Literary Genre: Babylon, Gardener, Empire

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Q: Write a talk given to Leaving Certificate students in which you explain the term Literary Genre and show them how to compare the telling of stories in the three texts from your comparative study.

The framework of an answer on Literary Genre

The Constant Gardener’ (TCG)– Directed by Fernando Meirelles ‘How Many Miles to Babylon’ (HMMB) – Written by Jennifer Johnston ‘Empire of the Sun’ – (ES) - Written by JG Ballard

The answer should include:

Section 1: Introduction
Section 2: Different types of text
First of all, fellow students, let us look at how the different types of text influence how stories are told. TCG is a film. Therefore, it is an audio-visual medium. Actors portray the characters. The audience gets constant imagery of the characters in their surroundings and this is all controlled by Fernando Meirelles’ direction through various forms of cinematography. For example very early in the film, we are presented with the image of an upturned jeep accompanied by clashing metallic sounds and oblique camera angles, followed by the sudden flight of a flock of flamingos. This creates a real sense of unease in the audience. However, HMMB and ES are both novels and they both take place inside the reader’s mind. This makes them a very different experience to TCG as there is no soundtrack, external imagery or aforementioned cinematography. Like TCG, HMMB and ES are controlled by an outside figure but in this case, it is through the narrative structure that both Jennifer Johnston and JG Ballard use (discussed below). Both of the stories of TCG and HMMB are fictional and are similarly characterised by the genre of social realism. However, ES is loosely based on Ballard’s own life, so it can be classed as semi-autobiographical.

Section 3: Narration
Section 4: Creation of Suspense
Section 5: Language (Image and Sound)
Section 6: Development of Character
Section 7: Symbolism
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