Monday, November 07, 2005
Saturday I am taking the GRE Subject Test in English Literature as part of the process for applying to graduate school. I was a comparative literature major, so had some fears of this test, since I never had to do the survey thing. I started studying in July, though as early as February I made sure that all my pleasure reading were classics I had missed: "Invisible Man," "The Scarlet Letter," "Moby Dick" etc. The test, from the samples I have seen, is really about knowing a little about a lot of literature. I have a stack of index cards, two whole packages, which I think is 200, and most of them just have the first four and last four lines of famous poems, the characters and settings of famous novels and plays, and short distillations of certain famous people's poetics (i.e. Sidney, Arnold, Wordsworth). It's kind of a ridiculous way to go through literature, but I've had fun doing it. I feel like I'm preparing for Jeopardy. And it's given me a chance to re-read some Donne and remember how much I love him. His verbal contortions are impressive. A while back during my M.A. days I read the Arthur Marotti's John Donne: Coterie Poet. He talks about the early love elegies as performance pieces written to be read for his fellow law students at the Inns of Court. The book helped me understand my close readings of those poems differently: to see them as scripts for public performances displaying much social anxiety through the erotic. I recommend that book to anyone interested in the early, dirty poems of Donne. I love smart, dirty poems. I've got a cold, so I'm going to curl up with the Nortan Anthology, and nurse myself back to health before test-date.