Posted by: gdevi | May 9, 2011

Beautiful excerpts

Beautiful excerpts from final exams before I return them, excerpts as good as that of any critic, and from insightful close reading. Good job, kiddos!

On Borges,  “Garden of Forking Paths” by K. J, English 220,  Spring 2011

“The fact that the story can be read on different levels is significant. There is the facade of a spy narrative that hides the “real fiction” Borges really wanted to present. Like writers before him, such as Baudelaire, or Dostoevsky, or many other Modern writers they all discuss something that nearly everyone wants to know: “Where is your place in the world?” Well, for Borges, that place could be literally anywhere in “time.” In Borges’s story, at first it seems that along with Yu Tsun’s ancestor’s novel, there is literally a physical maze somewhere. Actually the novel is the maze. His ancestor created a labyrinth in “time,” not space. This metaphor is the basis of the story, suggesting that any reality is possible and any future(s) is possible. The whole concept is innovative and interesting. And also contradictory. But that’s what makes it interesting. We, humans, according to the The Garden of Forking Paths are both indelibly influential to the unfolding of the universe, yet equally insignificant at the same time.”

On Mahfouz, “Zaabalawi,” by A. H, English 220, Spring 2011

“The narrator encounters several people in his search for Zaabalawi. The first is a lawyer, who is not willing to talk about Zaabalawi and is partially corrupt. Others he meets include a musician and a calligrapher, both artists, who feel fondly for Zaabalawi and attribute their work and skill to him. He also meets an old man at Zaabalawi’s house who sells religious texts, and a local leader who draws him a map to find him. The last man he meets is a drunk who is the closest to Zaabalawi in that he is the only one who has seen him in the past few days. Zaabalawi has no relationship with commerce at all. This is portrayed by his disconnected, non-relationship with the lawyer and the local leader focused on money. It is also shown when the narrator tells Haji Wanas that he will pay Zaabalawi however much it takes to heal him, and his drunken friend says that Zaabalawi does not accept money, and that if he did, it would not have a price. But we find that through both the calligrapher and the musican that Zaabalawi has a deep and direct connection with art. They claim he inspired them, helped them with their talent and was a big influence in their lives. Mahfouz makes a distinct difference between the worlds of commerce and that of art in the narrator’s quest for the holy man.”

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