(Original post by Izz Hack)
Thank you so much for your help! I think I'm going to stop maths and then dedicate all of this time to further reading - can't wait to get started! Which authors/films do you like? I'm more into the modern side of things, not really a fan of old films, but more than happy to get stuck into anything and give it a go - any recommendations?
No problem, hope it was vaguely useful!
If you like modern texts and films, have a look at something like Borges' Ficciones -- it's a fascinating collection of short stories, with great philosophical ideas wittily presented (and a lot of amusing pseudo-academia to make fun of old university professors!). Borges was an Argentine writer, but with strong links to Europe (and Paris in particular), especially in his intellectual style. Also take a look at Bioy Casares' La invención de Morel, which is perhaps slightly easier reading! He was a pal of Borges', also Argentine (I'm quite into Latin American literature, as you might notice...). Luisa Valenzuela (also Argentine - they write well!) wrote Cambio de Armas about the Guerra Sucia, and Mario Vargas Llosa (we're in Peru now, so diversified!) is a fantastic novelist and journalist if you feel like tackling a longer work. That said, his factual (vaguely autobiographical) account, La historia secreta de una novela, is also well worth reading to get an insight into the process of writing.
On that same note, actually, moving over to the French side of things, Nathalie Sarraute's novel Entre la vie et la mort, though fictional, has a similar thematic interest: how can a writer truly know themselves, or observe themselves objectively? How, therefore, can they critique their own work? It is somewhat hard going, though; for something more readable, Samuel Beckett's plays (especially En attendant Godot and Fin de partie) are surprisingly easy to read, if a bit desolate! If you can find the Harrap edition of Godot with the introduction by Colin Duckworth, all the better. Camus is a favourite, of course, but interviewers are pretty sick of hearing about L'Étranger from candidates - everyone's read it! Try something else, like Le mythe de sisyphe (which you can link quite nicely to Beckett as well - making comparisons and contrasts is a great way to show that you've thought critically about the text). For poetry, maybe have a look at Apollinaire's Alcools collection, for example. There are loads of other writers that you could look at, like Sartre, Queneau, Perec, even Beaudelaire and Laclos if you're willing to go back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Just find a few things that interest you and take it from there.
There are loads of options on the films side too. Almodóvar is obviously a key figure of Spanish film, so you could give him a look - Volver might be a good place to start. Anything by Guillermo del Toro (the famous example obviously being El laberinto del fauno), is worth a watch. If you're into horror, El Orfanato and Los ojos de Julia are pretty... well, disturbing, but amazing. One of the first-year course films, También la lluvia, about the water conflicts in Cochabamba, Bolivia, is a great multifaceted work with an interesting mise-en-abîme conceit of a film within a film; it's worth considering the various presentations of neocolonial behaviour and also whether Bollaín herself (the director) falls into any of the traps of her fiction counterpart, Sebastián.
The French were also very into cinema, and the Nouvelle vague (New Wave) of the '50s and '60s was in huge part about making cinema an art form on a par with literature, rather than simply a vehicle to retell existing literary stories (as was the case in the tradition de qualité). I know you said you don't like old films, but I've decided to categorise that as pre-1950s for my own purposes, and so I'd really recommend you have a look at some of Godard's films: try À bout de souffle for a Hollywood-style action film. Truffaut, as well, is a key figure of the movement, so you could have a look at his films: Les 400 coups is a sort of filmic self-portrait of his childhood, for example, and very French! Have a look at the Trois Couleurs series, or Les Intouchables, for some more recent suggestions.
I hope this is vaguely helpful and that some of these (and no, you wouldn't be expected to try and get through all that!) might be interesting. If you want to find some shorter things just to help you get used to reading in the languages, I've recommended a few in this thread here
. All the best