Okay, THIS was super-weird…

I changed the site’s tag line to “Starting tomorrow, we’re going to let Shirley Jackson decide whom the Moderation Filter will target.”

An hour later, the New Yorker posts on Facebook that they’ve made The Lottery available for free download.

Coincidence, I’m sure…

24 Comments

  1. I never read the book, but I had to watch a film version of the story in high school. I have no idea what the teacher was thinking, but I do not think it belongs in a high school curriculum: not now, and certainly not then.

  2. I’m still waiting for the promised pumpkin spice-scented comics . . . every morning, I put my nose to the monitor and inhale, but nope, no pumpkin spice.

  3. I have a vague recollection of a previous CIDU discussion about The Lottery, which displayed a general lack of love for the story, and at least one other person agreed with me the “One Ordinary Day With Peanuts” was much more interesting.

  4. I liked The Lottery. Well, sort of. It reminded me of the small-town mentality I escaped when I moved to Chicago. Large sigh of relief.

  5. @Kilby Thanks for that. I also saw the 1969 short film in high school (New York State) in the mid-70s and, well, I echo your thoughts. When I momentarily thought the New Yorker was announcing the film as being available, I thought that was pretty sick of them. About 20 years ago, when I heard an audio reading on NPR, I tried to stop listening but didn’t, and the additive affect was even worse.

  6. I’d heard references to the story. Just read it for the first time. It seems a perfectly serviceable story and certainly worthy of discussion in classrooms. I would say it is a bit heavy-handed in its execution (no pun intended). However, a story about how easily a group can institutionalize brutality and how we will rationale said brutality in the name of “tradition” seems a decent theme. Being published in 1948, a few years after the War and persecution and murder of 11 million people, it seemed an appropriate story for the time. It remains an appropriate story for the time every time some idiot tries to justify injustice or barbarism with a reference to tradition.

  7. “I think of “The Lottery” as a staple of high school (or even middle school) reading.”

    Seems to have missed at least one high school.

  8. @ “The Lottery” – We were not given the book to read, we just saw the film, and I don’t think we were properly prepared for it. If we had read the book, or if the film had been worked into a more comprehensive teaching unit on the subject, perhaps I wouldn’t feel so negative about it now. Looking back, I don’t think there was any real reason to inflict it upon the class, other than the shock value of showing that a society can commit unspeakably ugly acts. Movies aren’t really necessary for that purpose these days: the evening news is more than sufficient.
    P.S. I remember seeing two other truly horrific movies in high school: one was in history class, showing the conditions in the concentration camps at the end of WWII. The other was “Signal 30“, which was shown in a driver’s ed class. For that one, the teacher told us that he was required to show the film, but he said that if anyone couldn’t take it, we were allowed to put our heads on the desk and shut our eyes. Yes, it was that bad.

  9. “@ “The Lottery” – We were not given the book to read, we just saw the film, and I don’t think we were properly prepared for it. If we had read the book, or if the film had been worked into a more comprehensive teaching unit on the subject, perhaps I wouldn’t feel so negative about it now.”

    [GETS ON SOAPBOX] And this is why I heartily objected – and still do – to showing movies of books in school. It’s a cop-out, it’s lazy, and we had – and still do have – too many teachers who take this easy way out. [JUMPS OFF SOAPBOX]

    Kilby, have you considered reading the book, just to see if it’s better than the movie was?

    Also, there’s a series of movies or TV shows about hunting people for one’s betterment, which reminds me a bit of this book. Plus ça change and all that.

  10. Everyone keeps talking about reading the book. It is a short story and not even a very long one. A couple of thousand words, maybe. Freely available online.
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1948/06/26/the-lottery

    I like written fiction. I like movies. I have rarely seen a movie that improved on the written text. It happens, but rarely enough to be considered exceptional. To denounce a literary work when one has only seen a filmed adaptation is inappropriate.

  11. Several of Sir Terry’s books have been made into movies or TV movies; I refuse to watch because my imagination is ALWAYS better than what I see on screen. The same goes for Ray Bradbury’s books. Once seen, never un-seen.

  12. Kilby: “…I don’t think there was any real reason to inflict it upon the class, other than the shock value of showing that a society can commit unspeakably ugly acts.”

    I disagree (based on the story, not the film, which I haven’t seen). The impact of the story isn’t just from the society doing bad things, but from the fact that the people in the society do them as a matter of course and tradition, without any reflection that those traditions might be bad. That’s not something you get from the evening news.

  13. @ WW – Like I said, my objection was to showing the film, without having read the book short story as preparation. I don’t remember whether we did any sort of a follow up or discussion about the film, but whatever it was, it was not sufficient (because I remember nothing of it).

  14. Right, like I said, I haven’t seen the film, so I just assumed it was faithful to the short story. May not have been a safe assumption.

    I remember watching a TNT made-for-television version of “Animal Farm” which was given a happy ending!

  15. Everyone keeps talking about reading the book. It is a short story and not even a very long one.

    Right. As a long-time SF reader, I’ve seen the story in anthologies a number of times. I think we might have read it some time in school as well, but I can’t be sure on that.

    My high school was new and trying many different educational methods. One was that we didn’t have “English”. There were a number of different one-quarter “Communications” courses one could take. I’m not sure if I had one that would be likely to feature that story.

  16. Saw the movie in the 70s in high school, but we didn’t read the story. I don’t remember being upset over the story, just happy we were having a break from the normal routine!

  17. @ Olivier – No, it was a US Army documentary (and large portions were in color, which made it more grisly). I have no idea what the title was, but since I don’t intend to watch it again, that’s OK.

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