Literature and Performance

Summer 2010

Payne – London / Robinson

July 20th, 2010

Download Payne – London – Even Unto Death (~9:30)

For the narrative portion, I chose the short story Even Unto Death by Jack London.  In the short story, Bat Morganston asks Frona Payne (the last name is entirely coincidental) to marry him before heading off to the Arctic.  She answers yes, but soon after he leaves, falls for another man and agrees to marry him instead.  Bat’s revenge for this betrayal unnerves Frona more than any words could.  Even Unto Death was originally published in The San Francisco Evening Post Magazine on July 28, 1900.  Text.

I chose this story because I enjoy reading classic pre-1950’s science fiction (Frankenstein and H.G. Wells, rather than flying saucers and Dune).  Last year, a friend gave me a copy of London’s Fantastic Tales, which is a collection of his shorter science fiction.  Before reading it, I thought London was just that guy who wrote about dog-sledding, wolves, and the tundra, but I found out there was a little bit more to him.

Download Payne – Robinson – Richard Cory (~1:00)

For the poem, I chose Edwin Arlington Robinson’s Richard Cory.  Richard Cory is a man who has it all, wealth, looks, personality.  Appearances aren’t always accurate, as this short poem proves.  A person can have it all going their way on the outside, but have absolutely nothing on the inside.  Richard Cory was published in 1897.  Text.

I chose this poem because I’ve been re-listening to Sounds of Silence recently, and there is an adapted version of Richard Cory into a song by Simon & Garfunkel.  This provides a good example of taking a piece of poetry, adding a new spin to it, and making it your own through interpretation or performance.


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