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DwayneA
01-03-2009, 08:56 AM
I've seen many sites that analyze fiction, talks about how the characters, plot, and themes develop, such as www.sparknotes.com (http://www.sparknotes.com) Anybody ever come across these? What I'd like to know is how do they come up with such reports? And what can I do when reading a book to understand them?

Danger Jane
01-03-2009, 11:23 PM
Sites like Sparknotes are pretty widely used by high school and college students scrambling to get to class on time without reading the assigned material (or who are just trying to jog their minds a little before writing a paper), and also by teachers who didn't prepare for class.

People write those reports and submit them to the sites...your second question--do you mean what can you do to understand the book, or what can you do to understand the literary analysis?

To understand the literary analysis...well, I don't know. Read other literary analyses of the book you've just finished.

To understand the book--read analysis of it. Most classic works have had tons of commentary written about them, some by more astute or credible authors than others, but all of it can help to broaden your ways of thinking about fiction, whether fiction you're reading or fiction you're writing.

Cyia
01-03-2009, 11:26 PM
Dwayne, the best way to use Sparknotes (or Cliffs notes) as a tool is to get a copy of the book they're analysing PLUS the Sparknotes PLUS a movie adaptation that sticks to the story of the original book (this works best with plays like Shakespeare.)

Read a page of the text; watch the corresponding scene in the movie, then read the analysis. Use the analysis in tandem with the actors' movements and facial expressions to get a feel for what wording in the original text gave them the cues for a specific emotion.

Keep reading/watching until you're through the whole thing.

StevenJ
01-04-2009, 01:46 AM
Off the subject perhaps, but I find it really annoying that many websites show the first page of an article or essay for free, then expect people to pay to view the rest. As if it's not bad enough that students (my son is one) are lumbered with so much debt just to receive a decent education, now they're also expected to pay for this kind of service, which should surely be completely free.
To be fair though, I've the feeling that many writers will disagree with me & perhaps they would be right to do so...

RobJ
01-04-2009, 02:17 AM
Off the subject perhaps, but I find it really annoying that many websites show the first page of an article or essay for free, then expect people to pay to view the rest. As if it's not bad enough that students (my son is one) are lumbered with so much debt just to receive a decent education, now they're also expected to pay for this kind of service, which should surely be completely free.
To be fair though, I've the feeling that many writers will disagree with me & perhaps they would be right to do so...
What better education can your son have than the fact that for the most part we have to pay people for the work they do.

Dwayne, I found Jeremy Hawthorn's book Studying the Novel helpful. No doubt there are other books out there too, perhaps even better ones.

Cheers,
Rob

IceCreamEmpress
01-05-2009, 04:02 AM
Off the subject perhaps, but I find it really annoying that many websites show the first page of an article or essay for free, then expect people to pay to view the rest. As if it's not bad enough that students (my son is one) are lumbered with so much debt just to receive a decent education, now they're also expected to pay for this kind of service, which should surely be completely free.

Why? When I was a kid and I wanted to see an article or essay, I either had to go to the library and find the magazine or book which contained it, or go to the bookstore and find the magazine or book which contained it.

Most public libraries in the US offer access to subscription-only online journal/magazine/newspaper databases to all library card holders; I imagine there must be similar arrangements in other countries as well.

It's far less arduous to go online via your library's website and access an article online than it was in the old days, when you had to go in person and dig through the stacks. And the authors and publishers are compensated by the libraries' subscription fees (as well as by the people who just want to buy the work outright).

Aschenbach
01-07-2009, 07:10 AM
Off the subject perhaps, but I find it really annoying that many websites show the first page of an article or essay for free, then expect people to pay to view the rest. As if it's not bad enough that students (my son is one) are lumbered with so much debt just to receive a decent education, now they're also expected to pay for this kind of service, which should surely be completely free.


But essays and articles can be viewed completely free of charge. Libraries are great places, especially university libraries.