Sunday, March 23, 2008

The First thing I'm going to do......

If you're currently or have been a graduate student, then you're already well aware that at some point, usually before you are able to begin seriously working on your dissertation, the last piece of the puzzle on the road to earning your Ph.D., you are required to take some sort of formidable qualifying examinations. Some schools require both written and oral components, while others "just" administer an oral examination. My oral exams will be held at noon on May 15.

I have been asked numerous times what I plan to do after they are over, assuming I pass of course. Well, aside from an obvious celebration of some sort, my plans are very, well, some might say mundane. My only goals after the exams are over and before I transition into full-time dissertation mode will be to read three works of fiction. What are they?

Amusingly and to my great regreat I began reading Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughs before I began graduate school in the summer/fall of 2005, but was not able to finish it before my classes started and it has been sitting on my bookshelf with bookmark in the middle ever since. This I must finish immediately after my orals are completed.

Next, to my great surprise and joy, a scholar working in the National Archives of France discovered very recently a "new" novel by Alexandre Dumas which happens to be set during one of my favorite periods of French history, the revolution and age of Napoleon. The novel is titled The Last Cavalier and I will read that after I finish with Hugo.

Finally, and I've been longing to do this for some time now, I will reread what I believe is the greatest novel ever written, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I first read it over ten years ago (when I was 13 years old) and while I am confident that I understood it then in spite of my age, I am anxious to read it again in the light of eleven additional years of knowledge and experience. I am also deeply in need of spiritual replenishment, which I know I can count on in the pages of that wonderful opus. I am anxious to not let the cynicism and misanthropic tendencies of the current epoch (and my own take on it) become the overriding impetus behind my own thought and spirit.

After that is complete, then I will begin working steadfastly and seriously on my doctoral dissertation so that I am not in graduate school for another three years if I can help it!