Community Digest

Top new questions this week:

What is the libellous meaning of ‘daffy-down-dilly’?

In Dorothy L. Sayers’ novel Unnatural Death, the barrister Mr Towkington advises Lord Peter Wimsey to be careful to avoid libel: ‘You are too easily surprised,’ said Mr Towkington. ‘Many words ...

meaning dorothy-l-sayers unnatural-death  
asked by Gareth Rees 10 votes
answered by Gareth Rees 12 votes

Identify a book where the main character is released from prison in order to be sent to conduct espionage in Italy

this is a book I borrowed off my father about 15 years ago, not sure of the actual age of the book. I've tried Googling but I've not been able to turn up anything that fits my memories. The book ...

story-identification  
asked by Scoots 7 votes
answered by Jenayah 12 votes

Book set during the Black Death: nine travellers each with a secret

I read this novel in 2014, and it was probably published at least after 2000. It was set in England (I think) during the Black Death of the 14th century. I read it in English, in the UK. The book ...

story-identification  
asked by Rand al'Thor 6 votes
answered by Jenayah 6 votes

Frank Kermode's prelude to modernism

Frank Kermode's The Genesis of Secrecy has the following quote: One motive of... modernism was the desire to break with a tradition of writing supposed to have been based on a mistaken or ...

history-of-literature literary-criticism  
asked by Dennis Fleming 4 votes

To whom is Anne Bronte's "A Reminiscence" addressed?

Anne Bronte's short poem "A Reminiscence", originally published under the name Acton Bell in the book Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (1846) published jointly with her two sisters, is addressed ...

poetry anne-bronte  
asked by Rand al'Thor 2 votes
answered by Gareth Rees 2 votes

Understanding two lines from "The Wound-Dresser" by Walt Whitman

Among the hospital poems, "The Wound-Dresser" by Walt Whitman is one of the best and finest. I wonder if anybody here can help me to understand two lines of this piece. But in silence, in dreams’ ...

meaning poetry walt-whitman  
asked by Connoisseur 1 vote

Who is ‘the man in the barrel’ in ‘Three Act Tragedy’?

In Agatha Christie’s mystery novel Three Act Tragedy, the actress Angela Sutcliffe is being interviewed about the death of Stephen Babbington, vicar of St. Petroch’s church, Loomouth: “Dear old ...

historical-context agatha-christie three-act-tragedy  
asked by Gareth Rees 1 vote
answered by Rand al'Thor 2 votes

Greatest hits from previous weeks:

What did O'Brien mean when he said this at the end of 1984?

The boots were approaching again. The door opened. O'Brien came in. Winston started to his feet. The shock of the sight had driven all caution out of him. For the first time in many years he ...

george-orwell nineteen-eighty-four  
asked by Ne Mo 10 votes
answered by Rand al'Thor 6 votes

What does the phrase "the silent imputation of parsimony" mean in The Gift of the Magi by O.Henry?

What does the phrase "the silent imputation of parsimony" mean? It appears in the first paragraph of "The Gift of the Magi," which I've quoted below. One dollar and eighty-seven cents.That was ...

short-stories meaning o-henry  
asked by Baskaran Soundararajan 6 votes
answered by Ralph Crown 6 votes

What is the relationship between Heart of Darkness and The Hollow Men?

T.S. Eliot's poem The Hollow Men, unusually, opens with a quote from a Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness: Mistah Kurtz— he dead. In most printings of the poem that I've seen, this single quote ...

poetry t-s-eliot joseph-conrad  
asked by Matt Thrower 10 votes
answered by Matt Thrower 6 votes

Why did Douglas Adams call Paul Neil Milne Johnstone the worst poet?

Douglas Adams evidently named Paul Neil Milne Johnstone the worst poet in the universe in the original Hitchiker's Guide radio broadcast. Why him? Evidently they went to school together, but I still ...

douglas-adams the-hitchhikers-guide-to-the-galaxy  
asked by EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica 10 votes
answered by Chris Sunami 12 votes

Why was The Call of the Wild banned?

I periodically see Jack London's The Call of the Wild on banned book lists, but I'm not sure why it would be – it doesn't seem that controversial. I found ALA's page cataloguing the reasons given for ...

censorship jack-london the-call-of-the-wild  
asked by Nathaniel is protesting 43 votes
answered by HDE 226868 43 votes

How do I straighten out a paperback book's cover that is bent?

I read a lot of paperback books. Almost exclusively, in fact. I have one problem, though - all the covers get bent while I read them (or sometimes after one of the siblings has a crack at it). They ...

book-care physical-books  
asked by Mithical 17 votes
answered by Spagirl 9 votes

What's the significance of "Oranges and Lemons" in 1984?

The popular London nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons is quoted and partially recited several times throughout 1984. Winston learns about it from Mr Charrington in Part 1, Chapter 8, then talks about it ...

symbolism george-orwell nineteen-eighty-four  
asked by Rand al'Thor 21 votes
answered by Faheem Mitha 17 votes

Can you answer these questions?

Why does Ma'ii call Maggie by her full name?

In Rebecca Roanhorse's Trail of Lightning, Ma'ii (aka Coyote) is the only person to call Maggie by her full name, Magdalena. This is stated explicitly: The same creature, looking mostly like a man ...

rebecca-roanhorse the-sixth-world  
asked by Mithical 1 vote

Did Verne's "Two Years' Vacation" influence Golding's "Lord of the Flies"?

Jules Verne's 1888 novel Two Years' Vacation (Deux ans de vacances) is about a group of schoolboys who find themselves having to survive on a deserted island. The theme seems similar to the more ...

intertextuality lord-of-the-flies william-golding jules-verne two-years-vacation  
asked by Rand al'Thor 2 votes

Why does "Satan in Goray" abruptly change in style at the end?

When I glanced at the Goodreads page for Satan in Goray by Isaac Bashevis Singer (translated by Jacob Sloan), part of this review caught my eye: Unfortunately the ending did fall a bit short. It ...

isaac-bashevis-singer yiddish-literature satan-in-goray  
asked by Mithical 1 vote
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