One of my favorite parts about being involved with the Honors Program is the classes it allows students to take. This semester, I am taking a one credit seminar called “Great Short Reads” that is only offered to students within the Honors Program. The class only meets about five or six times throughout the semester, but is constantly active online, in Sakai forums. We have to read three short novellas during the semester, the first chosen by Paul Blaney, the instructor, and the following two chosen by the students.
We meet every few weeks, with pizza of course (thanks to Honors Program!), to discuss the novella and tp watch a movie adaptation of it. The discussions, especially the online potions of them, are very thought-provoking. It’s also fun and relaxing to get together as a group every few weeks to hang out, talk about really interesting books, and compare the movies to the novellas with my peers.
The first novella, titled Death in Venice, was unlike anything I have read before. I flew through the story, finishing the entire book in one sitting. Thomas Mann painting a beautiful, yet bleak, image of the city of Venice. The story was slightly disturbing, as an older man became obsessed with and fell in “love” with a young boy while on holiday in Venice, Italy, but I still enjoyed reading the it. The internal conflict and thoughts of the main character were fascinating to read and try to understand. The movie adaptation was enjoyable to watch because of the way in which we were able to compare it to the novel as a class.
I am looking forward to the next two novellas we plan on reading: The Lover by Marguerite Duras, and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Though I have not read these novellas yet, it is interesting to think about the major themes of the class that have formed through our choice of books. The overarching theme of the class has somehow been turned into aging, or more specifically, the acceptance and fear of it. Other themes that will form links between the three stories are likely to expose themselves in our readings, and I look forward to trying to find and discuss them.