Comparative Literature #
When looking at two or more forms of narratives we need to establish the similarities and differences in a number of areas. All literature has much in common, yet it may differ in outward forms depending on when it was written and the text type or genre used to create meaning. Some are adaptations, some are transformations while others simply borrow the plots and recreate them in new situations and settings. All ideas come from other ideas just as all books come from other books.
Because they offer us a chance to look at the same story with new eyes, literary retellings have always been popular. Jane Smiley’s “A Thousand Acres” reimagines “King Lear” on a farm in Iowa. Tayeb Salih’s “Season of Migration to the North” borrows its structure from Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” Jean Rhys’s “Wide Sargasso Sea” uncovers the story of the madwoman in Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre.” But to be successful, a literary retelling must not simply dress up an old story in new clothes. It must also be so convincing and so satisfying that we no longer think of the original story as the truth, but rather come to question it. LAILA LALAMI
Areas of comparison include:
§ Context and Background – How do Historical and biographical
situations influence the text.
§ Style: how a composer shapes the text or expresses their message.
§ Theme, values, issues or concerns that may have relevance to us or universal implications.
§ Technique; these will vary according to text types and the author’s style.
§ Language or linguistic features; how the meaning is conveyed.
§ Evaluation: We are all, especially examiners, interested in your opinions; how you related and responded to the text. It is important to be honest and yet to support all your assertions, assumptions and judgments with supporting evidence.