Hello! My name's Liliana. I'm a teacher of English (Language and Literature) to Italian teenage stu

giovedì 7 marzo 2019

Tiresias and the truth revealed

“How many yous have you been?
How many,
Lined up inside,

Each killing the last?” Kate Tempest

“What Tiresias sees, in fact, is the substance of the poem” T. S. Eliot

"Since I can no longer see, I see things more clearly". Andrea Camilleri

Outstanding, noteworthy, impressive - these are the adjectives that better describe the  show broadcast by Rai Uno  on the 5th March 2019, where Camilleri talked about Tiresias in the enchanted, magical Greek Theatre in Syracuse (the event had taken place on the 11th June 2018).

That famous mythical character has always inspired intellectuals, writers, poets and philosophers through centuries.

Omero, Sofocle, Seneca, Dante, T.S. Eliot, Apollinaire, V. Woolf, Borges, Pound, Pavese, Woody Allen, Pasolini, Primo Levi are some of the authors referred to by Camilleri during the show and he well explained the intricate reasons for such a huge interest in Tiresias. He himself said he has always been fascinated by Tiresias and not only because he has become blind lately like the mythical figure but for some more remarkable, notable reasons.

Tiresias is turned into a woman by Hera (the wife of Zeus), as a punishment for having killed, with a stick, a female snake while having a close intercourse with a male snake. For seven years he lives as a woman and he probably experiences, as Camilleri points out, a male body but also, and that is maybe the most important aspect, a female view on the world and surely he lives all the troubles of a woman trying to face thousand activities and situations at the same time! What a difficult condition for a person who has always done one thing at a time!

In other words, he learns to see the world using another viewpoint and that is the first reason for being so intrigued in the story of Tiresias.

Being a man or a woman changes your way to approach the reality around you, having a relevant impact on your identity, on your true self.

That is already a good reason to talk about Tiresias and be captivated by his story. When he is again a man, after seven years, he has learnt how a woman acts and reacts to actual experiences and how she feels sensations and release emotions.

However, the story of Tiresias does not come to an end with him being a man again.

He is punished once more by Hera and this time he is made blind but at the same time he is given the gift of predicting the future of all the people he will come across, and, that is not all, he will live seven different lives but not continually!

As a result, his existence will be very long but also tough, if we consider his state of blindness. At the same time, people are likely to take a special interest in him as he can foresee the future.

Now the question is- is it a good thing or a bad one to be able to see things that are still to happen in the future? Is it good to be endowed with special gifts? Is it bad to be doomed to tell the truth?

Hence, who does Tiresias, the seer, stand for? Who is that special prophet who cannot see but can foresee the future? Is he the artist? Here we are!

Tiresias embodies the figure of the artist, of that who sees things that common people cannot see. But does that bring happiness to him or is that a source of distress, sorrow, anguish ?…..

The answer is not difficult-knowledge of the future does not always bring happiness and joy. In fact most of the times that awareness may cause sadness and grief….but it is the only truth and in being that it may help keep on living as humans, authentic individuals being aware of the meaning of their lives.

The reference to Primo Levi and his state of prisoner in a debasing, brutalizing  Nazi death camp is particularly relevant. As Levi wrote down, he managed to avoid being turned from a human into a non-human thanks to poetry and its special gist .

Once again, for an artist, poetry has the power to help him face reality as it is, triggering a sense of solitude but also encouraging  him to maintain his standards of behavior and beliefs, his elevated moral values, his humanity.
After having discussed about the numerous intellectuals, poets and writers dealing with the mysterious figure of Tiresias, eventually Camilleri gets to talk about the uttermost work by Thomas Stearns Eliot -  The Waste Land.

And it is not by chance that he does that referring to the lines telling the episode between the typist and the clerk, where Tiresias probably wants to communicate, though in a cryptic way,  his readers a relevant idea, a message or prophesy that could reveal the secret of the poem, its substance-  the modern human condition is just  degradation, squalor and shattered morals.

In doing so, Tiresias highlights the condition of modern people entrapped in a state of  cultural and moral decline, and he also shows how the lack of awareness of that state does not make them escape but on the contrary they keep on living with a sense of loss, spiritual desolation  and cultural confusion. They are emotionally dead.

Is that the same message conveyed by Camilleri?

Are we currently living in a world connoted by incomprehension, disillusionment, desolation,  moral  decay- a rootless world lacking high ethical qualities?

Do we need to ‘wake up’ and start a spiritual rebirth?

In Britain, the talented rapper, playwright and spoken word artist  Kate Tempest has recently tackled the same myth. In Hold your own the myth of Tiresias is made contemporary and crucial.

Tiresias  is introduced as “a boy of fifteen”, “kicking a tennis ball, / Keeping it up, / the boy on the street in his sister’s old jumper”, and is finally depicted as the mythic figure condemned  to tell the truth to people too distracted to listen.

“To really see the state of things is lethal,” Tempest  says but not to be able to see the truth brings only misery. “It’s safer,” she advises,

... just to see what we can bear.
Exhausting being fear-struck;
howling, weak-willed.
Much nicer to be bathing in the glare
of all that we have built to shine and
soothe us 
what use are eyes at all in times like  this?
Yet the artist is a special person and in spite of deep sorrow and a condition of upsetting awareness almost a devastating, shattering one, he can see what common people, the others, cannot see.

Poetry is seen again once and forever as it was perceived by Levi-despite being overwhelming, shocking and  catastrophic for its qualities of revealing the truth, poetry is always worth while, as it makes you be yourself even during drastic bad changes, harsh complicated situations, difficult conflicting states to be endured.

It is an extraordinary, amazing, unusual way to hold your own.

One more time poetry saves human beings from being dehumanized and, I would like to say, as Shakespeare pointed out four centuries ago, it is the only eternal truth!

That is the meaning of the words used by Camilleri ’I’d like to meet you here in this theatre in 100 years’ time….Yes…. his wish for all contemporary distracted and confused people is

 ‘ Poetry will live for ever! ‘ It must !'

mercoledì 6 marzo 2019

Stream of consciousness and different types of interior monologue

The term stream of consciousness was coined by the American psychologist and philosopher William James in The Principles of Psychology (1890)
It is the continuous flow of thoughts and sensations that characterize the human mind. It is a psychic phenomenon

The interior monologue is the verbal expression of a psychic phenomenon

  • It lacks chronological order
  • Time is subjective
  • Rules of punctuation are disregarded
  • There is no logical order

The indirect
The narrator does not let the characters' thoughts flow without control and mantains logical and grammatical organization

ex. He said 'I'll come back here to see you again'
I'll come back here to see you again
He would come back there to see her again the following day

The direct
where the characters' thoughts flow freely, not interrupted by external events.There are no introductory expressions like'He thought....Take for example, Molly's monologue. Molly lies in bed thinking over the day. Various scenes from her past life crowd into her mind, while she is  thinking of her husband in particular.

The interior monologue
with two levels of narration

  • one is external to the characters' mind
  • the other is internal

An example is Leopold's funeral when the narrator follows Ulysses' associations,memories, reflections, stimulated by external ,even unimportant, trivial things

domenica 3 marzo 2019

OLIVER TWIST presentation

The building of the Nation (tratto da Performer Heritage)

Eveline Animation

 Listen to the song "Eveline" and complete it with a missing word from the list below:

keep   decided    running       dust      pain       put         treated    deserve       sick     worth     sake       choose           laugh      promise     pain        used             make

Maybe I'll collect ____________by this window
With all the objects in this room

There's a field where the children ___________ to play
But that was in the past
They’re gone now, and my friends are gone as well
It all happened so fast

What would the people say if I ____________to run away?
I don’t want to be____________like my mother
Trust me, I love her, but is it ____________it
Should I take all the shame?

What exactly am I staying for?
Is it my father’s violence? Can’t I leave, for Frank’s and my ___________?
This doesn’t feel like home
But Buenos Aires with him just might

But I can’t forget how my father read me a story
While I was bedridden and _____________
Or the way he _________ on our mother’s bonnet
To make us all _____________ at a picnic

I can’t forget about what I told my mother
Even though she’s gone, that ____________ still lives
_____________the home together as long as I could
Maybe I could stay for them, maybe I should

But “Derevaun Seraun! Derevaun Seraun!”
I hear her, “The end of pleasure is _____________!”
“Derevaun Seraun! Derevaun Seraun!”
I hear her, “The end of pleasure is ___________!”


Wouldn’t staying hurt me more?
Don’t I ____________better than this
What am I living for?
There’s a lot of things that I’ll miss

I can’t _____________ up my mind
It’s so hard to _____________
But I think I’m _____________out of time
Dear God, please tell me what to do

Watch the video and answer the following questions
  1. How does the story open?
  2. Who is the main character?
  3. What did she see and hear from the window?
  4. What past memories did she remember?
  5. What was her father like and how did she feel with him?
  6. Did she have a boyfriend? What do you know about him, his job, his interests, his character?
  7. What was she going to do?
  8. What did the street organ player remind her?
  9. How does the story end? Make a list of actions she did at the end of the story.
  10. Where does the story take place?

domenica 24 febbraio 2019

How language shapes the way we think | Lera Boroditsky

Rupert Brooke - The Soldier - Poetry Lecture and Analysis by Dr. Andrew ...

War Poets

The FIRST WORLD WAR destroyed the belief in PROGRESS, which had found so many supporters in the 19th centuury

The war lasted LONGER and was WORSE than expected

Young people LOST  their lives quite often because of the stubborness, incompetence, disorganization of politicians and high command.

In ENGLAND, the first response was a sort of ROMANTIC VIEW, supported by propaganda and by a deep sense of patriotic duty.

As the war went on, this attitude changes. The poets described the horror of battles

RUPERT BROOKE(1887-1915)
On the outbreak of the war, he enlisted as an officer
He died of blood poisoning on the island of Skyros
He was really good-looking. He became the romantic symbol of the soldier-poet (1914 and Other poems published in 1915)

The Soldier by Rupert Brooke, 1887 - 1915

If I should die, think only this of me:
   That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.  There shall be
   In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
   Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
   Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
   A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
     Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
   And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
     In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Il soldato

Se dovessi morire, pensa solo questo di me:
che c’è qualche angolo di un campo straniero
che sarà per sempre Inghilterra. C’è
in quella ricca terra una polvere nascosta più ricca;

Una polvere che l’Inghilterra ha fatto nascere, ha formato, reso consapevole,
a cui ha dato, una volta, i suoi fiori da amare, le sue strade da girovagare,
un corpo di Inghilterra, che respira aria inglese,
bagnata dai fiumi, benedetta dai soli di casa.

E pensa, questo cuore, liberatosi dal male,
un palpito nella mente Eterna, non di meno
restituisce da qualche parte i pensieri donati dall’Inghilterra,
i suoi sospiri e suoni; sogni felici come il suo giorno;
e risate imparate dagli amici; e gentilezza,
nei cuori in pace, sotto un cielo Inglese.

It belongs to the sonnet sequence 1914 written during the first phase of the war.
It expresses what Englishmen felt in the autumn of 1914:
  • sense of patriotism
  • idealization of those who died in battle
  • the sonnet presents a vague generalization of the war seen as self-sacrifice=glory
  • no hint at the real  horrors of the war
  • the death of the soldier is considered as the ideal reunion with his mother country

He enlisted in the British army (an infantry officer)
He was wounded, decorated and promoted to captain. However, he hated the war.He pointed the grim reality of thench life.
He eventually became a pacifist and wrote satirical anti-war poems (Counter Attack 1918, Satirical Poems 1926)

'They' by Siegfried Sassoon

       The Bishop tells us: 'When the boys come back
       'They will not be the same; for they'll have fought
       'In a just cause: they lead the last attack
       'On Anti-Christ; their comrades' blood has bought
       'New right to breed an honourable race,
       'They have challenged Death and dared him face to face.'

       'We're none of us the same!' the boys reply.
       'For George lost both his legs; and Bill's stone blind;
       'Poor Jim's shot through the lungs and like to die;
       'And Bert's gone syphilitic: you'll not find
       'A chap who's served that hasn't found some change.
       ' And the Bishop said: 'The ways of God are strange!'


Il vescovo ci dice: “Quando i ragazzi torneranno
non saranno più gli stessi; perchè hanno combattuto
per una giusta causa: essi hanno condotto l’ultimo attacco
contro l’Anti-Cristo; il sangue dei loro compagni ha ottenuto
il diritto di portare avanti una razza onorabile,
essi hanno sfidato la Morte faccia a faccia.”

“Noi non saremo più gli stessi!”, replicano i ragazzi.
“Perchè George ha perso entrambe le gambe; e Bill è diventato cieco;
Al povero Jim hanno sparato nei polmoni ed è quasi morto;
E Bert ha contratto la sifilide: non troverai
alcun tipo di persona che ha servito in battaglia che non abbia subito cambiamenti.”
E il Vescovo rispose: “I mezzi di Dio sono strani!”.


Analyse  the poem
The two stanzas represent two points of view on war and its effects on soldiers.
The first point of view is based on opinions, while the second one is based on facts.
The poem is an imaginary dialogue between a Bishop urging young soldiers to fight in a just war and the soldiers who have experimented the horror of war.
The bishop encourages the soldiers to go and die at the front, as he believes that the conflict is justified and that it will generate a new and better race of men.
The boys who use the personal pronoun we, reply by making a list of the actual results of a war- terrible wounds, mutilation,physical agony. The only change they are aware of is for the worse.
Two different registers are used in the poem.
In the first stanza the register is religious, high-flown, ornate,figurative, while in the second one it is colloquial, down-to-earth, realistic and informal.
The Bishop expresses his view of war as a just cause.
The soldiers describe the physical horror of war and list their disabled comrades.
The juxtaposition of the two register reinforces the clash between the two views of war- one moralistic and gloryfying suffering having no link wih the real experience of war, the other realistic and emphasizing suffering because born out of first-hand experience.

It is not about what really happens during a war. 
It is about:
  • what is said before it (propaganda) and seen after it (the real war)
  • the gap in communication within the mother country (between those who fight and those who don't)
  • the horryfying effects of war from both the physical and moral point of view.
It is an attack against those who cannot see the cruelty of war- who , like the Bishop, reply when confronted with evidence of suffering ' The ways of God are strange!'

Un'intera nottata
buttato vicino
a un compagno
con la sua bocca
volta al plenilunio
con la congestione
delle sue mani
nel mio silenzio
ho scritto
lettere piene d'amore

Non sono mai stato
attaccato alla vita

Si sta come
sugli alberi le foglie


I. Nouns

II. Adjectives

III. Verbs

Nouns Adjectives Verbs
Badminton Awful Beat
Baseball Boring Catch
Basketball Dreadful Compete
Cricket Exhilarating Hit
Cycling Fair Lose
Diving Fast Play
Athletics Lucky                    Do
Karate Slow Go
Yoga Terrific Practise
Handball              Unfair Ride
Netball Unlucky Score
Football Wonderful Throw
Rugby Skilful               Draw
Tennis Win
Table tennis

domenica 17 febbraio 2019

Top 10 Notes: Robinson Crusoe


Watch the video and answer the questions

  1. What were the most important events happened during Daniel Defoe’s life?  
  2. What kind of jobs did he do in his life?
  3. Who was the man that inspired Daniel Defoe while writing Robinson Crusoe?
  4. What does the verb “deem” mean in this video?
  5. What was the slave trade? What was its purpose?
  6. Which century did it start?
  7. What kind of activities does Robinson do on the desert island in order to survive?
  8. What terrible thing do the natives do, according to the novel?
  9. What does Robinson want to get through his sea voyages?
  10. Two adjectives are used in the video with reference to Robinson. What are they?
  11. What does Crusoe teach Friday?
  12. What’s the word that Friday must use when calling him?
  13. What are the themes of the novel connected to?
  14. Why was the novel an instant success?
  15. What’s the title of a famous TV series inspired by Robinson Crusoe? 

giovedì 14 febbraio 2019

Students in the fourth class have written down seven sentences for each phrasal verb (look,take,break) they have found

1. I asked my mom to look after my children this weekend.
2. I have to look at all the proposals before coming to any decision.
3. When I look back on my childhood, I realise how happy I was.
4. I hate the way that Lisa looks down on us, she is so irritating.
5. I'm looking for my glasses, have you seen them?
6. I'm really looking forward to my birthday, I will be of age.
7. Look me up if you are ever in Italy.

1. The backpack I bought was broken, so I took it back.
2. She took down my phone number and said she'd call me later.
3. My best friend lost his apartment, so I took her in for a month.
4. I always take off my shoes as soon as I get home.
5. The company has taken on two new employees.
6. He took me out to dinner on Valentine's day.
7. I know it's wrong, but when I'm angry I take it out on everybody.

1. My sister's car broke down on the way home, so I went to get her.
2. Some teenagers broke into the school and stole all the computers last year.
3. I'm sorry to break in on your chat, but could I borrow your pen?
4. She broke off the relationship after she found out he was cheating.
5. The fire fighters broke open the door to save the little boy.
6. Some guys broke through the barriers to get into the music festival.
7. The police broke up a fight outside our local pub.

 1 I am looking forward to having a hot bath
2 Don't forget to look after the plants!
3 I am looking for my keys!
4 Look out, there is a broken glass on the floor!
5 I hate the way that our boss looks down on us
6 I looked on as my friend danced around the room
7 I have always looked out for my little sister
1 Take off your coat and sit down!
2 We are ready to take off!
3 I took the radio apart to find out what was wrong 
4 The teacher took my mobile phone away until the end of the lessons
5 The bad news took us aback
6 Tom has taken up running to lose some weight
7 You look sick and should go home. I will take over for you

1 Yesterday thief broke into the bank
2 The prisoners broke out of jail last night
3 A woman broke down in tears when the boss dismissed her
4 She broke him off
5 The ship was broken up for scarp metal
6 We got a trainer to break in our new horse
7 The sun broke through the clouds

  • LOOK
  • When I look back, the time I spent abroad was wonderful
  • I’m looking forward too see ????? you again
  • Look out chiara! Someone is watching you.
  • I need to look up this word in the dictionary 
  • Now, the things are finally looking up
  • Henry looked through the magazine quickly.
  • We were looking round the shops when we were in Ashville.

  • TAKE
  • ‘He took up jogging after his doctor advised him to get some exercise.
  • Take out the rubbish when you leave.’
  • Jenny couldn’t take in all the information at the meeting.
  • In my family, I take after my mother. We have the same eyes and hair.
  • Could you take back this book to the library for me?
  • The restaurant takes on extra staff in the summer.
  • If you don't take back what you said to my wife, I will have to sack you. She was hugely offended.

domenica 10 febbraio 2019

The Picture of Dorian Gray     vs         Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

There's always a dark side in every human being
Good and Evil are two different aspects of the same personality
They both criticize the Victorian society and its emphasis 
on respectability and outward appearance
There's a SPLIT between the world of appearances and the inner world
There's a real contrast between good and evil, true and false, moral and immoral

Dorian looks   wonderfully young and pure                                    

  1. The irregular, shameful and criminal habits do not change Dorian's physical appearance
  2. The picture reflects Dorian's evil soul (a symbol of his conscience)
  3. Dorian is fascinated by his own image but feels disgust when contemplating the transformation of the picture

Dr Jekyll is a respectable doctor, who has a very good reputation

  1. The transformation gives Hyde/Jekyll the possibility to follow bad instincts and do evil things without spoiling Jekyll's reputation, because it is Hyde who acts
  2. The mirror  reflects the evil side of Jekyll's nature
  3. Jekyll likes his other self but feels remorse for the murder


ITALY                                                                    ENGLAND

                      OSCAR WILDE



his greatest play               his greatest play
↳                                                               ↳
La figlia di Iorio 1904                   The importance of being Earnest  1895
                    Anti-conformist spirit
                         Foppish way of dressing
                     Influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite 


                         Aesthetic ideal
Life is a creative act closely intertwined with art
The artist is beyond moral conventions
Art is an absolute value. It is the supreme form of life
My life is like a work of art
⏬                                                                                         ⏬
D'Annunzio Il Piacere                 Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray
                      1889                                        1891
translated in English as
The Child of Pleasure