Literature Textbook Series (LTS): A commendable work [Archives:2005/878/Education]

September 19 2005
Photo from archived article: photos/878/education1_1
Photo from archived article: photos/878/education1_1
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Teaching and learning English literature in the universities of Yemen have been handicapped by the non-availability of original texts in Yemen. With the publication of Literature Textbook Series (LTS) edited by Dr Ayid Sharyan, Asst. Professor of English in the Faculty of Education, Sana'a University, the vacuum has been filled up to a great extent. In the words of Dr Sharyan, “LTS aims at providing Yemeni students with local editions of textbooks in English literature, easily available at a reasonable price. Each volume of this series comprises a selection of literary text or texts with notes and explanations easily understandable to the students of English literature”.

It is heartening to note that Dr Sharyan's effort has become quite fruitful in the sense that these series are used by both the teachers and the taught belonging to different parts of the country. Many scholars of repute have appreciated the commendable work of Dr Sharyan . Commenting on the series, Dr Sahu wrote, “Dr Sharyan has struck a fine balance between scholarship and practical pedagogic demands, fulfilling a long felt need of the students of English literature in Yemen who were earlier groping in the dark, hopelessly clutching on to 'handouts' as a desperate remedy.” In his characteristic humility, Dr Sharyan doesn't claim any originality to the texts and his sole aim in editing these series is to serve the large number of Literature students in Yemen and he welcomes comments and responses from all those concerned.

The series consist of titles like Introduction to Literary Forms I : Fiction and Drama which deals mainly with the important literary forms such as novel, short story, essay, drama and one act plays. While editing this text, Dr. Sharyan has taken into account the level of the students, and cultural appropriateness without sacrificing the quality of the materials. Introduction to Literary Forms II: Types and Forms of Poetry is a sequel to the earlier one and it is written with the aim of helping the students who begin a serious study of poetry at the undergraduate level. Different forms of poetry like ballad, ode, sonnet etc are dealt at length, giving numerous examples and exercises that students may do themselves with the help of their teachers. Poetry Up to the 18th century: Selected Poems with Explanations contains important poems written by Shakespeare and Pope and the explanations and the comprehension questions at the end are very useful. The text Nineteenth Century Poetry gives a vivid background of Romantic movement and poems of William Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats and Byron are discussed in a very lucid manner. This text also includes some of the 19th century American poets like Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson.

The other literary texts edited by Dr Sharyan in the series are: 1. 20th century Poetry: Selected Poems with critical Comments 2. 19th Century American Literature 3. 20th Century American Literature: 4. Great Expectations: A Critical Study 5. Emma: Text and Critical Notes 6. Literary Criticism 7. English Proficiency Tests with Answer Keys 8. Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man 9. Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot 10 Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe 11 George Orwell's Animal Farm E. M.Forster's A Passage to India 12. Jonathan swift's Gulliver's Travels (Book II) 13. Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea 14. Jane Austen's Emma, 16. Tennessee William's The Glass Menagerie 17. Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus 18. Oliver Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield and Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge. Space does not permit to make separate comments on each of the text. No doubt, all the selected texts in the Literary Texts series are written lucidly with clear understanding, combining scholarship and pedagogic needs.

Comments by Experts about Literature Textbooks Series

1. Dr Ramakanta Sahu, (The editor of the Educational Page in Yemen Times and professor of language and literature in Sana'a University), says Dr Ayid Sharyan's Twentieth-Century Poetry:

Selected Poems with Critical Comments in the LTS Literature Textbook Series is a landmark attempt to present the complexities and subtleties of the modern sensibility through an insightful selection of poems. It would certainly go a long way to familiarise the students with the vistas of modern poetry. have no doubt that Twentieth-Century Poetry: Selected Poems with Critical Comments will be received well by teachers and students of modern poetry, not only in Yemen but also in the wider Arab world.

2. Prof (Dr) P.A. Abraham says in the foreword to Waiting for Godot 'I am glad that Dr Ayid Shayran has taken up the venture of writing the Literature Textbooks Series (LTS), especially at a time when English literary texts and critical materials are not easily available in Yemen. I appreciate the attempt of Dr Sharyan which is indeed a great help to the undergraduate students of literature in Sana'a University.'

3. Prof (Dr) P.A. Abraham says in the foreword to The Glass Menagerie 'Dr Ayid Sharyan has edited the play keeping in mind the needs of the undergraduate literature students.

I appreciate Dr Sharyan's endeavour to make the important English literary texts available to the students of Sana'a University who have practically no access to the original books.'

4. (Dr) Mahmood Ali Shamsher, Vice Dean- Faculty of Languages, Sana'a University, says in the introduction for 19th Century American Literature that the book 'introduces the students to models of the major literary achievements in American literature written during the 19 century. (Dr) Ayid has certainly exerted tremendous efforts in the collection, explanation, and the analysis of the literary models that he has presented; his efforts certainly deserve my appreciation and those who work in the same area.

5. Dr. Mahmudul Hasani, Head, Department of English, University of Science & Technology, Sana`a, says in his forward to Shaw's Arms and the Man 'It is heartening to know that Dr Ayid Sharyan is going to include this magnum opus in his LTS (Literature Textbook Series…Dr Ayid deserves three cheers for this philanthropic enterprise and I wish him aafiyah which includes all the positive and pleasant aspects of the world and the hereafter.

6. He (Dr. Mahmudul Hasani) added in the foreword to Introduction to Literary Forms II that this book is 'a great leap forward in the direction of making literature easy for the Arab students Dr. Ayid deserves unreserved appreciation, applause and encouragement from teachers and students of English for taking an exemplary and inspiring step amidst uninspiring rather disconcerting circumstances. The book is as much a proof of his magnanimity and philanthropy as it is of his commitment to his calling. May Allah accept this enterprise which it is crazy and sinister to regard as something pecuniary or mercenary given the few, very few takers of books like these in Yemen. Ameen.

7. In his foreword to English Poetry up to the 18th Century, he (Dr. Mahmudul Hasani) added 'Dr. Ayid Sharyan's English Poetry up to the 18th Century is a big leap forward in the direction of bringing out indigenous books on English literature that are written with an eye to the background, needs and aspirations of the Arab students in general and Yemeni undergraduates in particular.

The author has kept in mind the psyche as well as susceptibilities of his clientele and has tried to sustain the interest of the readers by making the book comparative in its approach to the religious themes. He has not hesitated to present the Islamic standpoint alongside the biblical views expressed in the poems. This makes the book even more interesting. The Arabic counterparts of the various literary terms have been presented in parenthesis in order to drive the idea home straightaway without having to explain the same ad nauseam.

I believe Dr. Sharyan is doing a yeoman's service to the student community by bringing out the Literature Textbook Series (LTS) which serves the dual purpose of text and guide the kind of which is hard to find in local bookshops and libraries. I hope the book will be well received by students and teachers alike and Dr. Sharyan will carry on his efforts to elevate the academic standard of the students. It is also hoped that the students would not treat this book as an end in itself and not mug up the information contained therein just in order to regurgitate the same in the examination. Instead, the students are expected to allow the book to whet their intellectual appetite and prepare them for higher flights in the vast realm of knowledge.

Dr Anil K Prasad (Associate Professor & Head, Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Ibb University) says in the foreword to Nineteenth-Century Poetry: Romantic and Victorian that 'the book has both academic and practical importance for the undergraduate students of English Literature in Yemen. It is a praiseworthy attempt on the part of Dr Sharyan for including representative poems of the important poets of both the Ages along with two widely-read poets of Nineteenth-Century America: Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. Certainly, it comes handy to a student with such a good selection of poems and will pave the way for them, in future, for a comparative study with Arabic.