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It has been cited as the first book to use the word mechanical in its proper sense, and to use the word Lilliputian (from which we get the word Lilliputians). But Swift also uses his book to discuss serious issues that are still relevant today, such as freedom of speech, religious persecution, colonialism, and genocide.
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[[wikipedia:wikipedia:File:Supermanshorttitle.PNG250pxthumbrightThe title card from the first Superman animated short produced by Fleischer Studios.]]The Fleischer & Famous Superman Cartoons are a series of seventeen animated Technicolor Short films released by Paramount Pictures and based upon the comic book character Superman.
[[wikipedia:wikipedia:File:Superman-mechanical-monster.jpgthumbright225 pxThe robot's rampage in The Mechanical Monsters influenced later animated works.]]In 1985, DC Comics named Fleischer Studios as one of the honorees in the company's 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great for its work on the Superman cartoons. Writer/artist Frank Miller cited the influence of Max and Dave Fleischer, including them among a list of prominent Golden Age comics creators whose work he acknowledged at the end of his 1986 comics series, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. The series strongly influenced the creation of the acclaimed animated television series Batman: The Animated Series, as well as the similar-looking Superman: The Animated Series. Award-winning comic book artist Alex Ross has also listed the shorts among the inspiration for his take on Superman's look.
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Thus Wes appears to be a complex character, whose inner tenacity in the face of a meaningless present forms a striking contrast to the external blandness others see. He seems to us sensitive, perceptive, honest and far from shallow in recognizing subtle feelings we tend to hide, even from ourselves. In his understanding of this general human dilemma, Wes strikes us as a fascinating combination of philosopher and ordinary guy - a contemporary Everyman with whom we can not only identify but also look up to as wiser, more observant than ourselves. Right from the first chapter, then, we are ready to put ourselves into his hands and let him guide us to a view of his weekend world, which is clearly a microcosm of ours. A salesman for an educational publishing company, Wes confesses his attitude to work. The textbooks bore him, but even if they did not, he would not talk about their virtues and spoil the excellent rapport he has with teachers - a ridiculous attitude from a busines! s standpoint, but certainly human. Wes is very much in tune with the feelings of others, a trait he shows throughout the book, especially in his talks with Mrs. Teale. We learn about all the jobs Wes has quit from boredom in his account of the last time he had sex with his wife Molly, who left him because she was fed up with his drifting around. This is Wes's first main diversion into his past. (Tristram would call it a "digression." Although both narrators are very concerned with the relationship between chronological and psychological time, Wes's tale is far more clear, logical, and orderly than Tristram's, which has more digressions than straight-line story.) On that night four months ago, as Bert scolded him for his lack of direction, Wes remained patient and tolerant, partly because of his knowledge that Bert's heart was in the right place and partly because of his sense of the ridiculous, which included both Bert's shorts and the conversation. Bert's hairless, turkey-lik! e legs were as incongruous for a man of his size as his lecture was for a man of Wes's age. Later, when Molly demands to know when Wes is joing to start acting like a man and accuses him of living in his "own weird little world" (p. 32), he does not get angry. Instead, he comforts her gently and makes love to her, accompanied by Bert's snores, "wheezing and whining in a veritable comedy of noise" (p. 33). Wes seems to share with Tristram the Shandean qualities of intellect, love and laughter, the comic spirit of play. He is not afraid to laugh at himself or show his vulnerability. Ridiculous as it seems in our liberated era, he has been suffering through a sexual famine since that last encounter with his own sweet Molly. We cannot help finding him endearing, and although his attitude to work is impractical, to say the least, emotionally and imaginatively we find ourselves on his side. We tend to feel that his critics are attacking us, too, in a fundamental way - the hidden par! t of us that would like to throw everything over (if only we could afford it) and try something new. Since Wes seems to have the guts to carry through what most of us only dream of doing, he gets our moral support as well as our sympathy.
As a narrator, Wes is extremely skilful at manipulating mood and controlling distance. Although the general tone of the novel is, like Tristram Shandy, tragicomic, the emphasis varies according to Wes's purpose. During the sex scenes, he maintains a basically comic tone, not letting us get too close to the pain of two lonely strangers trying to make love. His language becomes almost mock-heroic - for example, his rapturous panegyrics on Molly's legs, St. Helen's athletic program (p. 32), and "a piece of arse that comes hurtling out of the blue" (p. 34). While Helen Corbett weeps and Wes cannot get an erection, he makes us chuckle at the way they "thrash about on the rug like landed fish" (p. 106). The account of his father's life, however, is entirely serious, and the ending of the novel is very sad in contrast to Tristram's book, which ends with a bawdy story. As Christmas approaches, Wes draws us into a mood of despondency he cannot shake: "It is here in this apa! rtment with me covering everything: the old familiar gloom, the baffling ordinary sadnessof my own existence.... At this hour of the long night the only anodyne for such sadness is the diversion of sweet flesh itself" (pp. 1743). But no sweet flesh is forthcoming. Molly refuses to "come together just for sex" (p. 173). We sympathize with Wes's rather bitterly ironic reaction, since sex is really all they have in common. Otherwise they have only a public, structured marriage. By insisting on structuring their sexual encounters, too, Molly is destroying the only possibility of spontaneous intimacy they can share. Here she follows a pattern we have seen earlier in Wes's mother and Karen. In Wes's world, the role of women seems to be to keep men firmly in line, to prevent them from following personal impulses that might lead them astray from their proper social course as Weekend Men. The sombre tone of the ending is significantly related to this problem. Although Wes has the! playful Shandean spirit, he is living in a world where everything has to be deadly serious, even sex. With Andrew he can play the delightful noodling game, but Andrew is a child (ironically, with no future). Growing up means giving up play, except for power games ofthe sort Mrs. Bruner plays, or the phony fun at work.