The Point of the “Pointless” Degree

“So, what can you do with that?”

“Ah! You want to teach then?”

“You pay… to read books?”

“Well, so long as you enjoy it I guess.”

These are actual responses from ‘human beings’ I’ve had upon telling them I study English Literature. There is, and has been for as long as I can recall, a notion that Literature is a ‘waste’ of a degree, that it won’t help you in the ‘real world’. People who hold this idea tend to all have one thing in common: they know nothing / very little about what a Literature degree entails.

As someone who does know their fair share about a Literature degree, I thought I’d share a little.

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Literary London #1

A tribute to Wilkie Collins, author of The Woman in White, The Moonstone and many other brilliant works can be found at 96 New Cavendish Street, where the famous novelist was born. The plaque was unveiled in 2014 by Westminster City Council, 125 years after Collins’s death.

I stumbled across this one whilst heading to Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street; very fitting!

The Other Side of a Mirror | Mary E. Coleridge.

I sat before my glass one day,
And conjured up a vision bare,
Unlike the aspects glad and gay,
That erst were found reflected there –
The vision of a woman, wild
With more than womanly despair.

Her hair stood back on either side
A face bereft of loveliness.
It had no envy now to hide
What once no man on earth could guess.
It formed the thorny aureole
Of hard unsanctified distress.

Her lips were open – not a sound
Came through the parted lines of red.
Whate’er it was, the hideous wound
In silence and in secret bled.
No sigh relieved her speechless woe,
She had no voice to speak her dread.

And in her lurid eyes there shone
The dying flame of life’s desire,
Made mad because its hope was gone,
And kindled at the leaping fire
Of jealousy, and fierce revenge,
And strength that could not change nor tire.

Shade of a shadow in the glass,
O set the crystal surface free!
Pass – as the fairer visions pass –
Nor ever more return, to be
The ghost of a distracted hour,
That heard me whisper, “I am she!”

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