History, Notes and Vocabulary for ‘Tyres’

History, Notes and Vocabulary for ‘Tyres’ by Adam Thorpe:   Vichy France, Vichy regime, or Vichy government, are common terms used to describe the government of France from July 1940 to August 1944. This government, which succeeded the Third Republic, officially called itself the French State (État Français), in contrast with the previous designation, “French Republic.” Marshal Philippe Pétain proclaimed the government following the military defeat of France by Nazi Germany during World War II and the vote by the National Assembly on 10 July 1940. This vote granted extraordinary powers to Pétain, the last Président du Conseil (Prime Minister) of the Third Republic, who then took the additional title Chef de l’État Français (“Chief of the French State”). Pétain headed the reactionary program of the so-called “Révolution nationale“, aimed at “regenerating the Nation.” The Vichy Regime maintained some legal authority in the northern zone of France, which was occupied…

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Synopsis of Adam Thorpe’s ‘Tyres’

This synopsis of Adam Thorpe’s ‘Tyres’ pulls out the most significant events in the unfolding action of the short story. For some additional information about the history of the time, please go to the article entitled History, Notes and Vocabulary for ‘Tyres’ The story is set after the fall of France during the Second World War when the collaborating Vichy government under Petain and Laval use its Milice [French military police in the countryside] to control the local population and participate in the rounding up of people of Jewish extraction, as well as, ensuring that the bulk of the young and able men of France are sent to work in the factories of Germany as part of the Service du Travail Obligatoire [ compulsory work scheme].  Eventually, the German Gestapo enter the so-called unoccupied areas and together with the local Milice attempt to eradicate the Maquis [Resistance Movement and those…

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Brief Biography Adam Thorpe

Brief Biography Adam Thorpe (1956 – ) Poet, playwright and novelist Adam Thorpe was born in Paris in 1956 and grew up in India, Cameroon and England. After graduating from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1979, he started a theatre company and toured villages and schools before moving to London where he taught Drama and English Literature. He is the author of Tyres, a short story some of you will be studying for your English Literature courses. More on the story will follow in my next post. Thorpe is a prolific writer and has published collections of poetry, novels, short stories and plays. His first novel, Ulverton (1992), a panoramic portrait of English rural history, was published to great critical acclaim and prompted novelist John Fowles, reviewing the book in The Guardian (28 May 1992), to call it ‘the most interesting first novel I have read these last years’. The book consists…

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Themes in Half of a Yellow Sun

Some Themes in Half of a Yellow Sun   This brief listing of themes in Half of a Yellow Sun is only meant as a starting point in your exploration of the novel’s themes. The subject matter in the novel is challenging in so many ways as it portrays, in very real ways, the experiences of the people in the south eastern region of Nigeria at that time.  Remember to  use textual evidence (short quotes) to support your assertions about themes in your essays.  NOTE: There are several other articles on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun  on my blog. I would urge you to read this blog post on themes in conjunction with the others. Go HERE for some background information on the War, and HERE for more on her style and writing. The Biafran War itself – what happened in the war and why did the…

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In Essence: Poetry into Art Sketchbooks

In Essence: Poetry into Art Sketchbooks and Pocket Sketchbooks I have been having a lot of fun designing and putting together my new poetry sketch books. What are they all about, you may be asking? Well, I love poetry and I really enjoy sketching in my own rather scrubby way, and I sort of doodled myself into this project. I was reading some Ted Hughes poetry – October Dawn – to be precise, when I found myself reading and sketching in a relaxed and playful way. It felt good/different to combine these two activities and, what is more, at the end of the exercise, I felt oddly happy, at ease, content. I’ve done the exercise a few times since, with different poems, and each time,  it made me feel better,  at peace with myself. The long and the short of it is that I decided to put together a sketchbook…

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Adichie’s Language and Style in Half of a Yellow Sun

We will briefly look at  several aspects of Amamanda Ngozi Adichie’s language and style in Half of a Yellow Sun. This is just a starting point on the subject and you will need to extend your investigation into her writing if you’re keen to get to know more about features of the language and style of this powerful and deeply moving novel. For more on the political and social context of the civil war in Nigeria at the time, go here. Adichie’s Language and Style in Half of a Yellow Sun                                                                                                One of the first things we notice about Adichie’s style is that she includes many Igbo words in the novel – often in direct speech when characters are addressing to each other, but not always. Sometimes Ugwu’s thoughts contain local words, too. English is the official language of Nigeria but there is a type of local English which…

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How Character is Presented in Fiction

Character and Characterisation: How Character is Presented in Fiction What follows is a practical worksheet on character and characterisation which has really helped my students get to grips with the various ways in which writers flesh out and give substance to the characters in their fiction. Understanding how character creation ‘works’ and being able to identify the various ways in which this is being done in a particular novel or short story means that we are able to reach a far deeper grasp of a character’s personality and preoccupations which, in turn, means that we will be in a stronger position to track character development in the unfolding action as the character is given difficult challenges to confront. Please work through the material carefully, paying close attention to detail. As with most things in life, the more fully you engage with the material, the greater will be the reward. Fortunately….

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Ideas on Raymond Carver’s Elephant

In Raymond Carver’s short story, ‘Elephant’, we have the themes of dependency, security, struggle, acceptance and letting go. The story appears in the collection ‘Elephant and Other Stories’. Very early in the story, we discover that the narrator has a string of family members who are dependent on him financially –  his mother, brother Billy, daughter, son and ex-wife. The story follows the journey of his growing frustration with the situation and his ultimate ‘letting go’ of the responsibility dependence (both of others depending on him, and from the validation he seems to have received for playing this role). Ideas on Raymond Carver’s ‘Elephant’ What follows are a series of questions on the story along with very brief answers to those questions. The idea is for you to flesh out the answers provided with details from the text, as well as, suitable quotations to support the points you make. What…

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Thoughts on Annie Proulx’s The Contest

Some Introductory Thoughts on Annie Proulx’s The Contest   ‘The Contest’ is one of Annie Proulx’s Wyoming Stories published in 2004. The fictional world of the story is contemporary – with mention of ‘semis’, the internet, new models of vehicles, etc. [Does she mention telly – taken for granted, I expect? Also, with bad weather, much technology fails]. However, the style of the story is a little ‘old-fashioned’, by which I mean that the form its narration and style takes is somewhat formal and comes across closer in nature and sentiment to an earlier time. Possibly the writer was intending to portray/convey a slight dislocation/disjunction between the values and actions of this rural community and those of modernity. No such distinction is drawn however in relation to Bill se Silhouette, the Princeton-educated (cum laude) man with his gadgets and interests, although his wife, Mercedes, certainly does not come from the…

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Study Guides for A-Level Literature

  Sorry! The BOOK SALE is OVER! But the links below will take you to Amazon if you want to buy copies. Just a quick note to say that my study guides for A-Level Literature and AS Literature are on sale at Amazon Kindle for the next 3 days: 17th May – 20th May 2016! The A* Way Series study guides are participating in Amazon Kindle’s Countdown Dea ls programme. The starting price for each of the Study Guides (except “A Close Reading of Heaney’s Poet to Blacksmith” )is 0.99 for the first day, then the prices rise incrementally each day for the duration of the Deal after which the prices return to the pre-sale price. So, now is the time to buy you copy of: Seamus Heaney’s The Turnip-Snedder: Detailed Notes for A-Level Literature by Rosemary O’Leary (Kindle edition) 2014 Analysing a Literary Text the A*Way, Rosemary O’Leary (Kindle…

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Creating Humour in The Importance of Being Earnest

Creating Humour in The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde: A Post-Reading Revision Exercise   In his plays, Oscar Wilde made use of a variety of comic techniques to create humour and amuse his audiences. It is important to remember that he only used selective elements/aspects of the different genres of comedy and then combined them with social satire, irony, witty repartee, hyperbole, subversions of social convention, etc. to create his particular brand of sophisticated humour. Below is a selection of important techniques to be found in Earnest. Your task is to revise the meaning of each term, locate examples in the play and then explain/describe how their comic effect works. This is a revision exercise and will stand you in good stead for your examinations.   Comedy of Manners: is a sub-division of Comedy, a genre which is associated with drama whose primary aim is to entertain and…

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Wilfred Owen’s Anthem for Doomed Youth with Questions

Wilfred Owen’s Anthem for Doomed Youth with Questions to Guide Your Analysis                                Anthem for Doomed Youth                    What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?                      Only the monstrous anger of the guns.                      Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle                   Can patter out their hasty orisons.                   No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,                       Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –                   The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;                       And bugles calling for them from sad shires.                     What candles may be held to speed them all?                        Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes                   Shall shine the holy glimmer of good-byes.                       The pallor of the girls’ brows shall be their pall;                   Their flowers the tenderness of silent minds,                   And each slow dusk a drawing down of blinds.                                                                               Wilfred Owen  …

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