Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Restoration age writings!

Well, in one of my earlier blogs, I mentioned that I migrated to English Litt. after graduating in Chemistry. I took to Literature like a duck to water, and was fast throwing my feet around in the waters far better than my fellow ducklings. For I read much more than most of my classmates.

The English library was so diferent from my concept of a library.
In the first place, it was NOT located near the staff room. Secondly it was not a dark, boring place. Thirdly, the 'wanted' books were not all thick, heavy tomes, dog eared and yellowing. But yes, there WAS that all pervading, uniquely lovely smell of books. Not the intoxicating fragrance of new books, but still mmmmm......

The library was bright, airy, had desks and chairs comfortably arranged, fans that worked, silently with no irritating drone, stools near the shelves, and two attendants with eagle eyes and dog ears. (Inside the library they were dragons, but outside, they were dear lambs.) And the shelves- there were separate shelves for the different kinds- Indian, American, Foreign, Drama, Prose, Criticism, Poetry, Shakespeare... loads and loads of lovely, yummy books- all in perfect condition- old and new, and lots of copies.

I remember, one weekend during the early days, Dad dropped in just like that to see how his 'little' daughter was coping, and he was astounded -and later he told me in a letter, delighted- to see me in the library. I realised totally, what people meant when they said- like what you do, and it will be no drudgery, but a pleasure. (wish I could say the same about my job now, sigh!)

The first year passed by like a dream, with me having maximum fun in class as well as outside, for I am a strong believer in the all work and no play making Jill dull funda. And beside, here, like I said earlier, work was fun too.

Well, all too soon, it was exam time, the usual jitters caught hold of everybody, and I was no exception to the rule.
Exams went like a dream too, and soon it was time for our viva. Here, I was getting a wee bit worried, for they might ask me anything, on general stuff, that the others would have learnt in three years of graduation...

However, the viva too went by- almost like a dream- except for one last question, that was almost an afterthought by one of the examiners. I remember there were 3 guys, and one of our own professors, and I sailed through everything..there was one last question on Wilde and Comedy of Manners. I spoke confidently and well, and the guys all nodded and smiled in farewell, when there came a parting shot from one examiner-

"Why is it called Restoration comedy?"
"It is is one among the works of restoration drama, "went I. "Generally, the satire lends to comedy, hence Rest. comedy."

"Yes, but why Restoration?"
"It focusses on the restoration of moral values."

A quizzical look.
"It brought back into prominence the play of morals"

Why Restoration?
Ultimately, as politely as I could, without telling him to go boil his head in oil- "Because it r-e-s-t-o-r-e-d values back in society."

Why Restoration? It could be called any other name..? "
I gave up.

I could sense that he was driving at something, but it was beyond me to even guess. This is just a little of what I remember of our interchange of questions and answers. I think the two of us would have spent a good five minutes going back and forth without either of us getting any happier, but neither of us giving up.

"Go back to what you learnt for your graduation," sympathetically urged one of the other examiners, all of whom had become very interested in this exchange. They couldn't understand how I was unable to answer so 'simple' a question, when I had done so well and articulately for all the rest of the session..

I was defeated.
"I didn't do my BA. I did my B.Sc in Chemistry, and then shifted to MA English, because I liked English and Literature, I said, ruefully, looking to my Professor for support in this statement. He smiled and nodded at the others.

Tension eased in the room. The examiners laughed in understanding. I was far from laughing. But I WAS relieved at the sudden release from stress.

"Its called Restoration drama because Charles II was r-e-s-t-o-r-e-d to the throne, "said my tormentor, using my own tone.

I laughed too, glad that I was redeemed, nay, restored in his eyes, for English history was not part of the MA curriculum, it was part of the BA curriculum.

7 comments:

itchingtowrite said...

oh why do the viva guys play this game of torture!

Hip Grandma said...

I also did my B.Sc in Botany and applied for M.A. English and M.Sc. Botany and got call letters for both.But since I was already working I opted for M.Sc thinking that it would help in my career.Had I taken up English I may have faced the same problem as you did.

~nm said...

Hehe..good one! You were a such a 'good gal' in college with brains and games both!

Somehow I was too fedgety in nature to sit still and quiet for a library person! I like reading my books all sprawled up! :P

Just like that said...

ITW- indeed...

HGM- alls well that ended well :-)

NM- Brains was only in Litt. Me too like sprawling, but literary criticism notes have to be written sitting at a table, on a chair ;-)

WhatsInAName said...

Was this Viva or some form of ragging :)
Your post triggered a trip down memory lane for me too. I, being a science student throughout, vivas and practicals were too common an affair and I fumbled up most :)

Usha said...

hahaha. Also goes to see the mockery of our curriculum design. At least they should have recommenf=ded History of English litt and history of England as recommended reading.
well written.

Just like that said...

I didn't go on to complete my MA, which is one of my biggest regrets to date...

somehow, doing a correspondence or part time course doesn't appeal to me after that lovely English Dept library. Also, a couple of professors we had were simply super in the way they loved and got us to love, their subject.