Luke Rhinehart

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Luke Rhinehart
BornGeorge Cockcroft
(1932-11-15) November 15, 1932 (age 87)[citation needed]
Albany, New York
Notable worksThe Dice Man (1971)
Adventures of Wim (1986)
The Search for the Dice Man (1993)


Died August 1st 2012 George Powers Cockcroft (born November 15, 1932[citation needed]), widely known by the pen name Luke Rhinehart, is an American novelist, screenwriter, and nonfiction writer,[1] with at least ten books to his name.[not verified in body] He is best known for his 1971 novel The Dice Man, the story of a psychiatrist who experiments with making life decisions based on the roll of a die,[2] including, near the novel's onset, the rape of his best friend's wife.[3]

Cockroft has described the origin of the idea for this seminal work variously, [4][5][6][7] however, at the time of the publication of this work, "it was not clear whether the book was fiction or autobiography", all the more because its protagonist and author were eponymous, both were described as having the same profession (psychiatry), and elements of the described lives of both (e.g., places of residence, date of birth) were also in common;[1][2] hence, curiosity over its authorship have persisted since its publication.[1][2] Emmanuel Carrère, writing for The Guardian, presented a long-form expose on Cockroft and the relationship between author and legend in 2019, and in following with others,[8][2] established the author Cockcroft as a life-long English professor living "in an old farmhouse with a yard that slopes down to a duck pond", a husband of fifty-years, father of three, and a caregiver to a special needs child.[1][8][2]

The Dice Man was critically well received.[according to whom?][not verified in body] It quickly became,[9][verification needed] and remains thought of as a cult classic.[10][11] It initially sold poorly in the United States, but well in Europe, particularly England, Sweden, Denmark, and Spain.[8] Writing in 2017 for The Guardian, Tanya Gold noted that "over the course of 45 years" it was still in print, had become famous, had devoted fans, and had "sold more than 2m copies in multiple languages"[8] (e.g., as many as 27 languages and 60 countries have been claimed[citation needed][12]). In 1995, the BBC called it "one of the fifty most influential books of the last half of the twentieth century,"[This quote needs a citation] and in 1999, after one of their reporters experimented, controversially, with dicing,[13] Loaded magazine named it "Novel of the Century".[14] In 2013, Alex Clark of the Telegraph chose it as one of the fifty greatest cult books of the last hundred years.[10]

Cockroft continued themes—both comical and philosophical—introduced in The Dice Man[citation needed]—in two later novels, Adventures of Wim (1986) and The Search for the Dice Man (1993),[citation needed] as well as in a companion title, The Book of the Die (2000),[2] none of which achieved the commercial success of The Dice Man.[1] First published in 1971, The Dice Man was twice spoken of in the early 2000s as enjoying a renaissance,[2][3] though a scholar writing on the subject has indicated no formal evidence for such.[15]


George Powers Cockcroft was born on November 15, 1932 in Albany, New York[citation needed] to Donald and Elizabeth Cockcroft, both college graduates, his mother from Wellesley College.[8] He was raised in Albany, where his father was an electrical engineer,[8] and his ancestry included Vermont political notables.[16] He received a BA from Cornell University in 1954 and an MA from Columbia University in 1956.[citation needed] In 1964 he received a PhD in American literature, also from Columbia.[citation needed] He married his wife, Ann, who would later become a writer of two romance novels and a volume of poetry, on June 30, 1956; together they have three children.[8] His brother, James Cockcroft, is the author of more than 20 books, mostly on Latin American history and society.[citation needed]

After obtaining his PhD, he went into teaching. During his years as a university professor he taught, among other things, courses in Zen and Western literature.[citation needed] In 1969, while Cockcroft was teaching a study abroad program on the island of Mallorca, an Englishman starting a new publishing house happened to stop at a cafe in the same village, Deià, and was given a partial manuscript of The Dice Man to read by Cockcroft.[citation needed] Cockcroft was subsequently offered an advance payment for publication.[citation needed] Shortly afterwards, Cockcroft was encouraged by his course Director to take an early sabbatical from his teaching duties.[citation needed]

He remained in Mallorca to complete the novel, after which the publisher sold the American rights to the novel for a large sum, and within a year the film rights, allowing Cockcroft to retire from teaching and become a full time novelist.[citation needed][disputed (for: discrepancies between statement and other cited sources) ]

He and his family spent a number of years traveling, sailing, and returning to Mallorca, including time spent on a large catamaran which became the inspiration for the boat in his novel Long Voyage Back.[citation needed] In the mid 1970s they returned to the United States and spent 1975 in a sufi commune, before moving to a large old farmhouse and former religious retreat in the foothills of the Berkshires in upstate New York.[citation needed]

On 1 August 2012, the "death" of Rhinehart at the age of 79 was announced by email to 25 friends, beginning with the words “It is our pleasure to inform you that Luke Rhinehart is dead”; it was later revealed the “Death Letter” was instigated as a playful hoax by Cockcroft. Reactions ranged from sorrow to gratitude and amusement.[17]

In July 2018, Cockcroft appeared as a Guest of Honor at the International Art Book and Film Festival (FILAF) in Perpignan, France, after which he undertook an interview tour of Paris and London.[citation needed]


George Cockroft has written has written eleven books as Rhinehart, in four main categories and styles:[according to whom?]

  • Long comic philosophical novels:[citation needed] The Dice Man (1971) and Adventures of Wim (1986) (later reworked and published as Whim (2002 and 2015));
  • Shorter comic satirical novels:[citation needed] The Search for the Dice Man (1993), Naked Before the World (2008), Jesus Invades George: an Alternative History (2013) and Invasion (2016);
  • Conventional novels:[citation needed]  Long Voyage Back (1983) and Matari (1975)  (republished as White Wind, Black Rider (2008)); and
  • Other books:[citation needed] The Book of est (1976) and The Book of the Die (2000).

Long comic philosophical novels[edit]

These follow the distinctive style of his first book, The Dice Man.  From one chapter to the next Rhinehart switches between first- and third-person views and intersperses the narrative flow with (fictional) excerpts from journals, minutes of meetings, pseudo-religious texts and other sources.[18] In one case, he even quotes from a future book that he did not actually write until more than two decades later.

As the different viewpoints and sources have unique voices, the novel’s mood often changes accordingly from chapter to chapter.

Presenting these multiple fragments from multiple viewpoints together results in an unconventionally rich and complex cubist narrative structure.  It reflects what Rhinehart has said: “I have always conceived of myself as being multiple – having, you know, a dozen different selves, if not a thousand different selves, at any given moment.”[8]

The Dice Man (1971)[edit]

Rhinehart’s first novel is considered a modern cult classic. It tells the story of a psychiatrist who, dissatisfied with his limited roles and routine life, begins making life decisions based on the casting of dice. The novel is noted for its subversion and permissive attitudes in chapters concerned with controversial issues such as rape, murder and sexual experimentation.

Adventures of Wim (1986) [edit]

Adventures of Wim is an effort to create a new interpretation of the story of Wim, a Montauk boy born of a virgin mother, declared the savior of the Montauk nation, and his life quest for Ultimate Truth. The entire book is made up of sections taken from other, fictional books, and so provides a multi-faceted account of ‘one of the greatest figures in the 20th and 21st Century’.

Comic satirical novels[edit]

The Search for the Dice Man (1993)[edit]

A sequel set 20 years after The Dice Man, which tells the story of Rhinehart’s son, Larry, who has built a highly successful and stable life, having rejected his father’s embracing of Chance.  On a quest to find his father however, Larry’s life of order and routine becomes enveloped in chaos, the legacy of his father’s work.

Naked Before the World (2008)[edit]

From a draft written at the same time as The Dice Man, this comic novel celebrates the lives of both hippies and the establishment in 1960s Mallorca through the story of Katya, an innocent Catholic art student who arrives on the island to study abroad. Katya is thrown into a world of artists, frauds, sex, drugs and the struggle to discover who she really wants to be.

Jesus Invades George: an Alternative History (2013)[edit]

This satire revolves around the chaos that would have ensued had US President George W Bush woken up one morning in 2007 possessed by the spirit of Jesus Christ. The story playfully reveals and deconstructs the hypocrisy of government and modern politics.

Invasion (2016)[edit]

Aliens invade Earth for the sole purpose of having fun. Hyper-intelligent and able to morph into multiple forms, they play games with culture and infrastructure, from computer networks and social media to corporate culture and human relationships. The resulting mayhem reveals the primitive nature of our society, and offers an alternative vision for the human race.

Conventional novels[edit]

Matari (1975)  (republished as White Wind, Black Rider (2008))[edit]

Set in 18th Century Japan, the beautiful Matari is joined by two zen poets as she flees from her husband, a samurai lord who is giving chase with intent to murder her. A lyrical and poetic tale of love, honor and morality.

Long Voyage Back (1983)[edit]

A nautical action-adventure novel and story of human endurance and spirit. It follows a group of people sailing aboard a trimaran, and their struggle for survival as they escape the aftermath of nuclear war.

Other books[edit]

The Book of est (1976)[edit]

The Book of est is a fictional account of the Erhard Seminar Training (est), a personal transformation course created in 1971. Although controversial, many participants experienced powerful results through the course, including dramatic transformations in their relationships with families, their work and personal vision.  In this book, the reader is put in the place of a participant, to experience a sense of being in the training room and the spirit of what takes place there.

The Book of the Die (2000)[edit]

A “handbook of dice living” intended to help free readers from barriers to an unfulfilled life. It follows the philosophy that people must give up their illusion that a self can control life; they must let go.  A collection of proverbs, essays, cartoons, poems, scenes from movies and more form this guide to creating a more playful and unpredictable life.

Other works[edit]


Though best known as a novelist, Rhinehart has also written nine screenplays: five are based directly on his novels: The Dice Man, The Search for the Dice Man, Whim, Naked Before the World, and White Wind, Black Rider.[citation needed] Two others are direct Dice Man sequels featuring the original character: The Dice Lady (co-written with Peter Forbes),[citation needed] and Last Roll of the Die (co-written with Nick Mead).[citation needed] Two other screenplays, Mawson and Picton's Chance, are original concepts.[citation needed]


The music and spoken word album, The Dice Man Speaks, on Dice Man Records, a new imprint of bizbro CREATIVE, features the pseudonymous Rhinehart and Sputnik Weazel and was released in 2018. [19] On it, Cockcroft/Rhinehart performs spoken word passages voiced over acoustic and electronic musical pieces by Weazel.[citation needed]

Antecedents and influence[edit]

To date there appears to be a single published scholarly work on the idea's appearing in Cockroft's The Dice Man, a conference paper from Shanna Robinson of the Institute for Culture and Society at the University of Western Sydney in Australia; in addressing the popular accounts of Dickson on its having the "impact of religious conversion on millions" and the suggestion, again in popular media (by Dickson and Adams), that the dicing theme was, at that time, "enjoying a renaissance",[9][2] Robinson writes:

Although acknowledged that there has been no research at this point establishing the veracity of this, a number of other manifestations of dicing lend some credibility to the idea that it enjoys a certain level of popularity.[15]

More generally, art exploring the application of chance or randomness in its expression is referred to as aleatoricism,[20][21] and at least one academic, Richard Hoadley, a faculty member in Music and Performing Arts at Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom, refers to the writings of Cockcroft/Rhinehart in their teaching on aleatoricism in art.[22]

In popular culture[edit]


The Talk Talk song, "it's a shame", was clearly inspired by this book.[editorializing][citation needed]

Television and radio[edit]

Four seasons of a television travel series called The Diceman were made between 1998 and 2000 by the Discovery Channel. The destinations and activities of the participants were determined by the roll of a die.[23][third-party source needed]

UK Channel4's[verification needed] broadcast of Diceworld (1999, Paul Wilmshurst directing), a 50-minute television documentary about Cockcroft/Rhinehart and some of the people influenced by his novels, led to a resurgence of interest in Cockcroft/Rhinehart's books, and in various related "dicing projects".[according to whom?][citation needed] A further documentary was produced in 2004, a collaboration between Cockcroft/Rhinehart and director Nick Mead, entitled Dice Life: The Random Mind of Luke Rhinehart.[citation needed]


Inspired by The Dice Man and written by Paul Lucas, the play The Dice House premiered in the United Kingdom in 2001, and went on to staging at the Arts Theatre in London's West End in 2004.[24][25]

Magazines and books[edit]

Controversially,[13] journalist Ben Marshall spent two years from 1998 to 2000 experimenting with dicing, and reporting his experiences in Loaded magazine; Loaded subsequently named Cockcroft/Rhinehart as novelist of the century.[14][better source needed]

Murder mystery author Terry Mitchell often uses characters who throw dice to make decisions,[citation needed] and in his own personal life, Mitchell created the "dice road trip",[clarification needed] "dicing to eat",[clarification needed] and "The Sacred Journey",[clarification needed] each of which used dice to make decisions about life decisions.[citation needed]

Comics and related media[edit]

The UK comic, 2000 AD, published the Gamebook magazine title, Dice Man, in 1986; in total 5 editions were created by Pat Mills through October of that year, with script and game by Mills, covers by Glenn Fabry, and with art and lettering done by various individuals at 2000 AD.[26][27] The relationship between this comic title and the similarly titled Cockcroft work has been established.[according to whom?][verification needed]


The brewers of Rolling Rock beer launched an advertising campaign in the United Kingdom in 1998 based on The Dice Man theme,[28][better source needed] a campaign that included a short-lived Dice Life website.[citation needed] The relationship between this campaign and Cockcroft's work has been established.[according to whom?][verification needed]


San Francisco artist Larnie Fox created War Toys, "an exhibit of kinetic sound sculptures", for which an activity, "The Dicewalk", inspired by Cockcroft's work, was part of its closing ceremony.[29]



  1. ^ a b c d e Carrère, Emmanuel (7 November 2019). "Who is the Real Dice Man? The Elusive Writer Behind the Disturbing Cult Novel". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 November 2019. The dice was a quirk the young George picked up in college. He and his friends used it on Saturdays to decide what they were going to do that night. Sometimes, they dared each other to do stuff: hop around the block on one leg, ring a neighbour’s doorbell, nothing too mischievous. When I ask, hopefully, whether he pushed these experiences further as an adult, he shrugs his shoulders and smiles apologetically because he can tell that I would like something a little spicier... / It was not clear whether the book was fiction or autobiography, but its author, Luke Rhinehart, had the same name as his hero and, like him, he was a psychiatrist. According to the back cover, he lived in Majorca... 'Psychiatrist? Psychoanalyst?' George repeats, as surprised as if I had said cosmonaut. No, he was never a psychiatrist, he has been a college English teacher all his life... / Really? But on the cover of his book... / George shrugs as if to say, editors, journalists, you know, there is almost nothing they won’t write... / ...[Cockroft] handles the wheel with an abruptness that contrasts with his good humour and makes his wife laugh. It is moving to see how the two love each other, and when Ann tells me in passing that they have been married for 50 years, I am not surprised. / They live in an old farmhouse with a yard that slopes down to a duck pond. They have three grown boys, two of whom live nearby. One is a carpenter and the other is a housepainter; the third still lives at home. He is schizophrenic, Ann tells me matter-of-factly; he is doing fine at the moment, but I shouldn’t worry if I hear him speaking a bit loudly in his room, which is right beside the guest room where I will be staying.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Adams, Tim (27 August 2000). "Dicing with Life". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 November 2019. Rhinehart, whose real name is George Cockcroft, made his reputation with the cultish Seventies book The Dice Man, in which the eponymous hero, a psychiatrist, gives over all his decision making to the roll of a die, providing himself with half a dozen potential alternatives for every step he takes through life. / At the time, Cockcroft was... leading a seminar on freedom—Nietzsche and Sartre—and he asked his class... whether perhaps the ultimate freedom was not to 'get away from habit and causality and make all your decisions by casting dice'. His students were either so appalled or so intrigued by the idea that Cockcroft knew immediately that this was something worth writing about. / ...progress on the novel was slow, and by the time he completed it he was 37, living in Majorca with his family... It was there that, by chance, he ran into a publisher in Deya who said he would look at the book. / Some months later when the paperback rights were sold for $50,000, Cockcroft and his family were living a dice life on a sailboat in the Mediterranean. By that time, Cockcroft says, he knew that the dice were probably just a gimmick to have fun with, or to get from one place in your life to another place, 'but once you got somewhere you were happy, you'd be stupid to shake it up any further...'
  3. ^ a b Usborne, David (5 May 2003). "Luke Rhinehart: Throw and Tell". The Independent. a New York psychiatrist... lets go of his humdrum married life by casting dice to decide more or less his every action–starting with raping his best friend's wife... / 'Eventually the book sort of faded out of view. It continued to be published in England, Germany, Denmark and Sweden, but that's it," he [Cockcroft] says. But then he adds: "About five years ago, publishers began to republish it, or publish it for the first time. A documentary film was made about it. My own English publisher got more interested and set about putting out new editions... / Why this Dice Man renaissance now? "For reasons," ventures Rhinehart, who is 70, "that I don't understand or even have the slightest idea about."
  4. ^ For a more complete discussion, see the Wikipedia article, The Dice Man, and references therein.
  5. ^ For an account that describes the origin of the idea in the years between Cockcroft's teens and early twenties in a self-help effort to move him away from shyness and uptightness through risk-taking, in areas such as "what to read, where to go, how to react to people," see Adams, The Guardian, 27 August 2000, op. cit.
  6. ^ For an account that describes the origin of the idea in Cockcroft's college years, in as a way to decide what he and his friends would do together socially, or to decide between slightly mischieveous dates, see Carrère, The Guardian, 7 November 2019, op. cit.
  7. ^ For an account that describes the origin of the idea in Cockcroft at the age of 16 years, likewise in an effort to move him away, first, from procrastination, and later, from shyness, see Gold, The Guardian, 4 March 2017, op. cit.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Gold, Tanya (4 March 2017). "Three Days with The Dice Man: 'I Never Wrote for Money or Fame'". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 November 2019. The book was published in 1971, an era devoted to psychoanalysis (not the mocking of it), and it was not an instant success. But over the course of 45 years, it has become a famous book, with devoted fans. The Dice Man has sold more than 2m copies in multiple languages and is still in print... / As his notoriety grew, journalists came to interview the Dice Man. But Luke Rhinehart does not exist: he is the pseudonym of a man called George Powers Cockcroft, who shielded his real identity from his readers for many years... / As a boy, he was shy and compliant, and began to use the dice at 16. He was a procrastinator: 'So I would make a list of things to do in a day and the dice would choose which one I did first.' Then he began to use the dice 'to force myself to do things I was too shy to do. If the dice chose it, then somehow that made it possible.' / [The Dice Man] did badly in America, partly, Cockcroft thinks, because of a cover jacket featuring a naked woman lying on a bed. But it did better in Europe, particularly in England, Sweden, Denmark and now Spain, where it was for a time the most requested library book in Spanish universities.
  9. ^ a b Dickson, E. Jane (4 November 2000). "Striptease at the Roll of the Dice". The Times.[full citation needed]
  10. ^ a b Clark, Alex; Other Telegraph Staff (8 July 2015). "50 best cult books". The Telegraph. London, England: Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 22 November 2019 – via
  11. ^ Fann, Kelly (2011). Trott, Barry (ed.). "Tapping Into The Appeal of Cult Fiction". Reference and User Services Quarterly. 51 (1): 15–18. doi:10.5860/rusq.51n1.15.[better source needed]
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-12-18. Retrieved 2014-12-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ a b Gibson, Janine (13 June 1999). "Media: Dicing with Death". The Guardian. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Loaded Magazine - The Early Years". Archived from the original on 2011-10-31.[unreliable source?]
  15. ^ a b Robinson, Shanna (6 June 2014). "A Roll of the Dice: Experimentalism, Space and Emergent Forms of Touristic Practice in The Diceman" (PDF). MFCO Working Paper Series, Special Issue: Environments, Spaces and Transformations. Environments, Spaces and Transformations: Inaugural MFCO Early Career-Graduate Conference (PDF). Otago, New Zealand: Department of Media, Film & Communication, University of Otago. p. 2. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  16. ^ As Tanya Gold noted for an interview piece in The Guardian, "the creator of The Dice Man was born to New England grandees"; a great-grandfather and a grandfather were Vermont's Governor and Chief Justice of its Supreme Court, resepctively, in their time. See Gold, The Guardian, 4 March 2017, op. cit.
  17. ^ Boggan, Steve (12 January 2013). "In Search of The Dice Man: An Extraordinary Journey to Track Down a Cult Author". The Independent. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  18. ^ "Luke Rhinehart – HILOBROW". Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  19. ^ bizbro CREATIVE Staff (2018). "The Dice Man Speaks by Rhinehart & Weazel". Ferryside, Carmarthenshire, Wales: bizbro CREATIVE. Retrieved 16 October 2018. Dice Man Records is an imprint of bizbro CREATIVE, based in Ferryside, Carmarthenshire, WALES – Dice Man Records was set up in 2018 in order to release “The Dice Man Speaks” by Rhinehart & Weazel, although numerous other ideas are in the pipeline... tel; +44(0)7452 837878 Access this quoted information by clicking on the three dots-button on the upper right hand corner of the cited webpage.
  20. ^ Lindstedt, Iwona (editor) (24 November 2019). "Glossary: Aleatory music". Retrieved 24 November 2019. The term aleatory was popularized in Europe by Pierre Boulez means a musical result of actions made by chance ("alea" is Latin for "dice") or choice. The composers offered the players, for example, choices of route through the fragments of their work, allowed them to join these elements freely but, at the same time, they were completely responsible for the overall shape of the work. Aleatory music is sometimes treated as a synonym of indeterminate music (indeterminacy) but the latter term was preferred by John Cage and meant not only performance liberties but also the use of chance element in the process of composition. Although aleatoricism is an extremely different musical concept than serialism, the end result of both ideas may sound surprisingly alike.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  21. ^ Feisst, Sabine (1 March 2002). "Losing Control: Indeterminacy and Improvisation in Music Since 1950". New Music Box. Retrieved 24 March 2019. The concept of “aleatory” was preferred by European composers, among them Pierre Boulez, Witold Lutoslawski and Franco Evangelisti. It was first used by Werner Meyer-Eppler in the context of electro-acoustics and information theory for describing a course of sound events that is determined in its framework and flexible in detail.(6) Aleatory, a word derived from the latin alea, has many different meanings such as dice, game of dice, risk, danger, bad surprise, and chance. Most composers using aleatory referred to the meaning of chance, but some composers referred to meanings like risk (for instance Evangelisti) and dice (Henri Pousseur composed a piece called Répons pour sept musiciens, 1960, where performers throw dice for sheets of music and cues, a procedure similar to pieces by Kirnberger or Mozart in which the order of the measures is determined by throwing a dice.). Many composers thought they dealt with chance and created chance compositions when they allowed for greater performance flexibility. None of them used chance operations as Cage did. Since many composers were skeptical about “pure” chance and mere accident they came up with the idea of “controlled chance” and “limited aleatorism” (preferred by Lutoslawski).
  22. ^ Hoadley, Richard (24 November 2019). "Seminars: Chance and Aleatoricism". Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Koenig, Rhoda (February 16, 2004). "IndyVoices: The Dice House, Arts Theatre London". London, England. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  25. ^ "metrowebukmetro" (August 12, 2002). "The Dice House – Theatre Review". London, England: Associated Newspapers Ltd / DMG Media. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  26. ^ Carter, Wakefield (1 February 1986). "BARNEY: Dice Man 1". [fanzine]. London, England: [IPC]/Fleetway. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  27. ^ Carter, Wakefield (1 October 1986). "BARNEY: Dice Man 5". [fanzine]. London, England: [IPC]/Fleetway. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  28. ^ Larry Viner & Suzanne Viner, editors (1998). "Image No. 30532000". London, England: The Advertising Archives. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  29. ^ Tudor, Silke (2003-05-28). "Life, Cubed | Night Crawler | San Francisco | San Francisco News and Events". SF Weekly. Retrieved 2014-08-05.

Further reading[edit]

Series in The Guardian[edit]

Other works[edit]

External links[edit]

For a long list of further articles based on interviews, see the articles cited in the text.


Other works[edit]