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Sum, Characters


Throughout Sum, Eagleman alludes to famous characters in literature and history, either by name or a phrase that evokes their personas. Who are these characters, and how do they or their work relate to Sum?


  • Mary Shelley: In "Mary," we find that God's favorite writer is the author of Frankenstein. (pg 17)
  • The Wizard of Oz: In "Oz," we are unimpressed by the man behind the curtain. (pg 38)
  • Charles Dickens: In "Great Expectations," we get a lesson in blind faith. (pg 40)
  • Dylan Thomas: Also in "Great Expectations," consciousness can be downloaded, allowing humans to virtually "rage against the dying of the light." (pg 40)
  • Karl Marx: In "The Unnatural," immortality comes with a price; "Too much life, it turns out, is the opiate of the masses." (pg 48)
  • Thomas Hobbes: In "Absence," we find the world devolved into "a Hobbesian jungle." (pg 57)
  • T.S. Eliot: In "Conservation," the speaker tells us the world "will close not with a bang, but a yawn," an allusion to the last line of Eliot's poem, "The Hollow Men." (pg 87)
  • Narcissus: In "Narcissus," humans are merely machines with a fondness for looking at their fellow creatures. (pg 89)
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