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            This summer, you will be keeping a journal as you read the novel Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz.  This journal is a tool for you to keep track of and analyze literary techniques that you notice as you make your way through the reading.

            The format for this journal is simple.  Buy a notebook (a 99 cent single subject one will be fine) and divide the pages in half with a pen mark down the middle (please, no ďI felt like doing it this wayĒ variations).  As you read, pay attention to where you find yourself having a strong reaction to the text.  Where are you surprised?  Where are you confused?  Most importantly, where do you feel things strongly?  In addition to recognizing your own strong reactions to the text, pay attention to any patterns you see running through the novel.  On the left side of your journal, write out the passage that intrigues you and/or is an example of a pattern you have noticed.  Please include the page that this extract can be found on.  This extract, plus your analysis of it (see below), counts as one entry.

            In the right hand column, you will be analyzing the authorís literary techniques.  This section should NOT include a summary of the plot.  Also, you should NOT tell me how you feel about: the passage, the characters, the plot, etc.  This column should discuss what literary technique(s) you have observed going on in this passage and what effects you see those techniques having on the audience (in other words, what do these techniques make the audience feel).  If you are commenting on just one technique, that is fine.  If you arenít sure what technique is being used, but you know that something is going on (somehow the author is manipulating the audience), you can comment on that.  If you just have a bunch of questions and no real answers, thatís OK too.

So what are literary techniques anyway?  Iím glad you asked:


Beginning:  How does the novel start?  How does the opening of the work make the audience feel?  How does the beginning of the work connect to the end?  How does the opening relate to the themes found in the rest of the novel?

Imagery:  This is a rich novel that is filled with wondrous and descriptive imagery.  Pay attention to it.  Do you see a pattern to the imagery found in the novel?  What effect does the imagery have on the audience?  Do these patterns of images connect to a theme?

Character:  What is the function of the various characters in the novel?  How do the characters make the audience feel?  How are the characters of this novel used by Mahfouz to reveal his judgment of a theme or themes?

Ending:  How does the novel end?  How does the ending of the work make the audience feel?  How does the ending connect to the beginning?  How does the ending relate to the themes found in the rest of the novel?

Point of View:  What is the point of view in the novel?  How does that point of view

shift and change? Where does it shift and change?  How does the point of view impact the audience and connect to the themes of the novel?

Symbolism:  Look for objects that you think represent ideas in the novel.  However, donít make the mistake of trying to turn every object into an idea.  How do you avoid this mistake?  Look for objects that show up over and over again, or pay attention to an object that is very prominent during a crucial moment in the plot of the novel.

Setting:  How does the city of Cairo and the way it is described affect the audience?  In what way is the city like a character in the novel?  What possible themes does it connect to?

Structure:  Other than the structural elements previously mentioned (p.o.v., beginning, ending), what other elements of structure do you see?  You can examine things like where the chapters fall, the diction used by the author, and other elements that deal with how the novel appears on the pages it is written on.

You may have noticed that all of the above descriptions of literary techniques mention effect on the audience and themes.  All of your entries should try to point out the technique you noticed and the effect you think it has on the audience.  As you move through the book, you should begin to get a sense of what the big ideas are in the text.  These are the themes.  You should pay attention to them and notice the authorís judgment of those themes.  At least the last 10 entries of your journal should mention how the techniques and effects connect to Mahfouzís judgment of a theme.  You must complete a minimum of 50 entries in your journal.


Questions?  Problems?  Please donít hesitate to call or email me.  I will be out of town from July 16th to July 31st, but otherwise I should be available.  Please leave a message on my voice mail with your number if I donít pick up.  Mr. McGinn:  (312) 320-1559 or dmcginn@stanfordalumni.org. 

Please see the sample journal entries as a guide on how to do this assignment: