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Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Seuss’

Doctored

September 26, 2013 | by

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During the bedtime-story portion of his twenty-one-hours-and-nineteen-minutes-long speech on the floor of Congress, Senator Ted Cruz, in an episode that has already achieved notoriety, read Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham as his two daughters watched at home in their pajamas.

“I will credit my father,” Senator Cruz said. “He invented green eggs and ham.” Cruz’s father, the senator remembered, would add food coloring to eggs or mix spinach into them to get the green color.

But not even Dr. Seuss would say that he invented green eggs and ham. It was a bet with his publisher that led Theodor Seuss Geisel to write the book. Bennett Cerf wagered $50 that Geisel could not write a book with only fifty words.

And yet by repeating forty-nine monosyllabic words and a single polysyllabic word (anywhere), Geisel assembled a book with 681 words total that would become his most popular book ever, selling tens of millions of copies. Geisel claimed that Cerf never paid him the $50, but Green Eggs and Ham was one of the many Beginner Books that made the author and his publishing house millions of dollars.

Part of Dr. Seuss’s midcentury success came from federal education reform that dedicated money to stocking school libraries and promoting early education. “Children’s lit,” according to critic Louis Menand, “was a Cold War growth industry, right alongside Boeing, Northrop, and Dow Chemical.”

Dr. Seuss, in particular, was very much of his time, and Menand offers a convincing read of The Cat in the Hat as an allegory for the problems of feminism, communism, and juvenile delinquency. Read More »

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Dr. Seuss’s Hats, and Other News

February 4, 2013 | by

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  • “In Plath’s case, her writing began, soon after her death, to be relegated to a supporting role in a seductive, but intensely misleading, narrative of victimhood.” How to give the poet her due
  • Are these the fifty key moments in English literature? Discuss. 
  • The strange mystery of who firebombed London’s oldest anarchist bookshop, Freedom Books. 
  • “Believe me, when you get a dozen people seated at a fairly formal dinner party, and they’ve all got on perfectly ridiculous chapeaus, the evening takes care of itself.” A display of Dr. Seuss’s hats is going up at the New York Public Library. 
  • Related: Jon Stewart gets Seussical. 

 

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Didactic Seuss, and Other News

January 17, 2013 | by

  • If Dr. Seuss books were titled according to their subtexts, they would be harder to read.
  • Conversely, can you ID these books from their phantom covers? It’s nearly impossible!
  • A cache of Robert Burns manuscripts and letters has been discovered—a major find.
  • The 2013 Yale Writers’ Conference is now accepting applications. Je Banach will lead a seminar on literary discourse; visiting faculty includes Tom Perrotta, Susan Orlean, and ZZ Packer.
  • “By all means be experimental, but let the reader be part of the experiment.” Sebald’s writing tips, compiled by his students.

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    Good-bye Doris Betts, Remembering Guy Davenport

    April 26, 2012 | by

  • RIP Doris Betts.
  • Our very own Southern editor, John Jeremiah Sullivan, on Guy Davenport, on the Rumpus.
  • The case of Lena Dunham’s literary internship.
  • Things you (maybe) didn’t know about E. B. White.
  • Quoth the Globe and Mail, “A Prince Rupert elementary teacher has been told a quote from Dr. Seuss’ ‘Yertle the Turtle’ is a political statement that should not be displayed or worn on clothing in her classroom. The teacher included the quote in material she brought to a meeting with management after she received a notice relating to union material visible in her car on school property … The quote in question—“I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights”—comes from … the tale of a turtle who climbs on the backs of other turtles to get a better view. In the midst of a labor dispute between the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation and the province, the quote was deemed unsuitable.”
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    The Epigraph

    February 1, 2012 | by

    Milton wasn’t working.

    The aspiring novelist had already written the perfect dedication (“For my friends”), and he’d long had a list of possible titles, yet he still had no epigraph, the mysterious but meaningful quotation he’d seen at the beginning of every great book. He’d been holding John Milton in reserve for this very situation.

    When contemplating the epigraph for his debut novel, the writer had always been confident that if all else failed, he could find inspiration in Shakespeare or Milton. For his part, the Bard hadn’t cooperated.

    A line like “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” might work for a paperback legal thriller, but nothing Shakespeare wrote seemed appropriate for the “Borges meets Zola, if Zola had somehow been influenced by Nabokov” collection of loosely related vignettes set in a fictional megalopolis in an indeterminate near-future the writer hoped to get published by next fall. Read More »

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