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Jill McCracken’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 11 Jan 2011

Location: Paris, France

MapFirst Class & Field Trip

I have completed my first class in Paris. The American Literature class was lively and my presentation went well, I am glad I signed up to get one (of the required two presentations) out of the way quickly enough in the semester. I compared the memoirs of Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway but only the bits where they wrote about each other. There were some stark differences in the accounts so it makes me wonder who was really friends with whom during the time of the Lost Generation in Paris. Either way, 10% of my grade in American Lit. has been accounted for! Even our professor noted that maybe he 'overdid' the amount of reading required for today's class. 200 pages. Being a history student, I didn't even balk at number of pages, I just knew I had to get down to business.

We ended class a touch early and went as a group to visit the bookstore where so many of the Lost Generation received their starting support from Sylvia Beach. The contemporary incarnation of Shakespeare and Company is across the street from the Notre Dame cathedral but the real S&C used to be on the rue de l'Odean. With so much history around you, the joy overwhelmed me. My Dad's influence has probably fostered my love for a good bookstore, but this experience was pure joy for me. Towers of books from the floor to the ceiling filled the historic building and you could just feel the sense of purpose in yourself to just read the titles of the books. It made me actually want to pick up a copy of Ulysses and attempt it. But at a hefty 800 or so pages, maybe I should purchase my copy in Canada to avoid carting it home from France.

Either way, I'm greatly enjoying all of the literature that I have always wanted to read but haven't afforded myself the chance to do so...maybe I should have been an English major. But at the same time, I consider that for me, literature is such a personal experience that I would not want to ruin it with analysis. I shall stay in history and psychology but make an effort to continue reading my "wishlist" of classic books before I pass. My first film class begins tomorrow morning.

xoxo Jill