Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Back to the Grind (Kind Of)

Now that the stress of moving out of the apartment has worn off, I've managed to get some school-related work done this morning.

I've discovered that it's scholarship application season once again and I'm applying for at least three this year in hopes that I only have to self-fund one year at Oxford.  I'm hoping the process will be a bit easier this year, since I already have a research proposal to work from, but there will be tweaking involved and I know I should try to hunt down reference letters from my University of Saskatchewan professors before I leave for the UK...  So, suddenly, there's lots to do - plus sorting through boxes, plus submitting changes of address, plus trying to squeeze in some time to work on my novel and my "fun" paper and read.

Yesterday, out of nowhere, I started playing around with ideas of how to structure my doctoral thesis.  Perhaps something clicked in my brain, telling me it was time to start thinking about this, as term is only just over a month away now.  I also started coming up with some more specific themes I'd like to track through the Brontes' works: the mentor-figure (and his relationship to M. Heger) in Charlotte's works (without being biographical in a reductionist way, which I always find annoying), Anne's use of more conventional morality, Emily's inclusion of very strong female protagonists alongside her male characters, in Wuthering Heights and the Gondal works.

I'm also becoming more aware that I really need to tackle the juvenilia, since I've only just touched it here and there and don't have a very good understanding of it yet.  I also need to read the two published Bronte novels I haven't been through yet: Charlotte's The Professor and Anne's Agnes Grey.  Both should be very interesting.

As for fun reading, I'm currently about a third of the way through Alan Hollinghurst's new novel, The Stranger's Child, which begins the summer before World War I and runs through most of the 20th century and deals, in part, with a poem and changing perceptions of it.  It's just the sort of the thing I like to read: complex, well-written, British, historical.  So far, I recommend it very highly.  The book hasn't even been released in North America yet (and won't be until October, I think), so I sent my parents on a mission to buy me a copy while they were in the UK on holiday in July (also, the UK cover is nicer, I think).  They picked up a copy at Hatchards, which I really must go visit, as it is the oldest surviving bookshop in London.  They also managed to nab a signed copy, which is quite wonderful.

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