The Kugelmass Episode

by Woody Allen
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What does the story mean? 

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One of the fundamental meanings of the work is the idea that individuals who find dissatisfaction in their "real" lives and tend to romanticize the love of literature are bound for even more disenchantment.  Kugelmass is dissatisfied with his present day life, which is why he is enamored with Emma in the world of literature.  His overindulgence of her is where things get even worse for him, recognizing that he has both a real world and a literary one that has appropriated all of the negative consequences of the real one.  Yet, rather than seek to understand the condition in which he has put himself, Kugelmass "doubles down" and thus winds up in a Spanish grammar text.  In the end, the meaning of Allen's work is that individuals have to be willing to stop striving for an artificially perfect life and settle in for a good one.  When individuals stop striving for that which is seen as "perfect" or "ideal," there is a greater chance for happiness that emerges.  It is here where I think that there is meaning in the workd, as it speaks to how happiness can be accomplished if the desire for perfection is put aside in favor of something workable.

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