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Exam practice and analysis
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The following question tests AO1 as the dominant assessment objective – to communicate clearly the knowledge, understanding and insight appropriate to literary study. However, all the other assessment objectives are addressed too (with the exception of the comparison element of 2ii).

Louis De Bernières: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin covers a period of fifty years of political, social and geographical upheaval. How successful do you think it is as a ‘history’ of this period?

OCR Specimen Material 2000

Here are some ideas to think about. They are taken from the mark scheme, and relate to the Assessment Objectives for this question.

The task clearly asks for a personal judgement on a central but perhaps not obvious question about the book (AO4); candidates also need to consider what impact evaluating the novel in terms of its historical and literary contexts has on their view of the book’s effectiveness (AO5ii).

Answers that are penetrating and original would show:

  • AO1 assured presentation of cogent arguments, using appropriate terminology.
  • AO4 independent opinions on the success of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin as a ‘history’, with a sophisticated sense of what this might mean, and judgements of its merits assessed in other terms, formed by their own reading of the novel and informed by different interpretations by other readers.
  • AO5ii a real appreciation of the influence of historical perspectives on their reading of the novel, noting characteristic attitudes of the context in which the novel was written (London, 1994) and in which it is set (Cephallonia, 1941–1990s) and commenting on the possible tension between these two and between these and their own present-day and other perspectives (gender, political, cultural).
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