Tag Archives: Giles Goat-Boy

Good books, bad books

1“All writers have been students, and nowadays a sizable number are teachers, so it seems nearly unavoidable that we write about the golden groves we knew.

It’s easy to dismiss “Tom Brown’s School Days” or “Stover at Yale,” or to make fun — as Tom Wolfe did more recently in “I Am Charlotte Simmons” — of a fictionalized Duke University. But there’s a sizable shelf of books about bookishness — some of them first-rate — which take education as their subject and explore the idea of learning as initiation rite. As with any other category (the Southern novel, the Jewish novel, the on-the-road novel) there are excellent and execrable texts. It’s a question not so much of genre as of how well it’s done. […]

As suggested above, there are bad books as well that deal with the circumstance of education. The professoriate makes an easy target; so does the undergraduate. Often a writer gets tempted to make intellectual molehills into mountains; lord knows it’s easy enough to overstate the cultural significance of freshman year. The risk is that of stereotype and even caricature: the absent-minded professor, the scheming administrator, the idealistic and then disillusioned student — stock figures from English 101. But the college campus is no more and no less fertile a place to situate a story than is, say, a boxing ring or tenement or cattle barn.”

April 13, 2012, Chicago Tribune

English 101 by Nicholas Delbanco

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-prj-0415-book-of-the-month-20120413,0,154025.story

Advertisements

David Lodge on campus novels

September 24, 2010 11:34 pm, Financial Times

“The campus novel emerged as higher education expanded and novelists increasingly took day jobs in universities. Inherently comic and satirical, it is focused on the lives of academic staff rather than their students, and explores the gap between the high ideals of the institution and the human weaknesses of its members.”

The List: Five of the best campus novels

David Lodge on Vladimir Nabokov’s Pnin

Other top tens, top fives etc.:

Jeffrey Moore’s top 10 campus novels:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2002/jul/03/bestbooks.fiction

10 Classic Campus Novels:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/04/10-classic-campus-novels_n_857756.html#s274149&title=Gaudy_Night

Literature of the campus:

http://theconcordian.com/2013/09/articulate-literature-of-the-campus/

Top 5 Campus Novels Written by Women by Jane Bradley:

http://forbookssake.net/2013/07/05/top-five-campus-novels-written-by-women/