Pradeep Menon, English 125, Best Essay, 2015-2016
Pradeep Menon sees himself as a mature student who “has the luxury to approach education for its own sake.” Pursuing a BA degree in English Literature and History, he insists, “[I]t is never too late to begin. On my fiftieth birthday, I chose to go back to university and fulfill a lifelong dream. I love what I am learning, and am enjoying every bit of it.”
Widely travelled, Pradeep has also lived in three countries. Life experiences inspire him “to approach any topic from a multi-disciplinary, global, and…unique perspective.” He always aims to “inform and entertain” his audience, whether writing an essay or delivering a speech. His high school education in India introduced him to the Romantic period and to memorable works like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, but his love for speculative fiction is clear:
I particularly like Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy and have always been a great fan of Asimov’s fiction and non-fiction. Though snubbed by most critics for his lack of literary flourish, I found his style appealing, approachable, and worthy of emulation.
I like writers who make esoteric topics in science and technology accessible to everyone. As for favourites, it could be any of Asimov’s 500+ books, Carl Sagan’s books such as Cosmos and A Demon Haunted World, and Dawkin’s The Selfish Gene.
While writing his award-winning English 125 essay, “Safe Harbour in Turbulent Times: Preservation of Self-Identity in Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See,” Pradeep developed the following insights about his role in literary criticism:
As one of the protagonists of the novel was from the principal belligerent nation in the Second World War, I had initially presumed that I would not be able to be sympathetically evaluate his evolution from a naive adolescent to a somewhat doubting but generally willing sword hand for the nation’s cause. However, I was surprised and pleased that I was able to analyze his life experience and discover how he was able to retain his humanity and ultimately make amends.
Pradeep looks forward to taking English Literature courses ranging from “literary criticism, speculative fiction, 18th/19th century literature… [to]…international literature,” but, for now, he offers us this exciting challenge for students who love to read and write about English Literature:
Students of English literature must commit to writing something, every day, no matter what. We choose English as our major because we are all voracious readers. However, writing is where the best tend to get filtered from the rest. Be prepared to analyze what you are reading, connect them to themes in the world around you, and then communicate that in your writing. Finally, aim to be a better writer every day. You will appreciate literature even more when you realize the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that is needed to produce any piece of writing.