Course 4—Readings

Digging
by Seamus Heaney (1939-)


In Brief
course4-book1 A short poem about a young man watching his father dig in the flower garden. At first he looks down on his father's figure (literally and figuratively) but eventually comes to a greater appreciation of his father, grandfather, and himself as a writer. Read the selection (from wussu.com).

About the Author
Poet and Nobel laureate, Heaney was born in County Derry in Northern Ireland. Much of his early poetry is drawn from childhood experience, but his later works are more political, concentrating on language and its cultural and historical implications. Despite his connections with the U.S., Heaney was deeply committed to the Republic of Ireland. Heaney died in 2013 at the age of 74.

In 2000, Heaney made the news in the U.S. He was nominated for the prestigious Whitbread Prize in the UK for his highly acclaimed new Beowulf translation. But he found himself up against pretty stiff competition—J.K. Rowling of the popular Harry Potter series. Needless to say, the "literati" were miffed to see him thrown into the same cauldron as Rowling. He ended up winning, by the way.


A & P
by John Updike (1932-2009)


In Brief
course4-book2This is a frequently anthologized and popular story about a young man trapped in a dehumanizing job at the A&P. Sammy makes a rash decision, which gives him a keen but painful insight into adulthood. Make sure you catch the humor here—this is very, very funny (in spite of Sammy's pre-feminist, sexist remarks). The story takes place in the 1950's, when the cold war was heating up.
Read the selection (from tiger-town.com).

About the Author
One of the most heralded U.S. authors, John Updike hardly needs an introduction. But here goes: born in Pennsylvania, Updike graduated from Harvard and worked at The New Yorker magazine before becoming a lifetime novelist and short-story writer. Both prolific and versatile, he spent over 40 years writing essays, criticism, and poetry, as well as best-selling novels and short stories. He was known for his concern with middle-class anxieties, tensions, and frustrations. Updike died in 2009 at the age of 76.

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