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Woody Allen's satirical story for the May 2, 1977, issue of "The New Yorker," a publication for which he wrote often, has become something of a classic in the narrow realm of intellectual mass entertainment. In "The Kugelmass Episode," Allen introduces the reader to a theme he would return to often in both his literature and his films. The idea of a lonely, unrequited member of the worlds in which the author is most comfortable -- e.g., fine arts, academia, psychiatry -- dreaming of being transformed into a fantasy world would show up again such films as "The Purple Rose of Cairo" and "Alice." The protagonists of Allen's scripts and stories, as most critics recognize, are loosely based on Allen's own persona. "The Kugelmass Episode" was one of the first such uses of that theme by Allen, and one of the most critically successful.
In answering the question "who is the main character" in "The Kugelmass Episode," one must read no further than the introductory paragraph of the story:
Kugelmass, a professor of humanities at City College, was unhappily married for the second time. Daphne Kugelmass was an oaf. He also had two dull sons by his first wife, Flo, and was up to his neck in alimony and child support.
'Did I know it would turn out so badly?' Kugelmass whined to his analyst one day.
Right at the beginning of the story, Allen establishes the identity of his main character: a somewhat nebishy, insecure and somewhat self-absorbed intellectual whose life has turned out vastly different, and far worse, than he could have imagined. Once again, the character of Kugelmass/Allen has been a recurring component of his work over the decades.
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