The aim of this blog is to serve as a meeting point to those who study or have studied English philology and, more broadly, to all those who love literature and language.

31 Jul 2008


Fashions in Words
It always has been and always will be, lawful to produce a word stamped with the current mark. As woods change in leaf as the seasons slide on, and the first leaves fall, so the old generation of words dies out, and the newly born bloom and are strong like young men. We and our works are a debt owed to death. Here a land-locked sea protects fleets from the North wind – a royal achievement; here an old barren marsh were oars were piled feeds neighbouring cities and feels the weight of the plough; here again a river gives up a course that damaged the crops and learns a better way. But whatever they are, all mortal works will die; and still less can the glory and charm of words endure for a long life. Many words which have fallen will be born again, many now in repute will fall if usage decrees: for in her hand is the power and the law and the cannon of speech.

23 Jul 2008


Maite nos remite las primeras direcciones recomendadas para todos aquellos que deseen seguir aprendiendo inglés y perfeccionar el que ya saben. Seguiremos añadiendo direcciones en la medida en que nos vayan llegando. Un saludo a todos.
British Council: Learn English Central:
BBC Learning English:
Word Reference
Merriam Webster:

22 Jul 2008

Evelyn Waugh´s fiction (2)


I would like to write about the concept of Englishness in this novel represented by the aristocracy, the country house, the nostalgia of an order and civilisation against a fast changing modern world.

It represents a way of life and a code of values Waugh himself seems to miss and reject at the same time. I think we can see all this in his stereotyped characters.

Charles as a medium-class hero infatuated by the greatness of Brideshead, its architecture, its beauty. He describes the house as a sort of museum where time can be retained. He is an artist although he might not be aware of it yet.

Sebastian, a man trapped in his status, a poor soul who probably just wants to have a real friend, it could be argued what kind of relationship he expects from Charles. He does not care about the world which moves around him finding solace in alcohol.

Anthony, the dissenter, the outcast who blames Charles for not getting rid of the English charm which he thinks prevents him from being a real artist. He can be Waugh´s outsider eye, critic of a stiff conservative society .

Sebastian´s relationship with his nanny, a motherly figure in the house, who presides the table at meal times in absence of their parents, a cliché of the English aristocracy, but whose social condition is well remarked when Sebastian sets Charles to draw the fountain in the terrace and give it to her. We are told she is not able to appreciate the beauty in it:

“Give to nanny,“ said Sebastian.
I did so, and she put it among the collection on the top of her chest of drawers, remarking that it had quite a look of the thing, which she had often heard admired but could never see the beauty of, herself.

I got the picture from the new film of the novel coming out this year. If you are interested in watching the trailer...

21 Jul 2008

Evelyn Waugh´s Fiction (1)

Evelyn Waugh´s fiction (1)

I have started reading the first units of the 5th course English Literature and I wanted to comment on the features on Evelyn Waugh´s fiction as writing practice for next year.

The unit explores concepts like English identity, decay, nostalgia, religion, country houses as symbols in two of Waugh´s novels, A Handful Of Dust and Brideshead Revisited.

I have not read the novels, just the plots and the few extracts from the unit but I remember watching the film “A Handful Of Dust” a few years ago from one of these DVDs given free with THE DAILY TELEGRAPH. I thought that it was quite an absurd film especially the end with the protagonist being kidnapped by a madman in the jungle and spending the rest of his life reciting Dickens for him.

Now it all makes more sense when I read that it takes its title from Eliot´s “The Waste Land”, and the story can be seen as the decay of a once fertile land (Tony and Brenda´s life), a degraded modern version of the Arthurian story cycle, Tony as King Arthur, Brenda as Guinevere and Brenda´s lover, Mr. Beaver as Lancelot.

Tony, the hero of the novel, representing the myth of the English Christian gentleman who is an inevitable victim of the modern world and who ends like a knight searching for the Holy Grail and finding nothing but a special hell on earth. In the novel, Tony goes off to South America with a man he meets at a club in search of a lost city and ends his life reciting Dickens for a black patriarch, Mr. Todd, living his own hell on earth.

There is also an American version in which Tony comes back to England to his now penitent wife and quietly plots to deceive her as she deceived him apparently because the American Magazine that published the novel in a serial form, found the last chapter too macabre and asked for a less disturbing conclusion.

To be continued with Brideshead Revisited

19 Jul 2008


A subject I really enjoyed in my first year of English Philology at the UNED was CORRIENTES Y AUTORES LITERARIOS NORTEAMERICANOS HASTA EL SIGLO XX. Besides the subject matter, I found the course materials very good. The organisation of contents was clear, the display of pictures and text was pleasant and the division of the themes in two volumes, quite handy for transportation to libraries, trains… or any other improvised place of study.

It was nice to discover (or rediscover) the works of names I already was familiar with (Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain…) and get to know those of until then unknown ones (Kate Chopin, Frederick Douglass, Stephen Crane…) Each of them contributed in some way to create a picture of the United States with their particular piece of a ‘jigsaw puzzle’ (sketches of settlers’ concerns, slavery, Puritanism, pragmatic approaches to life, search for newness…)

Now, in order to illustrate this brief commentary on the abovementioned subject I have chosen Edgar Allan Poe, on the one hand, because his gothic writing may be linked to other works analysed in the course book (the atmosphere in Nathaniel Hawthorne's ‘Young Goodman Brown’ or the presence of death in Emily Dickinson’s poetry) and, on the other hand, as a homage to the writer who lends his name to this blog.

To do that I’ve been searching for a video which presented a reading of ‘The Raven’. These are some options:
- A version by Tinieblas González Part 1 / Part 2
- A reading by actor Christopher Walken.
- This 1967 version in Spanish:

18 Jul 2008


It is part of every person's knowledge that William Shakespeare is one of the greatest writers of all times. Shakespeare was a man who came from a modest family, with virtually no education early on, in the 16th-century-town of Stratford-upon-Avon, England, and who later wrote plays and poetry that were to win praise throughout the world. It is natural that he stole the heart of many readers, in the same way as he stole mine since the very moment I opened the Uned book of English Literature I. It seems obvious that this subject has been my favourite one along with Shakespeare Theatre and History of English Language. Thus, let me share a bit of my devotion for this great poet with you all by displaying hereunder some quotes of my favourite Shakespeare's works.

"O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!"

William Shakespeare, Henry V

"Deny thy father and refuse they name! Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Capulet"

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players"

William Shakespeare, As You Like It

What light is light, if Silvia be not seen? What joy is joy, if Silvia be not by?"

William Shakespeare,
Two Gentlemen of Verona

"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
 Shall be my brother"

William Shakespeare, Henry V

15 Jul 2008


Now that study time is over but many of the books, authors, linguistic concepts… seen in these last five years not yet forgotten, I think of the subjects I took in Filología Inglesa at the UNED as the landscape I could see at a particular stage of this 'academic journey'. It is true that a huge amount of all those pieces of knowledge that were so familiar throughout a term seemed to vanish all of a sudden, as soon as the exam was done and grades were published, but it is not less certain that others remain, if not as clear as they used to appear, at least as remembrances of old acquaintances or, more difficult to discern, blurred and integrated as part of a recently revised mental model.

Anyway, I'd like now to look back for a moment and talk about my favourite subjects (trying to recall just the good things and omit all that was dull, hard to learn or too puzzling regarding its organisation) and I'll take Semántica y Lexicografía Inglesa for a start. I remember especially enjoying two issues included in that course: Prototype Theory, about how "natural conceptual categories are structured around the 'best' examples or prototypes of the categories, and that other items are assimilated to a category according to whether they sufficiently resemble the prototype or not" (Cruse 2004, p.129) and the sections devoted to Metaphor. I found the reflections on the latter issue really interesting. Metaphors were analysed as conceptual in nature, far from the approach as a mere stylistic resource. It is amazing to discover all the variety of expressions produced from parallelisms such as LIFE IS A JOURNEY, ARGUMENT IS WAR or ANGER IS HEAT OF FLUID IN CONTAINER.

14 Jul 2008


We all remember the expressions of biculturality in literature in the work of Judith Ortiz Cofer’s “The Witch’s Husband”. And sure we all remember as well, the concept of ‘mestiza consciousness’ as Gloria Anzaldua developed it. Ortiz Cofer, in her short story, explored this concept blending opposite boundaries and perceiving experience as basically decentered. Now academics David Luna, from Baruch College and Torsten Ringberg and Laura A. Peracchio, from the University of Wisconsin have made public the results of a study on how bilingualism affects personality.
According to this research there are significant levels of “frame-shifting” (changes in self perception) in bicultural participants. The study has been made in subjects that participate in both Latino and Anglo culture, just as was the case of Abuela’s character in Cofer’s story. The authors point out that the women classified themselves as more assertive when they speak Spanish than when they spoke English. It seems that, while frame-shifting has been studied before, the new research found that biculturals switched frames more quickly and easily than bilingual monoculturals.
The authors explain that “in the Spanish-language sessions, informants perceived females as more self-sufficient and extroverted”. The study seems to conclude that “the shift in perception seems to happen unconsciously, and may have broad implications for consumer behavior and political choices among biculturals”.

Source: University of Chicago Press Journals. "Are You A Different Person When You Speak A Different Language?." ScienceDaily 26 June 2008. 14 July 2008 .

10 Jul 2008


Sirva el nombre de este sitio como un pequeño homenaje al maestro del cuento corto. Edgar Allan Poe fue, además, un firme defensor de la teoría del ‘Art for Art’s sake’, con la cual coincido plenamente. Así pues, señor Poe, dónde quiera que esté, ¡reciba un saludo!
Y dicho esto, queda inaugurado este blog, cuya finalidad es servir de punto de encuentro para quienes estudian o han estudiado la filología inglesa y para todos aquellos, en general, que aman la literatura y la lingüística.
Será bienvenida cualquier sugerencia que ayude a mejorar el funcionamiento de la página, de manera que esta resulte lo más cómoda y eficaz posible para los usuarios.