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Sandraseahorse



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1154



PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:58 am    Post subject: A Winter Challenge  Reply with quote

It's been a long time since we had a literary extracts challenge. †As it is the first of December and the UK is decidedly frosty today, I thought I would have some shivery †prose.

The challenge is to grade in terms of literary value (as you see it) and then in terms of personal preference.

I hope they are not too obvious; I haven't done this before. †I've deleted names which might make it too obvious where the extract comes from.


A
"I am already far north of London: †and as I walk in the streets of Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves and fills me with delight. †Do you understand this feeling? †This breeze, which has travelled from the regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my daydreams become more fervent and vivid."

B
This was, I should say, about the third week in January. †The thermometer was dropping; my life, which before had been only solitary and miserable, became unbearable. †Every day, in a daze, I walked to and from work, sometimes in weather that was ten or twenty below, sometimes during storms so heavy that all I could see was white, and †the only way I made it home at all was by keeping close to the rail guard at the side of the road. Once home, I wrapped myself in my dirty blankets and fell on the floor like a dead man. †All my moments which were not consumed with efforts to escape the cold were absorbed with morbid Poe-like fantasies.One night, in a dream, I saw my own corpse, hair stiff with ice and eyes wide open.

C
Oh, what a long grim winter!
Their own grain run out before Christmas and they were buying flour. †K, who lived a home now, was rowdy in the evening, terrifying everyone; and in the mornings he had agonising headaches and shame; and he was a pitiful sight. †In the stall the starving cow bellowed day and night - and heart-rending sound to Granny and M. †And as ill-luck would have it, there was a sharp frost all the winter, the snow drifted in high heaps, and the winter dragged on. †At Annunciation there was a real blizzard, and there was snow at Easter.

But in spite of it all the winter did end. †At the beginning of April there came the warm days and frosty nights. †Winter would not give way, but one warm day overpowered it at last, and the streams began to flow and the †birds began to sing.

D
It was dusk.
They stood on the porch in the fading light, J in the middle, his left arm around D's shoulders and his right arm around W's waist. †Together they watched as the decision was take out of their hands.
The sky had been completely clouded over by two-thirty and it had begun to snow an hour later and this time you didn't need a weatherman to tell you it was serious snow, no flurry that was going to melt or blow away when the evening wind started to whoop. †At first it had fallen in perfectly straight lines, building up a snow cover that coated everything evenly, but now , an hour after it had started, the wind had begun to blow from the northwest and the snow had begun to drift against the porch and the sides of the .... 's driveway.
-----

So they went in together, leaving the wind to build to the low-pitched scream that would go on all night - a sound they would get to know well. †Flakes of snow swirled and danced across the porch. †The --- †faced it as it had for nearly three quarters of a century, its darkened windows now bearded with snow, indifferent to the fact that it was now cut off from the world. †Or possibly it was pleased with the prospect. †Inside its shell the three of them went about their early evening routine, like microbes trapped in the intestine of a monster.




Last edited by Sandraseahorse on Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:40 pm; edited 2 times in total
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county_lady



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 633


Location: N Worcs.

PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sandra you have given us a treat, made all the better by a certain typo!

I won't say too much yet except the end of D. seems incongruous.


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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The typo is much appreciated - I think it makes the excerpt batter than the original version. Of course maybe it's not a typo and excerpt B will turn out to be an early draft of The Old Man and the Sea.


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Sandraseahorse



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1154



PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've changed the typo in B - †replacing cod with cold.

With D, I did leave out a bit as the extract was too long.


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miranda



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 758


Location: over there somewhere

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, I don't often get to do this so thank you, Sandra!

A - Is this early 19th century? † I find this extract a bit odd as it's written in the present tense, which is unusual these days. † It's melodramatic as well. †Russian author? †OH reckons it's an English author.

Anyway, ermm... I don't think I would like it if it was all like this. †I am no fan of melodrama in any of its forms. †

But I think it is literary. †


B - I think this is 20th century? † It's definitely very descriptive in a few words. †Poverty, loneliness, isolation. †It all comes through in this passage. †I'm not sure if I like it though. †

I would class it as literature.


C - I don't like this. †There's not much to it. † It describes a whole season very basically and doesn't give the reader any feel for what was happening. †

Not literary.

D - I liked this. †A modern author, I think. †Nice description of a snow storm. †The only part that struck a flat note was the description of the 'church?' facing the house. † That microbe simile really doesn't work as microbes aren't trapped in an intestine, they would die if they weren't in there and they are necessary to the health of the carrier. † I can see what the author is trying to say but it doesn't work. †

Literary? †Hmmm.... I think a good popular author.

Editing to add preferences cos I forgot!   Embarassed

Literary - BADC
Preference - DABC



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Last edited by miranda on Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Sandraseahorse



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1154



PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your contribution, Miranda.  Where is everyone?  Does anyone else wish to join in?

Sometimes on this board I feel like a mad old bag lady talking to herself.


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
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Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just bad timing for me, Sandra, but will have a look after today - am currently in a hotel in Bristol, feeling sick with nerves about a job interview later this morning!

They are very short extracts, which is good in terms of making time to think about them, but difficult in terms of judging literary quality.  Will read them properly at the weekend - sorry I can't do it any sooner than that!


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Sandraseahorse



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good luck with the interview, Evie.


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Evie
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you!  The stupid thing (in terms of being nervous) is that it will be fine if I don't get the job, much as I would like it - I just don't want to make a fool of myself, especially as the people who are interviewing me are people I work with!

And thanks for posting this - it is, as you say, fairly quiet on here these days, and it's good to have this sort of thing - I will try and set one soon too, and maybe we can get a bit of momentum going.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sandra, I think youíre getting a better response than I did the last time I tried to set one of these! But I certainly will respond to this: Iíve been having a bit of a torrid time at work lately, but I think the clouds are beginning to clear somewhat on this front.



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