Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Sometimes my students and I find a piece of literature to be a thoroughly perplexing problem, a maze we can't make our way out of, but usually we find that if we only turn in a new direction, a door to understanding opens almost effortlessly. "We need only turn," I sometimes say to the class -- and they know I mean make a simple turn toward a totally new way of thinking about the piece. It's happened so often. We'll be wandering in a complicated page of Dickens or George Eliot, with little light to show us the way, when one of us -- usually a student -- will suddenly say something like, "This may sound strange, but what about ...", and then she or he will take us down a trail none of us had seen, and sometimes lead us to a secret that shines a brilliant light on the piece. "Only turn" is a motto we make use of in my class, and I also use it in my personal life, like turning down an undiscovered street and seeing something shining -- a house or some trees or a single person -- as if it was placed there just for me. 

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