A Brief Memoir of the English Literature Course – by Chris Hu

Doubt, uncertainty and stress—these words described me perfectly as the Literature program impended before the holiday. But as I’m now more than half way through the course, my day-to-day experience is not only a total contrast, but in fact a concoction of vibrant cultural tour and extensive reading: from Thomas Gray to William Wordsworth, we have been sauntering through medieval and contemporary eras. All accompanied by in-depth discussion among the group and great moments we shared in the city of Cambridge.

One of my best memories was the visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum, according to Jeff, “a perfect spot for a rainy day, ‘cause you need something to do when it rains.”

Of course that is not all. The affinity of the Museum is formed by arts from all time: medieval, Renaissance, modernism… All embraced by the Victorian style dome chiseled with dainty laureate leaves and gilt vines, surrounded by meditative marble-white caryatids. The great diversity of its collections revealed to us the progress of art since 18th century, palmy times for realism (court paintings, for example), to the time when Pablo Picasso earned his place in the world of art. The movement demonstrated the awake of self-consciousness of art, in form apted to some pre-historic frescos. “When art regarded itself as art but not a copy of something else”, remarked Jeff after this trip.

This evolution is almost a salutation of the literary transformation took place simultaneously in history: the prosper of Romanticism from revolt against classism. Like in art, the inordinate of use of adjectives, classical figures and metaphors seemed gaudy for those young, audacious writers and poets that they longing for articulate, frank combination of words, as Erza Pound established in his essay “A Retrospect” that writers should practice “Direct treatment of ‘thing’ whether subjective or objective.” And “To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.” Isn’t it fascinating, that how these words apply to practically any fields of humanity? At least I think so, and all these ideas will never be that vivid to me if suffocated by the languorous indoor air.

Above all, the English Literature course is, thanks to Jeff and my lovely group, definitely enchanting, filled with deep thoughts, exchange of ideas, exploration and great fun. I am desperate to rejoin this course anon one day; and even if, unfortunately, I will not be able to do so, the four weeks here will be a life-long memory: cadence of poems, chirrup of birds, parched gaiety of a summer stroll in an unnamed lane, wan portico of Wren Library, stateliness of King’s College Church and the Cows.

And, most importantly: alas, spiders! A myriad of them on every pitch we once reposed upon, which I presumed to be attracted by the reddening light of a lamp. (#lampboy)