Faulkner created a compelling and frightening universe: his Yoknapatawpha County, his Snopes Trilogy, his poetry, his letters, his short stories, and his life. Modern authors who struggle with their editors are often confused at how Faulkner submitted to his editor when an early editor misspelled Falkner’s name as Faulkner, and how Faulkner embraced the typo as his nom de plume. He became invisible in his art.
Mark Twain stands in the ironic position of being characterized as the quintessential American writer while at the same time both liberals and conservatives find it necessary to ban selected books from his corpus. Liberals find Twain’s use of the “n” word offensive (Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn), while conservatives find his treatment of the Bible to be blasphemous.
Charles Dickens gave us the sentimentality of the Christmas Carol and the cruel poverty of Oliver Twist. His 19th century world presents a tension between the poles of idealism and realism.
James Joyce was one of the most studied and least understood writers of the 20th century. This book seeks to examine his works from the inside out by asking 953 questions from each of his works.
"My unchanging Word is sacred. The word is my wife, to exponse and expound, to vend and to velnerate, and may the curlews crown our nuptiasl!" (Finnegan's Wake, p. 167).
“Upon my word, this a strange age we live in; I am ashamed of it; there was never such a fondness for money, and never so much difficulty in getting one’s own. Notwithstanding all the care a person may take, debts now-a-days are like children, begot with pleasure, but brought forth with pain. It is pleasant for money to come into our purse; but when the time comes that we have to give it back, then the pangs of labor seize us.”
--The Blunder: or, the Counterplots
“Give us health, ample land, and lights, O Soma, and grant us long to look upon the sunshine.” --The Iliad, Book 9. Hymn 91.6
“In the beginning rose Hiranyagarbha, born Only Lord of all created beings. He fixed and holdeth up this earth and heaven.”
--The Iliad, Book 10. Hymn 121.1
“From thighs, from knee-caps, and from heels, and from the forepart of the feet, from hips, from stomach, and from groin I drive the malady away.”
--The Iliad, Book 10. Hymn 163.4
Eugene O'Neill saw the underside of humanity--alcoholism, divorce, family dysfunction, poverty--and told the stories of those caught in these struggles. Such struggles were not always victorious or noble, but they were worth telling all the same.
George Eliot created fiction that was both romantic and realistic. Her vision was that of an independent woman and a social reformer. Her characters rivaled Dickens for their complexity, and her plots echoed Shaw and Ibsen for their social concerns.
While Ibsen wrote his best works over a hundred years ago, the themes are still very modern, and unresolved. How can a politician be true to the people and yet be uncorrupted? (Enemy of the People) How can a woman be independent when she depends on a man for money? (Doll’s House) How can two daughters accept a stepmother? (Lady of the Sea) How can a woman find honor when her husband is unfaithful? (Ghosts)
"Christianity might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it."
“You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’” (Often incorrectly attributed to Robert Kennedy.)
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
“Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.”
“I want to be all used up when I die.”
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
The influence of William Shakespeare on literature and language has been incomparable. Despite the fact that no one “speaks” Elizabethan, for the past twenty years he has earned screenplay credit almost every year as one or more of his plays are turned into a popular movie. From Broadway to Central Junior High in Middleton, U.S.A., “Romeo or Juliet” or “Hamlet” or any of a dozen of his most popular plays are the universal repertoire.
in the Literature Series
960 Questions of Thornton Wilder
961 Questions of Bertholt Brecht
Questions of August Wilson
Questions of Wole Soyinka
Questions of Samuel Beckett