Finding a theme

  • Nicholas Marsh
Part of the How to Study Literature book series


The first problem every student of literature faces is a feeling of blankness. I have read the text, now I am supposed to study it: how do I start? Teachers and critics sometimes make this stage more difficult by pretending that literature is a special subject which only experts can understand. Nothing could be more misleading. Great writers and poets write because they want to communicate with ordinary readers like you and me: they do not write for experts. They are not writing on a specialised subject, either. Literature is about the same things you and I are concerned with: life and living. Be confident, therefore. Every student finds the first step in studying literature difficult, but there is nothing mysterious or specialised about it. The difficulty you face at the beginning is simply one of choosing what to focus on out of the rich mass of details, characters, events and so on, which you have met in reading the text. You are faced with the intricate complexity of a literary work: as soon as you can decide what to study first, and where to start, you can make a start.


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© Nicholas Marsh 1995

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  • Nicholas Marsh

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