Tag Archives: fiction/literature

The Weekly Text, April 2, 2021: A Lesson Plan on the Crime and Puzzlement Case “Picture Gallery”

Since they continue as some of the most downloaded items on Mark’s Text Terminal, here is another case from the pages of the Crime and Puzzlement books, this one a lesson plan on the “Picture Gallery” whodunit.

I start this lesson with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on Dylan Thomas’s immortal lines, some of the best-known in the history of poetry, “Do not go gentle into that good night…Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” I don’t teach younger children, but I’ll hazard a guess that this do-now exercise may well be inappropriate for them. Needless to say, your call. To conduct your investigation into the larceny at the picture gallery, you’ll need this PDF of the illustrations and questions that constitute the forensic material in this crime. Finally, to determine whether your detectives used evidence judiciously to allege a crime and arrest a suspect, here is the typescript of the answer key.

If you find typos in these documents, 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.

Doris Lessing

“Doris Lessing: (1919-2013) English novelist and short-story writer, born in Persia and for many years a resident of southern Rhodesia. Lessing’s first two published works, The Grass Is Singing (1950) and the stories in This Was the Old Chief’s Country (1951), are sent in Africa. She then began work on a series called ‘The Children of Violence’—including Martha Quest (1952), A Proper Marriage (1954), A Ripple from the Storm (1958), Landlocked (1965), and The Four-Gated City (1969)—that established her as a vividly realistic novelist, with an intense commitment to socialism and a particular capacity for identifying the social and emotional forces that shape women’s lives. The Golden Nottebook (1962), and ambitious experimental novel about a woman writer’s struggle to discover the meaning of ‘self’ has become a classic of feminist literature. While the primary interest in all of her work has remained the delicate, often destructive interplay between men and women, Lessing has continually expanded both her field of focus and her stylistic experiments. Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971) and The Summer Before the Dark (1973) delve into aspects of neurotic disorders and madness. The ‘Canopus in Argus: Archives’ series, which is made up of RE: Colonized Planet 5, Shikasta (1979), The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and Five (1980), The Sirian Experiments (1981), The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (1982), and Documents Relating to the Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire (1983) is a series of visionary, allegorical novels of the future in which archetypal images of men and women interact in a cosmos consisting of six zones, or ‘levels of being.’ Human concerns are dwarfed by the competition between galactic empires for control of the universe, but these conflicts also are an image of human history. The Good Terrorist, a novel, appeared in 1986. Lessing has also gained high praise as a writer of short stories. Among the most noteworthy of her collections are African Stories (1965), The Habit of Loving (1958), and The Stories of Doris Lessing (1978). Nonfiction works include African Laughter (1992), and Under My Skin (1994), a collection of essays.”

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

Susanna Kaysen on Developmental Interruptions

“This time I read the title of the painting: Girl Interrupted at Her Music. Interrupted at her music: as my life had been, interrupted in the music of being seventeen, as her life had been, snatched and fixed on canvas: one moment, made to stand still and to stand for all the other moments, whatever they could be or might have been. What life can recover from that?”

Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted (1993)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Book of Answers: The First Novel to Sell a Million Copies

“What was the first novel to sell a million copies? Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852).”

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

Cultural Literacy: Louisa May Alcott

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Louisa May Alcott. This is a half-page worksheet with two questions; in other words, for every page you print, you’ll produce two worksheets.  

Which doesn’t really do justice to the interest the subject of the document, Louisa May Alcott, seems to generate. For example, Little Women has been produced for stage and screen repeatedly, once even as an anime series. Two of the film adaptations of the novel appeared just a little over a generation apart, with esteemed Australian director Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 adaptation and Greta Gerwig’s highly praised 2019 production appearing within 25 years of each other. 

One thing not well known about Ms. Alcott is the fact that along with such examples of 19th-century New England rectitude as Little Women and Little Men (also adapted as a film three times as well as a Canadian television series) she also wrote racy novels, proto-pulp fiction, really, under the name A.M. Barnard, a fact uncovered by the fascinating antiquarian booksellers Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine B. Stern

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

Fran Lebowitz on Rearing Children

“Your responsibility as a parent is not as great as you might imagine. You need not supply the world with the next conqueror of disease or a major movie star. If your child simply grows up to be someone who does not use the word ‘collectible’ as a noun, you can consider yourself an unqualified success.”

Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies “Parental Guidance” (1981)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Margaret Atwood

“Margaret Atwood: (1939-) Canadian novelist, poet, and critic. Atwood’s critical work, Survival (1972), argues that victimization is a major theme of Canadian literature and identity; she elaborates this motif in her own writings. Atwood first gained recognition as a poet with The Circle Game (1966), This and later collections of poetry, The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970), Procedures for Underground (1970), and Power Politics (1971), bitingly expose the myths of everyday life from various perspectives. Atwood’s early novels, The Edible Woman (1969), Surfacing (1972), Lady Oracle (1976), Life Before Man (1979), and Bodily Harm (1981), develop these themes as she describes women’s struggles to cope with a male-dominated society and consumerism. A futuristic dystopia, The Handmaid’s Tale (1984) depicts one woman’s chilling struggle to survive in a society ruled by a misogynistic fascism, by which women are reduced to the condition of property. In Cat’s Eye (1988) and The Robber Bride (1993), Atwood returns to a Toronto setting. Her short stories, Dancing Girls (1973), Murder in the Dark (1983), Bluebeard’s Egg (1983), and Wilderness Tips (1991), are less well known than her novels, but the form is well suited to Atwood’s sardonic humor and use of startling imagery. Good Bones (1992) is a potpourri of eclectic writings.”

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

Book of Answers: Mary Shelley’s Science Fiction Novel

“What Mary Shelley novel is sent in the future? The Last Man (1826). Set in the twenty-first century, it depicts England as a republic and describes the destruction of humanity by plague.”

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

Cultural Literacy: Charlotte and Emily Bronte

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Charlotte and Emily Bronte. Are the Brontes taught in high school?

If nothing else, this is an interesting artistic family: lesser-known sister Anne also a writer, perhaps because she originally published her novels under the name Acton Bell which may account for her public status among her more famous sister; she also died young, at 29, of tuberculosis. She was also the youngest of six children–in addition to the four siblings mentioned here, two elder sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, rounded out the family. Branwell Bronte, also a writer and an accomplished translator, was also a painter, for which he is primarily known. He too died young, the result of unhappiness and, apparently, drug addiction.

The patriarch of the family, Patrick Bronte (Branwell Bronte carried the full name Patrick Branwell Bronte, after his father and his mother’s–Maria Branwell–maiden name), was a clergyman of humble Irish origins.

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.

Book of Answers: The First Literary Club in America

Who established the first literary club in America? Author Anne Hutchinson organized literary groups for women in the seventeenth century.

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