The Big U - Literary Significance and Criticism

Literary Significance and Criticism

Stephenson has said he is not proud of this book. By the time Snow Crash was published, The Big U was out of print, and Stephenson was content to leave it that way. When original editions began selling on eBay for hundreds of dollars, he relented and allowed it to be republished, saying that the only thing worse than people reading the book was paying that much to read it.

The book was written while Stephenson was at Boston University. The fictional campus' design is based on a BU dormitory, Warren Towers. Located at 700 Commonwealth Ave in Boston, Massachusetts, it is one of the largest dorms in the US. The character of President Septimius Severus Krupp shares a number of similarities with then BU President John Silber, although his name and the names of his predecessors as Presidents of the big U are taken from the Roman Emperors Commodus to Septimius Severus. The neon Big Wheel sign plays the part of the Citgo sign just east of the BU campus in Kenmore Square. The Big U's financial crisis and the lost library catalog are based on actual events.

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