Showing 351 - 360 of 360 annotations tagged with the keyword "Catastrophe"

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

A man called "The Counselor" is wandering the deserts, plains, and villages. He teaches scripture and rebuilds churches, like a monk, eating and sleeping very little. He attracts an odd group of followers--cripples, murderers, fanatical boys--and leads them to Canudos where they build a town and a glorious cathedral. The town is designed in imitation of Jerusalem. Many people flock to the site to see The Counselor; he heals them with a touch and washes them clean of sin.

The newly-installed conservative government is suspicious of Canudos, seeing it as a bastion of progressive sentiment. They resolve to attack the town and wipe it out. The Counselor, however, has long warned his followers that the Dog and his forces of evil will try to ruin their sanctuary.

When the small branch of the army sent to destroy what they think is a band of cripples and madmen arrives, they are slaughtered with all the vengeance of a holy war. The angered government sends a larger force and the town is eventually destroyed, but the few survivors insist that they saw The Counselor ascend to heaven, and so his reign lives on.

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Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

In this story, Earth's inhabitants have moved below terra firma where their every need is met and every act controlled by "the machine." A young rebel protesting against the loss of authenticity and the reverence for abstraction seeks to communicate with his mother about his need to go to the surface of the earth. This act of direct experience terrifies his mother who is sure that her son will be sentenced to "homelessness." The son does experience the beauty of the earth and returns to prophesize the end of the machine and the "civilization" it created.

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The Short Song of What Befalls

Fiser, Karen

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

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This is a compact, strikingly vivid poem about fate--"what comes about apart from trying . . . generally of misfortunes." The narrator speculates about the story behind the single red high heeled shoe found alongside the highway. Misfortune is likened to an act of nature--being struck by lightning--a capricious event which alters one's life forever after.

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Corelli's Mandolin

Bernieres, Louis de

Last Updated: Dec-10-1996
Annotated by:
Willms, Janice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Opening during the early days of World War II, this haunting story of love, war, families and nations, good and evil covers 60 plus years in the life of a young Greek woman on the island of Cephallonia. The narrative traces the disruption of the peace of the old village by Italian occupation, German cleansing, and Communist infiltration in developing a history, while revolving around the personal life stories of the island physician, his daughter and her deep and romantic love for an enemy soldier, and the cowardice and bravery of people caught up in the horrors of war.

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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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The English Patient

Ondaatje, Michael

Last Updated: Dec-15-1995
Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction — Secondary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

In the waning days of World War II, Hana, a Canadian nurse, refuses to leave the temporary hospital in a Tuscan villa where she cares for her mysterious English patient, a soldier burned and bandaged beyond recognition. The patient is haunted by the memory of a love affair in North Africa. Hana is joined by Kip, a Sikh bomb-disposal expert, who becomes her lover, and by Caravaggio, a friend of her father and sometime-criminal-turned spy. The three establish a loose pattern of precarious existence in a ravaged world and form a bond of love around the dying man whose identity they try to uncover.

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Annotated by:
Nixon, Lois LaCivita

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

For those considering a comprehensive overview of plague in Medieval Europe, Hirsch’s long poem is extremely useful. Comprised of thirty-five stanzas, it provides an historical account of devastation associated with the onset of plague in Venice in 1347. An inventory of behavioral responses to catastrophic disease illustrates that responses to AIDS frequently mimic irrational behaviors associated with earlier epidemics. There are references to hysteria, scapegoating, flagellants, illness symptoms, escape, desperate cures, and religious fervor.

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At the Bomb Testing Site

Stafford, William

Last Updated: Jul-11-1994
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

At the bomb testing site, a lizard waits. It is expecting something, awaiting "something farther off / than people could see . . . . " The lizard grips the earth, "its elbows tense . . . ready for a change."

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The Accusation

Van Duyn, Mona

Last Updated: Aug-01-1993
Annotated by:
Chen, Irene
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The poem begins by describing how the "uncaring earth" can destroy millions of organisms "en masse" (i.e., grasses, bacilli). The author applies this analogy to humans: how easy it is to perceive that "the more lost, the less each is worth." The author then argues the value of each individual, and how irreplaceable one is, ending with another analogy: as minute details in nature are appreciated, so should individual lives be valued.

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