Answers must be written in English. Texts for detailed study are listed below.

Candidates will also be required to show adequate knowledge of the following topics and movements :
The Renaissance: Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama; Metaphysical Poetry; The Epic and the Mock-epic; Neo-classicism; Satire; The Romantic Movement; The Rise of the Novel; The Victorian Age.


  • William Shakespeare: King Lear and The Tempest.
    John Donne.

The following poems :
– Canonization;
– Death be not proud;
– The Good Morrow;
– On his Mistress going to bed;
– The Relic;

  • John Milton : Paradise Lost, I, II, IV, IX
    Alexander Pope. The Rape of the Lock.
    William Wordsworth.

The following poems:
– Ode on Intimations of Immortality.
– Tintern Abbey.
– Three years she grew.
– She dwelt among untrodden ways.
– Michael.
– Resolution and Independence.
– The World is too much with us.
– Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour.
– Upon Westminster Bridge.

  • Alfred Tennyson: In Memoriam.
  • Henrik Ibsen: A Doll’s House.


  • Jonathan Swift. Gulliver’s Travels.
  • Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice.
  • Henry Fielding. Tom Jones.
  • Charles Dickens. Hard Times.
  • George Eliot. The Mill on the Floss.
  • Thomas Hardy. Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
  • Mark Twain. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Paper II:

Answers must be written in English. Texts for detailed study are listed below.

Candidates will also be required to show adequate knowledge of the following topics and movements: Modernism; Poets of the Thirties; The stream-of-consciousness Novel; Absurd Drama; Colonialism and Post- Colonialism; Indian Writing in English; Marxist, Psychoanalytical and Feminist approaches to literature; Post- Modernism.


  • William Butler Yeats.

The following poems:
– Easter 1916
– The Second Coming
– A Prayer for my daughter.
– Sailing to Byzantium.
– The Tower.
– Among School Children.
– Leda and the Swan.
– Meru
– Lapis Lazuli
– The Second Coming
– Byzantium.
T.S. Eliot. The following poems :
– The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock
– The journey of the Magi.
– Burnt Norton.

  • W.H. Auden.

The following poems :
– Partition
– Musee des Beaux Arts
– in Memory of W.B. Yeats
– Lay your sleeping head, my love
– The Unknown Citizen
– Consider
– Mundus Et Infans
– The Shield of Achilles
– September 1, 1939
– Petition.

  • John Osborne : Look Back in Anger.Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot.
    Philip Larkin.

The following poems :
– Next
– Please
– Deceptions
– Afternoons
– Days
– Mr. Bleaney

  • A.K. Ramanujan.

The following poems :
– Looking for a Causim on a Swing
– A River
– Of Mothers, among other Things
– Love Poem for a Wife 1
– Small-Scale Reflections on a Great House
– Obituary (All these poems are available in the anthology Ten Twentieth Century Indian Poets, edited by R. Parthasarthy, published by Oxford University Press, New Delhi).


  • Joseph Conrad. Lord Jim
  • James Joyce. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
  • D.H. Lawrence. Sons and Lovers.
  • E.M. Forster. A Passage to India.
  • Virginia Woolf. Mrs Dalloway.
  • Raja Rao. Kanthapura.
  • V.S. Naipal. A House for Mr. Biswas.

Reference Books:

Novels and Drama:

Either ‘Worldview edition’ or ‘Norton Critical edition’ is recommended.

One should supplement the analysis/criticism provided in these books with content available on websites such as Sparknotes , Cliffnotes, Wikipedia etc.

Text of a novel should be read at least once. Do not try to understand the meaning of each and every sentence; instead see a chapter in its entirety and in relation to the overall plot.

Critical essays and analysis of a work should be read thoroughly and important points memorized, especially vital themes, symbols and motifs.

For Indian-origin novels (where Worldview and Norton are not available), one should read the text well and search the net for essays, criticisms and analysis.


Dig the internet to gather as much in-depth knowledge about a poem as possible. Memorizing important lines of a poem is a good idea as its usage in an answer gives a very good impression. You can sail through by using your own analysis during reading of a poem.

History of English Literature:

(Covers important literary periods like Renaissance, Elizabethan era etc. refer syllabus)

Many good books are available for this:

Introduction to English Literature by W.H Hudson

The Routledge History of Literature in English

A short History of English Literature (Pramod K. Nayar)

Wikipedia is also a good source.

Unseen Poetry and Prose:

In paper-I, one has to answer questions based on unseen poem and in paper-II, there is similarly a passage from which questions are based. Both combined constitute 100 marks (50 each) and are compulsory.

These can be answered by using one’s common sense without any intensive prior preparation. A book Practical Criticism (Oxford University Press) can be useful in this regard.

A Glossary of Literary Terms by M.H Abrams is useful for familiarizing oneself with various literary terms.


  • Read the original texts rather than their commentaries.
  • History of English literature should be done at the end of the preparation, i.e., after you have done the remainder of the syllabus. Again, only a cursory glance over the history is required.
  • To ace this optional, invest your time in reading and writing a lot.
  • When you read a particular text, you will feel certain emotions and also develop your own understanding of the text. Jot these down so that you can use them in your answers later on.
  • It would help if you make a flowchart of characters of the text.
  • You can also create your own quotes and poetic lines. They should be deep and impactful. Don’t make up something just for the heck of it.
  • You can refer to Wikipedia,  sparknotes.com, www.shmoop.com, etc.
  • Paper 1 is more international and Paper 2 is more Indian in its content.
  • You can also refer to some text not prescribed in the syllabus so that you can get extra quotes and lines to embellish your answers. Example: Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe.
  • Understand and use certain literary devices like euphemism, allusion, imagery, simile, metaphor, personification, etc. in your answers. This will enhance the quality of your writing.
  • You should also understand certain terminologies like feministic reading, Marxist reading, and Shakespearean idea of a play and so on.
  • An excellent tip for a better and easier understanding of some of the texts would be to watch movies or series of them online. There are plenty of standard productions like Pride & Prejudice, Tess, Waiting for Godot, etc. (This will also take the steam off your preparation!)
  • When you read a poem, try to understand it yourself first before searching for explanations externally. Understanding poetry might take time but enjoy the process and it will be easier and worthwhile.
  • Be open to ideas from all sides. Discussions with family and friends will help in getting new ideas and reflections.
  • Try to get into the head of a character and imagine why he/she behaves in a certain manner.
  • Poetry fetches more marks than novels. But this strategy works only if the quality of your answers is top notch. Otherwise, it is better to stick to novels.

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