ENGL 242 B: Reading Prose Fiction

Meeting Time: 
TTh 3:30pm - 5:20pm
CMU 326
Nikolai Popov

Syllabus Description:

Instructor: Nikolai B Popov  popov@uw.edu

Days\Times:  TTH  330-520    CMU 326

This class will read landmarks of prose fiction. We’ll follow the historical succession of styles and formal inventions in Western literary history, from Boccaccio to the late twentieth century, and explore the particular uses of fiction in a variety of genres (short stories and tales, novels, satire, allegory, etc.), with special emphasis on language and style. You’ll be expected to read an average of 120-150 pages per week.

Reading List:

  1. Below are the editions I’ve ordered at the U Bookstore. (No Kindle-type “books,” please.)

Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron. McWilliam translation (Penguin). The Decameron is a big book, and we’ll read only a representative selection from its one hundred stories, but it’s one of humanity’s greatest books and every civilized person must own a copy. Penguins are inexpensive. (If you already own a copy of the Waldman (Oxford) or the Rohburn (Norton) translation you can use it; most online/electronic versions of the stories are dated, incomplete, and inferior.)

                Swift, Gulliver’s Travels. Oxford Classics or Penguin Classics (you need one). The Norton Gulliver is also good. Be aware that online booksellers peddle all sorts of incomplete and grotesquely mangled editions of Gulliver’s Travels. (Most of you will also need the notes and introductions that Oxford and Penguin provide.)

                James Joyce, Dubliners. I’ve ordered the Dover Dubliners. The older Norton edition of Dubliners contains very useful supplementary materials and can be found at local used-books outlets.

                John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Signet/Vintage. (You might be able to find an inexpensive paperback, with Meryl Streep on the front cover, at local used-books outlets.)

                Aleksandr Solzhenutsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (any edn.; I’ve ordered Willett’s translation)

                George Orwell, Animal Farm. Signet.

    Procedures, Requirements, Grading

    Please be aware that this class will involve a lot of reading—and writing. You will be quizzed on every individual work so attendance is not just mandatory but essential. Your grade will be the sum of four components: 1/ Several short take-home/in-class essays (total of two grade units); 2/ reading journal (one grade unit); 3/ quizzes and attendance (one grade unit). To get a passing grade you must get at least a minimal grade in each of the four components (e.g., failure to deliver one of the short essays will mean the loss of more than one grade unit).


    *Reading Journal: your reading journal must contain your own observations, reflections, and questions as you read the primary texts, responses to tasks I’ve assigned in class, and notes from critical sources—but not lecture notes. (You can include your own discussions of or elaborations on things you have heard in class from me or any other participant.) I’ll expect you to write regularly—at least one page per meeting or a total of at least 20 standard pages (double space). I will periodically—and randomly—check your reading journals so you must have them in class all the time.


    Tentative Schedule of Meetings


    Intro: Boccaccio’s Decameron and the Invention of Modern Prose Fiction


    The Decameron, cont.


    The Decameron, cont.


    The Decameron, cont.


    Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Book I


    Gulliver’s Travels, cont. Book II


    Gulliver’s Travels, cont., Book III


    Gulliver’s Travels, cont. IV


    Edgar Allan Poe (Selections). The Cask of Amontillado; The Fall of the House of Usher; Berenice; The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar; The Masque of the Red Death


    Links to individual stories: The Masque: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1064/1064-h/1064-h.htm The House of Usher: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/932/932-h/932-h.htm Amontillado:



    James Joyce, Dubliners (selections): The Sisters; Araby; Eveline; Two Gallants


    Dubliners, cont., A Little Cloud; Clay; Ivy Day


    Dubliners, cont., The Dead


    Kafka, The Metamorphosis. Muir tr:  https://www.zwyx.org/portal/kafka/kafka_metamorphosis.html Wylie tr:  http://www.gutenberg.org/files/5200/5200-h/5200-h.htm Corngold tr: https://www.gcit.org/ourpages/auto/2014/12/17/63704557/the-metamorphosis-text.pdf


    Kafka, In the Penal Colony. www.kafka-online.info/works.htm


    John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman


    The French Lieutenant’s Woman, cont.




    Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich


    Orwell, Animal Farm


    Orwell, Animal Farm, cont. Conclusions.


    Catalog Description: 
    Critical interpretation and meaning in works of prose fiction, representing a variety of types and periods.
    GE Requirements: 
    Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
    Writing (W)
    Last updated: 
    January 2, 2020 - 10:20pm