May 05 2012

Donald J. Childs on Eliot’s Medical Metaphors

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Childs begins his essay on T.S. Eliots “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by asserting, “One of T.S. Eliot’s favorite images is that of a patient spread out upon an examination table.” I was not a aware of this, and I certainly was not aware of this imagery in “Love Song.” Because this poem is so lengthy, I did not even pay much notice to these images. Childs then parallels this image (“Like a patient etherised on a table”) to Eliot’s later work, East Coker (“The wounded surgeon plies the steel/ That questions the distempered part;/ Beneath the bleeding hands we feel/ The sharp compassion of the healer’s art”). Though this recurring image is indeed fascinating, Childs only mentions works in which Eliot refers to a patient upon a surgical table. He does not inform the reader of the meaning of this image.

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May 04 2012

so cool!

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houses based on books!

http://flavorwire.com/286088/10-beautiful-buildings-inspired-by-famous-books?all=1

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May 04 2012

Pangloss the Optimist and Martin the Pessimist

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Lauren Steigen

4 May 2012

Our Last Critical Article Assignment, Thank Heavens! (..Just kidding of course..)

Author: Darren Felty

Literature Addressed: Candide

Quick Summary: Critic Darren Felty assesses Voltaire’s satirical views on extreme optimism and extreme pessimism through his characters’ responses to the evil in the world.

Argument:

  • Candide is comprised of a series of ridiculously brutal situations that dramatize the various evils of human existence.
  • The extreme cruelty is both horrible and comic

The Optimistic View:

  • Pangloss uses “logic” to explain the existence of evil
  • Asserts laws of “sufficient reason”
  • Although the world contains evil, it is still the “best of all possible worlds”
  • Pangloss upholds such beliefs to the point of absurdity- rationalizing all situations and events with a “cause-and-effect” relationship
  • “Things cannot be otherwise than they are, for since everything is made to serve an end, everything necessarily serves the best end.”
  • “…Voltaire does not characterize Pangloss’s beliefs as simply foolish. They are dangerous.”

The Pessimistic View:

  • Martin acts as a “voice” for Voltaire’s own views
  • Yet, as a passive man who can see the goodness in no one, he “differs fundamentally from Voltaire “
  • Martin is often bitingly clever, with unremitting pessimism and dark wit
  • He feels no outrage at injustice
  • Never surprised when things go badly
  • “misery is universal and inevitable; any efforts to curtail it are futile”
  • Martin believes that God and the devil hold equal power in the universe and the devil effectively rules human existence.
  • “…things are just as bad wherever you are” and working without argument is “the only way of rendering life bearable.”

A funny quote from the author…

Felty—

“One is tempted to say that Voltaire’s only purpose in the work is to condemn.”

My opinion/reaction to the Article:

Well, I liked how Felty talked about Pangloss primarily in the optimistic section of his argument, because I agree that Pangloss never wavers in his “optimism,” even while other characters do (such as Candide). I also agreed that Martin was the most pessimistic of the characters, although I hadn’t really thought of his views as the same as Voltaire’s, before. I suppose there’s a chance Martin is Voltaire’s way of putting his own opinion in the story, but it seems a little too dramatic- like Martin might just be a foil for Pangloss or even Candide. Anyway, the article had a lot of good evidence/exact references to the book (tons, in fact) which was good in supporting Felty’s argument. Overall though, I didn’t think the article was saying anything that new concerning pessimism/optimism in Candide, most would’ve been evident had you simply read the book.

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May 04 2012

Voltaire’s Candide

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Article: Voltaire’s Candide

Author: ProQuest Staff

Piece of Literature: Candide

This article begins by discussing the various philosophers of Voltaire’s time. The first philospher, Gottfried Leibniz, was actually mentioned in the book. This man was the mirror of Pangloss. He believed that this was the ‘best of all worlds’ and everything that happens in life is for the best. The second philosopher was named Alexander Pope, and was also in Candide. He was also an optimist- he believed that everything happens because of God’s grand plan. After the discussion of these two philosophers, the article summarizes the novella. It also compares and contrasts Pangloss and Martin. It says (obviously) that Martin and Pangloss have totally opposite points of views on life. Finally, this article ended with thoughts on Candide’s views. Candide, says the article, falls in the middle of Pangloss and Martin, just like Voltaire. This article asserts that Voltaire beleive that things just happen, and we have to accept them. The world goes on whether we do or not

I liked this article. I agreed with a lot of it’s points, even though I could come up with them on my own. There was a lot of summary, but the end had some good analysis. I thought that the part concerning Voltaire’s views was especially interesting.

So, what do you think Voltaire’s veiws on life were? What are yours? Did Candide change your thoughts at all?

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Apr 28 2012

“Reading Frost: ‘The Road Not Taken'”

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Author: Robert W. French

PoL: “The Road Not Taken”

In this essay, French argues that the common interpretation of “The Road Not Taken” is wrong, and it is wrong because most people over-interpret the poem. French believes the poem sends a message of defeat and failure and not a “ringing affirmation of independence.” The two roads are not actually that different: each is described as “just as fair” as the other, and both are equally worn. The speaker says he will say, “somewhere ages and ages hence,” that he took the road less travelled. However, he says it with a sigh, creating a melancholy and sorrowful tone. By saying he will assert in the future that he took the road less traveled, the speaker implies that he will lie. He’ll try to create bravery and independence from an action which used neither: both roads were equal.

I suppose this was an interesting article and made an interesting point, but it was just badly written. There was a silly use of italics. There were lots of italics. And French over-used rhetorical questions. How am I to learn his point when he stalls by trying to make me ponder things? What use are all these questions in the end? He could have just gotten to the point. My favorite sentence by far was “As a subject for classroom discussion, ‘The Road Not Taken’ has many virtues, not the least of which is its apparent simplicity: it seems so easy.” Yes, Mr. French. I understood that it seemed easy when you said it had “apparent simplicity.” I understand writing as if your audience is dumb so you can get your point across with clarity, but I’m not actually that stupid. This was a fun article if just for the fact that I could write snarky comments in the margins.

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Apr 27 2012

“Elizabeth Bishop: Some Notes on ‘One Art’”

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My Article was an exerpt from a much longer article called “Elizabeth Bishop: Some Notes on ‘One Art'” by J. D. McClatchy. He focused on the last stanza of the poem and said a lot of the same things we had said in class. McClatchy looks at Bishop’s use of adverbs in the last stanza. Adverbs like too and even put emphasis on the moral Dilemma the speaker is facing. She said earlier that she “shan’t have lied” and turns her emotional Dilemma into a moral one. Losing is a problem of the heart while lying can be forgiven by apologizing. By using the adverbs she is turning the emotional dilemma into a moral one; one that she can handle. I did not like this part of the article. It was confusing and really didn’t make much sense.
The better part of the article came when McClatchy talked about the last line. He says that Bishop stutters in the last line by repeating “like…like,” and creates an effect that makes “disaster” even more shocking at the end. The last line of his article cannot be said anybetter by me: The whole stanza is in danger of breaking apart, and breaking down. In this last line the poet’s voice literally cracks. The villanelle – that strictest and most intractable of verse forms – can barely control the grief, yet helps the poet keep her balance.
I like the feeling Elizabeth Bishop puts into “One Art” just by the way she arranges her words. Even though I didn’t totally understand this article I agree with what he said and appreciate the way he explained it.

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Apr 27 2012

What Time Is It?

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PoL: The Death of Ivan Ilych
Author: Michael Verno (from Millersville!)

In this article, Verno analyzes the many references Tolstoy mentions of time. He writes that the multiple references to watches, exact time of day, and scheduled events allow the reader to see the ways the people carelessly spend their time and their value of the their time. His examples include Ivan explaining how exact measures of time are lost to him: “morning or night, Friday or Sunday, made no difference” and his encounters with doctors  as “one hour then another pass.” Verno concludes the article with the statement that all the falsehoods contrast with Ivan who meets his death with the exclamation “What bliss!”

The article seemed a little over the place and didn’t focus on one specific aspect. Verno mentioned that the carelessly spent time contrasted with Ivan, but he also carelessly spent time in the beginning of the novel. Perhaps, it was comparing it to dying Ilych and younger Ilych? I’m not quite sure. I did like the article, and the ideas Verno had, but wish he would’ve spent a little more time explaining and supporting his argument.

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Apr 27 2012

The meaning behind “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” (or at least what this critic thinks it is).

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Lauren Steigen

27 April 2012

Critical Article Assignment #12 (I think?)

Author: Kayla Cupp

Literature Addressed:  The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Quick Summary: Most of the article summarized the story, but one particular section titled “What was Tolstoy’s meaning?” was particularly interesting- where Cupp discussed what she thought the meaning was.

Argument:

(We’re skipping the summary)

So what WAS Tolstoy’s Meaning?

  • The focus is that society rejects the idea of death
  • To appear “proper” to the world, society forsakes the “essential human emotions people were meant to have” and by doing this, they make themselves cold and unfeeling.
  • Tolstoy’s trying to stress that death happens to us all even if it’s unpleasant to realize it as a truth
  • Once people face the “truth” and realize the inevitability of death, they see that nothing can replace human connection and compassion for others.
  • Compassion is what allows society to look past the fear of death and see something “beautiful beyond it” (referencing the bright light)

My opinion/reaction to the Article:

I agreed with the critic’s assumption that The Death of Ivan Ilyich was about being unable to accept death- although I’m not sure if I agree that it was about all of society, but rather just about Ilyich in particular. It’s true that death happens to all of us, no matter how unpleasant the idea might seem (as exemplified by Ilyich’s refusal to believe such). I thought how Cupp explained society’s need to appear “proper” to the “world” was really confusing- I’m not sure what she meant, because society usually refers to the masses, so what would that make “the world?” I believe that individuals (not “society”) choose individually to forsake (or not) the “essential human emotions.” I wish Cupp had more evidence from the text specifically to support her idea about the Tolstoy’s meaning- rather than general ideas. The direct references would’ve made her argument more valid, even if I happen to agree partially. She was also disappointingly brief in going deeper into the idea of “beauty beyond” the fear- like what she thought that meant (heaven? Etc?).

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Apr 27 2012

A Study in Scarlet

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Title? “A Study in Scarlet–Arthur Conan Doyle.” Author? Some person named Gabriel.

Despite the reluctance of the author to reveal his or her full name, he or she offers a strong criticism of Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes novel. I was reluctant to agree with him or her at first since I have a tendency to idolized writers, but his or her arguments are valid, and I forced myself to see his or her points.

First, A Study in Scarlet is clearly an influential novel in the detective genre; however, the author of this article admits that there are some poor structural decisions and one very annoying cliche.

Let’s take Watson. The story is a rewrite of his journal, suggesting that “he has a photographic memory and the occasional out-of-body experience.” I laughed because it is true. Conan Doyle so masterfully writes his story that we often lose sight of the fact that this is Watson’s journal; Watson must either carry a piece of paper and pen everywhere, or Gabriel is correct. And what happens when we are told of events that Watson is not even present at?

Despite Watson’s supernatural powers, Conan Doyle certainly piques our interest before Holmes is formally introduced to us. We hear talk, yet we see nothing. Finally, Holmes is bestowed upon us, and he “dominates every page he appears on and energises the whole text.” Well said, well said. However, he is not some justice-loving, crime-fighting glory boy; he is quite manic, with odd habits and flaws. . .and a huge ego. This makes him a bit more believable because he is not how one would expect him to be. Also, his obsession with secrets and theatrics causes him to withhold valuable information about the mystery until the story’s climax. What a fantastic trait for a detective to have!

Gabriel does, however, criticize Conan Doyle’s shift to an American scene in the midst of the novel. Thinking back, I too was frustrated by this; I was reading a novel about Sherlock Holmes because I adore and admire Sherlock Holmes, not some hicks in the country. This digression from the main narrative lessens the impact of the conclusion, since everything has now been explained to us.

And, finally, Gabriel rants about the snobbish Lucy Ferrier, who caused practically every problem in this short America story. “She is a yawning black hole of cliché who sucks the life out of every scene she appears in.” Ha! So true! And, so I do not allow room for mis-communication, Gabriel states, “I suppose the two-dimensional depiction of women, along with the now-hilarious racism that depicts white Christians as the only decent people in the world, are a product of the times in which the book was written.” I can see his or her point, but I also think that Gabriel just hates Lucy Ferrier a little too much.

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Apr 21 2012

A long article about Gatsby and everything that anyone has ever said about the book

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“F. Scott Fitzgerald’s evolving American Dream: the “pursuit of happiness” in Gatsby, Tender is the Night, and The Last Tycoon” by John F. Callahan discusses how Fitzgerald transforms the american dream in his novels. Essentially Callahan reminds us that Fitzgerald does not think there is any hope in the american dream, and he shows this in his novels. This is a pretty lame article and I think the one I wrote last year is a lot better.

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