14 April 2010
Book Review: Wit
Author: Margaret Edson
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
Vivian Bearing, a professor of English, specializing in the work of John Donne is undergoing treatment for stage 4 ovarian cancer. The play details her experience both with the treatment externally and with her transformation internally as she reassesses her life.
I read this so quickly I barely feel up to reviewing it. I opened it up with the intention of just reading the first few pages to see if it was something I'd like to use in my Introduction to Literature course. An hour later I was finished and a bit surprised that I had so lost track of time.
I think what most intrigued me about the play is that it continually breaks the fourth wall. Vivian directly speaks to the audience throughout, and at one point even says "Action!" to transition from speaking to the audience to a scene in her life. At times, asides such as this can be cheesy or corny, but I felt it was artfully done in this play.
Thematically heavy, Wit begs to be re-read and re-examined; this is of course a wonderful trait for a literature course text. I will be able to bring in Donne's sonnets and discuss their relationship to the text; we can analyze the process by which a person is transformed by certainty of death; the relationship between professional and personal success can be debated; and of course we can discuss the age old 'what is most important in life' question. And to top it all off, the vocabulary is intense, offering me a wondrous opportunity to delve into the subtleties and nuances of language.
Obviously I am reviewing this book particularly in light of using it for class; I didn't really mean to, but that's where my thoughts went. As the play features a college professor and often discusses class sessions, students, and content, I'm hoping the students will see it as personally relevant, and not as self-serving for me.
Memorable Scene: Vivian needs a pelvic exam and the fellow who will be performing the exam is a previous student. I can feel the humiliation of the moment even as Vivian stoically accepts the turn of events. This scene really stuck with me as I often joke that if I ever need to go to the hospital, I want to be taken to one far away, so as not to have any of my former students as nurses.
If I've missed yours, let me know!
Rebecca Reads; A Striped Armchair;
FTC Disclosure: I got this one from a publishing house to look over and determine if I want to use it in my Intro to Lit course. Make of that what you will...
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, Women UnBound, Read the Book See the Movie, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,