On Sundays, I tutor a year eleven class in advanced English. It's at a coaching college, so the work is laid out on worksheets, and you move through them. It's a good class (hi girls, if you're reading) but I'm constantly amazed by the kind of things that appear on the worksheets. A couple of weeks ago, it was placing a play into the context of Sartre's concept of existentialism, taken from the book Being and Nothingness. Now, in and of itself, this is not a problem.
Being and Nothingness is around six hundred and fifty pages, at least the edition I own. It's a chunk of a book. It is also a chunk of a book and a slab of a writer that the class has never heard of before, because, shocking as it might appear, Sartre's work is not part of the regular school. You would think that, if you were designing this sheet, you would be well aware that neither Sartre or Being and Nothingness were high on the list of things to be read at highschool. Why, it doesn't even rate in the top favourite hundred books. A sure sign, I feel.
On the sheet provided, however, existentialism was described in one medium sized paragraph, and Sartre in a slightly larger one following it. Then followed a two scenes from one of Sartre's plays, for the class to analyse, placing it in a contextual reading of existentialism.
Naturally, I hear you say.