“C’est Angleterre over there?”

Hi class!
(Easy opportunity for puns there! There’s a reward for anyone who can make the best one)

I hope you had an excellent weekend and found time to meditate on the next writing assignment “Ghost Town”. Those preparatory questions are an excellent way to begin such a meditation. Feel free to use your 600 words as creatively as you like!

Thank you to those of you who have already commented on the last blog post. Your observations were great! A lot of you picked up on the clichéd nature of the language choices and were able to pick up the features they had in common with our class discussions. On the subject of clichés, here is a fun article where you can test your knowledge of literary clichés: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103376025

By now, we’ve all finished the Common Exercise on Bill Bryson. I thought that I would give you some further examples from his oeuvre (a fancy French word for “Body of Work”) of travel writing. Since we are beginning our journey into English Language studies, it seemed appropriate to begin with travel writing about the small country from whence cometh this language. This extract are is taken from Bill Bryon’s travel book  about Britain: Notes from a Small Island (1995).

“I do find London exciting. Much as I hate to agree with that tedious old git Samuel Johnson, and despite the pompous imbecility of his famous remark about when a man is tired of London he is tired of life…I can’t dispute it […] After seven years of living in the country in the sort of place where a dead cow draws a crowd, London can seem a bit dazzling.

I can never understand why Londoners fail to see that they live in the most wonderful city in the world. It is far more beautiful and interesting than Paris, if you ask me, and more lively than anywhere but New York – and even New York can’t touch it in lots of important ways. It has more history, finer parks, a livelier and more varied press, better theatres, more numerous orchestras and museums, leafier squares, safer streets, and more courteous inhabitants than any other large city in the world” (Bryson 46).

This extract is from A Walk in the Woods (1997), in which Bryson, at the age of 44, decides to hike the 2200 km Appalachian Trail:

“So I decided to do it. More rashly, I announced my intention – told friends and neighbours, confidently informed my publisher, made it common knowledge among those who knew me. Then I bought some books and talked to people who had done the trail in whole or in part and came gradually to realise that this was way beyond – way beyond – anything I had attempted before.

Nearly everyone I talked to had some gruesome story involving a guileless acquaintance who had gone off hiking the trail with high hopes and new boots and come stumbling back two days later with a bobcat attached to his head or dripping blood from an armless sleeve and whispering “Bear!” in a hoarse voice, before sinking into a troubled unconscious.

The woods were full of peril – rattlesnakes and water moccasins and nests of copperheads; bobcats, bears, coyotes, wolves and wild boar; loony hillbillies destabilised by gross quantities of impure corn liquor and generations of profoundly unbiblical sex; rabies-crazed skunks, raccoons and squirrels; merciless fire ants and ravening blackfly; poison ivy, poison sumac, poison salamanders; even a scattering of moose lethally deranged by a parasitic worm that burrows a nest in their brains and befuddles them into chasing hapless hikers through remote, sunny meadows and into glacial lakes” (Bryson 13).

So now you have three examples of written language from the same author! Can you start to see different elements that are common to all three passages?

What can you say of his tone? If you had to venture an opinion on Bill Bryson’s favourite figure of speech, what would you say?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


Ms. Roberts



  1. I feel as though as if the first passage about Notes from A Small Island is realistic and not exaggerated because it is something that people would want to read about and not have to try hard imagining how London looks like for example the big theatres and the finer parks. The writers purpose here is to inform the readers in the sense that he was telling us about London and comparing London to Paris and New York.
    All passages have a common figure of speech which is “Repetition” because in the first passage he says “more varied press..” Second passage he says “poison sumac…”. Another common feature is that he uses a mixture of present tense and past tense making the readers feel as if they are there listening to what he is saying.
    Lastly i would like to point out that his tenses are relating to his tone that tells us that he is a confident person and talkative. the pun i identified is “Pompous imbecility”
    Thank you MIss Roberts

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Good, Tsepile! I really enjoy how thoroughly you’ve engaged with both extracts here! I am very impressed by how you’ve discussed the use of tense here! It is very effective in blending Bryson’s reminiscences into the narrative format! well done!



  2. In the first extract, he doesn’t exaggerate as much as he does in the second passage, as many people can relate to the descriptions and thoughts of London. He said “a dead cow could draw attention” and I think it means than the Londoners don’t know how lovely London is, and any sort of activity is interesting to them. I think his favourite figure of speech is metaphor and he always creates unique metaphors. Another feature common to his writing is repetition and it seems to have an exaggerated effect. His tone is quite comical in the second extract. His descriptions of the hike are largely negative but still makes it seem like he is determined to go on the hike.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. I think that this extract is brilliant. I do believe that the genre is adventure, as he is explaining to the reader how beautiful London is. He also uses a lot of repetition to provoke the writer into painting an image in their mind of hoe lovely it is to be in London. In the second part of the extract, the writer has another purpose in mind. He is trying to show that the place if not so lovely. Saying that there are rattle snakes around gives an element of danger, which may look like it is not a good place to be. Overall, the language used was exciting, due to the repetition and the way the paragraphs are set out. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person


  4. The first extract is really interesting and it shows us that he really likes being in London. He thinks the country is better than Paris and it is more lively. He uses the word dazzling to describe London. The writer repeats the word more to emphasis how London is much more better. The writers purpose is to inform about tourism. The vocabulary used suites the type of genre the extract is.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. The second extract show us that the writer was very interested in the walk and prepared as much as he could. After talking to other people who had gone for the walk, l think he is a bit nervous as he is told about the types of animals there. His purpose is to inform how unlovely the place is. I think his favorite type of speech is repetition as it emphasizes on the things he wants to be noticed.

    Liked by 1 person


  6. The genre for the first extract is Travel. The writer describes London as a very beautiful place. He makes a list of the things that make the city beautiful which makes the reader interested and imagine what it possibly looks like.
    The genre for the second extract is Adventure. He uses just one sentence in the last paragraph and makes use of commas. This just shows us of how dangerous this place is as it has dangerous creatures for example rattlesnakes.What surprises me the most is that he is still eager to go and hike in such a place. Therefore, this makes the extract funny. He uses past tense and I would personally like to find read further to find out if he succeeded.

    Liked by 1 person


  7. I can pick up that Bill Bryson is a travel writer because all gbe extracts that we’ve seen have been about places he’s seen or been.. A common feature that he uses when he writes is repition and he lists a lot too. This makes it sound like all his adventures are endlessly exciting and ‘breathtaking’.

    Liked by 1 person


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