Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Clean Well-Lit Cliffs

According to the any-day-in-history list I use to do these, Friday is the 55th anniversary of the day Cliffs Notes first got used in schools, just in time for the end of a school year when students panicked to discover they didn't have time to read the tale of one city. Rumor has it that John McCain, having gone to school in an era prior to the printing press, I mean Cliffs Notes, only had time to read part of Tolstoy, and therefore knows the book, and the world, as only War. But I digress, something those handy yellow jackets buzzing with summary and commentary never do. Even better, now Cliffs Notes are on line, turning literature to twitter before your very eyes. For instance we learn "Sylvia Plath, a precocious enigma of the 1960s, battled perfectionism and precipitous mood swings while pursuing a career as a teacher and poet." We do not learn, however, that Plath would really rather ralph than write a run of ridiculous alliteration like the one Cliffs serves up. Luckily Cliffs does want us to think--if by think we mean proffer enough bull to please Miss Beasley on that final--as with this discussion and research topic: "Analyze the success of confessional modes in Plath’s The Bell Jar and poems from Ariel. Account for severe criticisms of self-indulgent neurosis." I account for it by attempting to ignore all severe criticism and be positive. Not to mention my neurosis tends to be very other-directed--I am simply fascinated by what makes everyone else wrong and me right. But enough about me.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Mike said...

Back in high school I was more of a Monarch Notes kinda guy. More plot summary & less analysis than the Cliffs, which made them perfect for those sneaky pop quizzes that'd come along from time-to-time to see if you'd done the assigned reading.

Return of the Native and Jane Eyre didn't pose the problems for me that they should have as a 14 year-old, since I didn't actually have to read them

(Great Expectations Lord of the Flies and Huck Finn I read in book form.)

4:28 AM  
Blogger Drew said...

It it wasn't for book study aids, I would have never gotten through Ulysses. And I did read the whole thing and even had a good teacher. Not so much that I wouldn't have gotten exasperated and thrown the thing out the window, but I feel like I would have missed so much by not having others point out and say "See what he's doing here? See it? Do ya get it?"

2:06 PM  

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