World Literature is a part of the IB English final grade, as the external assessment. Higher Level candidates must submit a World Literature 1 and a World Literature 2, whilst Standard Level candidates are only required to submit World Literature 1. IBO candidates have colloquially dubbed World Literature “World Lit” or “WL”.
To begin though, the IBO presents an updated list of novels deemed “World Literature” to its splinter schools each year, and it is up to your individual school IB coordinator, in conjunction with your IB English Dept. to select which novels will be studied.
It is of use to note that authors/novels used for Paper 1 cannot be used for your Paper 2.
The word count is limited from 1200-1500 words.
World Literature Authors Edit
The IBO aims to vary its literature globally, thus the name “World Literature”. Basically, the idea behind World Lit is to become culturally aware, and immerse yourself in writing of a different social /cultural/geopolitical background. One splinter school studied the following works, indicating the breadth of culture candidates were immersed in:
- Erich Maria Remarque (German)
- Albert Camus (French)
- Henrik Ibsen (Norwegian Playwright)
- Federico Garcia Lorca (Spanish)
- Sophocles (Greek)
- Leslie Marmon Silko (Native American)
Below are some of the more “renowned” texts approved by the IBO, with the author name first, that can be studied by A1 English classes (either SL or HL). Note that, as previously stated, texts studied are usually determined by department heads (i.e. teachers).
(IB Approved Texts)
- Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart .
- Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits. The story of the Trueba family in Chile, from the turn of the century to the violent days of the overthrow of the Salvador Allende government in 1973.
- Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Love and marriage among the English country gentry of Austen’s day.
- Ba, Mariama. So Long a Letter
- Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot
- Brecht, Bertolt. Mother Courage and Her Children. Chronicle play as a response to the outbreak of World War II.
- Borges, Jorge Luis. Labyrinths. An anthology of literary fireworks based on Borges’ favorite symbol.
- Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. An intelligent and passionate governess falls in love with a strange, moody man tormented by dark secrets.
- Camus, Albert. The Stranger. This novel depicts a man who is strikingly indifferent towards his life and is thus an outsider to society. He murders a man at the end of part I for no apparent reason. His imprisonment and imminent execution reveal to him the accidental and inconsequential nature of life, allowing him to face his death peacefully.
- Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. A fantasy in which Alice follows the White Rabbit to a dream world.
- Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Quixote. An eccentric old gentleman sets out as a knight “tilting at windmills” to right the wrongs of the world.
- Chedid, Andree. From Sleep Unbound. Set in Egypt, Samya’s life is constantly being oppressed by male figures in a society which only expects women to produce children.
- Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. The novel’s narrator journeys into the Congo where he discovers the extent to which greed can corrupt a good man.
- Darwish, Mahmoud. Memory for Forgetfulness. Prose-poem illustrating the effects of Hiroshima Day in Lebanon.
- Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. The adventures of a man who spends 28 years on an isolated island.
- Dorfman, Ariel. Death and the Maiden. In the voice of a good Samaritan who helped her husband, a woman thinks she recognizes another man – the doctor who raped and tortured her as she lay blindfolded in a military detention center years before.
- Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. The story of a murder and the consequences of the action.
- Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Essential Writings
- Enchi, Fumiko. The Waiting Years. A powerful story of a wife’s emotional turmoil when her husband abandons her love for that of concubines, set in Japan.
- Esquivel, Laura. Like Water For Chocolate. A Mexican love story of forbidden love in the time of the Mexican Revolution.
- Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. In her extramarital affairs, a bored young wife seeks unsuccessfully to find the emotional experiences she craves.
- Forster, E.M. A Passage to India. A young English woman in British-ruled India accuses an Indian doctor of sexual assault.
- Fuentes, Carlos. The Death of Artemio Cruz. A powerful Mexican newspaper publisher recalls his life as he lies dying at age 71.
- Grass, Gunter. The Tin Drum. Oskar describes the amoral conditions through which he has lived in Germany, both during and after the Hitler regime.
- Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D’Urbervilles. The happiness of Tess and her husband is destroyed when she confesses that she bore a child as the result of rape by her employer’s son.
- Huong, Duong Thu. Paradise of the Blind. The story of Hang, fighting to maintain her dignity under a Communist government in Vietnam, while struggling to fulfill her role as a daughter and searching for her true identity in the process.
- Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. A bitter satire of the future, in which the world is controlled by advances in science and social changes.
- Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha. A Westernised synonym of Gautama Buddha’s journey to enlightenment, chanted as a German fable.
- Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House .
- Kadare, Ismail. Broken April. The intersection of two destinies.
- Kafka, Franz. Metamorphosis. A repressed, hard working man wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant vermin.
- Kawabata, Yasunari. Snow Country. A story of a man who falls in love with a hot-spring Geisha in a mountain village.
- Kundera, Milan. The Unbearable Lightness of Being. A philosophical novel recounting the lives of various Czech intellectuals and artist; while also being centred on Nietzsche’s idea of eternal return, the author muses about the “lightness” and “weight” of life.
- Lawrence, D.H. Sons and Lovers. An autobiographical novel about a youth torn between a dominant working-class father and a possessive genteel mother.
- Lispector, Clarice. The Hour of the Star
- Mann, Thomas. Death in Venice. In this novella, an author becomes aware of a darker side of himself when he visits Venice.
- Marquez, Garcia, Gabriel. Chronicle of a Death Foretold. In this novel brief viewpoints of many who remembered the death of Santiago Nasar are shown. It unravels this “chronicle” in an odd and mysterious way.
- Marquez, Garcia, Gabriel. “Love in the Time of Cholera”. The story of a man named Florentino Ariza and his life and obsession over a woman named Fermina Daza.
- Marquez, Garcia, Gabriel. One Hundred Years of Solitude .
- Mishima, Yukio. The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. The story of a young boy struggling to be a man, and his violent actions to be one.
- Moore, Alan. Watchmen. A graphic novel that depicts a group of retired “superheroes” and a conspiracy that threatens them.
- Murakami, Haruki. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. A contemporary novel depicting the post-World War Two era in Japan.
- Ninh, Bao. The Sorrow of War. Based on the Vietnam War, it is a unique perspective on writing, lost youth, and love.
- Pasternak, Boris. Doctor Zhivago. An epic novel of Russia before and after the Bolshevik revolution.
- Puig, Manuel. Kiss of the Spiderwoman .
- Rand, Ayn. Anthem. A short novella that tells the tale of the protagonist, Equality 7-2521, and his escape from the collective society of which he once was a part.
- Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front. A young German soldier in World War I experiences pounding shellfire, hunger, sickness, and death.
- Rodoreda, Merce. The Time of the Doves. The story of a young woman’s life during the Spanish Civil War.
- Roy, Arundhati. God of Small Things. Set in India, a story of twins Estha and Rahel and the shocking consequences of the forbidden love affair between their divorced mother and the Untouchable handyman.
- Salinger, J.D.. The Catcher in the Rye. A Perfect Day for Bananafish
- Scott, Sir Walter. Ivanhoe. Tale of Ivanhoe, the disinherited knight, Lady Rowena, Richard the Lion-Hearted, and Robin Hood at the time of the Crusades.
- Shakespeare, William. Macbeth
- Shelley, Mary W. Frankenstein. A gothic tale of terror in which Frankenstein creates a monster from corpses.
- Solzhenitsyn, Aleksander. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Ivan Denisovich Shukhov endures one more day in a Siberian prison camp and finds joy in survival.
- Sophocles. Oedipus the King. A greek tragedy that foretells the story of King Oedipus as he faces the consequences of an unconsciously self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Süskind, Patrick. Perfume. A man born with the gift of the ability to disguish scents embarks on a journey to create the world’s best perfume
- Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Travels. Gulliver encounters dwarfs and giants and has other strange adventures when his ship is wrecked in distant lands.
- Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. After her mother’s death, a young Chinese-American woman learns of her mother’s tragic early life in China.
- Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina. Anna forsakes her husband for the dashing Count Vronsky and brief happiness.
- Turgenev, Ivan. Fathers and Sons. The journey of nihilistic, Bazarov through life. He encounters love, which challenge his belief system.
- Vonnegut, Kurt. Harrison Bergeron
- Weisel, Elie. Night. A searing account of the Holocaust as experienced by a 15-year-old boy.
- Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass
- Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. A portrait magically preserves the youth of the protagonist.
- Zamyatin, Yevgeny. We. The story is told by the protagonist, “D-503”, in his diary, which details both his work as a mathematician and his misadventures with a resistance group called the Mephi.
World Literature Paper 2 Edit
The second option, “Paper 2”, can be either the analysis of a portion of an overall work, or of a complete work. (For example, Paper 2 could be implicitly focused on Antigone’s final speech, or it could explicitly look at the work as a whole.) One can also write a creative piece, in which they adapt a certain aspect of the novel or play and make it into something abstract; such as a diary entry, a letter, etc. It has to suit the piece of literature.
If a portion of work is being analysed, an appendix or note is generally a good idea, wherein the section is added in. This may garner favor with the IBO markers, as they won’t have to dig through the play to find your selection.
Some tips for Paper 1 and Paper 2:
- For Paper 1, introduce both authors and their respective works in your introduction.
- Clearly outline your thesis, and what you’re going to talk about (make sure to talk about literary elements ).
- Don’t go over the word limit; the IBO marker will stop reading at 1500, not 1650.
- Word count consists of quotes, but not quote references.
- Reinforce any claims you make with direct quotations. Your teacher should have taught you some sort of standard citing style (MLA, APA, Chicago) so make sure you cite properly.
- Don’t forget a Works Cited Page.
- Make sure to get a competent English teacher to give you feedback on your final copies. Remember, your teacher won’t be marking it!
- Make the changes, and hand it in.
Some common errors Edit
- Many candidates use impressive diction (replacing words using a thesaurus), often without knowing what it means. Doing so may convey the wrong meaning and result in a loss of marks.
- Doing the essay the night before is not recommended, of course. It is much more difficult to write a solid essay at 3am. It shows lack of being a serious English Literature student.
- Proper formatting: double space it, insert a header with your name, the page number, and most importantly, your IB number (this is how the IB evaluators will identify you). You should also format your essay structure correctly (quotations especially).
- Forgetting to add a properly-formatted cover page will look unimpressive to evaluators and may indirectly cost marks.
- The font MUST be a standard font, such as Times New Roman or Arial. While using standard fonts is not a factor of criteria in evaluation, it may indirectly lower marks as it suggests a lack of quality care put into the essay. (This should be noted with all papers, essays, presentations, etc. and not just IB.)