"We recognize them in a personal calamity that is particular to its time but that has the universality of great suffering and despair and courage, of a 'victim' seeking to wrest control over his own life away from the condition that has controlled him. It's a situation, Cunningham reminds us, that differs from age to age only in the specific details, not in the humanity those details reveal. That's what happens when works get reenvisioned: we learn something about the age that produced original as well as about our own."
~page 224 of How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Continue reading "Some Things Never Change" »
. . . . This is where you came in. We have to go on for ages and ages yet.
You go home.
The end of this play isn't written yet."
~page 121 of Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth
Continue reading "The Play That Never Ends" »
"The formula I generally offer is this: don't read with your eyes."
~page 228 of Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Continue reading "Reading Empathy" »
"The cycle of poverty imposed on the Okies contained a seasonal period of starvation during the rainy season. Water again, this time through super-abundance, became the immediate threat to the Okies' survival."
~page 89 of David Cassuto's "Turning Wine into Water: Water as Privileged Signifier in The Grapes of Wrath"
Continue reading "The Flip Side" »
"The turtle had come a long walk, / 200 millennia understudy to dinosaurs, / then their survivors. A god for the out-of-power . . . . / Faster gods come to Castine, flush yachtsmen who see hell as a city very much like New York, / these gods give a bad past and worse future to men who never bother to set a spinnaker; / culture without cash isn't worth their spit."
~lines 3-10 of Robert Lowell's "Bringing a Turtle Home" on page 105 of Eight American Poets
Continue reading "Turtle Better Than Yacht Owners?" »
"In a dark time, the eye begins to see"
~line 1 of Theodore Roethke's "In a Dark Time" on page 27 of Eight American Poets
Continue reading "The Blind Shall See" »
"If I've killed one man, I've killed two-- / The vampire who said he was you / And drank my blood for a year, / Seven years, if you want to know. / Daddy, you can lie back now."
~lines 71-75 of Sylvia Plath's "Daddy" on pages 211-213 of Eight American Poets
Continue reading "Vampires and War" »
"I watched her reach into the bosom of her taffeta hostess gown and remove a white envelope.
'This is your new identity,' Brother Jack said. 'Open it.'
Inside I found a name written on a slip of paper."
~page 309 of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man
Continue reading "What's in a Name?" »