Study Questions for "The Gostak and the Goshes" [1930] by Miles J. Beuer

In class on Wednesday, I read to you H.G. Wells's Time Traveler's explanation of time as a 4th dimension in which we can travel. Breuer's story is clearly derived from The Time Machine, as we can see through Woleshensky's explanation of movement--or "translation"--in a 4th dimension. Consider carefully Woleshensky's argument and be prepared to discuss it. Here are a few specific questions to consider:

  1. Describe Woleshensky's explanation of travel to and within another dimension. Can you see any parallels between his explanation and the one by Wells's Time Traveler that I read on Tuesday? What is the relation of Woleshensky's argument about the existence of other dimensions and travel to them to Einstein's theories, which were just becoming current at the time Breuer wrote his story?
  2. Once our first person protagonist enters the 4th dimension, he notes that nothing seems very different--the parallel worlds seem to be the same. Even Professor Vibens seems--to some degree--to be a counterpart to Woleshensky. How does this similarity prepare us for a political critique in the story? That is, what begins to happen in the 4th dimension, that might be allowing Breuer to warn his contemporaries about developing trends in his readers' reality?
  3. How does the phrase, "The gostok distims the goshes" [511] despite its seeming staus as gibberish [or perhaps because of its gibberish nature] help Breuer to enact a cultural critique of trends developing in Europe and American in the late 1920s and early 1930s? Do statements like "That an entire great nation should become fired up over a meaningless piece of nonsense" [512] and "Is our national honor a rag to be muddled and trampled on? [512] enact a political commentary? If so, about what?
  4. Through the narrator's comment on "the sinking of a merchantman by an Engtalian cruiser" [513] provoke in a 1930 reader a connection to a specific historical event in our reality?
  5. How do the story's final paragraphs further induce readers to see this story as a comment on trends in their own culture?