Showing 3051 - 3060 of 3164 annotations

The Scarlet Plague

London, Jack

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

It is the year 2073. A boy and his grandfather, clad in animal skins, are walking through deep woods. Having fought off a bear, they come to a fire on the beach, where several other boys sit watching their sheep. Their grandfather asks for a crab and they tease him with empty shells until he cries. Finally, they relent and ask him to tell his story about the past and the scarlet plague.

The grandfather had been a literature professor at The University of California-San Francisco. In the summer of 2013, rumors began that a new plague was killing people in New York. Those infected developed a scarlet rash, had a few convulsions, then settled into a sleep-like state in which they became numb and died, their bodies decomposing almost immediately. The entire process took at most an hour, but sometimes as little as ten minutes. Bacteriologists died even as they tried to find a vaccine. People began dying by the millions. The plague finally reached San Francisco and mayhem broke out. The wealthy tried to flee the city and the poor murdered them and looted in revenge for their long oppression.

The professor survived. He lived alone in the Grand Canyon for three years, then set out to see if anyone else was alive, finding a workingman and his woman slave. He met others and began a family which included the boys to whom he is telling his story. There is no means of communicating across the country or to other nations, since the fires set by looters consumed nearly every structure. Society has been set back to a nomad existence. The boys do not believe most of their grandfather’s story. They fight amongst one another and with him in a language that is only partly English. Finally, they rise, leaving the grandfather to straggle along behind into the wilderness.

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Hospital View

Lux, Thomas

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator lies in a hospital room, across the hall from the entrance to the Intensive Care Unit. He imagines what goes on beyond that door--"beep-machines, a blur / of women and men in white frocks." He wishes that he had a better, less frightening view of the world. Staring at the door, however, he sends his wish to the Intensive Care patients "that your lives be again and again / limned by dawn."

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Time's Arrow

Amis, Martin

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Marta, Jan

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Tod Friendly awakens from death, rejuvenates, and becomes a surgeon. In New York he becomes John Young. He travels to Lisbon and a privileged existence as Hamilton de Souza. He leaves Lisbon for Salerno, then Rome. As Odilo Unverdorben he travels north to Auschwitz Central where he resumes his surgical career and conducts research. Through this time he has a series of affairs until he joins his wife. Their daughter dies, they marry, then court. Odilo works as a doctor, then attends medical school. He joins a youth organization and lives with Father and Mother. Finally, he enters Mother.

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Of Experience

Montaigne, Michel de

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

In Montaigne's final essay he expounds upon the results of his long search for self knowledge via life experience. He uses disease, health, medicine and doctors as prime arenas for demonstration of what he has learned from living. On physicians: to be a "right" physician, one must have experienced every illness, accident or mishap one seeks to treat. On going to stool: to have a right bowel movement, one must have peace, quiet, punctuality and privacy to avoid unruliness of the belly. On treatment: "I hate remedies that are more troublesome than the disease itself." On the most preferable ailments: here the essayist writes of the advantages of stone: that is, the agony always ends, the disease does not portend death or worse, the sufferer spends more time feeling well than hurting, and it has political advantages for allowing a show of stoicism. And there is more.

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Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

This short narrative, delivered in the first person by the protagonist, George Dedlow, is a summary of the fictive experience of a wounded Civil War Captain. George's training as a surgeon was interrupted by the war and he entered the Union Army as an infantry officer. He was shot by musket in both arms, resulting in the amputation of one at the shoulder. After rehabilitation, he returned to the battlefield, only to lose both legs at mid-thigh and subsequently the remaining arm to infection.

The remainder of the story is that of a trunk, a body and head without extremities, who experiences all the manifestations of the phantom limb syndrome. The final episode is an encounter at a seance during which Dedlow is transiently reunited with his missing legs.

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To Room Nineteen

Lessing, Doris

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Susan and Matthew Rawlings marry in their late twenties and raise four children. When the youngest child goes off to school Susan, who quit her job to mother, does not experience the sense of freedom that she expected. She feels simultaneously as if she has nothing to do worth doing and never has a spare moment to herself. Her day is taken up in waiting for the children to come home, consulting with the maid or worrying about dinner. She becomes anxious and distant, pulling away from her husband, who begins to have affairs.

Finally, in order to get some time alone, she rents a hotel room every afternoon where she just sits and thinks. Her husband assumes she is having an affair and tracks her down. Knowing that his rational world will not recognize her "irrational" feelings she tells him that she is indeed having an affair. The next day, she returns to the room and kills herself.

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Anti-Clockwise (2)

Abse, Dannie

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator is watching his "grey-haired neighbor" starting on an early-morning run "anti-clockwise around the block," trying to turn the clock backwards in pursuit of youth and health. The narrator sees this as the age-old quest for virility, satirically recalling historic figures who sought to preserve or enhance their sexual prowess. But he recognizes that these are supremely human impulses--"Don't mock, only the young don't wish to be younger." He muses that perhaps the current fads of jogging and health food are better than some of the more gruesome practices in which mankind has been known to engage.

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The Birth

Muldoon, Paul

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Ratzan, Richard M.

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The Birth, appropriately, is the last of the three birth-cycle poems in The Annals of Chile, Muldoon's latest collection. The three together (all annotated in this database--see Sonogram and Footling) celebrate three aspects of the gestation and delivery of the poet's new daughter.

Beginning with the poet's donning a scrub suit ("lime-green scrubs"), the poem quickly explodes into a festive pyrotechnics that reminds one of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Joyce: ". . . the windlass-women ply their shears / and gralloch-grub / for a footling foot, then, warming to their task, / haul into the inestimable / realm of apple-blossoms and chanterelles and damsons / and eel-spears. . . . "

It takes courage and skill to carry off such a verbal tour de force but Muldoon aptly does so, charging the poem with the newness, sheer power of wonder, and joy of loving a thing for itself that his daughter's birth means to him. This is a joyous poem that can almost visibly demonstrate to students how poetry gets its job done. It may even make more than a few try their hand.

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Heirs of General Practice

McPhee, John

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

Originally a three-part series in the New Yorker, this is an account of McPhee's six months of observing rural family doctors in Maine. It is both an engaging portrait of a kind of family practice increasingly rare in America, and implicitly an argument that those involved in professional medicine consider the tradeoffs in choosing between urban, high-tech, specialization and rural family practice where they know whole families in the context of community over time.

The narrative, based on interviews with physicians, some patients, and observations of clinical encounters, follows the daily routines and decision-making of several rural practitioners who consciously chose against the more lucrative, prestigious option of urban private practice, specialization, or academic medicine.

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The Last Decision

Angelou, Maya

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Nixon, Lois LaCivita

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Angelou’s four stanza poem is narrated by an elderly person, probably a woman. In each of the stanzas, the proud and forthright speaker dismisses the desire to stay alive. She sizes up her circumstances pragmatically--the inconveniences and disabilities. She can no longer bother with the print that has become "too small," the food that is "too rich," the tiring concerns of her children, and, finally, the weariness of life. Each is addressed in its own stanza, but the concluding refrain is the same; she will give up reading, then eating, then listening--and then life. "Today," she says rather convincingly in her final line, "I’ll give up living."

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