Showing 111 - 120 of 293 annotations tagged with the keyword "Obsession"

Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video

Genre: Film

Summary:

Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is trying to avenge the rape and murder of his wife. She was, as far as he can recall, killed by the same intruder who injured Leonard’s head, leaving him with "anterograde amnesia": he remembers everything up until the injury but no longer has short term memory. "I can’t make new memories. Everything fades."

Leonard’s single purpose now is to find and kill the person responsible for his wife’s death and his own disability. He remembers this purpose, and the steps in his progress towards it, by keeping annotated Polaroid photographs and tattooing important facts onto his body. At the end of the story--which is the beginning of the film--Leonard kills a man he believes to be the murderer, but who is probably not.

The story is narrated in reverse chronology, beginning with Leonard shooting the suspected killer, in short segments corresponding more or less to the length of Leonard’s ability to remember. These scenes are interspersed with parts of a longer scene that follows regular chronology, shot in black and white, in which Leonard sits in his motel room, talking on the telephone and telling the story of Sammy Jankis, a man he seems to remember from his earlier life as an insurance investigator.

Sammy suffered from anterograde amnesia after a car crash and Leonard dismissed his condition as psychological rather than physical, resulting in the refusal of Sammy’s insurance claim (the company doesn’t cover mental illness). Sammy’s diabetic wife, thinking that if the condition is mental it must also be voluntary, tries to get him to "snap out of it" by testing him in various ways: finally she tricks him into administering her insulin shot over and over until she dies. Sammy ends up institutionalized.

As we piece the story together, we realize that Leonard’s method for keeping track of his revenge plot is inadequate. Because the bits of information that substitute for memory can be manipulated, others are able to use him as an unwitting assassin. We also deduce that the story of Sammy Jankis may in fact be the story of Leonard Shelby, and that perhaps Leonard’s own wife was killed not by a murderer but by Leonard himself, the revenge motivation possibly planted by Teddy (possibly a cop) in order to make of Leonard a very efficient killer.

The story ends (where it begins) with Teddy’s plot turned against him by Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss), a mysterious woman who has revenge motives of her own. Leonard takes Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) for the killer and shoots him. Our chilling realization is that Leonard will soon forget he has achieved his objective and again begin looking for someone to kill.

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A Natural History: A Novel

Oatley, Keith

Last Updated: Sep-01-2006
Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

After working with the Parisian physiologist, François Magendie, Dr. John Leggate returns to England to practice in the town of Middlethorpe in the late 1840s. He is obsessed with making a research discovery that will help humanity and establish his name. He falls in love with the intelligent and gifted Marian Brooks who aspires to a career as a concert pianist after study in Leipzig with Felix Mendelsohn. They marry and find happiness at first, but she is troubled by discovery of his past affair in France, and he is troubled by her abandoning music simply to be the type of wife he never wanted.

Leggate has a theory about the origins of cholera, but his painstaking work shows him two things: 1. his original idea is mistaken, and 2. the disease is spread by water. He does not publish, though he announces his intentions to do so. Intimidated by skeptical colleagues, he is unable to write, and the problem is exacerbated by a newspapermen who makes unwarranted accusations because he holds a grudge against Leggate’s wife.

Marian wants to help him, but he rejects her offers and retreats into himself. Their marriage is threatened. Just as cholera returns and the town learns from Leggate’s insights, John Snow publishes his famous observations on cholera. Leggate is scooped. He and Marian migrate to Canada where he is accepted for his skills and desire to be of service and she establishes a conservatory of music. Their marriage is restored.

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Mire

Chekhov, Anton

Last Updated: Sep-01-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A lieutenant named Alexander Grigoryvitch Sokolsky arrives at the home of Susanna Moiseyevna Rothstein, a Jewess and owner of a vodka distillery. Sokolsky has come to collect the 2300 rubles that Rothstein owes his married cousin. In fact, his cousin doesn’t actually need the money, but Sokolsky is helping his cousin get his debts paid so that he can then borrow the 5000 rubles that he needs to marry his fiancée.

Susanna, a luscious, free-spirited young woman, receives the lieutenant and offers him supper. She entices the IOUs from him, but then refuses to pay up. The next morning Sokolsky returns to his cousin’s house without the money, but presumably sexually satisfied. Kryukov, the cousin, rants and raves. What an outrage! He determines to visit the Jewess himself and demand payment. He does so and, likewise, only returns the next morning, penniless.

After a week, Sokolsky borrows the money from his cousin and leaves. After another week, Kryukov gets an uncontrollable itch to visit the Jewess again. When he arrives at her mansion, there are many men around, including Sokolsky, who evidently has hung around Susanna’s house for a week, having completely forgotten about his fiancée. Krykov’s final words are: "How can I judge him since I’m here myself?"

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Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video

Genre: Film

Summary:

Bob Merrick (Rock Hudson) is a reckless playboy who is injured in a speedboat accident. Life-saving equipment is brought to his aid although it is needed for the brilliant but seriously ill Dr. Phillips, who dies. Merrick’s selfish clumsiness leads to yet another accident, in which the doctor’s widow, Helen (Jane Wyman), is blinded.

Overcome with remorse, Merrick studies medicine, visits Helen under a false name and falls in love. He refers her for special eye examinations in Europe. She begins to love him too, but the specialists are unable to help her and when she learns of his deception, she flees. Years later, Merrick is summoned from his busy practice by Helen’s confidante and nurse (Agnes Moorehead); he arrives just in time to perform brain surgery, saving both her eyesight and her life.

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Life-Size

Shute, Jenefer

Last Updated: Aug-30-2006
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

This is a harrowing story, told in the first person, of an obsession with food and body image. "One day I will be thin enough", says Josie, the 25 year old anorectic woman who has been hospitalized for life-threatening self-starvation. "Just the bones, . . . the pure, clear shape of me." "One day I will be pure consciousness." The narration spins out in painful detail the pattern of compulsive behavior which pervades Josie’s existence. Her pitifully barren emotional life is revealed as well.

How did it all begin? Flashbacks of significant events invade Josie’s attempts to stop thinking. A shy, awkward adolescent, overly sensitive to casual comments about excess flesh, decides to diet. Josie stumbles non-communicatively through a teen-age sexual initiation to a later affair with her married professor, retreating ever further from her bewildered family.

But why do events take such an extreme turn? The mystery of anorexia nervosa remains. In the hospital, a nurse who has seen everything seems to strike some responsive cord, and Josie begins eating to gain weight. At the end of the novel she’ll soon be released , under supervision, but the outcome is in doubt. "Can I learn to be so present? Can I learn to be so full?" ". . . if I were a body, what would I be?"

 

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Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Plays

Genre: Play

Summary:

This short play is set in rural Spain at the turn of this century. The characters, all women, exist in a cloistered household managed by a newly widowed mother of five daughters. Under the shadow of the church and the tyranny bred from a need to protect the reputation of the family, the matron (Bernarda Alba) represses her daughters by enforcing an eight year mourning period. The tensions build rapidly among the imprisoned women, with a demented grandmother playing a role resembling that of a Greek chorus. Eventually, the natural spirits of the daughters circumvent Bernarda, but the result is violence and a suicide.

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The Illusionist

Smith, Dinitia

Last Updated: Aug-29-2006
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Based on actual events, this is the story of a stranger who disrupts life in Sparta, a small and depressed town in upstate New York. Dean Lily, the "illusionist" of the title, in his early twenties, does magic tricks with playing cards, makes the young women of the town fall in love with him, and is really Lily Dean--a woman. Chrissie Peck, the story’s survivor, who leaves town for college at the end of the novel, befriends Dean and watches as he seduces the single mother Terry Kluge, and then abandons her for the more conventionally attractive Melanie Saluggio.

To each woman, Dean is the perfect man--gentle, funny, caring--and, in Terry’s case, the source of profound sexual pleasure. But Dean is arrested after stealing from Terry, and a newspaper report reveals that he has the body of a woman, that what he calls his "deformities" are in fact breasts.

The abused and sociopathic Brian Perez, who has always loved Melanie, accosts them and forces Dean to expose his body to her. After Melanie has left, appalled, Brian rapes Dean, who is persuaded in hospital to tell the police. Dean returns to Terry, who realizes that her love for Dean exceeds both his gender and his betrayal of her, but Brian tracks them down and murders Dean, Terry, and Terry’s small son.

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An Instance of the Fingerpost

Pears, Iain

Last Updated: Aug-29-2006
Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

A mystery, set in the seventeenth century and told by four different eye-witnesses, all men. Two are the views of fictitious characters, two are imputed to be real figures from the past. Beautiful, but poverty-stricken Sarah Blundy is accused of having killed a professor, only remotely connected to her. Each of the observers reasons his way to a position on her guilt or innocence based on their skewed observation of the events, and on their own assumptions about women, religion, and justice. Post-Cromwellian tensions between Catholics, Protestants, and Quakers are explored.

A manuscript by the Italian, Dr. Cola, constitutes the first account. In the thrall of medical science and the great Robert Boyle, Cola is cast as the true "inventor" of transfusion which is "stolen" by the real and vibrant Richard Lower, generally credited by historians with its first use in England. Cola attends Sarah’s ailing mother gratis and transfuses her with modest success.

The other three writers react to his version of the tale which they read in manuscript. The mad Jack Prescott is intent on exonerating his probably inexonerable father for misdeeds in the Civil War, while the uncharitable cryptographer, John Wallis, is intent on divining nothing but evil in the cryptic forms of women, Catholics, and foreigners. Their versions are wondrously convoluted attempts to keep the impossible within the realm of the plausible. Pears puts the truth (such as it is) in the words of the real antiquarian, Anthony Wood, who explains that a fingerpost--like a pathognomonic sign--points to the only solution possible.

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He Knew He Was Right

Trollope, Anthony

Last Updated: Aug-24-2006

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Louis Trevelyn, a wealthy and respected Englishman, marries the poor, but spirited, Emily. They live happily together for about a year, and have a son. Emily begins to accept regular visits from Colonel Osborne, an old friend of her father’s, who claims to visit Emily only as a family friend. However, his age sits lightly on him and he has a reputation for breaking happy homes.

Louis, in a jealous rage, instructs his wife to refuse all further visits from Osborne. Emily believes that he is accusing her of infidelity and is extraordinarily angry. She insists that Osborne is simply a friend. Neither partner will apologize. Eventually, Louis can no longer live with his wife. He sells the house, sends Emily and Louis, Jr. to live in the country and sets himself up in a squalid boarding house.

Emily does not wish to be separated from her husband and grows less prideful. She will gladly obey Louis’ command to no longer see Osborne, but she will not apologize for having seen him, as she believes it would be tantamount to confessing adultery. Louis, meanwhile, grows increasingly obsessed with her "disobedience" and hires a private detective to keep an eye on his wife. The detective finds that Osborne insisted on a visit to Emily--  visit that was public and lasted ten minutes, but that nevertheless leads Louis to steal his son and flee to Italy.

Louis’s obsession makes him mentally and physically ill. When Emily and her family track him down in Europe, he is deathly thin and seems mad, convinced that his wife, his friends, and even the private detective are against him. This wretched marriage is contrasted to several other relationships that develop in the course of the novel. These are based on mutual respect and love rather than self-pride and so flourish. These happy couples also physically and mentally change, but for the better.

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Heredity

Davidson, Jenny

Last Updated: Aug-24-2006
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Elizabeth Mann, the daughter of a world famous fertility specialist whom she despises, hasn’t quite made it into medical school. She runs away to London, where she can revel in an orgy of self-destructive behavior, while working as a freelance writer for a travel guidebook. She soon develops two obsessions. In an obscure medical museum she encounters the skeleton of Jonathan Wild, a famous 18th century criminal who met his death by hanging. During the same museum visit, she runs across Gideon Streetcar, a young fertility specialist who once worked with her father. Though Gideon is "happily" married, he and Elizabeth soon begin a torrid affair.

Elizabeth’s obsession with Jonathan Wild grows when, through Gideon, she obtains a copy of the criminal’s second wife’s memoir. Through it, she learns that his first wife, who died in childbirth, was named Elizabeth Mann. She develops a scheme to obtain DNA from Wild’s skeleton and use it in association with an experimental cloning procedure to become pregnant with the 18th century criminal’s child (clone).

When the 25 year old Elizabeth reveals that her father tied her tubes when she was 16, after having aborted her fetus--a "slut," he called her--Gideon agrees to attempt in vitro fertilization with her eggs and his sperm. He transfers two blastocysts, plus one of the supposedly cloned Jonathan Wild cells. She becomes pregnant. Soon thereafter she returns to the USA when her father has a massive heart attack and she, apparently, has an opportunity to go to medical school.

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