(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!