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Which set texts did you have for school/college/uni and would you recommend them?(39 Posts)
Just interested to know as I'm a very avid reader and surprised at the amount of set texts I haven't actually read! I can't remember all of the ones I did but secondary school was Of mice and men and Macbeth, college was Great expectations and I had too many to name for uni really (did an OU degree so lots of different modules with many books).
After talking to my sister who is doing GCSEs currently I've vowed to read Animal Farm (only read bits up until now), To kill a mockingbird and Jekyll and Hyde.
So many to remember:
King Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth (loved) The Merchant of Venice
Dickens: Great Expectations (didn’t live up to its name), Hard Times (lived up to its name)
Beckett: Waiting for Godot (head ache)
James: Portrait of a Lady (extraordinary)
Friel: Dancing at Lughnasa, Philadelphia here I come, Translations (all excellent)
Brontë: Wuthering Heights (magnificent)
Austen: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion
I loved it all: Shakespeare, Keats, Donne, Hopkins (fully agree with pp), Eliot ( The love song of J Alfred Prufrock blew my mind at 16), Yeats, Clarke, Kavanagh, Milton’s Paradise Lost
Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon. I hated it, I resented every page because I could have been reading something better.
I’m an English Lit BA Grad and also trained as an actor at a major drama school so read LOTS.
The stand out must reads that I remember are The Handmaid’s Tale (A-Level), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (BA) and The Cherry Orchard (Drama School).
I hated The Canterbury Tales, was pretty bored by Remains of the Day and remember an odd book that sounded something like The Man Who Drilled A Hole In His Head that we did for A-Level that I also hated.
I adored studying Shakespeare, my favourite being Antony and Cleopatra. Also enjoyed Johnson’s Volpone.
Not keen on Blood Brothers or Heart of Darkness.
Really liked The Mill On The Floss and Rebecca.
English GCSE: All Quiet on the Western Front, 1984, Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Enjoyed all.
English A level: Enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale, Talking Heads, Othello, The Merchant of Venice and DH Lawrence poetry. Didn’t enjoy Canterbury Tales or Dubliners, although I’ve read Dubliners again since and thought it was excellent. Probably just got it more.
Theatre Studies: Enjoyed Oedipus Rex, Blood Wedding, Our Country’s Good (loved it!)
Didn’t enjoy The Doll’s House and The Cherry Orchard.
Sons and Lovers. In a word, no.
Think there was more, but I remember:
Of Mice & Men (loved)
Tess of the D'Urberville's (meh)
Jane Eyre (meh)
A Streetcar Named Desire (loved)
The Duchess of Malfi (quite liked)
A Room with a View (loved)
Philip Larkin- The Whitsun Weddings poems (quite liked)
Romeo & Juliet (quite liked)
The Tempest (quite liked)
Much Ado About Nothing (meh)
French and German at school, the standouts were The Little Prince for French and Danton's Death for German (oddly) which gave me a passion for the French Revolution.
We studied quite a lot of Shakespeare, King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, Measure for Measure, Romeo and Juliet.
Chaucer, The Prologue and The Pardoner's Tale in depth and read the rest generally.
Novels included Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett, To The Lighthouse, Brideshead Revisited, Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Poetry was Rape of the Lock and The Ancient Mariner
I loved them all really, I still read a lot of Hardy, and TTL led on Mrs Dalloway and later to James Joyce, and I do love a Shakespeare play!
The Trumpet Major - Thomas Hardy - one of the dullest books I have ever read. Put me off Hardy for years.
The Pearl - John Steinbeck - one of the most depressing books I have ever read. Put me off Steinbeck for years.
Miss Julie - Strindberg - one of the most mysognistic plays/books I have ever read. It still offends me to this day.
The Devil's Disciple - GB Shaw - I really liked this. It had some action and suspense and real questions regarding the rights and wrongs of the situation and protagonists.
I loved shakespeare. As a homeschooled child I didn’t undergo formal exams when I was fifteen years old. I did my literature exam when I was seventeen instead.
MacBeth was my personal favourite text. I also enjoyed Romeo and Juliet.
I can’t remember my GCSE texts but at a level
Dubliners: very funny
Tess of the durbevilles: fucking hated it. Don’t like hardy at all in general. Maybe if he was a bit nicer to his wife he’d not be such a misery in his writing.
The collector: loved
Brideshead revisted: remains one of my favourite books.
I loved To Kill a Mockingbird at GCSE and The Handmaids Tale, Wuthering Heights and Death of a Salesman at A level. At degree level we rattled through too many books to really enjoy them, but I did discover Slaughterhouse Five which is amazing.
Hmmm: GCSE - Macbeth, On the Black Hill (by Bruce Chatwin), poems of D.H. Lawrence. Can't remember what else although there must have been more.
A Level: Emma, Measure for Measure, Othello (which is still one of my favourite Shakespeare plays), Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Keats.
Degree: God, it was an English degree so too many to count/remember! I remember reading a lot of Middle English , Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Bleak House...
As an examiner, set texts that I've loved (re)reading are A Passage to India, Half of a Yellow Sun, The House of Mirth, The Namesake. I have to read Howard's End again before the summer session - haven't read it since my teenage Forster phase - and also Small Island.
-Brighton Rock- brilliant
-Pride and Prejudice- brilliant
- Taming of the Shrew- interesting but not a favourite
-The Importance of being Earnest- enjoyable but not a favourite
- Hard Times- OK, more interesting as history than literature
-Decline and Fall- hilarious
-Mansfield Park- brilliant, although all the characters are horrible
- Brideshead Revisited- brilliant
- Passage to India- brilliant
- Murder in the Cathedral- absolutely brilliant
-Othello- a favourite
-A Winter's Tale- makes me cry
-The Prologue and the Pardoner's Tale- brilliant: best read as part of the whole
I also remember The Tim Drum - or at least, the fact of reading it, in German, on a coach going through Germany. Pre-O'Level exchange trip. I remember absolutely nothing of the story.
On the other hand, I remember pretty much everything of Gerard Manley Hopkins' The Wreck of The Deutschland, which I read for O'Level English Lit. So profoundly psychologically disturbing. It led to a teenage obsession with all his work, and to this day I've never encountere another poet who comes close in terms of disruption.
I remember The Tin Drum - the eels!!!! (urgh)
Loved The Metaphysical Poets - still do. The "Death be not Proud" sonnet is still the one I read.
I enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens at school.
At Uni we read an odd but memorable book called The Tin Drum by Gunther Grass. It was very marmite within the group.
For A level all the plays we studied were excellent: Dr Faustus (still one of my favourite plays ever), Volpone by Ben Jonson & Othello.
Also studied the Metaphysical poets particularly Donne & loved them, & quite enjoyed the Chaucer we did (Nun's Priests Tale) for the interesting language.
I really struggled with Nostromo by Joseph Conrad - have wondered whether I should read it again as an adult and if I'd like it more now.
Lord of the Flies for GCSE. I read it the summer before and really enjoyed it. Studying it ruined it though.
Romeo and Juliet, which was fine, and A View From The Bridge which didn't leave much of an impression on me either way.
I also had to memorise the poem 'Ozymandias' for reasons which I can't recall. I can still recite it now, though!
Oh. And I do NOT recommend
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner or
A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man by James Joyce.
But Pale Fire by Nabokov is marvellous.
I did an English Literature degree so had loads of set texts. One semester I had 40 books to study.
Favourites would be:
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Possession: A Romance by AS Byatt
The Story of an African Farm by Olive Schreiner (sounded so boring; was actually fascinating and brilliant)
Dracula by Bram Stoker (I reread this often)
Sunset Song. Love it! And a lot of Thomas Hardy. And Lolita at university, which I don't recommend and probably isn't read so much anymore!
I Did Advanced Higher English (Scottish 6th year Qualification) and had to do three Thomas Hardy novels in one year, at the same as Yeats' poetry and King Lear, it was hard work! I enjoyed the Hardy though.