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FIC: Literature Guide for A Time to Every Purpose

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  • Mo
    In my stories, as in the X-Men movie, Scott Summers is a mutant superhero who also teaches high school. The movie doesn t specify what he teaches, but I ve
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2005
      In my stories, as in the X-Men movie, Scott Summers is
      a mutant superhero who also teaches high school. The
      movie doesn't specify what he teaches, but I've made
      him an English teacher. Xavier's Academy is a small
      school with a large variety of classes to choose from.
      Consequently each of the teachers takes on several
      different classes. Scott is seen in my stories
      teaching courses ranging from Shakespeare to Creative
      Writing to a poetry survey course, when he's not off
      on a mission. As Scott tells Logan in We�re Not What
      You Think, it's kind of a strange job. "Sometimes I
      teach English, sometimes I save the human race," he

      With Scott a major figure in most of my fiction, the
      stories tend to contain a lot of literary quotes, most
      of them guided by Scott's tastes in literature (which,
      strangely, mirror my own). It has been my practice to
      publish a literature guide providing references for
      the quotes in each series, along with URLs, where
      available, for those wishing to read the works quoted.


      Robert Frost. �Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.�
      This poem gives the title to the first and last
      stories. It�s a brief, reflective poem and one learned
      by most schoolchildren. The narrator stops and
      reflects on life, while riding through a snowy
      woodland. He ends by saying that he has �promises to
      keep, and miles to go before I sleep.� Read it, with
      interesting commentary, on the Minstrels site, at

      Rudyard Kipling. �Gunga Din.� A truly wonderful
      narrative poem, this one tells the story of the water
      boy of a British regiment. It recounts his heroic
      death as told by a surviving soldier. The end of the
      �Though I�ve belted you and flayed you
      By the living Gawd that made you,
      You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din�

      has entered the language. Adam paraphrases the ending,
      telling Jake that he�s a better man, alluding perhaps
      to his feelings that he mistreated Jake. I like the
      Minstrels site for this poem. Since the people who run
      Minstrels are Indian, they have a different kind of
      insight into the English poets who write about India.
      Look for Gunga Din at

      Carl Sandburg. �Murmurings in a Field Hospital.� One
      of Sandburg�s more moving poems of World War I, this
      has appeared in a number of my stories, usually with
      Scott quoting it, seeing Logan in the damaged soldier
      who wants only playthings. In this series, it gives
      the title to the second story. The brief poem, which
      makes me cry every time I read it, can be read in its
      entirety at http://www.bartleby.com/165/70.html.

      William Shakespeare. Sonnet 23. One of the sonnets
      written to Will�s male lover, the Fair Youth. It�s
      about missteps in love and gives the title to the
      third story, where Jean-Paul and Adam begin to have
      renewed difficulties when Jake comes back into the
      picture. This is one of my favorite sonnets and can be
      found at

      William Shakespeare. Sonnet 32. Another of the poems
      written for the Fair Youth, this one talks about
      Will�s expectation that he will die before his lover.
      Scott and Logan are well aware that Logan is likely to
      long outlive Scott, although the events of this series
      call that assumption into question a bit. The title of
      the sixth story, in which the possibility that Logan
      has been unknowingly �sharing� the healing factor
      first comes to light, comes from this poem. Read it at

      William Shakespeare. Sonnet 41. This is one of several
      poems in which Will tries to reconcile himself with
      his lover�s infidelity. It gives the title for the
      ninth story in this series and its themes connect with
      what�s happening between Jean-Paul and Adam. Read the
      poem at

      Dylan Thomas �Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.�
      Thomas�s famous poem exhorting his dying father to
      fight for life is quoted by Scott when he tries to
      persuade Charles to try Anjuli�s experimental
      treatment. It also provides the title for the eighth
      story in this series. It�s powerful, simple, and
      moving. Read it at

      Walt Whitman. �I Sing the Body Electric.� A beautiful
      and uplifting poem that honors our physical and sexual
      selves. This one shows up in a few of my stories. In
      my first series, Scott is embarrassed to have Charles
      observe him teaching the poem, feeling like a poem
      that celebrates physicality is inappropriate to
      discuss with Charles there, in light of his physical
      limitations. In this series, the poem give the title
      to the fourth and fifth stories.


      William Shakespeare. Hamlet. Perhaps Shakespeare's
      most read and performed play, Hamlet has something for
      everyone: love, death, intrigue, theatricality,
      ghosts. Scott refers to having gotten new insight into
      the play from Jamie�s participation in his Shakespeare
      seminar (as recounted in Commencement). The title of
      the seventh story in this series, �Fear and Wonder,�
      comes from Horatio�s description of his reaction at
      seeing the dead king�s ghost. I like the Shakespeare
      Online site for its easy-to-read print and its
      excellent commentary on the plays and poems. Read the
      play at

      William Shakespeare. Henry V. Scott quotes Prince
      Hal�s famous battle cry, �Once more into the breach�
      ironically, when he and Charles decide to try to find
      RoseAnn one more time. Perhaps the most popular of the
      histories, this one is often performed regionally.
      There is an excellent movie version as well, starring
      Olivier. You can find this one at

      William Shakespeare. A Midsummer Night�s Dream. One of
      the more popular of the Shakespearean comedies, this
      one is all about love and marriage and is presumed to
      have been written for a wedding celebration. It�s
      quoted a few times in the final story, in which Jean
      and Sasha marry. You can find it at

      William Shakespeare. Othello. A tragedy of love and
      jealousy and imagined infidelity. Scott is teaching it
      in his Shakespeare seminar. RoseAnn quotes from the
      play when she says that she loves Scott �not wisely
      but too well� but remarks that loving too well isn�t
      so compatible with killing the one you love, as
      Othello does. Her long-awaited essay on the play
      includes rewriting the final scene from a feminist
      perspective. Although Jean-Paul doesn�t quote from
      Othello, his obsession with Jake and inability to
      believe Adam when he says he�s had no contact with him
      mirrors Othello�s obsession in the play. Read it at

      William Shakespeare. The Tempest. Cyclops quotes
      Gonzalo�s utopian vision from the Tempest in the first
      story because it includes the phrase �no metal.� He
      tells Charles that his idea of utopia is somewhat
      different from that of Gonzalo. Adam also quotes from
      this play when he says that he finds Jean-Paul �so
      perfect and so peerless,� a sentiment he seems to be
      rethinking later. A fascinating and complex play that
      embodies some of the qualities of drama and some of
      comedy, The Tempest tells the story of people whose
      lives are forever changed by magic, calamity and
      chance on a deserted island. Read it at


      Alexandre Dumas (p�re). The Three Musketeers. One of
      the original �swashbuckler� novels, this is a story of
      politics, honor and palace intrigue set in 17th
      century France. The main character, a young man named
      D�Artagnan, meets up with the three musketeers of the
      title � Athos, Porthos, and Aramis � when he leaves
      home to join the royal musketeers. The slogan of the
      four friends � �all for one and one for all� � has
      entered the language. Anjuli, Jean-Paul, and Adam
      refer to themselves as the three musketeers, but when
      Jean-Paul says he wishes to be D�Artagnan, Adam says
      they need a fourth. It�s an exciting and fun book and
      widely available online. The Project Gutenberg
      versions can be found at
      http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext98/1musk12.txt (in
      English translation) and
      (in the original French).

      Miscellaneous Works

      Kohelet (Ecclesiastes). The title of the series comes
      from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, a book of both
      the Jewish and Christian bibles. �To ever thing there
      is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven�
      is the beginning of that chapter, which concerns
      itself with the cycles of life and death. A very well
      laid out site with both Hebrew and English text is
      that of the Jewish Publication Society. Read the
      chapter in question at

      Rent. This long-running Broadway show is based on La
      Boheme, but set in the late twentieth century, among
      HIV-infected bohemians on New York City�s Lower East
      Side. Jonathon Larson won the Pulitzer Prize for the
      book, but died before the show opened. Scott
      recognizes that Crystal is quoting from Rent in the
      first story, and tells her she�s seen the show too
      many times.

      Marvin Gaye. �Sexual Healing.� The song Logan jokingly
      names Anjuli�s new treatment after is one by Marvin
      Gaye. Lyrics can be found at

      Mofic Website: www.angelfire.com/comics/mo

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