A Precocious Start to an Academic and Literary Career


In one of my posts yesterday, I gave a plug to Mental Floss, highlighting three items that I found of interest that were posted on a single day in February. In another post to that site on that same day, “Famous Novelists on Symbolism in Their Work and Whether It Was Intentional,” Lucas Reilly chronicles a brainstorm by a high school student in 1963:

“16-year-old Bruce McAllister was sick of symbol-hunting in English class. Rather than quarrel with his teacher, he went straight to the source: McAllister mailed a crude, four-question survey to 150 novelists, asking if they intentionally planted symbolism in their work. Seventy-five authors responded.

The brief introductory note provided by McAllister read as follows: “’My definition of symbolism as used in this questionnaire is represented by this example: In The Scarlet Letter there are four major characters. Some say that Hawthorne meant those four to be…

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