He was born February 20th, 1926 in New Jersey, started writing at the age of eight), educated in journalism in New York and Missouri and saw action during World War II. Born in New Jersey and raised in Brooklyn, Richard Burton Matheson first became a published author while still a child, when his stories and poems ran in the "Brooklyn Eagle"( The Brooklyn Eagle, also called The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, was a daily newspaper published in Brooklyn, New York from October 26).
A lifelong reader of fantasy tales, he made his professional writing bow in 1950 when his short story "Born of Man and Woman" appeared in "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction"; Matheson turned out a number of highly regarded horror, fantasy and mystery stories throughout that decade. He broke into films in 1956, adapting his novel "The Shrinking Man" for the big-screen "The Incredible Shrinking Man."
Seizing the chance he negotiated the chance to write the screenplay, and he was in. Various things lead to another, and he worked with and along side a lot of the big names in the business. Still not exhausted of possibilities he moved onto television, writing the screenplay for the first break of a certain Steven Spielberg, then going on to create the top-rating telemovie up to that time The Night Stalker, along with its sequel The Night Strangler.
Richard Matheson’s View on Art • Richard Matheson is one of those worrisome people who always confuse advocates of little boxes labelled with genres and mediums. Indeed he's actively opposed to such ideas. 'Do anything you can to destroy genres' he says. 'A good story is a good story' . And this man knows what he's talking about, and has written some good stories in his time.
A Tv play: Button, Button • Button, Button is an episode of The Twilight Zone. This episode was based off of the short story created by Richard Matheson, also titled "Button, Button". Mare Winningham is the wife of a down and out loser. One day, a smartly dressed stranger comes to their door and tells them they will be granted a large sum of money if they press the button within a special box he has. The catch ... once they press the button, someone somewhere in the world will die -- someone they don't know.
After pressing the button, the stranger returns and gives them the money, telling them someone, somewhere has indeed died. He takes the box back telling them it will next be given to someone else, who will be made the same offer ... someone they don't know. • "The Twilight Zone" Profile in Silver/Button, Button (1986)
Mr. Stward (in TV Series) Norma Lewis (in TVSeries)
Life-insurance • One kind of insurances under the terms of the policy holder (投保人) makes regular payments (called premiums保险费) to the company and a sum of money (called indemnity赔偿金) will be paid to the family members by the company at the death of the policy holder. Suppose someone holds a life insurance policy for $ 25, 000. That means at his death, whether natural or accidental, the insurance company will pay to his family a sum of $ 25,000 dollars. However, the life insurance premiums are decided by the company, according to the age and health condition of the policy holder.
Fantasy • Fiction characterized by highly fanciful or supernatural elements. a mode of fiction in which the possible and the impossible are confounded so as to leave the reader (and often the narrator and/or central character) with no consistent explanation for the storys’s strange events.
Tzvetan Todorov, in his Introduction a la litterature fantastique(1970: translated as The Fantastic ,1973), argures that fantastic narratives involve an unresolved hesitation between the supernatural explanation available in marvellous tales and the natural or psychological explanation offered by tales of the uncanny. The literature of the fantastic flourished in 19th-century ghost stories and related fiction: Henry James’s mysterious tale The Turn of the Screw(1898) is a classic example.
About the Words and Phrases appal (American English: appall) to make someone feel very shocked and upset The decision to execute the two men has appalled many politicians. The way we kill animals appals a lot of people
astound: to make someone very surprised or shocked [= astonish]: Her elopement astounded her parents. 她的私奔使她的父母大为震惊。 He was perfectly astounded at the intelligence. 这个情报使他非常震惊。 The figures revealed by the report are astounding. 这份报告透露的数字使人震惊.
counter: [intransitive and transitive]to say sth.in order to try to • prove that what sb. said was not true or as a reply to sth. • ‘ ‘I could ask the same thing of you,’ she countered. • counter an argument/an allegation/a criticism etc • He was determined to counter the bribery allegations.
guarantee :give surety or assume responsibility ;make certain of We guarantee your satisfaction. 我们包您满意 Many shopkeepers guarantee satisfaction to customers. 许多商店老板对顾客保证满意。 This garment is guaranteed fireproof. 这种衣服保证防火。
inquire :have a wish or desire to know something We must inquire further into the matter. 我们应当进一步调查此事。 Let's inquire how to get there. 咱们去打听一下怎样到那儿去。 He has inquired out the deployment of the enemy troops. 他已查出敌军的兵力部署情况。
repress :put down by force or intimidation The dictator represses all opposition as illegal. 这个独裁者把所有反对他的活动均视为非法加以镇压。 All protest is brutally repressed by the regime. 一切抗议活动都遭到当局的野蛮镇压.
scoff : laugh at with contempt and derision Marco Polo was scoffed at. 马可·波罗曾受嘲弄。 David scoffed at her fears. ‘You, a scientist!' he scoffed.
stack :arrange in stacks; an orderly pile Stack dishwasher and start wash cycle. 把碗碟整齐地堆放在洗碗机内并开始洗涤。 The floor was stacked high with bales of cotton. 地板上高高地堆放着许多包棉花。 Piles of lumber were stacked along the road. 大量的木材堆放在路边。
thrust : push forcefully He thrust at her with a knife. 他持刀向她刺去。 She was thrusting in a question or two occasionally. 她不时地插嘴提出一两个问题 New railroads are rapidly thrusting into the hilly regions. 新的铁路线迅速向山区延伸。
toss :throw with a light motion He tossed the beggar a coin [tossed a coin to the beggar]. 他给乞丐扔了个硬币。 Let's toss to see who pays the bill. 让我们掷钱币决定谁来付帐。 He tossed about in his sleep all night. 他整夜翻来覆去睡不着。
Make Sentences with the Words and Phrases • hesitate; • smash; • stiffen; • authentic ; • impulsive ; • eccentric; • contemptuous; • work up ; • break in; • cut off
break in: to interrupt someone when they are speaking • break in on • I didn't want to break in on his telephone conversation. • break in with • Dad would occasionally break in with an amusing comment.
contemptuous:showing that you think someone or something deserves no respect • contemptuous glance • contemptuous of • He was openly contemptuous of his father.
cut off:to interrupt someone and stop them from finishing what they • were saying: • Emma cut him off in mid-sentence.
work up: to make someone very angry, excited, or upset about something • You're working yourself up again.
hesitate: • Kay hesitated for a moment and then said 'yes'. • He was still hesitating over whether to leave or not. • Don't hesitate to contact me if you need any more
smash: • Firemen had to smash the lock to get in. • A stolen car smashed into the bus. • The film smashed all box office records.
stiffen: • He touched her, and she stiffened. • Their opposition only stiffened my resolve.
authentic : An authentic account by an eyewitness. 一份目击者的真实证言。 It is an authentic work of Qi Baishi. 这是齐白石的真迹。 But no authentic works by him are preserved. 但作品的真迹并没有流传下来
impulsive : John is apt to be impulsive. 约翰易于冲动。 The rumor had its origin in an impulsive remark. 谣言源于一次冲动的谈话
eccentric He's eccentric by disposition. 他秉性古怪。 A somewhat eccentric person; an oddball. 有些怪癖的人;怪人 My neighbor is an eccentric young man. 我的邻居是个古怪的年轻人。
About the Story With a little imagination however, one might feel that the author could be ridiculing the moral failings of humanity as a whole rather than a few individuals like Norma in the story. As we all know that in recent history, many wars have been waged which have brought terrible miseries and sufferings to people.
One might note in passing（顺便） that in this story the woman is the greedy and insensitive one, while it is her husband who has the high moral standards. Certainly this happens in real life as well, but it is not quite representative. Commitment to monetary goals regardless of human costs is far more common among men than women in the West. This is clearly evidenced by the overwhelming preponderance of men in prison for theft and murder compared to women.
The ending tends to rely on a gimmick（暗机关）. Norma is willing to accept another person's death as long as she doesn't know the person. While this point supposedly gains in strength by the fact that she is punished by the death of her husband, the more important and profound point gets lost. It, in fact, is not an unknown "old Chinese peasant" or "diseased native in the Congo" who dies because of her greed and insensitivity. The suggestion is that if it were one of these people, it would have mattered much less, and that it only matters because it is her husband whom she has killed.
The story tries to tell people that they should not covet ill-gotten wealth. Those who are liable to be tempted by it often bring nothing but misfortune on themselves. The Heroine, Norma, is both foolish, selfish and even cruel. The author presents this image before our eyes through a series of her psychological activities.
The Parts of the Story • The story can be divided into three parts. The first part, from the beginning to “She hung up angrily”, tells about the first appearance of the box, the box owner’s explanation of the use of the button in the box, and reactions of the heroine and her husband to his words.
The second part, from “The package was lying …” to “… and hurried to dress for work”, tells about the reappearance of the box. It also begins to reveal Norma’s foolishness, yet the stress is on the exposure of the evil and selfish side of her innermost being.
The third part, from “She had just turned over…” to the end, tells about Norma’s feelings at being fooled when she has learnt about her husband’s sudden death in a subway accident. In the end the author expresses his biting sarcasm in the form of a question raised by Mr. Steward.
About the Text • 1) The title • The repeated use of the word “Button” expresses the heroine’s strong feeling of amazement and resentment when she found herself fooled in the end.
The package was lying… • package: something wrapped in paper, packed in a box and then sent by mail or delivered [= parcel British English] • There's a package here for a Miami Lakes address. • [American English]: the paper or plastic container that food or other goods are sold in [= packet British English]
was lying: the past progressive is used to introduce the background of the story
a cube-shaped carton sealed with tape: a carton having the shape of a cube, which was fastened or closed with (sticky) tape. Similar expressions: • a heart-shaped candy; a star-shaped fish