Context of the Scottsboro Trials. This invaluable material should not be read by 10th graders because they will be examined on the text proper, and not the Scottsboro trial. The trial chronology, transcripts and judgments make interesting reading for a litigation lawyer. It is quite similar to today's cross-examination in a lower court in that it is just as boring. A quarter of this book devoted to a real trial is too overbearing for a kid preparing to answer some simple questions on Harper Lee's novel. Add Shakespeare, Poetry, Geography, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, etc to the overall academic load, and you can see how reading this chapter is not productive use of limited available study time. At the end of the chapter, for instance, Study Question number 7: In Judge Horton's address, the object of his address is no longer the juror. Who is it? Explain your answer. Q22: If you were on this jury, how would you evaluate Ruby Bates's testimony? Q23: What appears to be the defense attorney's motives and strategy in examining Lester Carter? Q25: Examine Judge Horton's decision with regard to the prosecutor's objections to the defense attorney's questions. Q32: ...illegality of excluding qualified Negroes... According to Atticus Finch in "Mockingbird", what other jury exclusions are being made in Alabama?
The author's barrage of questions after each chapter silences those who take the simplistic view of "what is there to understand in this simple novel?"
It is fine with me, but academic grades are not improved by 10th graders overthinking too much into the text.
Chapter 3 is on the Historical Context of the Civil Rights Movement. Deja Vu for those who lived through this period. Interesting re-cap which takes us over the half way point of the book.
Chapter 4: Realities and Stereotypes (page 137 onwards) is the chapter I enjoyed most. It has excerpts from Texts of the day which are quite comical, reading them in 2009.
Chapter 5: The Issue of Heroism (pages 187-196) are of greatest utility to the 10th grader. There is a 1992 article entitled "Atticus Finch, esq.,RIP, a gentleman but no model for lawyers." I learnt that Atticus Finch was Court appointed, and acted from an elitist sense of noblesse oblige. Atticus did not campaign for change, nor fight for social justice. He just fixed an ad hoc problem. Now this is refreshing.
Chapter 6: Issue of Censorship. This is old material included for completeness' sake. "1984" and "Mockingbird" are now established reading material, but it is a fitting reminder that there were attempts to remove these books, or "de-select" them from libraries and curriculums.
I did a google search myself and found "Mockingbird" to be the 4th most selected 10th grade literature examination book in the USA, after Romeo and Juliet, MacBeth and Midsummer Night's Dream, i.e. most popular prescribed text after Shakespeare. No wonder funny words like "collard" (Southern US vegetable) which cannot be found in the Concise Oxford dictionary, are so familiar to American educated students.
As an elementary learning tool, this book is quite useless compared to all the 15 odd student and teacher guides, and commentaries by Harold Bloom and other luminaries. This work by Claudia Johnson will join my special edition slipcase, half cloth hard cover, jacketed, gold gilded cover, deckle-edged pages of "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my bookshelf. Nothing enhances the reading experience more than a deluxe super-duper copy of the actual text in hand. Then a good back-up companion like Claudia Johnsons work will give psychological assurance that the peripheral issues are covered.
If you are an English Literature teacher, you must get this one, if only because the chance of you having to teach "Mockingbird" in your career is extremely high. Wild rednecks will not pry this book away from my hands, and it is very unlikely anyone will lend you his copy.