A Few More Great Literary ‘Simpsons’ Moments

Last night, in honor of The Simpsons airing an episode this week paying homage to David Foster Wallace’s beloved essay, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, we highlighted some other great literary moments from the show, from a Hamlet retelling to cameos from J.K. Rowling and former poet laureate Robert Pinsky. Of course, after posting the thing, we realized that in our brevity, we forgot a few true gems. Here are a few more moments worth mentioning from those times when Homer met, well, Homer:   

“Bart Vs. Thanksgiving”

In “Bart Vs. Thanksgiving,” Bart learns the true meaning of the holiday after terrorizing Lisa and destroying her centerpiece. Lisa strikes back the only way she knows how, with an angsty homage to Allen Ginsberg’s beat opus “Howl” titled “Howl of the Unappreciated.” “I saw the best meals of my generation destroyed by my brother,” Lisa laments. “My soul carved into slices by spiky-haired demons.”

“Das Bus”

The show did an entire Lord of the Flies episode, in which the children of Springfield Elementary are marooned on a desert island after a bus trip gone wrong. “Most of the references to the book are pretty direct, just stopping short of shoving Milhouse off a cliff: “the monster” is a wild boar the kids eventually eat, and the chant used to go after Bart and Milhouse — “Kill the dorks! Bash their butts! Kick their shins!” — echoes the “Kill the pig!” chant from Golding’s novel.

“Moe ‘N’a Lisa”

Lisa Simpson, the cartoon role model for budding feminists, bookworms and frustrated nerds all over the world, is perhaps one of television’s best-read characters of all time, a point driven home with the wonderful blog, Lisa Simpson Book Club, which highlight’s Lisa’s reads from The Brothers Karamazov to Ethan Frome to the Atlantic For Kids, Junior Skeptic and Non-Threatening Boys magazines. Lisa rubs elbows with contemporary literary giants, including Michael Chabon, Jonathan Franzen and Gore Vidal, when she helps Moe become an accomplished poet in a 2006 episode. (It’s a catty exchange between Chabon and Franzen that steals the show: “That’s it, Franzen! I think your nose needs some ‘corrections’!”)

“The War of the Simpsons”

One of the earliest episodes of the show centers on Homer trying to catch a legendary catfish named General Sherman, with his relationship to the fish and the thrill of the chase echoing Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” Except, I don’t think Hemingway ever had Santiago sing “We Are The Champions.”

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