Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2003 08:40:40 -0500 From: "Fernando Q. Gouvea"
Subject: (urth) the book seminar Well, I thought I'd report a little bit about the book seminar I'm running. In the first session, we discussed "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories", "Alien Stones", and "La Befana". I found it was harder to generate discussion than I expected! Most of the students seemed to have settled for reading the stories at a rather superficial level, and were surprised that I wanted to poke at them further. Still, a few seemed to have captured some of the hints (for example, that Daw may not be what he seems in "Alien Stones", or that he may have intentionally caused the death of the empathist). But overall it seems to have gone reasonably well, though I'm hoping that I'll do better at generating discussion with the next batch of stories. The next three are "The Hero as Werwolf", "Three Fingers", and "The Death of Doctor Island". There are obvious non-literary issues to pursue: genetic "improvements" for "Hero", the Disney corporation and their brethren for "Fingers", and mental health and utilitarian calculations about who is valuable to society for "Doctor Island". Of course, in each case there are interesting literary questions too. Suggestions for avenues to pursue are welcome! Some questions of my own: - Does anyone know why Wolfe chose the spelling "Werwolf"? - Is the drug mentioned at the end of "Three Fingers" a real drug? If so, what does it do? - How should we read the ending of "Doctor Island"? Has the boy been helped, or has his personality been destroyed? Fernando -- Fernando Q. Gouvea Department of Mathematics Editor, FOCUS and MAA Online Colby College Mathematical Association of America Waterville, ME 04901 http://www.maa.org firstname.lastname@example.org ========================================================== The Byzantines hammered away at their hard and orthodox symbols, because they could not be in a mood to believe that men could take a hint. The moderns drag out into lengths and reels of extravagance their new orthodoxy of being unorthodox, because they also cannot give a hint -- or take a hint. Yet all perfect and well-poised art is really a hint. -- G. K. Chesterton --