Literature Guide for Returning Spring
As my version of Scott “Cyclops” Summers is an English teacher, my stories often include quotes and other references to literature, classic and modern. Following are works referenced in “Returning Spring” with urls for those who would like to read the literature quoted.
William Shakespeare. Sonnets 19 and 98
The Shakespearean sonnets show up a lot in my stories. My version of Scott is not only an English teacher but also gay. Like many gay English teachers I have known he is partial to the some of the early sonnets, the ones written to Will’s male lover, known as the Fair Youth. Sonnet 19, which gives the title for two of the stories in this series, talks about the cruel effects of time and expresses the sentiment that the lover the poem is addressed to will be forever young in verse. The imagery fits in with the spring and rebirth themes of this series. There’s also a phoenix reference: “burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood.” Read the poem at http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/19.html.
Sonnet 98 covers another common theme in Shakespeare’s poetry – missing an absent lover. It begins “From you have I been absent in the spring” and discourses on missing a loved one who is far away. Two of the story titles reference this poem. It can be found at http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/98.html.
William Butler Yeats
“Her Anxiety.” This brief poem tells about a woman’s fears that her lover’s ardor will cool, and asks that he reassure her on that point with the refrain “prove that I lie.” It fit in this series in several obvious ways. The series title comes from this poem and Charles Xavier quotes it to Storm when speaking about the possibility that Scott and Jean won’t reconcile. Read it at http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1501/.
“His Phoenix.” This wonderfully evocative poem talks about the changes that time brings. Unlike Shakespeare in Sonnet 19, Yeats discusses attempts to stay young through artifice, rather than the timelessness of art. He speaks of those who contrive to appear younger than they are or to preserve some aspect of their youth and indulgently ends each stanza with “I knew a phoenix in my youth so let them have their day.” The themes of change and rebirth fit in well with this series. See for yourself at http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1510/.
e.e. cummings. A couple of the stories reference a delightful poem by e.e. cummings called “Spring is Like a Perhaps Hand.” The poem speaks of change and possibilities. It can be read at http://eserver.org/poetry/spring-is-like-a.txt
William Shakespeare. A number of Shakespearean plays are referenced in this series. The plays are widely available but I like www.shakespeare-online.com for its clear layout and interesting commentary.
As You Like It. The title for the eighth story comes from something Rosalind says in this play. It’s one of several phoenix references in the Shakespearean canon. Sometimes Will referred to the legendary bird’s ability to die and be reborn from its own ashes. As such it is symbol of all sorts of rebirth. In this case, though, the bird is referenced for its legendary rarity – only one phoenix, says the legend, lived at a time. Read the entire play at http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/asuscenes.html.
Charles says to Ethan – as Hamlet said to Horatio – “There is more in heaven and earth than is dreamed of in your philosophy.” The occasion of Hamlet saying that is his friend disbelieving in ghosts. In Charles’s case, he is chiding his friend who doesn’t believe that the woman who seems to be Jean could be someone else. Hamlet is widely believed to be the best of Shakespeare’s tragedies and is arguably the most famous play in the English language. Read it at http://www.shakespeareonline.com/plays/hamletscenes.html.
Henry VI, part 2. A brief passage from this play is referenced a couple of times in this series:
Now ‘tis the spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted;
Suffer them now, and they’ll outgrow the garden,
And choke the herbs for want of husbandry.
Ororo quotes this bit literally, inviting “Jean” to join her weeding. Metaphorically, it’s used to refer to the false Jean, who needs to be uprooted before she chokes the X-Men.
See http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/2kh6scenes.html to read the play.
Midsummer Night’s Dream
Scott quotes a famous line from this play to Logan, “The course of true love never did run smooth,” when the two of them are flying to Vermont in the last story of the series. He tries to say it lightly and claims he’s joking but Logan tells him he knows he isn’t. One of Shakespeare’s most engaging comedies, it can be found at http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/midsscenes.html
Mark Twain. _The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn_
This is the book that Scott is teaching in the first story. Like Scott, I love Huck Finn, and think it’s worth reading and rereading every few years. The controversy over its use as required reading in high school classrooms has been going on for some time, so I hypothesize it will still be an issue in the “not so distant future” when the X-Men movies take place. You can read the book lots of places, including http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/twain/huckfinn.html. A couple of essays concerning the advisability of teaching Huck Finn, with very different opinions, can be found at http://facstaffwebs.umes.edu/jhroache/huck_finn.htm and http://facstaffwebs.umes.edu/jhroache/huck_finn.htm
Thomas Wolfe. _You Can’t Go Home Again_. Wolfe’s best known novel is referenced by “Jean” when she tells Ororo that she is having difficulty feeling at home since her return. I was unable to find Wolfe’s classic novel online, but it would likely be available in most any bookstore or library.
“Jean” says that Scott can only see “through a glass darkly.” It’s a quote from the King James translation of 1 Corinthians, a book of the Christian bible. The section it comes from is Chapter 13, known as the Love Chapter. The Christian bible can be found many places, including http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/rsv.browse.html with an option to see both King James and Revised Standard translations, with side-by-side text for comparison.
Sigmund Freud. There are a couple of quotes from and references to Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. Dr. Leeds quotes Freud’s famous statement that the hallmark of a healthy personality is the ability to love and to work – leiben und arbeiten. Scott briefly discusses Huck’s dilemma about whether or not to reveal Jim’s whereabouts in Freudian terms, when he’s teaching the book in the first story. Although Freud’s psychological theories are no longer generally accepted, his insight into human nature has made his work a strong influence on Western literature and well worth reading. Freud’s writings are easily available on the internet, in English translation. A very accessible work to start with is “The Psychopathology of Everyday Life” which can be found at http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Freud/Psycho/