Comment Wk 12

I would have to politely disagree with you on that one. How could the subject of death and dealing with one's death be boring? The two most fascinating things in life that we go through are also the two things we never remember, never get to share or talk about with others. Thats LIFE and DEATH. They are both such unremarkably fascinating subjects and I think Tolstoy presented such complex and personal experiences to life through his characters in Master and Man and The Death of Ivan Ilych.

ENGL200 Entry Wk 12

Finally, the end of semester has arrived. I am so excited to have completed an entire semester of uni after a 7 year break. It was challenging, tiring, rewarding, scary and exciting to meet so many talented, wise, young adults in such a fantastic subject.

I remember MG from when I first started my degree in 2001 and always enjoyed his insight, enthusiasm and the encouragement he was able to give us as students to express ourselves freely. I must say his lectures and tutorials have gotten better over time; much like a good wine which improves with age.

I have absolutely loved this unit, 19th century Literature. To be honest I attempted this same unit back in 2004 when I tried to return to uni after the birth of my daughter. It was somewhat mind numbing and boring at the time and I couldn’t possibly contemplate completing it so I snuck out of the lecture one day and never returned. I don’t think it was that MG bored me but more so that it was a time when I wasn’t ready to digest what 19th century literature had to offer. I am so glad I got to taste it a second time. It was so meaningful, so relevant, so empowering, and liberating.

I have enjoyed Livejournal so much also. It has given me a chance to express myself freely without the fear or anticipation of being judged or criticised. It has really allowed me to stop being a mother for a few moments each week and has allowed me to reconnect with myself, my thoughts. And that has been a much needed break.

We have explored poetry and prose from the Romantic and Victorian Periods and while I felt a common bond with the Romantics as their writings expressed many of the ideals and values I uphold, however, my all time favourite was Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych and Master and Man, from the Victorian Period. Something about these stories was humbling. They were able to capture the very thoughts one, I would imagine, would experience as they were faced with the final moments of their life. What a powerful concept to grapple with.

Since I started my degree mid-year I will be entering 3rd year next semester and am really looking forward to William Blake and Creative Writing with MG.

I hope everyone enjoys second semester and 20th Century Literature.


Comment Wk 11

May. 13th, 2009 08:40 pm (local)

I see a theme developing too

Hey Fentor,

We both commented the other week on another entry about the impact we leave on others when we die. Do you remember that?

I think your poem is another example which shows that we definately do not always know the extent of the impact we leave on others (whether we die or just leave), just like your dear friend clearly has on you.

Your writing is amazing. I wish I had so much emotional wisdom when I was your age.


ENGL200 Entry Wk 11


I get so tired

I want to sleep

The days they drain me

I want to weep


I get so weary

I want to sleep

I try to fight it

I want to weep


I feel such pain

I want to sleep

I ache all over

I want to weep


I try so hard

Not to sleep

I fight it daily

Not to weep


My head hurts

I want to sleep

My heart aches

I want to weep


I feel such worry

I want to sleep

I am unsure

I want to weep


I feel rejected

I want to sleep

I feel judged

I want to weep


I feel criticised

I want to sleep

I feel unknown

I want to weep


Do they really not know me?

Or do they just not care?

Comment Wk 10

May. 13th, 2009 08:11 pm (local)

Your writing is amazing! You so eloquently express feelings and emotions I felt in my youth. (Because I'm such an old duck these days!).

You brought back those feelings of angst, despair, the excitement, the confusion; all the mixed feelings of young love.

I love reading your work. It is very inspiring. have so much punch!

ENGL200 Entry Wk 10

In response to MG's challenge the other week...

The Four Faces of Me


Mature – supposedly, or at least I pretend to be

Organised – impeccably, all the time

Tired - it’s a job that never ends

Honest - after all I don’t want my kids to lie to me

Early riser -I will never get used to it

Repetitive – feeding, changing, bathing, cleaning, organising, teaching, watching, encouraging...


Wanted – a husband is needy too

Informed – we must continue to communicate with one another

Fiery – it keeps us alive and on our toes

Embracing – always supporting each other


Stressed – Do I have the time?

Tired – too much thinking required

Unsure – can I do it?

Determined – I know I can do it

Enthusiastic – I’m enjoying the challenge

Numbing – it can be brain overload

Terrific – learning is empowering


Energetic – I have to keep a positive attitude

Motivating – is what I try to be

Polite – it’s an important skill in an online environment

Lonely – it can be when working from home

Organised – to juggle work and kids

Young – are the kids that I work with

Encouraging – praise the good, direct to improvement

Effective – I have to help as much as I can within the constraints of the job


Comment Wk 9

May. 4th, 2009 09:17 pm (local)


I have to say your thoughts sounded somewhat pessimistic. It would worry me if on my death bed I felt like I had no connection to even a single soul. Not even my children!

In all honesty I don't think you can anticipate the impact you have on a person until you have children. How could you not leave any mark on a person, let alone your own child? Consider how much your parents, a dear relative or even a special friend impact your life. While we may physically be alone we are connected to one, a few or perhaps many people.

Could it be that we are just not aware of our impact?

ENGL200 Entry Wk 9

I loved reading Tolstoy so much that I just had to spend another week reflecting on the ideas conveyed in Master and Man as well as The Death of Ivan Ilych. Both stories delved into the fears and concerns of Vasily Andreevich and Ivan Ilych  as they neared closer to their final moments. Both characters question, in rather different ways, whether the life they led was valuable. 

It seems ironic, almost scary, that upon returning to Uni to complete my BA (literature) degree after a 7 year break I have been encountered by texts in this unit which have directly related to my life at the moment.


Tolstoy had special impact on me personally as reading his texts coincide with the 1st anniversary of my dear cousin Anna who died so sadly on Mother’s day last year from Breast Cancer. I am the youngest of many grandchildren on my father’s side which makes my cousin Anna 20 years older than me. Despite being in her early 50’s Anna was mentally like a child as she suffered from a mental disability. She didn’t have the opportunity to complete school, work or live a life as most of us will live. She lived at home with her parents whose ultimate aim was to protect her and shelter her from the real world. This was their way of doing what they thought was best for her.


Growing up I remember spending hours with Anna in her TV room watching Elvis movies and hearing all the latest details about Home and Away. Anna loved to watch movies from the 50’s and loved reading soapy magazines. It was her escape, I guess, from her isolated world. Despite having difficulty communicating, Anna had this amazing talent for tapestry. She made hundreds throughout her life which now adorn the walls of her parent’s home as well as the walls of our extended family.


Anna was special because even though she knew she was different she was always happy. She adored her parents and she loved it when the cousins would all be together. She would always say to me “Banca, you are so bootifal”. I can still see and hear her saying this to me with her peaceful smile and her gentle touch. She never looked at her younger cousins and questioned why we all grew up, got married, left home and had kids, yet she didn’t.


Sadly, four years ago Anna was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. While she knew she was sick she did not understand that she was dying. The cancer had spread throughout her entire body and Chemotherapy failed to stop it in its tracks. Her parents struggled to comprehend that they were going to lose their only daughter. After all, this is not how it’s meant to be. A parent should not have to bury their child. We made sure we visited Anna as often as we could. It was especially important that she spent time with my kids and that they knew how special Cousin Anna was to us. I still talk to them about Cousin Anna so they don’t forget her.


My mother and I spend considerable time questioning dear Anna’s final moments. In his short stories Tolstoy’s characters were aware of their death and they endured a process of denial, fear, uncertainty, questioning and finally acceptance before dying. Would Anna have gone through all of this? Was she scared because she didn’t understand what was happening to her? This is something I will never know and never come to understand. I just hope that she didn’t feel alone. She wasn’t alone.


 “The world will spin without me”.



“Do not seek death. Death will find you.
But seek the road which makes death a fulfilment”.

-Dag Hammarskjöld


ENGL200 Entry Wk 8

Tolstoy – The Death of Ivan Ilych

Today in the lecture and tutorial we explored Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Ilych. This story was designed to shock, to create a response in the reader. I don’t think I was shocked, however, I quite enjoyed reading about the discovery that Ilych had reached during his final moments in life with him questioning “What if my life had been wrong?”  I have experienced a lot of death in my family and as a result it has allowed me to question from an early age what happens when someone is close to death. Perhaps it was always just my way of dealing with losing my loved ones by believing that their death brought with them an acceptance of their fate and an inner peace that would lead them to a more serene existence.

Something the MG said really hit home. “This story is powerful because it is my story”. I could relate to MG’s revelation. It seems ironic that the texts we have been studying this semester are all texts which seem to explore some aspect of my life that I have been questioning lately. Tolstoy, through the Death of Ivan Ilych, in particular made me rethink the very existence I am living. It made me question the same things that Ivan Ilych questions on his death bed. I am just glad that through the Ivan Ilych’s death I am able to ask myself such questions rather than wait until my own end is nearing to realise such questions.

I also read through Tolstoy’s selected letters. One letter in particular stood out. IN his letter to A.V. Druzhinin (328) Tolstoy states that he “can’t lift a finger to write stories which are very nice and pleasant to read, now that I am 31”. I am not quite sure what Tolstoy meant by his reference to his age but to me it rang clear. I am also 31 and often find that writing about “nice and pleasant” things are much harder to do as my thoughts tend to lie with the concerns, worries, fears and insecurities I carry around as a mother, a wife, a student, and an employee.

I wonder if anyone else noticed this comment in Tolstoy’s letter and what it meant to them.

Comment Wk 7

Apr. 22nd, 2009 06:42 pm (local)

An Eloquent Death

I never doubted that death would be eloqunet. Why wouldnt it be? After all I imagine that death would be the moment in our life where we are able to reflect on the life we have lived and the value we have offered to others. It would be the time we accepted that death was to come and it would be a time of inner piece. I believed that undoubtedly, until I read your thoughts about dying suddenly and I began to question, as you did, whether sudden death would be eloquent also. I always beleived that when we are at our final moments of life we are aware that we are going to die and this understanding and acceptance brings an inner happiness, peace. Yet do we acheive this same reconciliation with death if we die suddenly?