2023 - Spring

One Star Reviews

Dear readers,

Have you ever read a book because it’s a classic or because everyone was telling you about it and you read it and…. you actually…. didn’t like it… at all?

That is exactly how these rather expressive Goodreads users felt after reading various well-known works of literature.

Well, dear readers, can you guess which piece of literature these users read that got them so riled up on the internet? Give it a try!

There are two difficulty levels to this game. You can either

1. read the reviews and guess based on your own knowledge of famous novels and plays
2. have a look at a list of titles below the reviews, that might help you narrow things down. But be careful: not every title has a corresponding review!

The reviews:

Work A:

User 1:

This is a disgrace to all pure bloods. My head looked quite dashing on that strange professor’s head.. If only I could have extended my stay. [Protagonist’s name].. This is not over yet.

User 2

So, this is the book everyone loves?

Work B:

User 1:

The most overrated book in the history of literature. The “plot” borders between meaningless and trivial.

I was forced to read the book in 9th grade English class. This was perhaps the most tedious school assignment I’ve received to date. For several pages a lady remarks to a man about what wonderful handwriting he has. Not exactly gripping material. The entire book seemed to be about hormone-driven marriageable-age creatures trying to outwit each other in word and on the dance floor.

The book itself is bad enough, but to complicate matters, women pledge allegiance not only to the book but also to the gazillion-hour movie.

User 2:

Jesus Christ, just have sex.

User 3:

Welcome to almost any 8th grade dance. You will find most of the boys playing basketball in the gym while the girls are waiting in the cafeteria for someone with whom to dance.  I was rooting for [male character] to get away. Maybe he just isn’t that into [female character]?   The scenes bounce from one scene to another so quickly that it makes my head spin, and I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. [A female character] spends most of the novel sitting around complaining about [a male character] and [another male character] while doing absolutely nothing to better her situation. At least Jay Gatsby did something about his love…..

Work C:

User 1:

countenance, endeavour, benevolent, wretch, ardour, anguish, countenance, endeavour, benevolent, countenance, ardour, endeavour, benevolent, wretch, countenance, endeavour, benevolent, countenance, ardour, endeavour, benevolent, wretch, anguish, countenance, endeavour, benevolent, countenance, ardour, endeavour, benevolent, anguish, wretch, countenance, ardour, endeavour, ardour, benevolent, countenance, endeavour, benevolent, wretch, anguish, countenance, ardour, endeavour, benevolent, countenance, ardour, endeavour, anguish, benevolent, wretch, countenance, ardour, endeavour, benevolent 

The End.

User 2:

If you open up any page in this horrendous book, you will have a 100% chance of [the protagonist] whining of what a miserable wretch he and/or the Daemon is, a 50% chance of [the protagonist] being in some kind of a nervous fever or fainting, and a 75% chance of an excessively detailed description of the trees, mountains, oceans, weather, and worst of all….. [the protagonist]’s thoughts. Ahem. By ‘thoughts’, I mean constant complaining and whining. He goes on and on and on about, “oh, what a miserable wretch I am. Death would be pity to me, blah blah, blah…never upon this earth had any suffered as much as I had.” His suffering literally made me laugh.

Work D:

User 1:

My theory as to this book’s unusually polarizing nature: either you identify with [the protagonist] or you don’t.

Those who see themselves (either as they were or, God help them, as they are) in [the protagonist] see a misunderstood warrior-poet, fighting the good fight against a hypocritical and unfeeling world; they see [the author] as a genius because he gets it, and he gets them.

Those of us who don’t relate to [the protagonist] see in him a self-absorbed whiner, and in [the author], a one-trick-pony who lucked into performing his trick at a time when some large fraction of America happened to be in the right collective frame of mind to perceive this boring twaddle as subversive and meaningful.

User 2:

I know there are people who thought this book changed their lives and helped them find their unique way in the world, but coming from a non-white, non-middle class background, as a kid, I really resented having to read about this spoiled, screwed up, white, rich kid who kept getting chance after chance and just kept blowing it because he was so self-absorbed and self-pitying. I felt at the time there was no redeeming value in it for me. I was born on the outside trying my best to get in. I felt no sympathy for him at all. I didn’t even find him funny. It just made me angry. I guess it still does.

Work E:

User 1:

[Title] is not a love story. [The author] was mocking those who think they can fight society and win, as well as the folly of youth. At the same time, he was mocking culture for being so backwards that these young people have to commit suicide just to be together.

[The female protagonist] is 13, [the male protagonist] is closing in on 20. At the beginning of the play, two men of [the male protagonist’s] house are talking about decapitating and raping women of [the female protagonist’s] house. And [the male protagonist] bails on some random girl he’s been having sex with, just to try and sleep with 13-year-old [female protagonist]. Still think it’s a love story?

It was [the author’s] worst play, as far as I am concerned, and the reputation it’s cultivated since its release is ridiculous.

User 2:

This is one of those classics that I do not understand why people like it. Don’t get me wrong – the language is beautiful. This is not a condemnation of [the author’s] writing ability, but rather his ability to plot out a story. The story is stupid. I don’t usually put such hurtful words into a review, but it is stupid! [The male protagonist] spends the first act mooning over another girl and then he sees [the female protagonist] and forgets all about what’s-her-face. They speak all of a handful of lines at each other (doesn’t count as speaking to each other as they spend the entire time talking about how hot the other one is), then get married and kill themselves in a period of a couple days. It is ridiculous and unromantic, yet people hold it up as a paragon of romantic love.

Work F:

User 1:

This book is pointless. Nothing happens in the entire book, the characters just talk, drink, and cheat on each other. I would rather have gotten a root canal than read this book. (It was for class.) Anyway I recommend this book to no one!!!

User 2:

He should have called it “Desperate House-Husbands.” What? This is a classic? Fuck [the author], fuck the roaring 20’s, and FUCK YOU.

User 3:

Halfway through and I don’t even care anymore. I’ll read the synopsis for the rest. If I want to read about shiftless rich people and their drunken machinations, I’ll read the Hollywood Reporter or TMZ.

Work G:

User 1:

Torturous. Just buy the fucking flowers, [protagonist]!

User 2:

This is not so much a review as a declaration of surrender. When I read in the intro that this book is comparable to James Joyce’s Ulysses I already started looking for my white flag. Really I cannot be doing with experimental stream of consciousness prose with no dialogue. I cannot even cope with the absence of quotation marks. I read [the novel] for almost an hour and could not discern any kind of plot. The lady is wandering around London observing “the excitement of elms” (wtf?), trees waving about, grazing cows etc. By the time she starts waxing lyrical about bloody sparrows chirping in Greek words I was ready to do a runner. I did find a bit of dialogue though, it goes:

“‘Oh look,’ she implored him. But what was there to look at? A few sheep. That was all.”

Oookay, I’m off!

Work H:

User 1:

[The sequel] by [the author], was continuing [the first book]. This book was truly confusing. It was just completely random, and I could barely follow along with any of the storyline. Just, I feel like [the author] was on some sort of hallucinogen and thought, “Wow! Those flowers are talking to me! I should write a book with all of the other weird things I’m seeing.” Nothing made sense, and it was just so incoherent, but it tried to be proper, but it wasn’t…. It was just a confusing book. I would recommend just watching the [film] version of [the first book], and sing along to the [redacted] song. That is all the [author] that anyone needs.

User 2:

[Book one]: I found this story completely bizarre. I didn’t really enjoy it and the repeating of words, sentences etc. was rather annoying. Everyone in the story is rude and nothing really makes any sense. Whether it was a dream, who knows?

[Sequel]: Again another bizarre story. This time it’s clear by the end of the story that it is just [the protagonist’s] dream.

I really didn’t enjoy either of these stories and has left me wondering why the stories are so popular? I think I’ll stick to the film version of these.

So, can you guess…?

Here’s a list of titles to help you narrow down the answers, if you want:

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (1865)
  • Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (1748)
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (1850)
  • Emma by Jane Austen (1816)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare (1598)
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by Joanne K. Rowling (1997)
  • His Dark Materials: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (1995)
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868-9)
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)
  • Love’s Cure by John Fletcher (1647)
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (2011)
  • Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)
  • Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock (1818)
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)
  • Orlando by Virginia Woolf (1928)
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (1597)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884/5)
  • The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951)
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)
  • The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
  • The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare (1623)
  • The Wizard of Oz by Lyman Frank Baum (1900)
  • Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett (1948)
  • West Side Story by Irving Shulman (1963)
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847)


  • Work A: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • Work B: Pride and Prejudice
  • Work C: Frankenstein
  • Work D: The Catcher in the Rye
  • Work E: Romeo and Juliet
  • Work F: The Great Gatsby
  • Work G: Mrs Dalloway
  • Work H: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

Reviews have been edited for clarity and length. For the original reviews, go on

2021 - Winter

Staff Members’ Christmas Wishlists

Author: Leah Didisheim

For this year’s issue, we asked our dearest staff members for their Christmas wishlist and they kindly agreed to take the time during this stressful period to write their wishes down. So, (drumroll please!) here are their deepest desires revealed here and only here just for you! And thanks to their generosity, you can appreciate the best baby pictures they have of themselves. Without further ado, let’s read about our favourite teachers from another angle!

Kevin Curran:

1. The chance to relive my youth! (But this time with friends and without living in my parents’ basement until the age of 35.)

2. An opportunity to explain myself, properly, about that “incident” in Las Vegas, which I think has been misinterpreted and blown way out of proportion.

3. Further to above: My dignity back

4. A statue of me, erected in a public place, that says something to the effect of “He Was Right After All.” Nothing too fancy. Just a little larger than life-size. Not embossed in gold or anything like that. Marble will do. Perhaps in a Grecian pose?

5. A written apology from all those who have wronged me. You know who you are! I HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN YOUR BETRAYALS AND YOUR . . . [is hastily bundled out of the room by men in white coats]

Kirsten Stirling:

1. Some research time

2. A direct wormhole to New York

3. The complete collection of Moomin mugs

4. Another date with James McAvoy

Anita Auer:

1. Heaps of snow

2. A little red riding hood cape to go with the dress

3. A time machine to listen to all the different dialects in the history of English

4. A date with Poldark

Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet:

1. Necromantic superpowers

2. A one-way ticket to Ibiza

3. Dinner with Edgar Allan Poe

4. A magic mushroom home-growing kit

Benjamin Pickford:

1. An invisible, immaterial bookcase, which would hold all my library without taking up any actual space in my apartment, but still hold actual books and not electronic files

2. A complete set of the OED, all 20 volumes, to go on that bookcase

3. Fluency in French, German, and Italian, instantly

4. A year’s supply of Branston Pickle (this can be an ongoing Christmas request, I could never have too much Branston on hand)

5. A pub crawl with Karl Marx, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Friedrich Nietzsche, though I’m not sure that any of them were notorious boozers (maybe it would be more fun with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Kerouac, and Mark Twain…)

2021 - Winter

Dear Felicity – a Literary Advice Column

 Image: “Hanas Helpline” by DrJohnBullas is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

These literary characters have reached out to MUSE’s agony aunt, Felicity, asking for her help. Can you guess who they are?

Dear Felicity,

I have been unsuccessfully looking for love. I want a girlfriend but I think there’s nobody like me in the world. I would love her for all her flaws and imperfections. My father left me after my birth. I have recently found him again but he finds me ugly and he says no one will ever love me the way I am. I even have asked him to help me get a girlfriend but it’s out of the question for him. I have so much love to give but I don’t know what to do anymore. What else can I do?      

Yearning for love

Dear Yearning,

Your father sounds like a very unhealthy person. He may be your father, but you are by no means obligated to stay in his life if he isn’t doing you any good. You are worth it and beautiful just the way you are, and somewhere out there, there is someone looking for you. Don’t give up!

Dear Felicity,

I just got married! I am really excited: he is loving, handsome, rich – a dream! My problem is, since the day we got married and I moved in with him, he seems cold and does not show any affection. I have been trying to distract myself but his housekeeper keeps reminding me of his late wife. I have started to think he is still in love with her! What should I do about it?

A discouraged bride

Dear Discouraged,

First of all, no one should compare you to another woman. If your husband’s housekeeper has a problem working for you, raise the problem to your husband – she should respect you. Second of all, from what you’re describing it seems like your husband loves you and really wanted to marry you. Maybe something else is on his mind and he is not ready to open up about it yet. Show him that you’re there for him and share your limits and boundaries. Good luck!

Dear Felicity,

I’ve just been expelled from school. I know I should care, but I feel like everybody is so fake, so I don’t. I’m struggling to make good decisions and I always seem to fail saying the right thing to people who do care about me. I don’t like many things. I make big decisions lightly, knowing I wouldn’t go through with them anyway. I’m scared my parents will never be proud of me. Can you help me?

        An overwhelmed boy

Dear Overwhelmed,

It isn’t easy growing up and knowing what you want. Remember that nobody has got it figured out. Do more of what makes you happy, keep exploring. Take your time to process information; nobody is rushing you. Your parents are there for you and I’m sure that if you share your worries with them, they will happily help you make sense of what you’re going through. Take your time to breathe!

Dear Felicity,

I have been spending a lot of time with a man recently. He is coaching me so I can get a better job. I’ve been making great efforts and helping him with so many things, but he has never even praised or thanked me! But I keep telling myself that somewhere between all his bitterness must lie kindness, and I keep pursuing recognition from him. Also, he tells me if I leave, I will go back to my old job and never succeed. I’m afraid I won’t make it on my own. What am I supposed to do?

                                                                                                                      A torn girl

Dear Torn,

I hear you: it is hard to let someone go if you believe there is good in everyone. But, someone who disrespects you is not worth your time: spend time with people who treat you right. If you are not ready to give up on his coaching just yet, try to set yourself a limit of how far you are willing to go, or how long you are willing to stay without recognition. Plus, from what I’m hearing, you have made a great deal of progress and I am sure you can make it without him. Take care of yourself, you’ve got this!

2021 - Winter

MUSE’s English Events and Escapades: fun stuff to do, in English, outside the classroom

World Radio Switzerland: Listen to local news in English with this privately owned radio station in Geneva. Check out their website, app, or DAB+ broadcasts in Geneva, Vaud and Valais.

The Village Players of Lausanne: an English language theatre group based in Lausanne that produces plays and hosts events in Ouchy.

Geneva English Drama Society: The GEDS is an English language amateur drama society offering a wide range of opportunities through their theatrical productions. The group also hosts playreading performances, i.e., script-in-hand readings, in a relaxed, informal atmosphere. The entry fee for playreadings is 5 CHF & sign-up is required.

The Jan Michalski Foundation for Writing and Literature: The Jan Michalski Foundation hosts exhibitions and conferences as well as other cultural events centred around literature. Some of these events are held in English, while others are in French (see the website for more information).

Jim’s British Market in Gland: Jim’s British Market specialises in British products. They are always listening to customer’s requests and try to adapt their offer based on feedback. If there is food that you miss or have always wanted to try from Britain, head on down!

Books Books Books: Lausanne’s English language bookshop is the place to go for all manner of fiction and non-fiction, including recent publications. Check out the staff’s recommendations as well as the events they host regularly through their website.

The Library in English: The Library in English is in Geneva. As well as offering access to over 10,000 books, it hosts two book sales a year – in spring and autumn – where you can buy cheap second-hand books in English, along with other cultural events.

Renegade Saints: an English-language improv group based in Geneva. The group hosts monthly performances at Mr Pickwick Pub (tickets are 15 CHF), as well as weekend workshops, and free drop-in improv sessions (also at the pub or at a location nearby).

Ulysses at 100: a live event at UNIL. On February 25th 2022, there will be an evening of talks, music and student readings, to celebrate 100 years since the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses and 75 years of Joyce studies in Switzerland. This event is being organised in collaboration with the Irish Embassy, the Max Geilinger Foundation and the Swiss Association of University Teachers of English and will take place on the UNIL campus (Amphimax 415). Keep your eyes peeled for posters around campus.

Simon Armitage: a poetry reading at UNIGE. On Friday, May 20th 2022, there will be a poetry reading by Simon Armitage, the UK Poet Laureate, at the University of Geneva at 6 pm. The exact address is: Bâtiment Colladon, 2 rue Jean-Daniel Colladon, 1211 Genève.

Presented by Tonia Ramogida and Arthur Margot