Reading Classic Literature

Lesson #276: ‘Music on Christmas Morning’

In the days approaching Christmas, my thoughts have turned to some of the Christmas Carols (songs sung at Christmas) and the stories behind how they were written. ❇️ If you have ever spent the Christmas season in an English-speaking country such as Britain or Ireland, chances are that you have heard a Christmas carol being …

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Lesson #275: ‘I Will Honour Christmas In My Heart’: Past, Present, and Future Tenses in ‘A Christmas Carol’ (Dickens)

📗 “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.” – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843) What better …

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Lesson #274: Easy Antonyms in ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ You Already Know

📗 ‘So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by …

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Lesson #272: Common Issues for Hebrew Speakers studying English (Part 1)

If you have been following our Lessons since the start of November, you will have noticed that we are taking a look at some common mistakes made by students from different language backgrounds. I always mention that these Lessons are not a criticism of your mistakes! I hope instead to offer some helpful points on …

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Lesson #269: Anne Bronte’s ‘Agnes Grey’: A short retelling of the novel (including 10 keywords you should know)

📙 ‘All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity, that the dry, shriveled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut.’ ― Anne Brontë, Agnes Grey (1847) One of the books I turn to whenever I want a short, light, and …

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Lesson #266: Some English Words That Are Difficult To Translate In Other Languages

Whenever you learn a new language, there are always words that you find challenging in themselves but also difficult to translate into your own language (or vice versa). I searched recently for some such words in English, and then realised that one of the very first works of English literature that I ever read as …

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Lesson #265: ‘from Eton pears to Parliamentary pairs’: 10 English Homophones

It has been a while since we turned to Charles Dickens for educational inspiration! On the other hand, I have just finished reading the last chapters of my favourite Dickens’ book, Little Dorrit (1857), and am paying tribute to it (acknowledging it respectfully) in today’s Lesson on homophones. You might be asking: what are homophones? …

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Lesson #263 (Part 2): Vocabulary relating to Clothes, Fabrics, and different kinds of Textiles – ‘All Purple Cloth and Fine Linen’ (Elizabeth Gaskell)

In this second part of our Lesson on vocabulary relating to textiles, we will continue with four more words that specifically describe richer types of material. They are not the kind of fabric that you would wear every day, but there is a chance that at some point in your life you will wear a …

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Lesson #263 (Part 1): Vocabulary relating to Clothes, Fabrics, and different kinds of Textiles – ‘Who On Earth Wears Cotton That Can Afford Linen?’ (Elizabeth Gaskell)

This wonderful novel by Elizabeth Gaskell is set in mid-19th century (c. 1850s) England, where the main character, a strong-minded girl called Margaret Hale, is forced together with her family to leave their lovely home in the sunny south of England and move to a smoky, industrial town further north (‘Milton’ – a fictional name …

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Lesson #262: ‘This is the famous stone / That turneth all to Gold’ – George Herbert’s ‘The Elixir’

This Lesson’s feature image: George Herbert at Bemerton, Salisbury (1860), by painter William Dyce (1806-1864). Photo Credit: City of London Corporation (ArtUK.org) 📆 It is one year to the day – October 1st 2020 – since I started posting short Lessons on how to ‘learn English through literature’! A lot has changed since then, with …

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Lesson #261: Writing with a strong sense of wonder – Browning’s ‘Home-Thoughts, From the Sea’

📜 ‘Home-Thoughts, From the Sea’ (1845) Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the North-West died away;Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay;Bluish ‘mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar lay;In the dimmest North-East distance, dawned Gibraltar grand and gray;“Here and here did England help me: how can I help England?”—say,Whoso turns as …

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Lesson #260: Effective advice on ‘How to Write a Letter’, by Elizabeth Turner

📜’How to write a Letter’ Maria intended a letter to write,But could not begin (as she thought) to indite;So went to her mother with pencil and slate,Containing ‘Dear Sister’, and also a date. ‘With nothing to say, my dear girl, do not thinkOf wasting your time over paper and ink;But certainly this is an excellent …

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Lesson #258: ‘Late Autumn’: Appreciating a colourful poem by English-Canadian poet Joseph Horatio Chant

As we draw close to the first anniversary of these regular Learn English through Literature Lessons, I thought it would be a nice celebration to read and reflect on inspiring English language poetry this week. 📚 As you will see, some of the poets we are considering are less well-known, so all the more reason …

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Lesson #257 (Part 2): ‘Oh, I do see …’ Analysing the many ways Henry James used ‘do’ in English (and how you can too)

📗 “… The right time is any time that one is still so lucky as to have. You’ve plenty; that’s the great thing; you’re, as I say, damn you, so happily and hatefully young. Don’t at any rate miss things out of stupidity. Of course I don’t take you for a fool, or I shouldn’t …

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