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4
votes
2answers
66 views

Understand a certain line in Ted Hughes' "A Kill"

In Ted Hughes' "A Kill" (A Crow poem. See the full poem here), Crow's concieveing and its coming into life is described with opposite terms related to death. Specifically, the creation of ...
3
votes
1answer
30 views

What was the Line Education Movement?

"Wink" is a Tibetan short story by Pema Bhum, translated to English by Tenzin Dickie and freely available to read online from Words Without Borders at the above link. It's set in (presumably)...
-3
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0answers
109 views

What was the first unauthorized sequel?

I'm curious about the role authorial authority has played in the past, especially what the authors themselves believed it to be. Therefore I'm looking for earlier examples of works meeting the ...
2
votes
0answers
24 views

The narrator(s) of the Mahabharata

According to this article by Alf Hiltebeitel, the Mahabharata has "three interwoven frame stories" (page 4). What he calls the "outermost" frame is Vyasa's recounting of the story ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

"There are three sorts of people: those who are alive, those who are dead, and those who are at sea." Did Aristotle really say this?

The famous sentence "There are three sorts of people: those who are alive, those who are dead, and those who are at sea" is often attributed to Aristotle. However, I was unable to find an ...
3
votes
1answer
69 views

Dunedin to Samoa spoke

The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton has an interesting dedicatory poem: "To Edmund Clerihew Bentley ". The author seems to be describing a period of doubt and spiritual bleakness he ...
3
votes
0answers
37 views

How much did Alfred the Great translate himself?

I just heard that Alfred the Great, the famous 9th-century king of Wessex who is sometimes said to be the first founder of "England" as a country, was also a translator of literature. ...
1
vote
0answers
31 views

Did Hemingway write about intentional contagion during World War I?

I have this vague recollection about Hemingway writing, in one of his novel, about intentional contagion of infection; it seems to me there is a character, near a trench, offering a cigarette pack ...
2
votes
1answer
38 views

Meaning of "Beneath the water of their lives" quote by Mitch Albom

Recently I was reading the book "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom and I came across this quote: It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that ...
3
votes
1answer
112 views

What does "reet fain" mean in Poseidon's message to Agamemnon in the Iliad?

In Book XIV of The Iliad, when Poseidon is encouraging the Greeks while the Trojans are attacking their ships, he says this to Agamemnon while disguised: But the famous Earthshaker kept no blind man'...
0
votes
0answers
60 views

Did O. Henry allude to Tom Sawyer in "The Gift of the Magi"?

Sidney Porter (O. Henry) was a contemporary of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). They died the same year; Porter attended Clemens' funeral a few months before his own death. Was Porter referring to Twain's ...
1
vote
0answers
36 views

How is it possible to create a definitive edition of Finnegans Wake?

In recent news, the publisher Houyhnhnm Press released a limited edition copy of Finnegans Wake based on 30 years of work by scholars to refine and revise the text. There are apparently some 9000 ...
1
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0answers
16 views

John P Portelli, "Upwards I Surge"

This question seeks an analysis of John P. Portelli's very short poem "Nog la 'L Fuq" / "Upwards I Surge" (1977), originally written in Maltese and included with an English ...
1
vote
1answer
56 views

Book about kid finding a money printer when he goes down a well

I read this book about 10 years ago in elementary. It was the first book in a series. It starts off with kids playing by a tree and then one of them goes down a well to find a money printer. He also ...
5
votes
1answer
563 views

What does "the ass and the wall are quits" mean?

This phrase is used at least twice in the Decameron: In Day 2 Story 9, when the merchants at the beginning of the story are boasting of their infidelity to their wives and justifying themselves by ...
0
votes
0answers
29 views

How did Indian literature influence Japanese literature?

The Wikipedia article on Japanese literature opens with the following sentences about the influence of other cultures and bodies of literature on the (nascent?) Japanese literature: Early works of ...
-1
votes
1answer
65 views

Earliest use of the term "artificial friend"

In the Kazuo Ishiguro 2021 novel Klara and the Sun the main character is an "artificial friend", i.e., a construction intended to be a child's companion. The idea of a child's robot ...
4
votes
0answers
103 views

Name for a fictional or mythological character who doesn't suffer personally, but whose family and friends all do?

I feel like this must be a character archetype or mythological figure, but can't find any references to it. In my mind, it's something like Cassandra knowing the future but not being believed; this ...
8
votes
2answers
901 views

Who are these crescent saints?

In the Decameron Day 2 Story 7, the protagonist is a princess of "Babylon" who has numerous sexual misadventures after getting shipwrecked on the way to be married. She is, I believe, ...
7
votes
0answers
70 views

When did detective fiction become primarily about murder?

I was reading George Orwell's essay "Raffles and Mrs Blandish" and came across this quotation, "Some of the early detective stories do not even contain a murder. The Sherlock Holmes ...
1
vote
3answers
109 views

Understanding "If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is."

"If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is." John von Neumann Why can't someone think that both math and life are ...
4
votes
1answer
198 views

What is the lamp-post jag?

This passage from R. A. Lafferty's short story "Dream World" (freely available to read online) puzzles me: "What is the lamp-post jag, Bascomb?" asked Officer Mossback McCarty. &...
5
votes
1answer
61 views

What's the point of Bascombe Swicegood eating so much?

R. A. Lafferty's short story "Dream World" (freely available to read online) starts off with a man (whose name we later learn is Bascombe Swicegood) eating a large breakfast and overhearing ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

Why might Robert Frost specify a ' long two-pointed ladder' in the poem 'After Apple Picking'?

The opening lines of Robert Frost's 'After Apple Picking' read: My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree Toward heaven still, And there's a barrel that I didn't fill Beside it, and there ...
11
votes
1answer
121 views

In Swift's "Gulliver's Travels", Gulliver claims that 'princes seldom get their meat hot'. What does Gulliver (and Swift) mean by that?

In the the novel 'Gulliver's Travels', there is a passage in Part II Chapter 3 where the narrator "quarrels with the Queen's Dwarf". In that passage, Gulliver makes the aside that princes '...
3
votes
1answer
24 views

Who is this Lawrence Bonavia?

One of John P. Portelli's Maltese poems is entitled "To Fr. Lawrence Bonavia" ("Lil Fr. Lawrence Bonavia" in Maltese): it's number 52 in his poetry book available from his website (...
2
votes
1answer
64 views

What's the connection of a watery food to a book?

Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, volume 2 includes the following letter from Darwin to W. Ogle, written with regard to Dr. Ogle's translation of Kerner's book, 'Flowers and their Unbidden Guests': ...
5
votes
1answer
578 views

How to scan Wyatt's "They flee from me"?

I was told in my class that "They flee from me" is written in iambic pentameter, except for line number 6 in the second stanza in iambic tetrameter. However, some lines in my textbook have ...
4
votes
1answer
63 views

Allusion in Nabokov's Pnin

In chapter 3, section 6 of Nabokov's Pnin, the main character is carrying a reference work "mainly devoted to Tolstoyana" across the Waindell campus when he drops it by accident: Pnin, on ...
2
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0answers
16 views

When did the terms "Mester de Clerecía" and "Mester de Juglaría" start to be used?

Mester de Juglaría was a genre of Spanish literature from the 12th-13th centuries, which was transmitted orally by travelling entertainers (juglares). It was later surpassed by the Mester de Clerecía, ...
4
votes
1answer
139 views

What is the provenance of Story 6 in Day 2 of the Decameron, set against a backdrop of 13th-century Sicily?

Day 2, Story 6 of the Decameron is set against a political backdrop of 13th-century Sicily: it begins with the defeat of King Manfred at Benevento by the new king Charles, and the main characters are ...
2
votes
1answer
63 views

Why does "It is better to incur a mild rebuke than to perform an onerous task" sound hilarious to Henry Sugar's friends?

In the book of The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl, Henry Sugar was a rich man, whose wealth was inherited from his dad. He never worked, nor did his wealthy friends. There is a piece of ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Is there an equivalent to Orientalism in Eastern scholarship of the West?

Orientalism (1978) is a book by Edward Said that established the concept of "orientalism", which refers to the Western depiction of aspects in the Eastern world. Is there an equivalent to ...
2
votes
1answer
62 views

What is a Special Aspects Man in "Nine Hundred Grandmothers"?

I've just read R. A. Lafferty's short story "Nine Hundred Grandmothers", published in If magazine and freely available to read online. The story starts with the following line: Ceran ...
6
votes
1answer
212 views

Shakespearean Sonnets within his plays

The prologue to Romeo and Juliet is a sonnet. Are there other moments, sections within the plays that are sonnets? I'd like a list of Shakespearean sonnets which appear in his plays (not in the 154 ...
-1
votes
0answers
38 views

Young man from humble background who wanted to propose to the rich young lady

I remember reading a tale (likely part of another novel) of a young man who wanted to marry or propose to a wealthier girl. The young man need some important position to be able to do that but couldn'...
4
votes
0answers
68 views

Who are these historical people alluded to by R.A. Lafferty?

In "The Six Fingers of Time", by R. A. Lafferty, available for free here on Project Gutenberg, there is a claim that having an extra finger or toe is associated with genius. The text gives ...
2
votes
1answer
30 views

What is the "South Wind of lie"?

One of the poems in John P. Portelli's poetry collection "In Between: Malta and Canada" (freely available online from the author's website, page 91) is the short poem "The Past and the ...
4
votes
1answer
55 views

Did William Blake intend The Tyger to resemble a nursery rhyme?

I have often heard that William Blake’s The Tyger is supposed to resemble a nursery rhyme. For example, in analysis I found on “Mercs Poetry Blog”: This poem, despite its mature themes and ...
2
votes
0answers
34 views

2 Related Poems by Rimbaud and Verlaine

I'm looking for two poems by Rimbaud and Verlaine. They escape to Belgium together, went to a town party, and both wrote a poem about the event. Verlaine was really straightforward, and classical. ...
2
votes
0answers
30 views

How big is Gormenghast?

Gormenghast, the vast rambling castle-state that forms the setting for (the first two books of) Mervyn Peake's eponymous trilogy, is BIG. But how big? Based on the evidence scattered here and there ...
-1
votes
0answers
36 views

Why does "Outlier Analysis" contain a quote from Max Lucado?

Outlier Analysis by Charu C. Aggarwal contains the following Max Lucado quote: To lead the orchestra, you have to turn your back to the crowd. Why does he quote this particular author? Are there any ...
1
vote
1answer
93 views

Did Sweeney Todd’s story appear in the “Newgate Calendar” prior to “The String of Pearls”?

The character Sweeney Todd, the “demon barber of Fleet Street”, appeared in the “penny dreadful” serial The String of Pearls (1846–1847). The Wikipedia article on the serial says: Sweeney Todd’s ...
5
votes
2answers
342 views

Is Evil Hole / Malpertugio a realistic name for a district in Naples?

Day 2 Story 5 of the Decameron is set partly in a district of Naples with (at least in the English translation) a striking name that sounds comical and exaggerated. Here follows the translation I'm ...
4
votes
0answers
28 views

What is the appearance of the protagonist in Lafferty's "All the People"?

The protagonist of R.A. Lafferty's short story "All the People" (available to read online from Project Gutenberg) is a "restricted person" working at the "filter center". ...
2
votes
1answer
56 views

What does "beak first" mean in "An Ode to America"?

From "An Ode to America" (The Atlantic's Jan/Feb 2022 issue): “Pretty good nose you got there! You do much fighting with that nose?” New Orleans, 1989. I’m standing on a balcony south of ...
1
vote
0answers
9 views

Evidences of Manzoni's influence on Dun Karm poems

According to Britannica Online Encyclopedia, Dun Karm is considered the national poet of Malta: Dun Karm, pseudonym of Carmelo Psaila, (born Oct. 18, 1871, Zebbug, Gozo, Malta—died Oct. 13, 1961, ...
3
votes
1answer
150 views

Book about barbedwire robot guardian to space portal jumping teen?

Anyone know the name of this series? Back in the late 80's or early 90's I read a series about a galactic empire that used ground based portals to travel between planets. There was some issue and all ...
4
votes
1answer
172 views

How was Il-Kantilena "found", and how is its author known?

The 15th-century Maltese poem "Il-Kantilena" is said to have been "found" in the 1960s by two Maltese historians, but the above-linked Wikipedia page, and other sources I've found ...
5
votes
1answer
231 views

What is "the Throne of Mammon grey" in William Blake's "I Rose Up at the Dawn of Day"?

The poem is fairly self explanatory, but I can not place the "grey" hanging off of "This is the Throne of Mammon": I rose up at the dawn of day— 'Get thee away! get thee away! ...

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