Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss I took an unconventional approach in the topic I chose for my reading assignment – whereas most groups selected single novels, my partner and I opted to read a collection of short stories by none other than the notorious Dr. Seuss. Were I writing this essay on a “normal” book, I would be able to pose a question about the book itself and answer it in an ordinary sort of way. However, given the subject matter I have chosen, an essay on an individual book, though possible, would be a very tricky thing to do. It would be wiser, and probably easier, to respond to the man himself. My decision to respond to the man himself makes many more choices – what facet of Dr. Seuss shall I ask myself questions about? I think perhaps I first need to give some brief biographical information on the man to understand the background he’s coming from. In 1904, Theodore Seuss Geisel was born in Massachusetts, USA. I have not been able to find too much documentation about his childhood, but he certainly did not come from a terribly poor or terribly unsuccessful family… in fact, his family had owned a local brewery in their home town of Springfield for several years. Ever since his childhood, Geisel had dabbled in the fields we all know and love him for today… for instance, during bible recitals, he read the verses to a rhythm and often in rhyme. In High School he wrote many short essays and drew cartoons for the school paper, and even then he had adopted a pseudonym for himself – “Pete the Pessimist”. Upon graduation, Geisel began studying literature at Oxford university, as his original intent was to become an educator… even then, he punctuated his time at Oxford with his job editing and contributing to the “Jack-O-Lantern”, their humour magazine… his work there was published under the name “Dr. Theophrastus Seuss”. Upon Geisel’s graduation, he found that work for educators was slimmer than that he had first expected, and performed various odd jobs… his big break into the writing business came in 1937: Theodore had just gotten off a boat, and was sitting in a tavern. Due to a storm, the boat had been rocked back and forth, and the rhythm of this rocking was still very prevalent in his mind. Overcome by the rhythm, he got out some paper and penned “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street”, under the name “Dr. Seuss”. Seuss, obviously proud of what he had done, attempted to get his book published – 27 letters of rejection came in from 27 companies telling him that his work was much too unconventional for children to understand and relate to and all that mish-mash, and it was the 28th company that dared to publish his work. That risk certainly paid off for them… and the rest, as they say, is history. Writing all of this, I have just thought of a question to explore: Many authors publish many books for many different reasons… to put them all into a very big nutshell, however, you can see them all in two different groups: Firstly, there are those who publish for money and fame, churning out one book after another in an attempt to capitalize/attract audience – although some people might argue this, current “big-name” authors like Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton fit into this category. Secondly, there are authors who publish for the thrill of creativity and writing, for the art rather than the money… they would rather contribute to the artistic world than their financial world (although most authors would agree that a bit of both would be nice). Dr. Seuss, in the selections he publishes, talks about subjects that obviously most people in today’s society would agree with. For Example: “The Lorax” deals with environmental issues which most people nowadays can attest to caring about, and “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street” deals with the importance of the imagination, something that few people would dispute. Since Dr. Seuss’ target audience is children (although his last two books, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” and “You’re Only Old Once” were geared toward an older audience… it would be interesting