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Author Topic: Dr. Seuss
pinqy
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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I had once heard
though I don't know from where
perhaps from a bird
perhaps from thin air

That though for a child
with words simple and few
Geisel's stories were piled
with politics gone askew

The Great Butter Battle
was a world gone M.A.D.
the good doctor's prattle
told us this was bad

The star bellied sneeches
showed discrimination
The good Lorax preaches
that trees face decimation

These are the allegories
all of us know
clear categories
easy to show

But harder to do
and harder to find
are these stories two
that just came to mind.

Yertle the Turtle
becomes no more purer
to a mind that is fertile
than the old Fuerher.

And Marvin K. Mooney
who must leave quick, son
becomes the old loony
named Richard M. Nixon

Am I reading too much
into tales that are simple
hidden message as such
or as deep as a dimple?

Or are there yet more
of which I know not of
say, tell the lore
that you have a lot of.

pin"not quitting my day job"qy

[This message has been edited by pinqy (edited 07-13-2000).]


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rosa who else
The Red and the Green Stamps


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So, pinqy, how close are you and Paul Harvey these days, hmmmmm?

rosa de beauvoir

[This message has been edited by rosa who else (edited 07-13-2000).]


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Steve in the F Clef
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Seuss was never one to HIDE his messages; he laid them right out front. As I read his books (and I did read all of them, many times, both as a child and an adult), he also focused on generic human foibles and virtues. (I could say archetypal, but that's too big a word for me.) So Yertle represents ALL those who want to feel Important for the sake of being Important (I always thought of him as every executive with a 21st floor office), and The Lorax is about environmental destruction in general.

The most specific thing he ever did, I think, was indeed the Butter Battle, which is about one specific "event", that being M.A.D., as you say. I would bet against Marvin K. Mooney being meant to be RMN; referring to specific real people is not typical Seuss at all.

A large part of Seuss' genius is purely linguistic: He chose his words brilliantly, and his material worked so well metrically that it was almost musical. He also made it look so easy -- but just TRY to write like that!! Many authors after him did try, and reading the crud that they produced (e.g., Berenstain Bears) REALLY helps to appreciate Dr. Seuss more.

Steve "anapests and trochees R us" in F


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pinqy
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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I'll switch to prose for this. The verse was kind of fun, but I can't even come close to Seuss. I agree with you, Steve that some were blatant allegory...Lorax, the Sneetches, and Great Butter Battle. That's why I was unsure of Yertle=Hitler and MKM=RMN. Yertle does seem to be anti-totalitarianism in general. Marvin K. Mooney is a bit odd, though. Complete lack of story and only one character with no interactions. That's why it seems possible that it was directed against Nixon. And the book was first published in 1972. Am I the only one that's heard this? I don't even remember where I heard it. And am I missing other allegories? As Steve said, most of the books do examine foibles, but I'm talking about the more specific "big issues" covered in Lorax, GBB, Sneetches.

Too bad I can't formally study English, this would be a good thesis.

pinqy


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Decima Dewey
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Don't know if Marvin K. Mooney was *originally* meant to represent RMN, but I think that Art Buchwald got permission from Dr. Seuss to print the text of the book in his column with "Richard M. Nixon" substituted for "Marvin K. Mooney" throughout.

Decima "Help! I'm the same sign as Nixon!" Dewey


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Anthony
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Suess's politics were somewhat left-wing.

During WWII, he drew editorial cartoons for "P.M.", a New York newspaper with socialist leanings. Recently a book of his PM cartioons was published. It is interesting to see the prototypes of many of his familiar characters aimed at an adult audience with clear and over political messages.

IIRC, the book noted that he was turned down for one war related job due to his political leanings, although another military department hired him.

While I disagree strongly with his politics, I agree he was a master of langauge and picture and I still enjoy reading his books.


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birdman
We Three Blings


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I'd recommend "Dr. Seuss Goes To War" to any Dr. Seuss fan (except maybe children who don't know much about WWII). Like Anthony said, it's interesting to see drawings of what would become Horton and the Cat in the Hat in a non-children's-book context. It's also interesting to learn some of Seuss' political views and how they related to his WWII cartoons. For example, he was highly critical of those who didn't want Blacks to fight in the war, and those who discriminated against Jews in the US. But when it came to the Japanese, it was a completely different story -- it was evident he had this idea that Japanese-Americans were somehow scheming to blow up California or something, even though there was no real indication of that happening. Also, as the author points out, Seuss often portrayed the various players in the war by their leaders, e.g. Hitler, Stalin, Churchill. But for Japan, he simply made up a generalized "Japan" character, and when he drew crowds of Japanese people, they all looked the same!

But on the whole, Dr. Seuss' WWII cartoons are U.S. pro-war, pro-patriotism, morale-boosting propaganda with a focus on ending Nazi/Japanese power.

bird "Dr. Bill" man


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Brad from Georgia
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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What birdman said. Also, Dr. Seuss wrote (and I believe co-produced) many of the "Private Snafu" animated cartoons done by Warner Bros as training-cum-entertainment 'toons for the U.S. Army.
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snopes
Return! Return! Return!


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quote:
But when it came to the Japanese, it was a completely different story -- it was evident he had this idea that Japanese-Americans were somehow scheming to blow up California or something, even though there was no real indication of that happening. Also, as the author points out, Seuss often portrayed the various players in the war by their leaders, e.g. Hitler, Stalin, Churchill. But for Japan, he simply made up a generalized "Japan" character, and when he drew crowds of Japanese people, they all looked the same!

That's interesting, especiallly considering that "Horton Hears a Who" is taken as an expression of support for the conquered Japanese people.

As I child, I found some of the Dr. Seuss books (e.g., "If I Ran the Circus" and "On Beyond Zebra") more frightening than enjoyable, but I have to admit that (even if I didn't realize its full significance at the time) stories such as "The Sneetches" probably had a lasting influence upon me. I can't think of a better work to impress upon children the folly of unreasoned prejudice.

- snopes


[This message has been edited by snopes (edited 07-14-2000).]


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pinqy
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Thanks Decima Dewey. Did a little looking and apparantly Seuss and Buchwald were friends and Seuss did the MKM/RMN switch and Buchwald asked permission to use it. It ran on July 30th, 1974. From Seussfiles

No way of knowing if Seuss had intended it that way when he first wrote it 2 years earlier and just didn't tell anybody or if it was just coincidental.

Damn, now I'll looking for allegory in all children's books. The Narnia series luckily is blatant, so is The Phantom Toll Booth. Tolkien hated allegory and denied that The Hobbit was it. But I'm sure there's a hidden message in Goodnight Moon and Make Way for Ducklings.

pin"hop on pop"qy

ps. I am a little dissappointed that no one tried answering in verse.

[This message has been edited by pinqy (edited 07-14-2000).]


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birdman
We Three Blings


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quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
That's interesting, especiallly considering that "Horton Hears a Who" is taken as an expression of support for the conquered Japanese people.

That sounds vaguely familiar... I think "Dr. Seuss Goes To War" mentions that, but I forget exactly what it said. Drat! It also mentioned that Seuss started his "I Can Read It All By Myself" series to get more children to read, but I don't believe it had all the glurgious elements that the post in the "We've Got Mail" section had.

I'll agree with snopes on the Sneeches -- my classmates and I brought it up numerous times throughout grade school whenever we had discussions about racism. I think Yertle the Turtle came up a few times in other discussions as well. How The Grinch Stole Christmas is one of my favorites too (a few years ago I rewrote it in haiku [rhyming of this sentence was unintentional]).

bird "back to the library" man


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Cool Hand Luke
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
ps. I am a little dissappointed that no one tried answering in verse.

Not all of us got dat rhythmn like you do pinqy!!

Cool "Not a poet and does know it" Hand Luke

------------------
Nature, time and patience are the
three great physicians. -- Jones Soda


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Chava
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Damn, now I'll looking for allegory in all children's books. The Narnia series luckily is blatant, so is The Phantom Toll Booth. Tolkien hated allegory and denied that The Hobbit was it. But I'm sure there's a hidden message in Goodnight Moon and Make Way for Ducklings.

Bill Peet is pretty blatant, too.

Chava


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Amy Jo
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by pinqy:
Damn, now I'll looking for allegory in all children's books. The Narnia series luckily is blatant, so is The Phantom Toll Booth. Tolkien hated allegory and denied that The Hobbit was it. But I'm sure there's a hidden message in Goodnight Moon and Make Way for Ducklings.

Of course, I have to state another obvious one ... Gulliver's Travels.

Amy "I know, it was just too obvious to state" Jo


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