Tag Archives: fiction and literature

5 Wizards in Lord of the Rings

“Saruman the White * Gandalf the Grey * Radagast the Brown * Alatar also named Morinehtar * Pallando also named Romestamo

The Five are known as Wizards by men, and as the Istari by Elves, and their role is to assist Middle-Earth. Saruman is the man of skills; Gandalf is the elf of the staff; the dreamer; Radagast is the friend of birds and tender of beasts; Alatar (also named Morinehtar) and Pallando (Romestamo) are the sky-blue wizards who journey into the east and out of the story.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Book of Answers: Kurt Vonnegut

“What Kurt Vonnegut character invented ice-nine? Dr. Felix Hoenikker in Cat’s Cradle (1963). Ice-nine is a form of water that freezes at 114.1 degrees Fahrenheit. When it is accidentally released into the ocean, it freezes the entire world.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Cultural Literacy: James Joyce

It’s hard to imagine there will be much demand even at the high school level for this Cultural Literacy worksheet on James Joyce. But who knows? More startling things have happened in my classrooms, to be sure.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Light in August

Light in August: A novel (1932) by William Faulkner (1898-1962), following the tragic career of the mixed-race central character, Joe Christmas. Faulkner’s working title had been Dark House, but when he heard his wife comment on the unique quality of the light in August in the American South he was taken with the phrase, and used it as the final title.

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

Osamu Dazai

Osamu Dazai: (1909-1948) Japanese author. Although chiefly known for his fiction, Dazai also wrote personal essays and memoirs, children’s stories, and historical narratives. His work has attracted a large and dedicated readership, for whom the author’s deeply troubled life, and its brilliant retelling, have struck a responsive chord. In masterpieces such as Shayo (1947; tr The Setting Sun, 1956), and Ningen shikkaku (1948; tr No Longer Human, 1957), Dazai captured the postwar crisis of Japanese cultural identity and the travail of a lost generation of youth. The characteristic Dazai protagonist, in his addictive, womanizing, self-indulgent excess, artfully mirrors the life of the author, who, following numerous failed suicide attempts, eventually succeeded. This final act of self-dramatization is reminiscent of Akutagawa and Mishima.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Jayanta Mahapatra

Jayanta Mahapatra: (1928-) Indian writer, translator, and educator, Born in Cuttack, India, he continues to live and work in his native Indian state. Mahapatra has taught college physics for most of his life, He came to writing late, publishing his first book at the age of forty. He is best known for his poetry in English, which is often characterized by a brooding tone and a mixture of concrete images with metaphysical abstractions. In the 1970s he began to achieve an international reputation. In addition to his many volumes of poetry, he has published juvenile fiction and English translations from Oriya.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Rotten Reviews: The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey 

The author of this book should be neutered and locked away forever.”

San Juan County Record

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.