a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Reading the Brits

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Reading the Brits

SUMMARY: Flashback to Cal Berkeley Brit Lit class
Started by my response to someone's post on FB.

I took British Literature 1900-1945 to start my junior year at Berkeley. Because I love reading. Holy moly what a miserable set of books. I think I have finally physically expunged most from my life, long after I expunged them from the gray matter in my head. Could barely remember anything about them even after I forced my way through for the class, let alone all these eons later.  ... I did pull out a B+ but probably mostly because I could write. 

Oh--I do still have these from the class! 

Kept because it's poetry. I like poetry.

Ulysses: Kept because it'll be here when someone says they haven't read it
and I can say, "try it. Just...try it."
Not sure why I have the Ford book. Maybe I actually liked it? Must reread.

In recent stages of my ongoing adulting, I have wondered whether I'd have a different perspective on them now.  Possibly so. I wonder because Lord of the Rings was popular in my family home and The Hobbit was a good read but I tried and tried to read the first of the trilogy, bogged down, and surrendered the effort. I tried one more time in my mid-20s, possibly, determined to eventually get through it, because: classic,  and, wow: Love happened! Something switched on in my brain that my younger self couldn't yet process. 

Class books were--hmm, I have very little idea any more:

  • Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf).
  • something by... (C.S. Forester?)
  • Ulysses OMG what a waste of paper.
  • Probably George Eliot... something.
  • The Good Soldier (Ford Madox Ford).
  • I think about 6 books total.

I wonder whether I still have a syllabus somewhere? Hmm.

[...2 hours later...]

Wow! Found it! So, the books I owned [and, yes, read] at one point:

  • Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf)
  • Ulysses OMG what a waste of paper
  • The Good Soldier (Ford Madox Ford)
  • The Secret Agent (Conrad)
  • Sons and Lovers (Lawrence)
  • Selected Poems (Lawrence)
  • A College Book of Modern Verse:
    • Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (Pound)
    • The Waste Land (Eliot)
    • See TOC photos below for other specific readings
    • BTW, I shekled out $10.95 for this book! I just about died! Outrageously expensive! Currently, Amazon says: 1 used from $12.95  1 collectible from $24.95

Check it ouuuuuuut, duuude. Or not.  (I might reread the poetry selections, no idea whether I enjoyed them more than the novels, but probably did.) 

Have you read any of those novels? Or poems? What do you think?


  1. Oh my. I'm really not good at classic literature and now that I'm an adult I refuse to read anything that doesn't hold me after 100 pages. Which I doubt any of these would. Of course I have friends who would be horrified that I don't like any of these, but ah well....I was a business major so didn't have to take more than one semester of literature and I don't remember it at all.

    1. I was a math/comp sci major and I don't recall whether I was fulfilling a breadth requirement of some sort, but I certainly *thought* I wanted this class. In retrospect, I'm glad I took it--I certainly learned a lot but possibly not what they were trying to convey. I mean, how could I knowledgeably disparage and moan about Ulysses if I had never read it?
      I've also mostly given up on reading things that don't hold me through the first chapter. Too many unread books waiting for me.

  2. I agree too many books waiting. Plus my attention span is about 10 minutes these days.

    1. I try to read when I go to bed. These days, I struggle with that. Too tired. Too wired. Not what I feel like reading but I don't know what I do. Mind drifts off on other topics. Ack.