Showing 71 - 75 of 75 annotations contributed by Ratzan, Richard M.

Annotated by:
Ratzan, Richard M.

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Dr. Raman, a fictitious physician in the imaginary South Indian city of Malgudi that is the microcosm for many of Narayan's stories, is renowned for his diagnostic acumen and "certain curt truthfulness; for that very reason his opinion was valued; he was not a mere doctor expressing an opinion but a judge pronouncing a verdict." When Dr. Raman is called upon to make a house call and subsequent operation on his dearest friend, Gopal, he faces a very difficult professional ethical dilemma.

For Gopal is very sick (dying in Dr. Raman's judgment) and requests a truthful prognosis in order to settle his will and avoid the "endless misery for his wife and children" that an unsettled will would entail, a realistic eventuality with which Dr. Raman concurs. Yet, if Dr. Raman reveals his pessimistic opinion, which he does to his assistant, i.e., that Gopal will not survive the night, then it would "virtually mean a death sentence and destroy the thousandth part of a chance that the patient had of survival."

Dr. Raman does "a piece of acting" and assures his friend and patient that he will live. Gopal replies, "If it comes from your lips it must be true . . . . " Gopal lives and Dr. Raman remarks to his assistant, "How he has survived this attack will be a puzzle to me all my life."

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The Book of Mercy

Cambor, Kathleen

Last Updated: Nov-22-1996
Annotated by:
Ratzan, Richard M.

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

The Book of Mercy is a novel in which each member of a family tries to deal, in individually idiosyncratic ways, with his or her abandonment, as a family and as individuals, by their wife/mother.

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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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Footling

Muldoon, Paul

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

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Paul Muldoon is one of Ireland's most prominent poets. He is a poet's poet, celebrating language, Irish culture and Ireland in almost every word. In "Footling", "Sonogram" (the preceding poem), and "The Birth" --all from his latest collection, The Annals of Chile--Muldoon is apparently chronicling the recent growth of his family in a poetic triptych of power and inventiveness. "Footling" describes the seeming reluctance of the poet's daughter to venture forth and breach the "great sea-wall" in order to "take a header" into the great "ground swell (italicized) of life." See this database for annotations of Sonogram and The Birth.

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Sonogram

Muldoon, Paul

Last Updated: May-11-1995
Annotated by:
Ratzan, Richard M.

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This is the first of three poems (all annotated in this database) chronicling events that culminate in the arrival of the poet's new daughter. The second, Footling, relates her in utero reluctance to sally forth; the last, The Birth, is a verbal Fourth of July celebrating the birth of Dorothy Aoife Korelitz Muldoon. "Sonogram" is a three-stanza, eight-line image of the sonogram and the images it suggests. It reminds one of Pound's famous Metro poem for its sheer economy and pictorial power.

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