Comparative Literature 30A

Take-Home Midterm Examination

July 8, 2003

Instructions: Please answer the following two questions in essay form, taking approximately 25 minutes or about 600-800 words at most to draft each answer. Each answer should address the question specifically, clearly, and briefly. Please type and proofread the answers. You may use your texts as you write, but please do not quote them extensively—your answer should be your thoughts about the texts, not reproductions of the texts themselves. Here are some hints on writing successful essay question answers, based on my long experience reading them:


  1. All of the texts we have read so far either explicitly or implicitly address the issue of responsible leadership. Choose three of the texts we have read so far, and explain some of the principles of leadership they embody. Do these principles develop and change over time? How do they reflect the values and concerns of the societies from which they came?
  2. Following are four quotations from works we have read. Identify three out of four of them, explain their particular contexts, and examine how they represent similarities and variations in the relationship between literature and its audience among the various cultures that produced the works.

Quotation 1:

With "It is enough for me, it is too much for me!" I have given birth, oh exalted lady, to this song for you. That which I recited to you at midnight, may the singer repeat it to you at noon!

Quotation 2:

But the man skilled in all ways of contending,

satisfied by the great bow’s look and heft,

like a musician, like a harper, when

with quiet hand upon his instrument

he draws between his thumb and forefinger

a sweet new string upon a peg; so effortlessly

[he] in one motion strung the bow.

Quotation 3:

Your own hands have foiled you...

You have smashed the Stone Charms, you have thrown them into the channel,

The Stone Charms are smashed...

The Stone Charms are what carry me,

Lest I touch the waters of death.

In your fury, ... you have smashed them,

The Stone Charms, they are what I had with me to make the crossing!

Quotation 4:

No, it’s no disgrace for a man, even a wise man,

to learn many things and not to be too rigid.

You’ve seen trees by a raging winter torrent,

how many sway with the flood and salvage every twig,

but not the stubborn—they’ve ripped out, roots and all.

Bend or break. The same when a man is sailing:

haul your sheets too taut, never give an inch,

you’ll capsize, and go the rest of the voyage

keel up and the rowing-benches under.