[percy-l] The Moviegoer

Beck, David A dabeck at iupui.edu
Thu May 11 20:10:18 EDT 2006

I see what you mean. But I think students prepare themselves when 
reading, say, Flaubert or Shakespeare, knowing that they are entering a 
different world. Some of the more modern works, however, seem real---in 
that it's their world--but the references don't. (A colleague of mine 
said that he taught Delillo's White Noise recently and realized how 
dated it is and that the "threat" seems less threatening than 
present-day reality.)
Of course, I could be all wrong. I don't have any strong convictions 
about what I'm saying. In fact, I'm just thinking out loud, trying to 
figure out why I have bombed with the Moviegoer, but not Lancelot or 
LITR. It's easy to see why students like those two--but even references 
in LITR are "dated." One student, who really liked it, said that he 
could tell it was written in the late 60's or early 70's.
I remember one student complained that nothing happened in the MG. I 
probably should wait for my 200-level class in the fall, but I just 
have a "hankering" to teach it this summer (and, come evaluation time, 
might pay dearly for it).
Thanks for the feedback.

Quoting Lawrence Rhu <rhul at gwm.sc.edu>:

> Isn't it "dated" in the ways Don Quixote or Madame Bovary is dated?
> Their protagonists fall under the spells of the fashionable fictions
> of their times -- chivalric romance, sentimental novel -- but they
> share themes that continue to engage us:  the relations between
> imagination and reality, moods and worlds, etc.  Try The Movies of My
> Life by Alberto Fuguet for a more recent similar sort of fictional
> effort, but I would readily put Percy's masterful novel in the line
> of those by  Cervantes and Flaubert.
> Larry
> Lawrence F. Rhu
> Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature
> University of South Carolina
> Columbia, SC  29208
> Tel:  803 777 0144
> Fax:  803 777 9064
> Email:  rhul at sc.edu
>>>> dabeck at iupui.edu 05/10/06 10:39 PM >>>
> Friends,
> A few weeks (months?) ago, someone posted a message about the success
> of teaching The Moviegoer to a high school class. (I'm thinking it was
> Rhonda.) But the email encouraged me to try it once again, in my Intro
> to Lit class this summer. Most of the class will be bright-faced, eager
> to learn, college freshman--well, college freshman anyway.
> The Moviegoer is one of my favorites, but it's also one that I've never
> taught successfully. Most thought it was too weird (I interpreted that
> as being too dated--replace Tony Curtis with Tom Cruise, etc.) But if
> high schoolers got it, then maybe it is the way I've been teaching it.
> Lancelot has always gone over well in my 200-level lit classes. And
> Love in the Ruins also works pretty well, though it's a little too
> long. But TMG is such a great book that I thought I needed to give it
> one more try. I'm re-reading it now and am really enjoying it again.
> So my question is (to the list and to Rhonda, if she is the one who
> posted the email): What is a good way of presenting this novel that is
> dated (in its references) but is as timely now (if not more so) than
> ever to college freshman?
> Any help will be much appreciated. The class doesn't begin until 6/26.
> Thanks.
> -David
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