The Kugelmass Episode

by Woody Allen

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Student Question

Can someone explain the concept of "a man in a case" in "The Kugelmass Episode"?

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I'm not sure what you're asking, but since this is in the Kugelmass Episode group, I assume you're interested in Kugelmass and his situation. 

Basically, Kugelmass is bored.  His life at home and work have left him much to be desired...in short, a case of mid-life crisis. 

He runs across a man who has a homemade "time machine" of sorts.  It works by having the traveler climb in and tossing in the book of his or her choice.  The person then travels to the setting of the book.

Kugelmass, a lit professor, chooses Madame Bovary.  So, he travels to France in order to sooth his boredom and has an affair with Madame Bovary.  The interesting thing is that whatever they do or say ends up within the pages of the novel.  Kugelmass's close professor friends recognize him and they begin asking questions.

At one point, Madame Bovary comes back to Kugelmass's time and she turns out to be very tough to please.  He gets her back to her own book, but the machine fizzles out and he ends up in a Spanish textbook being chased by the verb "tener"--"to have". The irony here is that Kugelmass "wanted" something different and he got it! 

So, his "case" is temporarily fixed by his travel and affair, but it quickly comes back to disappoint him when Emma becomes too much to handle.  He also never banks on the machine getting damaged, or getting trapped in a Spanish book.

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