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What caused the mass blindness in The Day of the Triffids?

In John Wyndham's classic apocalyptic novel The Day of the Triffids, events are put into motion by a double catastrophe: the mass blindness of nearly everyone on Earth, apparently caused by a meteor ...
3
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1answer
64 views

Context and meaning of “in the Lady Bracknell understanding of the word”

Here is a paragraph from The Running Hare: The Secret Life of Farmland (2016) by John Lewis-Stempel. Quite aside from the de-naturing of contemporary childhood, more about collecting apps for Apple ...
3
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1answer
50 views

Was Frankenstein's Monster really an illusion?

I am investigating about Gothic Literature, more concretely about Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and realized there was a theory on the possibility of Frankenstein's monster being an illusion (some info ...
2
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2answers
49 views

Why is Mr William Collins never referred to as the Rev Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice?

Mr William Collins is an ordained clergyman in the Church of England, and becomes the priest of the Hunsford parish. I realize that neither Miss Elizabeth Bennet nor her father particularly revere Mr ...
4
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0answers
32 views

Searching for US Nebraska middle school literature texts from the 70's

When I was in 6th, 7th and 8th grade in mid-70's, my school used a series of textbooks for the literature classes. I thought they were excellent collections and I've hunted for them several times ...
2
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1answer
36 views

What was the play 5-10 years ago where all the dialogue consisted of generic words describing what might be said

This might have been a short piece rather than a full-length play; I heard about it in a news story. I don't remember any details, but the idea was that instead of actually speaking content words, the ...
3
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2answers
747 views

What does “haidamak” mean?

The first line of Isaac Bashevis Singer's Satan in Goray goes: In the year 1648, the wicked Ukrainian hetman, Bogdan Chmelnicki, and his followers besieged the city of Zamosć but could not take it, ...
3
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0answers
19 views

“This Is Water” David Foster Wallace Commencement Speech Fish Story Reference

In David Foster Wallace's "This Is Water" Commencement Speech, there is a story used as a metaphor about a fish asking another fish "what the hell is water": There are these two young fish swimming ...
2
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0answers
13 views

Who is Gugalanna?

In this question I originally used the name Gugalanna for the Heaven-Bull slain by Gilgamesh and Enkidu, following Wikipedia. After a query in comments, I edited the question since the name Gugalanna ...
8
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1answer
455 views

What is the origin of the Aullay in “The Sword in the Stone”?

In T. H. White's novel, "The Sword in the Stone", he describes a mythical creature, the Aullay: [It was] as much bigger than an elephant as an elephant is larger than a sheep. It was a sort of ...
4
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2answers
130 views

Brodsky's “two-liner” in his essay “Less than One”

In his 1976 essay Less than One, Joseph Brodsky writes: For the beginning I had better trust my birth certificate, which states that I was born on May 24, 1940, in Leningrad, Russia, much as I ...
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26 views

How is inner conflict presented in the poem “Tissue”?

We haven't studied this poem in clas due to the COVID-19 outbreak and schools shutting down, but we have made annotations for the poem. However nothing about conflict came up. Have you got anyideas ...
3
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1answer
33 views

Where did French writer Céline get his pen name from?

French author Louis-Ferdinand Destouches, the author of Journey to the End of the Night, used Céline, a French female first name as his pen name. Any idea where he got it from?
7
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1answer
67 views

What’s up with the coal in “Asterix and the Chieftain’s Shield”?

In Asterix and the Chieftain’s Shield, the inhabitants of Gergovia are obsessed with wine and charcoal, all having shops selling both. The coal is used for a running gag in the book as the Romans ...
1
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1answer
41 views

“That’s because you’ve already made your wish.” What does it mean?

Haruki Murakami's short story "Birthday Girl", available to read online, is about a girl working part-time as a waiter who gets to make a special wish on her twentieth birthday. In the frame story, ...
4
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0answers
72 views

What is meant by the word “cumfarting” in the 1742 English novel “Joseph Andrews”?

Yes I know it sounds like a superslang portmanteau of modern obscenities (and indeed it is), which is why I was surprised to see it in a 1742 book, and why I'm asking. Toward the beginning of Book 4, ...
2
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1answer
53 views

Why does Dogberry use malapropisms in Much Ado About Nothing?

In Shakespeare's play, Much Ado About Nothing, Dogberry consistently uses malapropisms. What are the creative ideas behind giving him this style of speech? Does he use it on purpose? What's his ...
3
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0answers
39 views

Marianne Moore’s ‘Four Quartz Crystal Clocks’

Marianne Moore’s poem ‘Four Quartz Crystal Clocks’ (1940) was first published in The Kenyon Review 2:3, pp. 284–285, and collected in What Are Years (1941). Here's the first stanza (of seven): ...
4
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1answer
67 views

How does the quote from Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona connect with Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles?

Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles begins with the epigraph ... Poor wounded name! My bosom as a bed Shall lodge thee.—W. Shakespeare. The source of this quote is one of Shakespeare'...
4
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1answer
149 views

Book where all the characters are named after chess pieces

I remember reading this book maybe 8-10 years ago. It was set in a school and all the characters were named after chess pieces. There was a teacher called Mr Bishop maybe and someone’s nickname might ...
2
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0answers
20 views

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 ...
4
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0answers
17 views

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 ...
4
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0answers
17 views

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 dishonest ...
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0answers
26 views

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’ ...
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0answers
14 views

What theme best links to the moment when one of the Martians is destroyed by artillery fire?

In The War of the Worlds, in Book 1 Chapter 12, one of the Martians is destroyed by artillery fire. Among all the themes that are prominent in the book, which theme would link to this moment best? I ...
1
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1answer
19 views

Mystery short story where the owner of a dog is accidentally murdered via strychnine

I solved this one in the process of asking the question, so I'm self-answering. I remember it as being part of an Alfred Hitchcock anthology. The protagonists get pulled into investigating the ...
1
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0answers
13 views

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 ...
7
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1answer
905 views

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 ...
6
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1answer
68 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
82 views

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 ...
10
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1answer
1k views

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 have ...
1
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1answer
32 views

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 man,...
2
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2answers
184 views

What does this verse said by Portia in Julius Caesar mean?

In Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar when Brutus had planned everything and the night before the assassination he was in his room he had a little conversation with his wife Portia. During the ...
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44 views

What is the inner meaning of “A Common Confusion”?

"A Common Confusion" is a very short story by Franz Kafka, only three paragraphs long with an English translation available in full online: A common experience, resulting in a common confusion. A. ...
2
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1answer
84 views

What is the rhythm of the line 'I want a hero, an uncommon want'?

What is the rhythm of the following line from the start of Byron's Don Juan? I want a hero: an uncommon want, Is it iambic or trochaic? It's a tetrameter and not a pentameter that I am aware of. ...
4
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0answers
51 views

What does “atom” mean in Don Quixote?

This is a question about Don Quijote de la Mancha (Edición conmemorativa de la RAE y la ASALE / 400th-anniversary commemorative edition by the Spanish language academies). In Chapter XXVI of the ...
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1answer
38 views

Why did Crake choose Jimmy to take care of the Crakers?

In the book Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, why did Crake choose Jimmy to take care of the Crakers? Please answer using evidence from textual quotes to support your claims.
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0answers
31 views

Are there any “literary cycles” that are cyclic?

I'm thinking of a set of stories that forms a literary cycle in the traditional sense but where they are intended to form a coherent story arc regardless of where in the sequence you start? The ...
1
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2answers
51 views

Can stream of consciousness have punctuation/structure?

Our English teacher showed us a poem about someone trying to organize thoughts/feelings that haunt them into a list, and revising the list as they go. She claims that this style of writing is stream ...
5
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0answers
33 views

Earliest European novel that was set during an epidemic

Wikipedia's list of epidemics shows that epidemics have plagued us for almost as long as recorded history. Some great works of literature describe events caused or triggered by an epidemic, for ...
1
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2answers
127 views

Why do we get some explicit references in Shakespearean plays that are meant for something else?

First of all, by “explicit contents” I really mean the that thing. In Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar when Brutus had planned everything and the night before the assassination he was in his room ...
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0answers
25 views

How does Narrative in the Life of Frederick Douglass prepare a reader to understand Huck’s relationship with Jim throughout the book?

How does the writing of the Narrative of Frederick Douglass help prepare or could help prepare to read Huckleberry Finn. What is similar and what is different in certain viewpoints? One of my teachers ...
2
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0answers
23 views

Story in which a boy's mother dies but he forgets about it when at school but remembers when he arrives home?

I read the story in a Learning To Communicate English Textbook by Oxford Printing Press about 10 years ago. Story description: The boy rides his bus to school and throughout his day he observes ...
4
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0answers
34 views

How many “Little People” are in the story-in-the-story in 1Q84?

In Haruki Murakami's novel 1Q84, there is a novella, Air Chrysalis, that plays an important role. It describes some apparently supernatural beings called "the Little People". When the "Little People"...
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26 views

Who edited the second edition of Nicola Tesla's autobiography?

While reading Nicola Tesla's Autobiography "My Inventions" for the second time, I noticed that the book is quite different. Indeed, there seem to be in circulation at least two vastly edited versions: ...
3
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1answer
80 views

What does these words mean from “Murder in the Cathedral”

In the play Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot, the fourth tempter comes to Thomas Becket and after some conversation between them the fourth tempter says You know and do not know, what is it ...
11
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3answers
2k views

Meaning of a Trollope quotation about the “best dressed gentleman”

In the self-help manual Pushing to the Front (1911) by Orison Swett Marden, at the start of Chapter XV ("What a good appearance will do"), I find this quotation: I hold that gentleman to be the ...
2
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0answers
64 views

In Finnegans Wake, what could “enos chalked halltraps” refer to?

In Finnegans Wake, what could the phrase "enos chalked halltraps" refer to? Some, possibly flawed, attempt at pest control? [30.1] Now (to forebare for ever solittle of Iris Trees and Lili O'...
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0answers
34 views

Why does Maggie use “Jesus” as an exclamation while talking to Grace?

In Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse, when Grace is embarrassing Maggie by making comments about Kai, Maggie uses "Jesus" as an exclamation: She straightens up, points toward Kai. "Make her ...
4
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1answer
46 views

Significance in Raskolnikov's name in Crime and Punishment?

The protagonist/antihero of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment is Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov. As it says on Wikipedia: The name Raskolnikov derives from the Russian raskolnik meaning "schismatic"...

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