Adapted Classics Blog

Edgar Allan Poe was not sarcastic

Edgar Allan Poe was not sarcastic. In my last blog, posted April 10, I said Edgar Allan Poe was sarcastic. And I claimed Poe’s sarcasm was funny. I stand corrected. Going by the two dictionaries I use for reference, sarcasm is not funny. Sarcasm intends to hurt with mocking ridicule. Both dictionaries agree on that. So that makes me dead wrong for saying Poe use sarcastic humor in the example I chose to demonstrate his humor. Either Poe wasn’t being sarcastic, or the excerpt I used wasn’t humorous. Intent to hurt cannot be funny, even when someone’s ego deserves to[…] Read More

Edgar Allan Poe was not …

Edgar Allan Poe was not a humorist. Edgar Allan Poe was not a comic genius. Poe did not want his readers to die laughing—or leastwise probably not; he was, after all, a poor, starving artist and would need them to continue purchasing the magazines that published his stories. But Edgar Allan Poe was funny. He had a sense of humor and knew how to use it. Poe, being Poe, slyly inserted his humor into the framework of detective stories and macabre tales. Poe’s humor was almost entirely sarcastic. Sarcasm falls within the form of humor called wit, which is defined[…] Read More

Short Stories for Middle School

Short stories should make the syllabus when it comes to middle school. So says noted editor, author, and professor Dr. Donald R. Gallo. In his essay Short stories—Long Overdue, Dr. Gallo says short stories can offer readers a most enjoyable literary experience, while providing teachers with a flexible and varied teaching tool. And, he adds, the value of short stories increases when the students are less able or reluctant readers. Short stories put less pressure on these students simply because they are short. That in itself makes them more accessible and doable. So why do some teachers bypass using this[…] Read More

Lack of Interest

Postponed Publication Dates Little ArtWrite Productions has postponed the publication dates for two forthcoming books due to lack of interest. We will now publish the books,”Sammy’s Day at the Fair: etc., etc. and “Hawthorne Illustrated”, on August 1, 2018 and August 31, 2018, respectively. We didn’t see that one coming – at least not the scale of it. And the downer effects long lingered! Now, sufficiently revived and begun anew, we have set firm publication dates for the books. Sorry. That’s what you get when dealing with non-super, super-small publishers in Minnesota. You gets what you gets when you gets[…] Read More

Twain’s Carnival of Exaggerations

Witty Mark Twain’s trickery usually got people to snicker or chuckle, but Twain’s carnival of exaggerations more often made them laugh. Twain used and blended many comic forms, including witty jokes, puns, ludicrous impressions, irony, sarcasm, satire, and understatement. But very often he relied upon exaggeration to great comic effect. Like many humorists before him, Twain learned too much of anything, taken playfully, makes people laugh. But as mentioned in a previous post, a playful audience for humor is essential. For instance, if sensitive to the violent use of firearms, as many of us are after yet another massacre at[…] Read More

Promoting Illustrated Literature for Middle School

One might think you would not encounter opposition promoting illustrated literature for middle school students. Who don’t like pictures? Yet I know there are some educators who believe unadorned print on the page is the best way to hasten the progress of adolescents into the full responsibilities of adulthood. Well, maybe. But I’d keep anybody longer in the drudgery of adolescence if it were up to me. Those were some pretty good times for the most part, looking back. Seriously, this debate about the content of books for kids who are leaving childhood highlights an anti-picture attitude that some folks[…] Read More

Mark Twain Made Mischievous Fun

Mark Twain made mischievous fun as a boy, and he never stopped making such fun. The practical jokes he played in his youth laid a foundation for some of the humor that would make him famous. According to some, all witty geniuses, Mark Twain included, developed their sense of humor after first playing pranks as children. I’m not sure about the truth of this. I would hope it were not so. Still, if it were to be true, anticipating this end result would probably provide some comfort to whomever has to raise a child prankster.   In essence, pranks embody[…] Read More

The Humor of Twain, Poe, and Hawthorne

Comparing the humor of Twain, Poe, and Hawthorne would be an excellent way to introduce middle school students to classic literature. It’s hard to imagine a topic that would be more interesting to middle school students than humor. You just know a classroom discussion about humor would be fun for teacher and students. And it would be educational too, of course. Humor takes many forms that are worth knowing about. And Twain, Poe, and Hawthorne are worth knowing about too, and the sooner the better. All of them used humor to make or enhance classic stories that have added texture[…] Read More

Edgar Allan Poe Humor for Middle School

Whether Edgar Allan Poe’s humor will suit middle school students is a matter for middle school students to decide. I would encourage middle school students to search for the humor in Poe’s stories. I think they will like his humor when they find it.    If middle school students were to analyze almost any Poe story, even his tales of terror, they would likely find some humor either simmering along the surface or inserted between the lines. A Poe humor search would make a good middle school homework assignment. Then a great classroom discussion likely would follow. I’d bet that[…] Read More

Literature for Middle School Students

Whether classic literature belongs in middle school classrooms is an open question. Some teachers probably believe the best way to encourage middle school students to read is to assign them books they want to read, with a few obvious exceptions. If they want to read Captain Underpants, give it to them. If they want to read Harry Potter, give it to them (and by all means, give them all and every one of those fine books you can). But classic literature? Middle-school students don’t want to read stories about mostly adult characters living in the distant past. Why force the[…] Read More

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