By Elyse Martin

Elyse Martin is a Smith grad working at the Folger Shakespeare Library. She moonlights in French Romanticism.

  1. American society is always interested in what makes us Asian; it is rarely, if ever, interested in what makes us American. If no one understands what can happen when that second half of the term is stripped from us, no one can keep the injustice committed against Japanese Americans from being committed against other communities.

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  2. Previously in this series.  You are being talked about. It is very disagreeable. You are not being talked about. It is even more disagreeable. You have sinned, and sinned greatly in the eyes of the world, out of a most desperate love. No matter how dreadful the occasion, you manage to keep your cuffs un-buttered and your cravat un-spoilt. To be bankrupt of morals is forgivable, but to be bankrupt of style is not.

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  3. Previously in this series. Thou hast a plucky band of friends who alleviate the great drama of thy life with their witticisms. Alas, they will later be horribly killed thanks to their prior association with thee. Thou not only tellest sad stories of the death of kings, thou liv’st it. Thy mentor is a drunkard or dead. Thy wife is a metaphor for colonialism. Thou hast put new meaning into the term “kissing cousins.”…

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  4. Previously in this series. Old women have prophesied against thee. Thou talk’st to thyself of murder. Often. Thou dost not even attempt to hide this. Thy friend has been horribly mutilated. Thy fool is remarkably faithful. Thou must avenge a death. Thou hast seen a ghost! (But only college-educated men may speak to it.) “Thinkest thou we shall ever meet again?” asks thy love, upon thy parting. (The answer to her question? “Ha ha, no.”)…

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  5. Previously in this series. You are a wizard and practice magic. Even tourists who do not speak your language know how this will end: badly for you [urinating dog] [urinating dog] [urinating dog]. You are a wizard and do not practice magic, which means you’re in no danger at all of going Bursar.[1] No matter what country you find yourself in, someone always offers you a cutthroat deal on very dubious-looking sausages…

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  6. Previously by Elyse Martin: How To Tell If You Are In A Victor Hugo Novel. The Toast's previous literary pilgrimages can be found here. As much as I love Victor Hugo’s turns of phrase, as amused as I am by his excesses, and as indebted as I am to him for teaching me how to think about social justice issues, I have to admit he had some mistaken notions. One of them being that he was…

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  7. Previously in this series.

    You are a child who has been kidnapped, abandoned, or killed in a horrifying and traumatic way, but you still retain the inherent goodness and innocence of the human soul, and are a symbol of hope to all those around you. You are a horribly disfigured man with a vendetta against society and, for no easily discernible reason, a pet arctic carnivore with a Meaningful Name. You are a…

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