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Other titles in the Kennedy/Gioia Literature series:

Backpack Literature (2ND 08 - Old Edition)


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Please note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.

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An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing

Second Edition

X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia

Carry literature in your backpack as well as in your heart. With new contemporary and classic selections and an emphasis on writing, Backpack Literature will motivate you to read, think, and write about literature! You’ll like the size because it easily fits into your backpack and makes taking the book to class a breeze.

Backpack Literature includes a powerful range of stories, poems, and plays that will give you a chance to meet some of the world’s most memorable characters. Written by two published poets, Kennedy and Gioia, this textbook is lively, accessible, and engaging. When you read literature, you learn how to see the world from another person’s point of view–an ability that will benefit you in your professional and personal life.


  • New–6 stories, 50 poems, and 3 plays add to the rich array of contemporary and classic voices you’ll find in Backpack.
  • New–More than a dozen production photos illustrating Othello’s major scenes and characters to help you visualize the action of the play.
  • New–Chapter 28 includes step-by-step coverage of the writing process and shows you how to put your thoughts into writing by developing a workable thesis and supporting it with evidence. Easy-to-use checklists help to keep you on track.
  • New–Annotated student sample papers let you see how other students have tackled their writing assignments.

Visit www.mypearsonstore.com and find your textbook by author, title, or ISBN to see what study aids and supplemental material are available with your textbook.


The smallest and most economical member of the Kennedy/Gioia family, Backpack Literature, 2/e, features the authors’ collective poetic voice which brings personal warmth and a human perspective to the discussion of literature, adding to students’ interest in the readings. 

About the Author

X. J. Kennedy, after graduation from Seton Hall and Columbia, became a journalist second class in the Navy (“Actually, I was pretty eighth class”). His poems, some published in the New Yorker, were first collected in Nude Descending a Staircase (1961). Since then he has written six more collections, several widely adopted literature and writing textbooks, and seventeen books for children, including two novels. He has taught at Michigan, North Carolina (Greensboro), California (Irvine), Wellesley, Tufts, and Leeds. Cited in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and reprinted in some 200 anthologies, his verse has brought him a Guggenheim fellowship, a Lamont Award, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, an award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, an Aiken-Taylor prize, the Robert Frost Medal of the Poetry Society of America, and the Award for Poetry for Children from the National Council of Teachers of English. He now lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, where he and his wife Dorothy have collaborated on four books and five children.


Dana Gioia is a poet, critic, and teacher. Born in Los Angeles of Italian and Mexican ancestry, he attended Stanford and Harvard before taking a detour into business. (“Not many poets have a Stanford M.B.A., thank goodness!”) After years of writing and reading late in the evenings after work, he quit a vice presidency to write and teach. He has published three collections of poetry, Daily Horoscope (1986), The Gods of Winter (1991), and Interrogations at Noon (2001), which won the American Book Award; an opera libretto, Nosferatu (2001); and three critical volumes, including Can Poetry Matter? (1992), an influential study of poetry’s place in contemporary America. Gioia has taught at Johns Hopkins, Sarah Lawrence, Wesleyan (Connecticut), Mercer, and Colorado College.


He is also the co-founder of the summer poetry conference at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. From 2003-2009 he served as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. At the NEA he created the largest literary programs in federal history, including Shakespeare in American Communities and Poetry Out Loud, the national high school poetry recitation contest. He also led the campaign to restore active and engaged literary reading by creating The Big Read, which has helped reverse a quarter century of decline in U.S. reading. He currently divides his time between Washington, D.C. and Santa Rosa, California, living with his wife Mary, their two sons, and two uncontrollable cats.


Table of Contents


1.         READING A STORY


Fable, Parable, and Tales


W. Somerset Maugham, The Appointment in Samarra

Aesop, The North Wind and the Sun

Bidpai, The Camel and His Friends

Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, Godfather Death


The Short Story

John Updike, A & P


Writing Effectively


Writing About Plot

      Paying Attention to Plot

      Checklist: Analyzing Plot

Writing Assignment on Plot

More Topics For Writing



2.         POINT OF VIEW


William Faulkner, A Rose for Emily

Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart 



Writing Effectively


Writing About Point of View

      How Point of View Shapes a Story

      Checklist: Understanding Point of View

Writing Assignment on Point of View

More Topics for Writing



3.        CHARACTER


Katherine Mansfield, Miss Brill 

Raymond Carver, Cathedral

Alice Walker, Everyday Use


Writing Effectively


Writing About Character

How Character Creates Action

Checklist: Writing About Character

Writing Assignment on Character

More Topics For Writing



4.         SETTING


Kate Chopin, The Storm

T. Coraghessan Boyle, Greasy Lake

Amy Tan, A Pair of Tickets


Writing Effectively


Writing About Setting

      The Importance of Setting

Checklist: Analyzing Setting

Writing Assignment on Setting

More Topics For Writing



5.         TONE AND STYLE


Ernest Hemingway, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

William Faulkner, Barn Burning



O. Henry, Gift of the Magi

Ha Jin, Saboteur


Writing Effectively


Writing About Tone and Style

      Be Style Conscious

Checklist: Thinking about Style and Tone

Writing Assignment on Tone and Style

More Topics For Writing



6.              THEME


Chinua Achebe, Dead Men’s Path

Luke 15: 11-32, The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Harrison Bergeron


Writing Effectively


Writing About Theme

      Stating the Theme

Checklist: Determining a Story’s Theme

Writing Assignment on Theme

More Topics For Writing



7.         SYMBOL


John Steinbeck, The Chrysanthemums

Shirley Jackson, The Lottery

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper


Writing Effectively


Writing About Symbols

      Recognizing Symbols

Checklist: Thinking about Symbols

Writing Assignment on Symbols


More Topics For Writing




Margaret Atwood, Happy Endings

Kate Chopin, The Story of an Hour

            Sandra Cisneros, House on Mango Street

Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown

Zora Neale Hurston, Sweat

James Joyce, Araby

Franz Kafka, Before the Law

Jamaica Kincaid, Girl

Joyce Carol Oates, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried

Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man Is Hard to Find

Octavio Paz, My Life with the Wave

  Eudora Welty, The Worn Path





9.         READING A POEM       


William Butler Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innisfree


Lyric Poetry

D. H. Lawrence, Piano

Adrienne Rich, Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers


Narrative Poetry

Anonymous, Sir Patrick Spence

Robert Frost, “Out, Out–”


Dramatic Poetry

Robert Browning, My Last Duchess


Writing Effectively


Writing a Paraphrase

Can a Poem be Paraphrased?

William Stafford, Ask Me

William Stafford, A Paraphrase of "Ask Me"

Checklist: Paraphrasing a Poem

Writing Assignment on Paraphrase

More Topics for Writing






Theodore Roethke, My Papa’s Waltz

Countee Cullen, For a Lady I Know

Anne Bradstreet, The Author to Her Book

Walt Whitman, To a Locomotive in Winter

Emily Dickinson, I like to see it lap the Miles

Benjamin Alire Sáenz, To the Desert

Weldon Kees, For My Daughter


The Person in the Poem

Natasha Trethewey, White Lies

Edwin Arlington Robinson, Luke Havergal

Ted Hughes, Hawk Roosting

Suji Kwock Kim, Monologue for an Onion

Langston Hughes, Theme for English B

Anne Sexton, Her Kind

William Carlos Williams, The Red Wheelbarrow



Robert Creeley, Oh No

W. H. Auden, The Unknown Citizen

Sarah N. Cleghorn, The Golf Links

Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig

Thomas Hardy, The Workbox


For Review and Further Study

Francisco X. Alarcón, The X in My Name

Richard Lovelace, To Lucasta

Wilfred Owen, Dulce et Decorum Est


Writing Effectively


Writing About Voice

Listening to Tone

Checklist: Analyzing Tone

Writing Assignment on Tone

More Topics for Writing



11.        WORDS  


Literal Meaning:  What a Poem Says First

William Carlos Williams, This Is Just to Say

Marianne Moore, Silence

Robert Graves, Down, Wanton, Down!

John Donne, Batter my heart, three-personed God, for You


            The Value of a Dictionary

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Aftermath

J. V. Cunningham, Friend, on this scaffold Thomas More lies dead

Carl Sandburg, Grass


Word Choice and Word Order

Robert Herrick, Upon Julia's Clothes

Kay Ryan, Blandeur

Thomas Hardy, The Ruined Maid

Richard Eberhart, The Fury of Aerial Bombardment

Wendy Cope, Lonely Hearts


For Review and Further Study

E. E. Cummings, anyone lived in a pretty how town

Anonymous, Carnation Milk

Gina Valdés, English con Salsa

Lewis Carroll, Jabberwocky


Writing Effectively


Writing About Diction

Every Word Counts

Checklist: Thinking About Word Choice

Writing Assignment on Word Choice

More Topics for Writing





John Masefield, Cargoes

William Blake, London

Wallace Stevens, Disillusionment of Ten O’clock

Gwendolyn Brooks, Southeast Corner

Timothy Steele, Epitaph

E. E. Cummings, next to of course to god america i

Robert Frost, Fire and Ice

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Tears, Idle Tears


Writing Effectively


Writing About Denotation and Connotation

The Ways a Poem Suggests

Checklist: Analyzing What a Poem Says and Suggests

Writing Assignment on Denotation and Connotation

More Topics for Writing



13.        IMAGERY  


Ezra Pound, In a Station of the Metro

Taniguchi Buson, The piercing chill I feel

T. S. Eliot, The winter evening settles down

Theodore Roethke, Root Cellar

Elizabeth Bishop, The Fish

Anne Stevenson, The Victory

Emily Dickinson, A Route of Evanescence

Jean Toomer, Reapers

Gerard Manley Hopkins, Pied Beauty


About Haiku

Arakida Moritake, The falling flower

Matsuo Basho, Heat-lightning streak

Matsuo Basho, In the old stone pool

Taniguchi Buson, On the one-ton temple bell

Taniguchi Buson, I go

Kobayashi Issa, only one guy

Kobayashi Issa, Cricket


Haiku from Japanese Internment Camps

Suiko Matsushita, Rain shower from mountain

Neiji Ozawa, War forced us from California


Contemporary American Haiku

Etheridge Knight, Making jazz swing in

Lee Gurga, Visitor’s Room

John Ridland, The Lazy Man’s Haiku

Connie Bensley, Last Haiku


For Review and Further Study

John Keats, Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art

Walt Whitman, The Runner

T. C. Hulme, The Image

William Carlos Williams, El Hombre

Robert Bly, Driving to Town Late to Mail a Letter

Rita Dove, Silos

Stevie Smith, Not Waving but Drowning


Writing Effectively


Writing About Imagery

Analyzing Images

Checklist: Thinking About Imagery

Writing Assignment On Imagery

More Topics for Writing




Why Speak Figuratively?

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Eagle

William Shakespeare, Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Howard Moss, Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?


Metaphor and Simile

Emily Dickinson, My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Flower in the Crannied Wall

William Blake, To see a world in a grain of sand

Sylvia Plath, Metaphors

N. Scott Momaday, Simile


Other Figures of Speech

James Stephens, The Wind

Margaret Atwood, You fit into me

Dana Gioia, Money


For Review and Further Study

Robert Frost, The Silken Tent

Jane Kenyon, The Suitor

Robert Frost, The Secret Sits

A. R. Ammons, Coward

Heather McHugh, Language Lesson, 1976

Robert Burns, Oh, my love is like a red, red rose


Writing Effectively


Writing About Metaphors

How Metaphors Enlarge a Poem's Meaning

Checklist: Analyzing Metaphor

Writing Assignment on Figures of Speech

More Topics for Writing




15.        SOUND


Sound as Meaning

Alexander Pope, True Ease in Writing comes from Art, not Chance

William Butler Yeats, Who Goes with Fergus?

John Updike, Recital                 


Alliteration and Assonance

A. E. Housman, Eight O’clock

James Joyce, All Day I Hear

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The splendor falls on castle walls



William Cole, On my boat on Lake Cayuga

Hilaire Belloc, The Hippopotamus

Ogden Nash, The Panther

Gerard Manley Hopkins, God’s Grandeur


Reading Poems Aloud

Michael Stillman, In Memoriam John Coltrance


Writing Effectively


Writing About Sound

Listen to the Music

Checklist: Writing About a Poem’s Sounds

Writing Assignment on Sound

More Topics for Writing



16.        RHYTHM 


Stresses and Pauses

Gwendolyn Brooks, We Real Cool

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Break, Break, Break

Ben Jonson, Slow, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears

Dorothy Parker, Résumé



Max Beerbohm, On the imprint of the first English edition of The Works of Max Beerbohm

Edna St. Vincent Millay, Counting-out Rhyme

A. E. Housman, When I was one-and-twenty

William Carlos Williams, Smell!

Walt Whitman, Beat! Beat! Drums!

David Mason, Song of the Powers


Writing Effectively


Writing About Rhythm

Freeze-Framing the Sound

Checklist: Scanning a Poem

Writing Assignment on Rhythm

More Topics for Writing



17.        CLOSED FORM


Formal Patterns

John Keats, This living hand, now warm and capable

Robert Graves, Counting the Beats

John Donne, Song (“Go and catch a falling star”)



Anonymous, Bonny Barbara Allan

Dudley Randall, Ballad of Birmingham


The Sonnet

William Shakespeare, Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Claude McKay, America 

Edna St. Vincent Millay, What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why

Kim Addonizio, First Poem for YouA. E. Stallings, Sine Qua Non

R. S. Gwynn, Shakespearean Sonnet



Other Forms

Dylan Thomas, Do not go gentle into that good night

Robert Bridges, Triolet

Elizabeth Bishop, Sestina


Writing Effectively


Writing About Form

Turning Points

Checklist: Thinking About a Sonnet

Writing Assignment on a Sonnet

More Topics for Writing



18.        OPEN FORM


Denise Levertov, Ancient Stairway

E. E. Cummings, Buffalo Bill’s

Stephen Crane, The Heart

Walt Whitman, Cavalry Crossing a Ford

Ezra Pound, Salutation

Wallace Stevens, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird


Prose Poetry

Charles Simic, The Magic Study of Happiness



Seeing the Logic of Open Form Verse

E. E. Cummings, in Just-

Carole Satyamurti, I Shall Paint My Nails Red

Langston Hughes, I, Too


Writing Effectively


Writing About Free Verse

Lining Up for Free Verse

Checklist: Analyzing Line Breaks in Free Verse

Writing Assignment on Open Form

More Topics for Writing



19.        SYMBOL 


T. S. Eliot, The Boston Evening Transcript

Emily Dickinson, The Lightning is a yellow Fork

Thomas Hardy, Neutral Tones

Matthew 13:24-30, The Parable of the Good Seed

Edwin Markham, Outwitted

Yusef Komunyakaa, Facing It

Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken


For Review and Further Study

Ted Kooser, Carrie

Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay

Lorine Niedecker, Popcorn-can cover

Wallace Stevens, Anecdote of the Jar


Writing Effectively


Writing About Symbols

Reading a Symbol

Checklist: Analyzing a Symbol

Writing Assignment on Symbolism

More Topics for Writing



20.        WHAT IS POETRY?


Dante, Samuel Johnson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Thomas Carlyle, Thomas Hardy, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Mina Loy, T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, J. V. Cunningham, Elizabeth Bishop, Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz, William Stafford, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Bly,Some Definitions of Poetry





Anonymous, Lord Randall

Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach

Margaret Atwood, Siren Song

W. H. Auden, Musée des Beaux Arts

Elizabeth Bishop, One Art

William Blake, The Tyger

Gwendolyn Brooks, the preacher: ruminates behind the sermon

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

JudithOrtiz Cofer, Quinceañera 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan

Billy Collins, Care and Feeding

E. E. Cummings, somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

Marisa de los Santos, Perfect Dress

Emily Dickinson, I’m nobody! Who are you?

Emily Dickinson, I heard a Fly buzz — when I died

Emily Dickinson, Because I could not stop for Death

John Donne, Death be not proud

John Donne, The Flea

Paul Dunbar, We Wear the Mask

T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Rhina Espaillat, Bilingual / Bilingüe

Robert Frost, Mending Wall

Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Allen Ginsberg, A Supermarket in California

Thomas Hardy, The Convergence of the Twain

Robert Hayden, Those Winter Sundays   

Seamus Heaney, Digging

George Herbert, Easter Wings

Robert Herrick, To the Virgins to Make Much of Time

Gerard Manley Hopkins, Spring and Fall

Gerard Manley Hopkins, The Windhover

A. E. Housman, Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

A. E. Housman, To an Athlete Dying Young

Langston Hughes, The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Langston Hughes, Harlem [Dream Deferred]  

Randall Jarrell, The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

Robinson Jeffers, To the Stone-cutters

Ben Jonson, On My First Son

Donald Justice, On the Death of Friends in Childhood

John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

John Keats, La Belle Dame sans Merci

Ted Kooser, Abandoned Farmhouse

Philip Larkin, Home is so Sad

Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus

Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Learning to love America

Robert Lowell, Skunk Hour

Andrew Marvell, To His Coy Mistress

John Milton, When I consider how my light is spent

Marianne Moore, Poetry

Marilyn Nelson, A Strange Beautiful Woman

Pablo Neruda, Translated by Alastair Reid, We Are Many

Lorine Niedecker, Poet’s Work

Yone Noguchi, A Selection of Hokku

Sharon Olds, The One Girl at the Boys’ Party

Wilfred Owen, Anthem for Doomed Youth

Jose Emilio Pacheco, High Treason

Sylvia Plath, Daddy

Alexander Pope, A little Learning is a dang’rous Thing

Ezra Pound, The River-Merchant’s Wife: a Letter

Dudley Randall, A Different Image

Henry Reed, Naming of Parts

Adrienne Rich, Living in Sin

Edwin Arlington Robinson, Miniver Cheevy

William Shakespeare, When, in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes

William Shakespeare, My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias

Wallace Stevens, The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Larissa Szporluk, Vertigo

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ulysses

Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill

John Updike, Ex-Basketball Player

Derek Walcott, The Virgins

Edmund Waller, Go, Lovely Rose

Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

WilliamCarlos Williams, Spring and All

William Wordsworth, Composed upon Westminster Bridge

James Wright, Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio

William Butler Yeats, When You Are Old

William Butler Yeats, Sailing to Byzantium

Bernice Zamora, Penitents




A Play in Its Elements

Susan Glaspell, Trifles


Writing Effectively


Writing About Conflict

Conflict Resolution

Checklist: Analyzing Conflict

Writing Assignment on Conflict

More Topics for Writing




Christopher Marlowe,A Scene from Doctor Faustus (in which Faustus sells his soul to the devil; Act 2, Scene 1)



David Ives, Sure Thing


Writing Effectively


Writing About Comedy

Getting Serious About Comedy

Checklist: Writing About a Comedy

Writing Assignment on Comedy

More Topics for Writing



24.        SOPHOCLES


The Theater of Sophocles


The Civic Role of Greek Drama

Aristotle's Concept of Tragedy


The Origins of Oedipus the King

Sophocles, Oedipus the King (Translated by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald)


Writing Effectively


Writing About Ancient Greek Tragedy

      Some Things Change. Some Things Don't.

      Checklist: Analyzing Ancient Greek Tragedy

Writing Assignment on Sophocles

More Topics for Writing





The Theater of Shakespeare


A Note on Othello

William Shakespeare, Othello, the Moor of Venice


Writing Effectively


Writing About Shakespeare

      Breaking the Language Barrier

      Checklist: Writing About a Shakespearean Play

Writing Assignment on Tragedy

More Topics For Writing





Realism and Naturalism


Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House (Translated by James McFarlane)


Tragicomedy and the Absurd

Milcha Sanchez-Scott, The Cuban Swimmer


Writing Effectively


Writing About Dramatic Realism

What's so Realistic About Realism?

Checklist: Writing About a Realist Play

Writing Assignment on Realism

More Topics for Writing






Jane Martin, Beauty


Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman


Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie


August Wilson, Fences







Start by Reading Actively

Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay

Thinking about What You Have Read

Planning Your Essay

Prewriting: Discovering Ideas

 Sample Student Prewriting Exercises

Developing a Literary Argument

 Writing a Rough Draft

            Student Writing, Sample Rough Draft


            Checklist: Revision Steps

Some General Advice on Rewriting

            Sample Student Essay, Final Draft

What’s Your Purpose: Some Common Approaches to Writing about Literature

The Form of your Finished Paper

Topics for Writing on Fiction

Topics for Writing on Poetry

Topics for Writing on Drama




Getting Started

Choosing a Topic

Finding Research Sources

            Finding Print Resources

            Using Online Databases

            Using Visual Images


            Finding Reliable Web Sources


Evaluating Sources

            Print Resources

            Choose Web Sources Carefully


            Organizing Your Research

Refining Your Thesis

Organizing Your Paper

Writing and Revising

Guarding Academic Integrity

            Papers for Sale Are Papers that “F”ail

            A Warning Against Internet Plagiarism

Acknowledging Sources

            Quoting a Source

            Citing Ideas

Documenting Sources Using MLA Style

Concluding Thoughts

            Sample Student Research Paper

Reference Guide for Citations

Product Details

Kennedy, X. J.
Longman Publishing Group
Gioia, Dana
General Literary Criticism & Collections
Literary Criticism : General
Edition Number:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Kennedy/Gioia Literature Series
Publication Date:
October 2007
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
8.22x5.55x1.00 in. 1.45 lbs.

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Backpack Literature (2ND 08 - Old Edition) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 1178 pages Longman Publishing Group - English 9780205551033 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,

The smallest and most economical member of the Kennedy/Gioia family, Backpack Literature, 2/e, features the authors’ collective poetic voice which brings personal warmth and a human perspective to the discussion of literature, adding to students’ interest in the readings. 

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