GRE长阅读以长达四五百字的篇幅，加上后面的四道题，对大部分同学来说是噩梦般的存在。一般课下同学们鼓起勇气读了一篇长文章，经常效果就是，花了半小时终于读完做完题(而半小时其实是整个Verbal section 20道题的考试时间……)，然后发现能做对2道就谢天谢地了。而如果长文章的题材是——文学评论，那简直雪上加霜…… 据统计，中国同学最害怕的文章题材就是文学评论类(紧跟着的大概是天文和美国历史)。
Despite winning several prestigious literary awards of the day, when it first appeared, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple generated critical unease over puzzling aspects of its compositions. In what, as one reviewer put it, was “clearly intended to be a realistic novel,” many reviewers perceived violations of the conventions of the realistic novel form, pointing out variously that late in the book, the narrator protagonist Celie her friends are propelled toward a happy ending with more velocity than credibility, that the letters from Nettie to her sister Celie intrude into the middle of the main action with little motivation or warrant, that the device of Celie’s letters to God is especially unrealistic inasmuch as it forgoes the concretizing details that traditionally have given the epistolary novel (that is, a novel composed of letters) its peculiar verisimilitude: the ruses to enable mailing letters, the cache, especially the letters received in return.
Indeed, the violations of realistic convention are so flagrant that they might well call into question whether The Color of Purple is indeed intended to be a realistic novel, especially since there are indications that at least some of those aspects of the novel regarded by viewers as puzzling may constitutes its links to modes of writing other than Anglo-European nineteenth-century realism. For example, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has recently located the letters to God within an African American tradition deriving from slave narrative, a tradition in which the act of writing is linked to a powerful deity who “speaks” through scripture bestows literacy as an act of grace. For Gates, the concern with finding a voice, which he sees as the defining feature of African American literature, links Celie’s letters with certain narrative aspects of Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, the acknowledged predecessor of The Color Purple.
Gates’s paradigm suggests how misleading it may be to assume that mainstream realist criteria are appropriate for evaluating The Color Purple. But in his preoccupation with voice as a primary element unifying both the speaking subject the text as a whole Gates does not elucidate many of the more conventional structural features of Walker’s novel. For instance, while the letters from Nettie clearly illustrate Nettie’s acquisition of her own voice, Gates’s focus on “voice” sheds little light on the place that these letters occupy in the narrative or on why the plot takes this sudden jump into geographically culturally removed surroundings. What is needed is an evaluative paradigm that, rather than obscuring such startling structural features (which may actually be explicitly intended to undermine traditional Anglo-European novelistic conventions), confronts them, thus illuminating the deliberately provocative ways in which The Color Purple departs from the traditional models to which it has been compared.
1. The author of the passage would be most likely to agree with which of the following statements about the letters from Nettie to Celie?
A. They mark an unintended shift to geographically culturally removed surroundings
B. They may represent a conscious attempt to undermine certain novelistic conventions
C. They are more closely connected to the main action of the novel than is at first apparent
D. They owe more to the tradition of the slave narrative than do Celie’s letters to God
E. They illustrate the traditional concretizing details of the epistolary novel form
2. In the second paragraph, the author of the passage is primarily concerned with
A. examining the ways in which The Color Purple echoes its acknowledged predecessor, Their Eyes Were Watching God
B. providing an example of a critic who has adequately addressed the structural features of The Color Purple
C. suggesting that literary models other than the nineteenth-century realistic novel may inform our understanding of The Color Purple
D. demonstrating the ineffectiveness of a particularly scholarly attempt to suggest an alternative way of evaluating The Color Purple
E. disputing the perceived notion that The Color Purple departs from conventions of the realistic novel form
3. According to the passage, an evaluative paradigm that confronts the startling structural features of The Color Purple would accomplish which of the following?
A. It would adequately explain why many reviewers of this novel have discerned its connections to the realistic novel tradition
B. It would show the ways in which this novel differs from its reputed Anglo-European nineteenth-century models
C. It would explicate the overarching role of voice in this novel
D. It would address the ways in which this novel echoes the central themes of Hurston’s Their Eyes Are Watching God
E. It would reveals ways in which these structural features serve to parody novelistic conventions
4. The author of the passage suggests that Gates is most like the reviewers mentioned in the first paragraph in which of the following ways?
A. He points out discrepancies between The Color Purple other traditional epistolary novels
B. He sees the concern with finding a voice as central to both The Color Purple Their Eyes Are Watching God
C. He assumes that The Color Purple is intended to be a novel primarily in the tradition of Anglo-American nineteenth-century realism
D. He does not address many of the unsettling structural features of The Color Purple
E. He recognizes the departure of The Color Purple from traditional Anglo-European realistic novel conventions.