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1. a) Read the text about Jean Webster and say what Jean Webster and Judy Abbott had in common and in what way they were different.
The author of Daddy-Long-Legs, Jean Webster (Alice Jane Chandler), was born in Fredonia, New York, in 1876, and came from a publishing family. Her great-uncle was Mark Twain. The girlТs father was the man who published Mark TwainТs Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1884.
Charles L. Webster was able to give his daughter Alice every advantage denied himself as a boy. She attended an exclusive girlsТ boarding school where she changed her name just like Jerusha Abbott in Daddy-Long-Legs. Also like УJudyФ Abbott, Jean Webster began selling her writing while at college. A local newspaper hired Webster at three dollars a week to write a lively column about campus life. Jean graduated in 1901 and began submitting her best columns to different magazines. Finally this series was published in book form under the name When Patty Went to College.
Webster produced several other moderately successful books before the idea of Daddy-Long-Legs literally landed in her lap out of nowhere. Webster was visiting one of her editors at his summer house. One day, while she was reading on the porch, a big daddy-long-legs fell from the ceiling onto her opened book. She offhandedly mentioned to her host that might make a good title for a book. Six months later, her publishers sent her a finished cover design with the title Daddy-Long-Legs.
The epistolary novel has had a long rich tradition in English literature. WebsterТs amusing collection of supposedly actual letters illustrated with many naive drawings by their young writer is in perfect keeping with this tradition. In WebsterТs romance УCinderellaФ falls in love and marries her fairy godfather. Webster developed many incidents and characters from her own experience. No one knew boarding-school life better than herself, and since she had often accompanied her mother on her charitable work when a girl, she was already well acquainted with the awful conditions of American orphanages.
She dedicated her story УTo YouФ, that is to the reading public, that she understood and knew very well.
Daddy-Long-Legs immediately became the most successful title of WebsterТs career and a new bestseller. This book and the successful play that followed, made Jean Webster a national figure.
The great popularity of Daddy-Long-Legs demanded a sequel, and so, in 1912, Webster published another epistolary novel, Dear Enemy, describing Sallie McBrideТs experiences as head of the John Grier Home. While the new book was in production, the writer suddenly married Glenn H. McKinney, a lawyer and an old friend.
She died in 1916 giving birth to her only child, a daughter.
(from Michael Patrick HearnТs Afterword to Daddy-Long-Legs)
b) Explain how you understand these:
Ц a publishing family
Ц a great uncle
Ц an exclusive girlsТ boarding school
Ц to write a lively column
Ц an epistolary novel
Ц naive drawings
Ц a sequel
c) Answer the questions:
1. How did Jean WebsterТs writing career begin?
2. How did the name Daddy-Long-Legs come to her?
3. When she made up the title, did she know what the book would be about?
4. Why does Michael Patrick Hearn write about Cinderella and her love for the fairy godfather?
5. How was the book accepted by the public?
2. Get ready to discuss:
Ц JudyТs life before college as itТs described in the book;
Ц JudyТs future as you see it;
Ц JudyТs character, outlook, principles;
Ц JudyТs friends;
Ц JudyТs life at college;
Ц JudyТs vacations;
Ц JudyТs talent for writing and how it developed.
3. Everyone would agree that JudyТs letters are amusing, original and full of humour. Find a few examples to support this.
4. Say which of JudyТs ideas you find particularly interesting. Where do you agree or disagree with her?
5. Say what makes УDaddy-Long-LegsФ a very unusual love story.
6. Describe your impression of the book.
7. Prepare an artistic reading of a fragment that you like most.
8. Revise the words and word combinations from the word lists and get ready to write a test.
The end of Project Gutenberg etext of "Daddy-Long-Legs"
* gingham Ц checked cotton cloth, uniforms made of such cloth
* daddy-long-legs Ц an insect with very long legs
** high school Ц secondary school (AmE)
* school board Ц a group of people in charge of school
* a Senior Ц is a 4th year student at university or college (AmE)
** a Freshman Ц is a 1st year student at university or college (AmE)
* Senior auction Ц an organized sale when senior students cheaply sell their furniture and other belongings to younger students
** bile Ц liquid made by the liver and helping in digestion
*** pancreas Ц a gland situated near the stomach, making an important fluid digestive
* a young ladiesТ finishing school Ц a school for completing the education of young women and preparing them for entrance into society
* corn-meal mush Ц corn meal boiled in water or milk until it forms a thick, soft mass
** challis [∫a:lı] Ц a printed fabric of plain weave in wool, cotton or rayon
* R.S.V.P. Ц (French, repondez sТil vous plait) Ц please reply
* steamer rug Ц a warm blanket that passengers used on steamer boats
* The family came over in the ark: Уto be out of the arkФ means to be very old (ark Ц the vessel built by Noah for safety during the Flood)
* Cluny lace Ц a lace made by hand with bobbins, originally in France
* a brick Ц a very nice, dependable person, good friend (old-fashioned)
* WotТs the hodds so longs as youТre Тappy? Ц Who cares so long as you are happy?
** ItТs perfectly corking (slang) Ц excellent, fine
* Alors! Ц Well! Right!
* en masse Ц in mass
** Adirondack Ц mountains in New England, USA
* écru lace Ц unbleached face
** Venetian point Ц a variety of point-lace
*** crochet Ц a way of making clothes, shawls, etc. out of wool, by using your fingers and a needle which has a small hook at the end
**** Liberty scarf Ц scarf of a European make
* aniline dyes Ц special kind of paints (анилиновые красители)
* tablet paper = tabloid paper Ц a newspaper of a smaller size of which two pages make up one printing plate and which contains many pictures and short accounts of main events
* Liberty crêpe Ц a thin fabric made of cotton, silk or wool with ridged surface, imported into the USA from Europe
* duodenum (med.) Ц the first part of the bowel below the stomach (двенадцатипЄрстна€ кишка)
* Rousseau, Jean Jacques Ц a French writer and thinker (1712 Ц 1778)
* A. B. (AmE) Ц abbreviation for B. A. (Bachelor of Arts)
* a studio Ц a very small flat
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